Black Bombay :: Black Bombay
[amiata roots]   review from vijay choksi   

Thursday December 6th 2001: I am walking up Piazza Libertà using Oggi in Italia, a textbook for beginners of Italian as a makeshift umbrella. The wind is piercing, and I really do not want to walk the long slope back home, especially on the narrow Florentine sidewalks. It's about 7:30 pm, daylight long gone, and the streetlight refuses to turn green. I turn my head right into the dark of Via Mafalda di Savoia. Everything is closed - only one white fluorescent light pouring out onto the street: the specialty record store. I walk towards it, ready for an hour or three of musical indulgence in the toasty warmth of over-worked turntables and CD decks.

I was lucky to spend a year in Florence, Italy, mostly because of the tiny sidestream-record stores that were located conveniently around the city center. And these were no ordinary stores, more so like a Musician-DJ Convention at any given time of day. There are rows over rows of music, Italian and International, vinyl and CD... 70% unrecognizable names.

It is a scramble to find an open spot and join the other Florentines slouched over the plastic, lost in the their own world hoping to find that special record. Then there is the line of turntables and CD decks for sampling [at select stores you can sample anything]. Full of the Italian musical spirit, people are discussing, swapping, bobbing, smiling, and most importantly, buying. The variety is infinite: there is the exceptional, the generic, and then the bad. But who is to say what's what? The bottom line is, everyone is satisfied.

Reminding me of the old days of sampling fifty-plus Italian electronica albums is one of Amiata Records' (based in Florence) recent releases: Black Bombay, brainchild of Italian duo Roby Colella and Ricky Mazzamauro. The self-titled album can be blatantly classified as Indian chill-out, adding to this grossly overflowing genre of music. But there is something original to Black Bombay: it doesn't always seem to follow the mass-market formula of the rest of the crowd. I am still trying to figure out what it is. Maybe it is the exceptionally sweet non-sampled vocals found in "Rice Field Chant," closely but subtly shadowed by what sounds like a Chinese violin, or in "Revelation Dub," her singing leading you to the light at the end of a tunnel. Maybe it is the certain non-Indian aspects of the music such as the Robert Miles-like piano overture found in "Space Lullaby," or the ocean-based traditional Okinawan vocals found in "Life in Goa," or the choir of children chanting atop atmospherics in "Children of the Sky." Or perhaps it's the Well Crafted Beat™ that makes the more upbeat, dancey tracks "The Ganesh Peace Spirit" and "Migration Dub" suitable for chilling as well...

Whatever it may be [and feel free to let me know what that is] Black Bombay's stuff is just clear-cut and clean. You may find that it goes in and out of The Bulk of the Asian Chillouts™ formula, but keep on listening, it should grow on you. D:imm could not have put it better: "It's a guilty pleasure."

ethnotechno rating: 3.5 out of 5
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  1. Rice Field Chant
  2. Life In Goa (pick)
  3. Space Lullaby
  4. Dancing With Shiva (pick)
  5. Revelation Dub
  6. Night At The Temple
  7. Karnatak Journey
  8. The Ganesh Peace Spirit (pick)
  9. Migration Dub
  10. Children Of The Sky