Fusing Naked Beats :: Digital Asia
[just play records]   review from rita bhattacharya  

DJ Asif Ali and Singer MRT (Marti Sewell) combine forces to create the much anticipated CD Digital Asia. Asif and MRT first met at University and channeled their creative energy into music. Locking themselves in the studio for days gave birth to a CD filled with funky, frenzied, fused beats. Known for musical and cultural experimentation, Asif and MRT create a fourteen-track journey traversing Arabic, Indian (Bollywood and classically inspired), electronic and drum & bass tunes that push the boundaries of both mainstream and Asian music.

In Digital Asia, Asif branches out from musical instrumentation by contributing to the CD with powerful, well written rhymes and vocals. The first track "Medina" sets the tone for the the CD. In typical Fusing Naked fashion it sports an Arabic/chill-out feel combined with Indian classical vocals sung by Arjum Ali, and Asif's spoken word interlaced. Clocking in at a radio-friendly three minutes and thirty-nine seconds, it's a perfect length without becoming too lengthy or repetitious, a pitfall snaring many an Asian Underground tune.

The title track got many (including myself's) vote on "The Crunch EP" and hearing it on Bobby Friction and Nihal's show for weeks on end only boosted it's appeal. "Digital Asia" is a club banger because of its funky beats and Bollywood infusion. Here, Fusing Naked uses a sample from Yash Chopra's 1989 Sreedevi classic Chandni with the song "Mere Haathon Mein." The third song, "Asiatic" is a raw blend of minimal vocals and eletronica. It originally appeared on "The Crunch EP" as "Global Truth," but still retains its rhythmic vibe.

"Quantum Knowledge," a personal favourite, is where Asif's forceful spoken words becomes the perfect example of alliteration. With the verse "Back and forth, forth and back, it's the master in with the attack," Asif articulates each phrase as afflictively as the Tabla and Dhol thumping to a four-on-the-floor beat. MRT's vocals give a laid-back tenor vibe which blends well with Asif staccato spoken verse.

MRT's vox work well in most songs but is a hard sell on "Euphoria." Noticeable pitch problems and muffling cloud the vibe, especially when he sings "I can see the love," as all we hear is "I can see the la." It's only clarified when Asif speaks the same verse. That aside, Fusing employs another classic Bollywood sample from the song "Poocho Zara Poocho" in Dharmesh Darshan's 1996 Karishma Kapoor vehicle Raja Hindustani. It's an effective sample because of Alka Yagnik's seductive vocals.

Even with a few of its songs previously appearing on The Crunch EP [Digital Asia, Global Truth (reborn as Asiatic) and Love of a Prophet] Digital Asia is still an original CD and lives up to its expectations. The CD art was executed by Dimm's fellow Asiatic-Designer manojmasala... you should see his work, and Fusing Naked Beats can be found here.

ethnotechno rating: 4 out of 5
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  1. Medina (pick)
  2. Digital Asia (pick)
  3. Asiatic
  4. Desert Queen
  5. Sajana
  6. Velvet Sky
  7. Quantum Knowledge
  8. Euphoria
  9. Threads of Identity
  10. Shalimar (fire of love)
  11. Parallel Love
  12. Sahara Dance
  13. Love of a Prophet
  14. Silk Assassin (pick)