Sharaab :: Infusion
[undo]   review from derek  

While New York has become the breeding grounds for the Asian Massive scene, pockets are developing around the country. NYC boasts Karsh Kale, Zakhm, Navdeep, Rekha, Siraiki on the decks, launchpad for EthnoTechno (even if rooted in Queens, we can forgive), and host for a number of parties, from Basement Bhangra to the (shamelessly plugged) Kollective. Cheb i Sabbah long ago locked down left coast while MIDIval PunditZ claim Delhi as throne. As the sound spreads, though, cities are springing up all over. And while Infusion might be Atlanta-based DJ/producer Sharaab's first full-length, cat's been in the game some time.

Being outside has its distinct advantages. Not that Atlanta is in anyway "other," but from what I'm told Sharaab's handling the scene solo. What it has afforded him, however, is to scour the gamut of influences and weave them tightly: Kale, PunditZ, Talvin Singh and the UK-inites, Bollywood discos and bangin' breakbeats all involved on Infusion. A slight history, to round out the name: while talking to Realize Live vocalist Vishal Vaid backstage in the mud of the Floyd World Music Festival in Virginia, we were discussing the concept of fusion (I've been writing a book on the scene entitled Global Beat Fusion for two years). A lot of musicians do not care for the word, as - in the way Ajay Naidu put it - fusion denotes the parts were always separate, and this scene, with its equal elements of traditional South Asian sounds and electronica, rock and more, treats them all as vital components. Vishal concurred that evening, saying he prefers "infusion" as it's a swirling of already-existent parts forming a new blend. I agreed, keeping the book title the same but fostering a permanent epiphany. Later that night I met Sharaab, and while never telling him that story, humorous it is how these circles converge.

Infusion hits you in surround-sense: visually dynamic, lyrically dexterous (song titles that is), and an album that moves like a killer compilation but from one mind. He lays a tantalizing blend of tablas and flutes into a commendable digital template. There are ebbs and flows, hits and misses, certainly, but the strength lies in both Sharaab's willingness to take chances as well as the cuts-that-count. "Earthandsky" merits first citation, as the Bansuri-sampled backbeat and treated feminine didactics lay a mellow groove to rock by. "Sanyasi" drops the tablas into the mix, and "Firewater" follows with a PunditZ-esque d'n'b jam, a scene he revisits over and again. The clear winner, howver, is in the kitsch: "Futureroots" would turn AR Rahman green with filmi-scoring envy. Sign him up for the next crossover; we've had Monsoon Weddings and we've Bent it with Beckham, now it's time to Infuse with Sharaab.

ethnotechno rating: 3.5 out of 5
buy now

  1. Bidrohi (pick)
  2. Test Patterns
  3. Dronah
  4. Sanyasi (pick)
  5. Earth and Sky (pick)
  6. Firewater
  7. Futureroots (pick)
  8. Origineight
  9. Infusion
  10. Bidrohi (Brownsploitation Mix)