All entries for November 2009

November 22, 2009

A class above the usual Bollywood fare.

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/g84z

Title:
London Dreams - Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

LDShankar Mahadevan, Ehsan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa began composing together in the late 1990s, coming to prominence with Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai in 2001. Since then, as Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, the trio has scored dozens of films to both critical and popular acclaim. Their latest offering is the soundtrack to director Vipul Shah’s London Dreams.

There is a lack of the instant musical impact that you would expect from the composers who have given us albums as diverse as Rock On! and Kal Ho Na Ho. That said, the record endears itself on re-visiting and listeners will no doubt find themselves singing along to the pounding Barson Yaaron and smiling at the beautiful lilt of Khwab.

One of the most notable features of this album is the lack of any female vocals – unsurprising, as the film revolves around a male rock band. It is, in fact, the excellent use of strong male voices that makes each of the eight tracks a great listen. In particular, Vishal Dadlani, Roop Kumar Rathod, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Mahadevan himself all excel themselves with performances that are powerful, uplifting and soulful in turn.

The wordsmith, Prasoon Joshi, deserves a mention, not because he has penned stunning poetry, but because he has almost entirely steered clear of a growing penchant in Bollywood for the use of inane English lyrics. Other than a couple of glib references to the title of the film, all we hear is lyrical Hindi.

To the uninitiated, Bollywood music can often seem overly dramatic, due to the nature of its purpose. The true test is whether the songs stand apart from their associated film as quality pieces of music in their own right. In this case, all the tracks pass resoundingly. London Dreams may not be Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy at their best, but it still outshines many other recent Hindi film releases, and is a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

V xx


An entirely new type of sound

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/5jb6

Title:
Swami - 53431
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

swamiThe collective known as Swami was formed in 1997 by brothers Simon and Diamond Duggal. The latter is the only remaining original member, nowadays known mainly by his pseudonym of DJ Swami.

53431 – tilt the numbers to make out the name Swami – is a tagged as the Birmingham group’s greatest hits, taking tracks from previous releases such as DesiRock and Equalize. The band’s name is an abbreviation of “So Who Am I?” It’s a question the album seems to be asking itself – and one which it answers with flair.

On paper, the sheer number of genres tied together in this collection shouldn’t work – bhangra, electronica, drum and bass, dhol beats, soaring vocals and MC lyrics to name but a few. Yet to the ears it’s simply a marvel. Certain tracks stand out above others, as is often the case with compilation affairs. Electro Jugni, with its unforgiving bassline, gives the album a pounding start and the anthemic DesiRock recycles a Bollywood riff in the best possible way. Hey Hey seamlessly combines soulful female vocals in English, earthy male vocals in Punjabi, a toe-tapping beat and a jazzy horn accompaniment that Mark Ronson would do well to take a cue or two from. And if that weren’t enough, Homage marries a classical Indian undertone with the sort of dirty dance track that would make The Prodigy green with envy.

To anyone concerned that a greatest hits collection may somehow spell an ending, fear not: DJ Swami and company tease us with two brand new tracks. The bittersweet, aptly named Sugarless, is full of attitude, and Tonight features soulful vocals underpinned by electronic synth.

The line-up of Swami has undergone many changes over the years, but there’s a consistency to the quality of music despite their evolution. To call them a bhangra band doesn’t really do justice to what they’re capable of delivering; they appear to have almost invented an entirely new type of sound, rooted in India but branching far beyond with ease. And this album not only celebrates all of Swami’s musical achievements to date, but provides the promise that they still have originality to offer.

V xx


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