Nasha :: Eastern Drum and Breaks Vol 2
Now that the original Anokha idea of bringing the Asian Underground sound to more ears is all but a distant memory and the collective have gone their separate ways, the Nasha crew has stepped into their shoes in the most seamless manner possible. The first compilation in the Eastern Drum and Breaks series was a showcase for both up and coming (Bandish Projekt) as well as established (Osmani Soundz, Navdeep) producers bringing the noise from all corners of the world. This second compilation is more of the same with a heavy concentration on the London based collective's own productions. Ges-e, the brains behind the entire Nasha concept and co-founder of Nasha Records, is the center of these proceedings with his trademark tabla-fuelled breaks gracing no less than 8 tracks.
The first four tracks are all Ges-e (Zahid to his parents) productions and each one deserves repeated listens. "Sahara" is pure, unadulterated Eastern influenced breakbeat mayhem built around a sample of the same name by Elizabeth Parker, composed for a BBC1 television series. Equal-i joins in on knob-twiddling duties to transform Lata Mangeshkar's (via A.R. Rahman) heartbreakingly melancholic "So Gaye Hain" from the Bollywood classic Zubeidaa into a melodic drum n' bass anthem. Formerly "Liquid Dreams," this cut will surely be seen as a prime example of just how well Bollywood can mesh with South Asian electronica, if birthed by the right heads. Rahman's trademark soaring strings remain intact while Equal and Ges-e bring in just the right dancefloor technique to make this one of the many highlights of the compilation. "Aaja" is an intense assault on the senses which owes as much to the rhythms pushed by Fabio and Grooverider as it does to the vocals of Sonia Mehta whose effects-altered pipes become the focal point around which the beats swirl in and out.
The name Aktarv8r will sound familiar to ADF fans - in a previous incarnation he was one of the rotating lead MCs but has now made Nasha his creative home. Aktar's strength lies in (Middle) Eastern influenced sinister hip hop beats and "Shinkirou" (Japanese for 'mirage') and "Afterwrath" both sound like a grime heavy Clotaire K. Dark ways are explored over the space of the two tracks and neither would sound too out of place on the soundtrack of the next Jet Li flick or at least the next fatality-heavy video game. Zahid's "Electro K" is an electro and two-step collision backed by tabla bols and rough and rhythmic drum patterns. The two-step theme continues on the sprightly "Elastic People" by the enigmatically named Phono 2 Mini Jack, quite definitely a nod to DJ and audio technology. Saul Williams' now infamous spoken word piece Not In Our Name - Pledge of Resistance forms the heart of "The Gaza Strip" - the beats are so frenzied that we forget the overtly political nature of the message and Saul's lyrics take on a life of their own. A call to resistance and protest becomes a general anti-establishment anthem with a drum n' bass spirit. "Streets of Basra" and "Mann Industries" (the former being similar in style to EDNB1's "Aftershock") pick up where the rest of Ges-e's tracks left off - he's obviously got one sole intention in mind and that is to make the Nasha name synonymous with Eastern DnB pressure. To say that he's surpassed all expectations would be putting it lightly.
Rounding out the disc are "Pyar Bina," by far the mellowest cut on the compilation, by newcomer Vani and veteran Osmani Soundz's "Lushmeena". The former sounds out of place among all the heavy breaks much like Osmani's "Village Vibes" did on the first EDNB disc. Osmani more than makes up for that small disappointment with a swaggering yet chill Asian breakbeat epic this time around. Swirling, percussive beats, a child's laughter and haunting vocals all mix to reiterate just how important and influential this man has been to the scene which he helped mould ever since its infancy; having him in your corner is a major coup.
If EDNB 1 was a snapshot of the still-evolving state of Asian breaks culture in 2003 then volume 2 is what happens when that same culture fully develops and becomes an entity not to be taken flippantly. Any Asian breakbeat artist that comes forth in 2006 and beyond will have to use the Nasha sound as a point of reference. Any less would surely spell failure.