Music


I’m watching DMB Live at Red Rocks on PBS as I type this. Man, do these guys rock live! I had always heard that they were much better live than recorded, especially this performance.

You have to see this concert (its available on DVD) if you’re a fan.

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Just picked up Karsh Kale’s latest offering – Broken English. He’s managed to combine Indian melody, rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop and atmospheric pop for his most diverse release so far. These different musical styles aren’t really so different at all – it’s simply the music we are growing up with. During the course of three records, Kale has gone from a fusion of Asian and Western music to the current state of the art, which Kale has termed “rocktronic organica” – unapologetically Indian and thoroughly American.

My favorite track? Free Fall.

Oh, and I’m noticing that the songs I like tend to be track #4 or #5 in an album. Weird.

A couple of years ago, I was browsing the local public library (making full use of my tax dollars) when I stumbled upon an audio CD. The artist had an Indian name (Maharashtrian on top of that), the album looked cool and I was bored, so I picked it up. Little did I know that seemingly inconsequential act would open up a whole new genre of music – Asian Underground and Asian Massive – that blends elements of western underground dance music and the traditional music of their home countries, typically India or Pakistan.

The artist was Karsh Kale and the album was Liberation. Do me a favor, and listen to it even if you don’t listen to anything else. It features his band, with special appearances from Zakir Hussain, Bill Laswell and the Madras Chamber Orchestra. In addition to this and other solo projects, Kale has played along side, remixed and collaborated with Paul Oakenfold, DJ Spooky, Paula Cole, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Talvin Singh, Ustad Sultan Khan, Zakir Hussain and many many others.

One of the tracks – Milan (Meeting of the Two Rivers), named after Kale’s daughter – is easily the highlight of the album and has turned out to be my favorite. Zakir Hussain’s contribution to the song is felt throughout, and Kale’s weaving of Bill Laswell’s Bass, Ajay Prasanna’s flute and the Madras Chamber Orchestra’s Strings is as close to brilliant as I have heard in some time. This is one of those songs you find yourself holding your breath to, so as to not miss the slightest note. I must have heard it a million times and still don’t get tired of listening to it; every time I find something new to appreciate – a true work of art.

Ironically (for all the music snobs out there who look down upon this kind of music), exposure to this genre has piqued my interest in Indian classical music. As it turns out, Milan and Anja (another of Kale’s tracks) are based on Raag Hansadhwani. Guess this is my favorite raag.

I later learnt that Kale, Zakir Husain, Ustad Sultan Khan and others had come to San Francisco in 2003 to perform at Stern Grove under their group – Tabla Beat Science. Man, that concert must have rocked…

Unclassifiable. Mind blowing. ‘Nuff said.