Sunday, August 25, 2013

Talvin Singh …Eclipse Psychotropic Fusion

Talvin Singh Matharu
Talvin Singh 
Talvin Singh (Matharu) (born in 1970 in Leytonstone, London, England) is a classically proficient tabla player, music producer and DJ. He marries the classic ethnicities of the East with the modern dance-club textures of the West, a style he defines as "tablatronics." Rising to recognition in the mid-1990s, Singh was one of the first to announce Indian music to today’s conventional youth and to simultaneously inspire a new path for emerging electronica artists. But unlike most of his cliques, including some simply taking advantage of the growing interest in Eastern music, Singh aptly uncovers the common rhythms inherent to both forms, and the result sounds fluid and natural, not contrived or forced. He is generally considered to be the 'father' of Asian underground music and was a central figure in developing and promoting this music at the Blue Note club.

Talvin Singh is one of the first artists to help bring traditional Indian tabla music to the mainstream, combining it with the rhythmic surges of drum ‘n’ bass. By 1997, he was able to speak in an assured fashion about the historic place and function of traditional Indian music. Head of the Omni Records label, based in south London, Singh is a virtuoso tabla player and an accomplished composer and arranger. As a child he travelled to India’s Punjab region to study percussion with his uncle and grandfather, before becoming immersed in the acid house scene in the late 80s. The arrival of ambient and drum ‘n’ bass music in the early 90s inspired Singh to begin producing material, and in 1996 he released the ultra-rare Calcutta Cyber Cafe disc. By his early twenties Singh was also a veteran of recording sessions with Björk, Sun Ra and Future Sound of London.

Excluding creative talent and years of practice, a central reason why his compositions and arrangements work so well in comparison to others’ is the fact that Singh views music-making as a personal process. Singh’s exposure to both cultures has likewise played a major role in his ability to identify and articulate the common threads. He was born in 1970 in London to Indian-born parents. His mother and father, after fleeing the regime of Idi Amin in Uganda in the 1960s, had arrived in Great Britain via Kenya. From a very young age, Singh felt drawn to both the world of his family’s origin and to the place of his own birth. An energetic child, he expressed a penchant for percussion at an early age, playing pots and pans at home around age five. He then took up the tabla, a percussion instrument made of two drums, at around age seven. Not much later, he also began break dancing to hip-hop with other Asian kids in the neighborhood. By the 1980s, Singh was listening to every type of techno and acid house music he could find.

Talvin Singh dj
DJ Talvin Singh 
In addition to his varied interests, Singh remained dedicated to traditional Indian music and percussion as well. At 16 years of age, he traveled to the Punjab region of India to study classical tabla with the master Pundit Lashman Singh for a year, continuing thereafter to visit his teacher for a time each winter. However, Singh knew that on a certain level, he could not play exclusively Indian classical music. "There have been times in my life when I just wanted to play Indian classical music, but that’s where my identity crisis kicked in," he concluded, as quoted by the BBC. "I didn’t feel it was really me."

Singh released his first solo outing. OK, an East/West fusion album populated by arrangements of strings, breakbeats, and tablas, won for Singh the highly coveted Mercury Music Prize. In addition to solo success with OK and Ha, Singh remains a much-sought-after producer, remixer, performer, and collaborator. Perhaps his greatest achievement in this capacity was accepting an invitation to join Tabla Beat Science, an outfit featuring percussionists Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, and Karsh Kale, sarangi player Sultan Khan, and composer/producer/bassist Bill Laswell. In 2000 the group released Tala Matrix on Laswell’s Axiom label to great acclaim.

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