TJ Rehmi :: the Warm Chill
I'm not into pigeonholes.
Especially in music.
I think the idea of taking something so universal and limitless and trying to fit it into a seven syllable or less category is ridiculous. As an extension of this I've never liked the terms Asian Underground, Asian Massive, Asian Electronica, et al. But like many things I don't like, these designations do exist.
And criteria for membership is low.
It seems everyone to ever sample a sitar can find their way into the 'asian electronic' subsection of your local record shop. Perhaps a fairer way to chop things would be in cutting the bulk among 'innovators' and 'others.' With heavy representation in the innovators category would be TJ Rehmi, especially with this, his most recent and excellent release. Since the inception of modern Asian Tinged Electronica, Rehmi has been pushing boundaries and shattering pigeonholes. From his debut Mindfilter to his latest the Warm Chill he has demonstrated an incredible diversity in musical style and substance.
Warm Chill is unlike any other Rehmi record, not simply because of the downtempo representation, but because of its focus on the title concept. Mera Therapy had this, but not to the same degree. Warm Chill is a journey through your own mind's eye. All the various elements that have come to define him as a musician through the years are represented here, often in brand new context. From his fresh use of traditional bhangra rhythms to his masterful guitar work, this record continues a deep legacy. The guitars on the first two tracks sounds like a hybrid of Michael Brook and Pundit U. Srinivas. The title track, as it should, captures the essence of this record in absolute completeness. It also sets the perfect introduction for what follows: not just one of the best TJ Rehmi tracks ever, but also one of the finest songs of the genre: "Axis of Ignorance." Such a simple recipe of sarangi, dhol and guitar... who would have thought it would yield something so much more than the sum of its parts?
From here on Rehmi continues a personal take on Café Del Mar. In fact, it is very reminiscent of what one hears emanating from South Beach boutique hotels (this is good or bad depending on your take of Miami). Soon we land at "For the Unknown," the only fast forward track. So many inspirational breaks have sprung forth from this man that it is almost sad to hear the same old Spring Heel Jack lick on such an original record. Enjoying the kind of breakbeat science we witnessed on Invisible Rain's second track "Exposure" would've been much more preferable. But any disappointment is rapidly eroded by "The Escape," the consummate chill out tune and perfect chaser for a finely poured experience.
A miniscule criticism aside, 'Warm Chill' is a must have record for anyone new or seasoned to TJ's sound.