Talvin Singh : Ha

The man behind the new theme for Tomorrow's World unleashes his less than spectacular follow-up to his Mercury-winning 'OK'...

It’s the code of the bus stop. When

a fellow passenger suddenly announces that they are the Son Of God come to Earth in human form to rid the world of demons and ride the 141 until it reaches Paradise or Palmers End, whichever comes first, you suspect that they might be lacking a component of self-knowledge. Similarly, Talvin Singh’s conviction – explicitly stated in interviews and

inherent in every note of this endless record – that he represents a global conundrum, the past and future of music rolled into one wild-haired, intensely marketable bundle, quickly seems like the stuff of unsubstantiated delusion.

His east-west club night Anokha might have been vital in directing the cross-cultural traffic of ’90s Britain, but that’s an imperative he’s never managed to translate into his albums. For while Singh, in common with Mercury Music Prize judges might believe ‘Ha’ to be a fusion of old and new, east and west, mysticism and hedonism, it’s actually a less-celebrated fusion between the tedious and the indulgent. Never mind overcoming genres and boundaries – after 75 minutes

the really urgent matter is overcoming sleep.

The opening ‘One’ sets the standard: 12 ponderous minutes of epic meandering, tabla beats and sombre vocals, it ends with

a self-conscious high speed rap thanking Island Records’ Chris Blackwell and [I]”the Bombay Boogie Girls”[/I], by which point you’re already beyond caring and there’s still another hour of music lying in wait.

It’s only the electro-melt of ‘Uphold’, the abstract aggression of ‘Abalonia’ and the eastern Air of ‘Silver Flowers’ that have something approaching a point, that don’t appear to have been mashed up for easy digestion by a manipulator of our desire to be culturally literate without any of the groundwork that involves.

Talvin has recently written the new theme for [I]Tomorrow’s World,[/I] doubtless seeing his

work as the super-string theory of musical endeavour. Unfortunately, it’s more a chrome labour-saving device – music

for people who quite like music,

but who like to be seen to like

it more.

Victoria Segal