Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Tradition meets technology in a mix from DJ Rekha

If there is one thing I like more than traditional indigenous music, it is traditional music blended with modern, hip-hop inspired production. The use of synthesizers, looping, drum machines, and effects on world music just really reaches me. As I have said before, the really interesting ideas are born at the collision of traditions. I came upon just such a sound in a collection compiled by DJ Rekha called, “Basement Bhangra.”

Bhangra is a traditional form of music from the Punjab region of Northern India and Pakistan. It was born as music for folk dancing that celebrated the coming of the harvest in that region. It shares a lot of elements with qawwali music, which I love. The Middle Eastern instruments, language, and chord progressions are interesting to my ear. Bhangra music, though rooted in traditions, has not stood still. Many artists have brought the living music with them into the 21st century. DJ Rekha usually brings this music to clubs in New York. This time, he thoughtfully pulled together a fine collection for our enjoyment.

By way of disclaimer, I will say that bhangra is like raw garlic: I love a little bit, but I can only do so much at one time. I would be unlikely to spin this disc in my living room. On the other hand, I will be delighted to have these tracks pop up at random on the world music mix on my iPod.

  • Gur Nalon Ishq Mitha – Malkit Singh
    Most of this song is a pretty standard dance beat and Bhangra singing, but there is some cool keyboard and synth work from time to time. Also, this is the finest video in the history of ever.
  • Bhanghall – DJ Rekha & Dave Sharma
    Rekha and Sharma treat us to some tribal drumming and chanting with some plucked tumbi (a traditional bhangra stringed instrument) with just a little synth thrown in around the edges.
  • Akh Mastani – Tigerstyle feat. Labh Janjua
    The traditional percussion and bhangra singing are augmented by polished violins and synthesizers. It’s a very danceable track.
  • Panj Bindiyaan – Ominous DJs
    Ominous DJs set up a great groove through the percussion but periodically cut out portions of the beat. This creates a negative space that really highlights the great vocal performance in this song.
  • Teri Sadi – Subs vs. Apache Indian
    All of the traditional bhangra elements are there, but the interest in this song all comes from the work on synthesizer and production. The vocals are mixed in different ways and  looped and occasional synthesized effects make the track shine.
  • Aaja Nachiye Boliyan Paiye – Gunjan feat. Tigerstyle
    The percussion is bouncy and the vocals provided by Gunjan are energetic and pretty. I like the arrangement of this song as well, with a nice variety of sounds and several different passages.
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August 11, 2010 - Posted by | World Music

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