Thursday, 28 December 2017

Talvin Singh - Anthology of Soundz of the Asian Underground

The sound of the Asian Underground from London’s beating streets.
Twenty years since the founding of the legendary Anokha sessions, pioneering tastemaker Talvin Singh chronicles the era with his ‘Anthology of the Soundz of the Asian Underground’. This beat-pounding mega-mix comprehensively twists together the entire history of the change-making musical movement.
The Asian Underground scene harnessed the looping beats and visceral energy of 1990s rave culture then mixed it through with the multi-meter polyrhythms, kaleidoscopic melodies and shapeshifting microtonal modes of Indian music. Carving out a niche alongside the nascent jungle and drum ‘n’ bass crowds, in 1994 Talvin founded club Anokha as a space for the likes of Asian Dub Foundation, Joi and the State of Bengal to debut new experimental sounds. Sounds that reflected the coming of age Britain’s Anglo-Indian youth. Anokha was hosted at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, London. Blue Note was the legendary three-story club where nights like Goldie’s Metalheadz and NinjaTune’s Stealth changed a generation. On Monday’s from nine pm to three am, bubbling away in the 600 capacity basement, Anokha could be found. The seismic importance of these nights really can’t be overestimated; it was here that the vanguard of today’s music industry cut their teeth, sinking deep into the flavorsome textures of the Asian Underground. Gilles Peterson, Goldie, Afrika Bambaata, Bjork and David Bowie all used to drop in to show support for the movement. Talvin calls these days ‘ground-breaking and the most exciting times of my youth’.
Musically Anokha moved on from the bhangra and Bombay Jungle scenes, harnessing a more complex expounding of Anglo-Indian identity. Artists performing at Anokha were uninhibited by cliché and shared more with the rebellious 1990s rave scene than retro bhangra throwback. Talvin’s creative approach embraced Indian classical and folk at its core, spun out with an experimental edge. He lifted the concept of the Hindustani alap, an improvised introductory passage which introduces the raga of a classical work, and flipped a hip-hop or house breakbeat below it. He also conceived the game-changing tablatronic instrument, a hybrid electronic/analog tabla that uses a rare internal microphone system. The results were so powerful they resonated worldwide and led Talvin to international acclaim. He went on to sign with Chris Blackwell’s Island Records, alma mater of U2 and Bob Marley no less. His debut album OK (1999) won the Mercury Music Prize for Popular Music and the South Bank Prize for Popular Music. Today Talvin continues to DJ, compose and produce, ever expanding the sound of the Asian Underground in experimental new directions. He is the undisputed father of Asian bass culture.
Wrap your ears around Anthology of the Soundz of the Asian Underground and you won’t be disappointed. This is the music that shaped an era, music that is uniquely UK, music that shakes bones with hammering sound systems, sumptuous sampling and ingenious beat matching. This is the sound of the Asian Underground, and its sound loud.

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