I had to skip yesterday’s post. Kinda hungover from a super-fun holiday party. Then I had to clean myself up enough to get over to the Hollywood Palladium for Nine Inch Nails, their final performance of the “Cold and Black and Infinite” tour, which incidentally, was amazing. But more on that in the near future.
For this Sunday afternoon, I had a plan to cover a great little classic gem of a compilation, titled “Talvin Singh presents Anokha: Soundz of the Asian Underground.” But unfortunately, Spotify doesn’t offer that one in the U.S. And there’s no version in its entirety on YouTube, which makes for all kinds of frustration. So after some digging, I ran across this wonderful mix on Soundcloud, titled “Talvin Singh – Anthology of Soundz of the Asian Underground.” Close enough, yeah?
In actuality, this is an entirety different, yet closely related, DJ mix by legendary producer/composer/tabla player Talvin Singh, who curated the original 1997 compilation I was searching for.
Singh is often credited as “the father of modern Asian electronica.” In the mid-’90s, he innovated a unique fusion of drum and bass, electronica, and Indian/Asian classical music, a subgenre that’s now known as the Asian Underground. Much of this music was filtered through Singh’s London-based Anokha club during the era, introducing experimental acts like State of Bengal, Asian Dub Foundation, and Joi.
According to the Soundcloud write-up, which you can access by clicking on the embed below, Singh’s DJ mix chronicles a comprehensive history and evolution of this influential music movement. None of that knowledge is truly necessary to appreciate Singh’s hour-plus journey through Asian-inspired electronica, but it provides some welcome context. This is first and foremost a drum and bass and jungle mix, beat-heavy and propulsively polyrhythmic, textured with the eastern flavors and intonations of Indian culture, as well as neighboring influences.
But for all its kaleidoscopic complexity and steamrolling bpm’s, Singh keeps this mix highly fluid, almost effortless in its momentum, balancing the bass beats with a Zen-like serenity. It’s practically meditative in melody, even when peaking through its progressions. It’s one of the main reasons I love electronic music. Because even at its most rhythmically maniacal, it can be transcendental, introspective, reflective, and conscious awakening. And that’s no different here.
If you’ve got an hour or so to spare, check out Talvin Singh’s classic comprehensive mix of Eastern electronica, “Anthology of Soundz of the Asian Underground.”