Articles review on the net, revue d'articles sur la toile

Inscription : feeds, flux :
(Atom) Gabriel Real World News

26 août 2005

Block rocking beats

Friday August 26, 2005

Block rocking beats

Bhangra has leapt to mainstream imagination in the recent past. NANTHA KUMAR finds out from Dhol Foundation’s Johnny Kalsi whether the beat will go on or slip away again.

When bhangra moved away from its origins as music of the field workers in the northwest state of Punjab in India right into the nightclubs in England, it spawned a thriving industry along the way.

The bhangra of popular entertainment – at least on British soil – has been transformed into a genre that has adopted various others: Reggae, rave, garage, house, hip-hop and pop, and assumed the symbolic music of the second and third generations British-Indians.
Alaap, the band that propelled bhangra into popular conscience in England almost 30 years ago, is credited with the popularisation of the music and defining the famed “Southall Sound” (the west London suburbia of yore preferred by Indian immigrants). Eversince then, it has moved away from its roots and pushed itself up the mainstream as bhangra mania hit in the mid-1990s, but it gradually cooled off after it lost its momentum.

However, now, the talk is again of bhangra being the next big thing.

Missy Elliot’s runaway hit single, Get Yr Freak On, pulsated with bhangra energy while Britney Spears and Craig David hopped on the bhangra bandwagon for their remixes through producer Rishi Rich. Juggy D, Jay Sean and Panjabi MCs have followed the path blazed by Bally Sagoo and Apache Indian and become the principal “bhangra” figureheads.

In this illustrious company is Dhol Foundation – a much more serious proposition in the appreciation of bhangra and the most vocal in the preservation and promotion of the music.

Dhol’s main man Johnny Kalsi, also the snarling face of Afro-Celt Sound System and whose music has been featured in the soundtracks of Gangs of New York and The Hulk, has been part of the bhangra industry in England for years now and is aware of the fleeting nature of bhangra’s popular existence. He is the founder-leader of the Dhol Foundation institute and band.

The Dhol Foundation appears at the annual three-day Womad Festival at Fort Canning Park in Singapore, starting today. It performs tonight as the festival’s headlining act, and will also be a part of the workshop activities scheduled over the next three days.

Kalsi has strong opinions about why the music must be kept pure.

“Most of the good bhangra artistes have built their own personal fan bases but I think there is a great deal to be said about DJs who don’t know an ‘A’ note to a ‘C’ note and their coarse re-mixes. Some of these albums, however, are very well done and put together in very high-class studios. Productions from bands such as Alaap will not cut corners or compromise in any form to hinder the sound and result.

“Any album is in danger of over production but I think in their case, the formula was just right. This was mainly due to the fact that the band did the production on it and Inder Kalsi, the sound engineer for Dhol Foundation as well, did an immaculate job of refining and finishing all of Alaap’s previous work – and that was before the wonderful ‘cut and paste’ days of Atari 1040,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Kalsi is not alone in believing that the many permutations of music that had threatened to swamp bhangra have not managed to remove its longevity and have only made it resilient. If proof is required, Alaap – the band of which Kalsi was a member – is still the rear-kicking group that it was when it started out in the 1970s and passed over record deals to remain independent.

“Bhangra has always been a keen style of music for the Asian dance scene. It’s just that occasionally it comes up to surface and gets noticed then a follow-up is needed to hold the attention but never quite makes the same impact as the first. Back in (those) days, Alaap was one of two bands that was offered a real record deal by Island Records.

“Island had plans, new ideas and conditions. One of those conditions was that the band stop performing at weddings. The band members refused and the deal was off. They knew that by doing the weddings they could earn far more money in the band than by having a record deal.

“I guess in that sense it was the right move. They stood their ground and Alaap is still the live bhangra band ? tight and still sounding the way it did before.”

Dhol Foundation will be supplying their rocking dose of bhangra at Womad Singapore 2005. Other acts to appear include Mali’s Tinariwen, Apache Indian, Sheila Majid, Billy Cobham and more.

For details on gig schedules, browse Tickets and travel packages are also available from Holiday Tours & Travel at 03-2273 2200.

Aucun commentaire: