Saturday, 18 August 2018

Charanjit Singh - Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat (1982)

With a little delay - but, as they say, it's better late than never! - I'm opening a new 2011 year in the blog with a publication about an absolutely unique and sensational musical record that made a lot of noise among historians and collectors about a year ago, in the spring and summer of 2010, when the independent Indo-Dutch label "Bombay Connection" (Amsterdam ) dumbfounded the world and the Internet public, without exaggeration, the most extravagant, shocking and revolutionary-significant publication in its catalog:

it is a matter of mixing all the cards, shattering the established encyclopedic formations, anew opened by an Indian artifact, a real relic from the distant 1982 - the year when, as is known, in the American Detroit and Chicago, in the Belgian Brussels, German Frankfurt, experiments on the synthesis of a fundamentally new type of electronic-dance sound, which subsequently gained worldwide fame as Techno!

In 2002, Edo Bouman (a Dutch collector and impresario label Bombay Connection) accidentally stumbled upon an antediluvian vinyl LP, entitled Synthesizing. Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat , in the dusty coffers of the muses. shops in Delhi:
"Back at my hotel I played it on my portable player, and I was blown away. It sounded like an acid house, or like an ultra-minimal Kraftwerk." But it was the date on the record. Released 1982, it was predicted as Phuture's "Acid Trax" - by five years. (c) Louis Pattison. "Charanjit Singh, acid house pioneer". The Guardian, Saturday 10 April 2010,
The puzzled and agitated discoverer tutzhe undertook his own detective investigation, as a result of which he tracked down an aged and unsuspecting author - a humble Indian named Charanjit Singh - somewhere in Mumbai:
"He was the most friendly and surprised I knew the album." He did not really get my point. (c) Ibid.
Further clarification of the circumstances and in-depth archival research made it possible to put together all the fragments of this exotic historical and musical mosaic and establish the truth about one of the most mysterious, discouraging and underappreciated analog synth masterpieces of the 20th century.

In the 82nd in Bombay, at the HMV studio, the experienced Bollywood composer of the 70s and the wedding orchestra Charanjit Singh, partly for fun, partly in the manner of a creative experiment, recorded an outlandish 50-minute opus of 10 parts using the newly acquired , new (and, moreover, extremely expensive!) professional musical equipment of the Japanese company Roland: "a prototypical acid set-up of Roland TB303 bass melody sequencer and TR808 drum computer together with a Jupiter-8 keyboard" - everything went into production as once in 81/82-year.

Charanjit at work with his synths (

Musically, in India, at that moment, Disco's era was led by Disco Dancer 's Mithun Chakraborty , and Mr. Singh , who until then had only worked with a standard set of traditional and variety instruments, ignited the insanely innovative idea of ​​the time to combine ancient Indian esoteric tunes ( ten classical meditative ragas, corresponding to the successive changes in the seasons and diurnal phases, and ultramodern pulsating disco rhythms!

A special and common art criticism for the designation of this kind of music, of course, then did not exist yet, therefore the "Disco" appearing in the title of the work is more a formality and nothing more than a tribute to fashion. German Andreas Tomalla , for example, in those same years referred in general all the current electronic music production to the category of "Techno" ...

10 of its acid-synthesizer rag Bombay "proto-Techno-pioneer" released on vinyl modestly small edition (only a couple of hundred copies on The Gramophone Company of India, Ltd., EMI, 1983), and this specific music only sounded a few times in the air of local radio as a bizarre interlude.

Original pressing (Front & Back sleeves), 1983: one of the few surviving original Indian publications to this day. NB: The back of the cardboard "envelope" of the plate is provided with a short review (all images are clickable).

After that, the amazing futuristic insight of the Bollywood unique [the breakthrough for at least 5-7 years ahead of the Western European musical future!] Safely sunk into oblivion and was betrayed to total oblivion - so thoroughly that from the nonexistence of dusty archives it was once again brought to light by God only the happy hand of a European collector - a passionate collector of antiquities!

To him, actually (and his record label Bombay Connection), we owe also to the modern reconstructed reissue of cult " Ten Rag " after 27 years - on double vinyl and CD, as well as in high-quality digital audio formats: Boomkat product

However, in the Internet there were nevertheless unbelievers - skeptics, who unequivocally proclaimed the proto-Goa trance miracle of Singh, an artificial counterfeit - a hoax of a purely modern origin, like the scandalous Piltdown man in anthropology ...

Specially for the purpose of their understanding in November 2010, another expedition was organized to search for the legendary musician - now Mr. 78-year-old Mr. Singh , who still lives in Bombay quietly, with his wife, without children. A video interview with him is available on Vimeo: Charanjit Singh: 2010

So rightfully we can now say that the true home of Acid-House and Techno was still not Europe with America, but India!

A good lesson for all presumptuous snobs and "newbies" -nigilists, who blames "archaic electronics" for non-viability, and dismisses the study of its history under the ridiculous pretext that, they say, everything has been known for ages! ;)

Om Nama Shivaya !!
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