Amoeblog

Charanjit Singh- 10 Ragas to a Disco Beat Reviewed by Gomez Comes Alive

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, June 14, 2010 12:55am | Post a Comment

There has been much talk about 10 Ragas to a Disco Beat! People have been debating whether Charanjit Singh’s 1982 release predated Acid House or was influenced by it. There was also talk that perhaps it was a modern group posing as “obscure” Indian artist. (Aphex Twin was rumored to be behind this.) The worst thing I read was from a guy who couldn’t possibly understand how someone from India could possibly could get all those synthesizers and drum machines that he used to create this album. I can answer that: It was simple, he was a successful musician and he bought them…and yes, India has electricity, too!

These are the same arguments the imperialist mindset tends to have about indigenous people -- for instance, the argument that intelligent beings from another planet must have created the pyramids because indigenous people couldn’t possibly done it on their own. The truth is that Indian musicians have always been some of the best musicians and most complex composers. They deal with time signatures, scales and overall talent that the Western world cannot comprehend, so the fact that 10 Ragas To A Disco Beat predates some important firsts in the electronic music world does not surprise me one bit.

Much of what appears on this album are Indian Ragas set to Giorgio Moroder inspired arpeggiated synth lines with the same primitive drum programming that was the norm at the time. Again, one can argue that India’s pop world was behind the West, but perhaps because the Western world is so quick to abandon any musical movement for the next big thing. The disco sounds of Moroder might have exploded on a baseball field in Detroit back in 1979, but to the rest of the world his importance was still being felt. Even Brits such as Duran Duran and The Human League, who in 1981 were considered cutting edge, were still worshiping at the altar of Moroder.

"Raga Bairagi" is one of my favorite tracks on 10 Ragas. It is a cluster of different Indian influences with Singh’s ear for soundtrack music. It's as he imagined Moroder working with Herbie Hancock to create the soundtrack to the Indian version of The Warriors. "Raga Malkauns," complete with the Raga drone in the beginning, quickly breaks into the 130 BPM house beat that begs for a lethal concoction of MDMA and LSD on a sweaty dance floor.

I can't help but imagine how much fun we would be having now if the Western world had embraced Charanjit Singh in the eighties like they did Ravi Shankar in the sixties?


Charanjit Singh-"Raga Bairagi"



Charanjit Singh-"Raga Malkauns"

Obscure and Unrecognized South Asia & Indian Ocean

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 30, 2010 11:30am | Post a Comment


South Asia
is the most populous and densely populated region in the planet's most populous continent. Not surprisingly, therefore, it's home to many culturally rich nationalities who still struggle in the post-Colonial world for recognition, equality and self-determination.

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(If interested, there are similar entries about Caucasia, Eastern Europe and North Asia.)

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Assam


Assamese dancers (photo by Ramesh Lalwani)

The earliest known settlers in Assam are believed to be the Khasi and Synteng people of southeast Asia. The were later marginalized by the arrival of the Tibeto-Burman language speaking Monpas, Sherdukpens, Bhutan, Mishings, Deuris and Bodo-Kachari. The last major wave of immigrants seems to have been the Hindus around 500 BCE, although small numbers of many other groups have arrived since. As such, Assam today is a highly hybridized place that nonetheless is struggling for autonomy.


Assamese Music
Ankiya Nat
(Onkeeya Naat) is a traditional Vaishnav musical theatre dating back to the 1400s. Borgeet are popular Vaishnav songs dating back from the same era. There's also a significant folk music tradition that shares many characteristics with Burmese, Chinese and Thai music and is a significant influence on the popular music of artists like Anima Choudhury, Bhupen Hazarika, Javanta Hazarika, Jitul Sonowal, Khagen Mahanta, Luit Konwar Rudra Baruah, Nirmalendu Choudhury, Parvati Prasad Baruva, Utpalendu Choudhury and Zubeen Garg.

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Balochistan


The Dravidian-speaking Brahui of Balochistan are thought to be a remnant of the Dravidian migration to India thousands of years earlier. After the area was ruled by several people, the Iranian Baloch people first settled the arid desert of Balochistan about 1,000 years ago after fleeing the Seljuq Turks. Today, Balochi are widely believed to have assimilated varying degrees of Arab, Greek and Turkish ancestry. Today Balochistan is a member of UNPO.


Music of Balochistan
The music of Balochistan incorporates various influences from Iran and Pakistan and includes Sepad, Shabtagi and Vazbad (various types of hymns), and melancholic Zayirak. Famous performers and composers include Ali Reza Askani, Aref Baloch, Asim Baloch, Bakshi Baloch, Saeed Borhanzahi, Shah Jaan Dawoodi and Abdul Sattar Baloch.

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Bangabhumi


Human rights activist and Hindu Bangladeshi Taslima Nasreen

The Hindu Republic of Bangabhumi declared independence from Bangladesh in 2003. The movement was founded in 1973 in India soon after Bangladeshi independence to support the Hindu refugees from Bangladesh, who were targeted by the Pakistani army in the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities.


Music of Hindus in Bangladesh
Many Hindus in Bangladesh have achieved fame either as musicians (Subir Nandi, Tapan Chowdhury, Shuvro Dev, Rathindranath Roy, Aroti Dhar and Shefali Gosh) or composers (Ajit Roy, Subal Das and Subhash Datta). However, with the dwindling, persecuted Hindu minority spread throughout the country, there's no reason to think all of these artists identify with Bangabhumi.

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Bodoland


Bodo dancers

The early history of Bodos is largely unknown. Cultural assimilation with Assamese was not productive. By the end of 70's it became clear that Bodos had a little or no influence in the Indian political process. The official Bodoland Movement[1] for an independent state of Bodoland started on March 2, 1987 under the leadership of Upendranath Brahma of the All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU).


Music of Bodoland
The Bodos traditionally dance the Bagurumba. Their traditional music is played on local instruments including the Siphung, the Serja, the Tarkha, the Kham and the Khawang.

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Gilgit Baltistan


First mentioned by the Chinese in the 700s, according to the GBUM, the region enjoyed a brief period of independence between November 1, 1947, when the suzerainty of the Dogra rulers of the Kashmir princely state ceased to exist, and November 16, 1947, when the local inhabitants liberated their region and opted to join Pakistan. The territory is part of the larger disputed territory of Kashmir and has been in dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. On 29 August 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 was passed by the Pakistani cabinet and later signed by the President. They are a member of UNPO.


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Chagos Archipelago


The Chagos Archipelago is a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands roughly in the centre of the Indian Ocean. The Chagossian people's ancestry is mostly of African heritage, particularly coming from Madagascar, Mozambique and Mauritius. There is also a significant proportion of Indian ancestry. The French brought them over as slaves from Mauritius in 1786. The Chagos were home to the Chagossians for more than a century and a half until the United Kingdom and the United States expelled them in the 1960s in order to allow the US to build a military base on Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands. Many have fought for their right to return, only to be stymied by the British government.



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Chittagong Hill Tracts


The indigenous peoples, collectively known as the Jumma, include the Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Tenchungya, Chak, Pankho, Mru, Murung, Bawm, Lushai, Khyang, Gurkha, Assam, Santal and Khumi. The early history of the Chittagong Hill Tracts is a record of constantly recurring raids on the part of the eastern hill tribes, and of the operations undertaken to repress them. The earliest mention of these raids is to be found in a letter from the Chief of Chittagong to Warren Hastings, the Governor-General, dated April 1777, in which he complains of the violence and aggressions of a mountaineer named Ramu Khan, the leader of a band of Kukis or Lushais. The Chittagong Hill Tracts, combining three hilly districts of Bangladesh, were once known as Korpos Mohol, the name used until 1860. In 1860 it was annexed by the British and was made an administrative district of Bangladesh and a member of UNPO.



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Dimasaland


Dimasa women sorting snails

In the Mahabharata there is mention of the foothill dwellers of the Great Himalayas called Kiratas, which some suspect is a reference to the Kacharis. One of the tribes of the Kacharis is the Dimasa.
Originally established in the Brahmaputra valley, the Dimasa resettled in Sadiya and Assam and established the Dimapur Kingdom in the thirteenth century. In 2009, after years of fighting to regain independence, the Dima Halim Daoga stopped fighting.


Music of the Dimasa
The traditional dance forms of the Dimasa Kacharis are largely instrumental and played on the khram (drum) and muri (a wind blown instrument).

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Garo

 

Garo musicians

The Garo are a people who call themselves A·chik Mande ("hill people"). They appeared in Meghalaya, according to tradition, from Tibet, around 400 BCE. Originally they settled in the valleys but other groups persecuted them until the headed for the hills. In 1872, the British army, armed with guns and cannons, subjugated the Garo, who relied on swords and spears in their attempted defense.

Music of Garo
There are several traditional musical forms among the Garo, including Nangorere, Serejing, Pandu Dolong. Instruments include Kakwa, Nanggilsi, Guridomik, Kamaljakmora, gongs, Rangkilding, Rangbong, Nogri, Adil, Singga, Sanai, Kal, Bolbijak, Illep (or Illip), Olongna, Tarabeng, Imbanggi, Akok (or Dakok), Bangsi rosi, Tilara or Taragaku, Bangsi mande, Otekra, Wa·pepe or Wa·pek, Dotrong, Sarenda, Chigring, Dimchrang (or Kimjim), Gongmima (or Gonggina), Am·beng Dama, Chisak Dama, Atong Dama, Garaganching Dama, Ruga and Chibok Dama, Dual-Matchi Dama, Nagra and the popular Kram... to name a few.
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Gondwana


(photo by Ramesh Lalwani)

Gondwana is homeland of the Gondi people. Numerous kingdoms were established there in the past, including in 1398, when Narsingh Rai, is said by Ferishta to have ruled all the hills of Gondwana. Between the 14th and the 18th centuries, three main Gond kingdoms flourished: Garha-Mandla, Deogarh-Nagpur and Chanda-Sirpur. They were conquered by the Maratha and subsequently, the British and now, India. The Gondi's main voice of change is the Gondwana Ganatantra Party, founded in 1991 in Madhya Pradesh.

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Gorkhaland


Gurkha dancers

The Nepali-speaking Gurkha claim descent from the Hindu Rajputs of Northern India, who entered modern Nepal from the west. They were long used, after the subjugation of South Asia, by the British to do their military dirty work. Since 2007, some of the Nepali-speaking Gurkha (led by  Bimal Gurung) have struggled for independence. The political arm of the movement is Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJMM).



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Jharkhand

During the Mughal period, Jharkhand was known as Kukara. The principle peoples of Kukara were the Asur, Baiga, Banjara, Bathudi, Bedia, Binjhia, Birhor, Birjia, Chero, Chick-Baraik, Gond, Gorait, Ho, Karmali, Kharia, Kharwar, Khond, Kisan, Kora, Korwa, Lohra, Mahli, Mal-Paharia, Munda, Oraon, Parhaiya, Santal, Sauria-Paharia, Savar, Bhumij, Kol and Kanwar. In 1765 it was conquered by the British and renamed Jharkhand. Revolts against the colonizer were common until 1900. Finally, in 2000, the disenchanted Jharkhandi were given a modicum of recognition.


Music of Jharkhand
I'm sure there's an indigenous musical tradition in Jharkhand but it seems that Jhumar, a dance/music form from Balochistan, is the most popular.

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Kashmir


In the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose, replacing the previously popular Buddhism and Hinduism. In 1349, Shah Mir introduced Islam to the region. Muslims ruled until 1751 until they were toppled by the Afghan Durrani Empire, whose reign ended when Ranjit Singh conquered it for the Sikhs. Today, it's still hotly contested by rival parties including India, China and Pakistan.


Music of Kashmir
The traditional music of Kashmir reflects its cultural and geographic location at the crossroads of Central, East and South Asia. Chakri is one of the most popular forms. Sufiana Kalam is the local classical form, having arrived from Persia in the 1400s.

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Kamatapur


Kamatapur is the ancient name of the Koch-ruled kingdom, whose lands included parts of Assam, Biher, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The Kamatapuri have claimed persecution at the hands of India and Kamtapur Peoples Party (KPP) was founded in January 1996 by Atul Roy.

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Karbi-Anglong


The Karbis are a people who speak a Tibeto-Burman language and who were among the first to settle the hills of Assam long ago. Karbi Anglong is currently an autonomous state within Assam although some residents are campaigning for full independence.

 

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Khālistān


Khālistān is a proposed Punjabi Sikh state, meant to revive the Sikh Empire of the 1700s. The movement to establish the nation peaked in 1970s and 1980s and has since grown much quieter.


Well known Punjabi Sikh performers include Kuldeep Manak, Daler Mehndi, Jaspinder Narula, Shingara Singh and Sukhbir.

Bollywood Cover Gallery 2

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, August 15, 2009 02:40pm | Post a Comment


A continuation of yesterday's theme, I've decided to include a clip from the film Kranti, as the movie deals with the beginnings of the Indian struggle for independence from colonial rule. Yeah, nationalism is a main theme in Bollywood film, but Kranti is especially inspired. Enjoy!













Kranti (1981)
 
 
 

Bollywood Cover Gallery 1

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, August 14, 2009 01:50pm | Post a Comment
I've been sitting on this collection of Bollywood soundtrack covers for some time now and I figured that India's Independence Day would be a great time to launch the gallery. Bollywood soundtracks are always a great listen; my experience is that even the more average LP will have moments of brillance. The cover art is usually quite intriguing, even if on some it's just the fontage used for the titles. I've included some stellar youtube footage from a few of the featured movies.
















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