Nasha :: Eastern Drum and Breaks
"The Nasha label was initially set up as a response to a lack of heavy Asian breaks on the dance scene." reads their press kit.
Mission accomplished: If there ever was a void of heavy asian breaks, Nasha has filled it to the core. Here, in Eastern Drum and Breaks, lies straight heavy breaks. The first couple of these tracks are a throwback to the seminal days of the asian underground. Hard tunes that sound like dj mixes booming from the Blue Note soundsystem.
Knowing Ges-e did the compiling for his label's debut made me wonder if some of the other Nu-breeds would be making an appearance. Sure enough, its great to see the return of Niraj Chag and with serious pressure. "The Wheel" is one of this comps standouts. Cutting up Aref Durvesh's bhols with a delightfully eighties melody yields an uplifting, infectious groove. Ges-e makes sure to stay true to his mission statement with aptly named "Militant 24." The dark, driving bass of Dr. Das, from Asian Dub Foundation, makes this tune particularly soundsystem friendly. I've always liked the Osmani Soundz tune "Village Vibes," though I wonder about its placement on this particular compilation. Perhaps its meant to act as a respite from all the hard dnb, but if you're going to have one of the godfathers of heavy asian breaks on your compilation, I think it's compulsory for his track to be a burner. A better choice may have been the mash up "OS System" from the ill-fated Anokha 2 compilation, simply because its more inkeeping with the Nasha mission statement. Unless the point isn't what I think it is, which I realized upon hearing the next track, "el Hoggar" by Simbad. A sound direct from West London via Mesopotamia, Simbad weaves a pleasant sound from very different elements.
Back for a taste of the breakbreak pressure, Ges-e delivers "Sonic Solution," a track which I like on its own, but on this compilation seems less special being the third tune to feature Sonia Mehta's vocals. Aref Durvesh has been on the scene for a long time and its great to see him producing his own material. "Genetix" is a beautiful tune, featuring fellow asian underground veterans Marque Gilmore on drums and Chandru Shekhar on violin. Marque, aka Inna-Most, serves up the next track "i...Volcano" a cut up of Marque's own live electronic drum kit playing.
While at a Cyber Mehfil in Delhi this past January someone threw on this tune that sounded like Funkstörung had gotten ahold of the soundtrack to "Bombay." It was the most inspiring sound I'd heard in some time. I had to know what it was: Made by local boys, from the Gujarat, I was told. It was "Electronik Dausa" by the Bandish Project. Having this song on this compilation is a serious score. It truly is what propels Eastern Drum and Breaks from a compilation of nostalgic soundz to a very forward looking collection.
"Firewall" takes us back to that Metalheadz place and takes your ear uptempo for the monster "Aftershock" by Ges-e and Aref. The shenai on this tune instills it with an emotion that is lacking in so much hard electronica.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the compilation close with a classic from New York's own Navdeep. "Amrit" is a beautiful rinse that really allows your inner eye to craft some lush landscapes. London to India to America, this compilation is as geographically diverse as it is sonically. Kudos to the boys from Nasha for putting together a compilation not simply about heavy asian breaks, but heavy asian vibes.