If musicians are people who string lines across geography and history then Talvin Singh certainly sets his sights far and wide....
IF MUSICIANS ARE PEOPLE WHO STRING LINES across geography and history then Talvin Singh certainly sets his sights far and wide. [I]”The world is sound”[/I], intones a voice at the start of this LP and that sets the agenda: he’s trying to cover the globe with his music.
It’s true that this album is rooted in India, and it’s unashamedly the India of the syrupy Bollywood diva and the tinny mantras of the takeaway as much as the sound of the Asian underground. But ‘OK’ (Singh’s debut) contains music for an airport at the centre of the world, where dub rhythms interface with smouldering New York jazz (‘Mombasstic’), where geisha choirs skat over cut-up beats (‘OK’), where the crisp urban breaks of Hoxton Square marinade in plaintive orchestral soups (‘Traveller’).
It’s a sophisticated, demanding mix reminiscent of Scott Walker’s brooding ‘Tilt’ but, apart from the title track, nothing engages on the raw, visceral level of last year’s ‘Anokha’ compilation. If the LP ultimately languishes next to ‘Psyence Fiction’ on the coffee tables of the Brick Lane coterie, it’ll be because of its restrained, challenging intricacy rather than any concession to taste.
As with Bjvrk’s ‘Homogenic’, convulsive rhythms compete with sensuous strings to create a deep, dark atmosphere that takes time to unravel. Nevertheless there’s a feeling – especially as the turbulent beats of final track ‘Vikram The Vampire’ are cut short – that Singh has slightly sacrificed his soul to the demands of his melting-pot ideal.
There are still more sonic territories to explore, but on this evidence, it seems that Talvin Singh will get there first.