Eastern Uprising (compiled by earthtribe)
I first noticed this album about three years back while shopping for music in Delhi. It was one of the few Asian Underground titles available in India. After previewing the album in the listening booth, I decided to dish out some rupees for the cassette.
This compilation comes from Earthtribe - the same people who released the Sitar Funk compilation. Keeping in mind the context of the UK Asian scene when this album was released (mid-1997), one must agree that it was a well thought out compilation for the time. Earthtribe chose their tracks carefully, catering to the UK Asian audience fed with sugar-and-lard doses of Electro-pop, sitar hugging wannabes and Indian MC's singing about arranged marriages. This was a fresh new compilation throwing some much-needed light onto the other bands catering to the Asian Underground scene.
All throughout the album, you get the feel of what the scene was like in those days. On repeated playbacks, it almost feels like a grunge-laced journey of the Asian Underground going through its puberty. In other words, it's "old skool" Asian Underground. You won't find much of drum'n'bass here. What you will hear is lots of sitars, solid breakbeats, synths, melodic prayer chants in Hindi, and did I mention - sitars?
The clear winner among the songs is definitely Krome Assasins' Return of the Shankar. A song that starts off in a way familiar to trance/techno, drops in some tabla loops early and saturates later with a few Bollywoodistic souvenirs. More from the Bollywood realm, Safri Goes To Bollywood's remix of Dum Maro Dum is definitely an unique remix. Having heard tons of canned remixes of the same song, this was a fresh new perspective on this old time favorite from Bollywood.
On the flipside, the song Temple of Boom tends to get very irritating at times with its overload of sitar string quartets to a point almost where you're shouting for them to mute that channel. They soon do, but respite is quick-felt as it makes a return repeatedly throughout the song. ADF's R.A.F.I is not one of my particular favorites, but you couldn't ignore them with their political-lashing-outs which flew well with the British Asians at the time.
The compilation doesn't finish without including one of the best slow-tempo songs of this genre. Patrina's Om is a surreal love-influenced journey led by a sexy oh-so-sweet-and-soft female vocalist. The timely santoor plucks with beautiful lyrics creates an atmosphere native to a cloud-laden sunrise on a marigold field in a rural village of India with the rays caressing the lotus leaf she talks about in the song.
A compilation's aim among others is to string together memories, and this one succeeds in doing so. If you're in a nostalgic mood and hungry for "old school" Asian Underground, this compilation is for you.