Pathaan :: Universal Sunset
He earned his stripes at the legendary Swaraj night that exploded out of the burgeoning, yet now stalled Asian Underground in the 1990's, and built-up his credibility through the Stoned Asia music series and accompanying club nights. But with Universal Sunset, his third release in the Sunset series-- Indian Sunset and Global Sunset were the two previous--Farooq Ahmad Khan, better known as DJ Pathaan, has busted out of the Asian music mold and treated his listeners to something different: a chill-out album that maintains the imaginative and eclectic Pathaan vibe, with an added urban global groove element.
The two disc, 26-track compilation, released this past summer by the Ministry of Sound-backed Altura record label, ranges far and wide in musical scope. You can expect to hear mixes of everything from Depeche Mode and Dirty Vegas, to Thievery Corporation and an Outkast cover. And of course, everything in between.
Universal Sunset follows the same path as Pathaan's two previous Sunset compilations. Like the others, it is divided into two discs, Sunset and Sunrise. Both discs contain Pathaan's trademark down-tempo-chill-out-ambient feel, but are still well suited for both the dance-influenced lounge enthusiast and the late night, after-hours club minded individual. The main difference is of course in the song selection. Instead of focusing pointedly at the music of Asia and its diaspora, Pathaan has selected from a wider musical palette. In this instance, a quick glance at the track listing hints at Pathaan's own diverse musical sensibilities.
Standout tracks from the more down-tempo Sunset portion of the compilation are the two Indian influenced tracks: Ikarus's "History Has Taught us Nothing," which has a Bollywood-meets-chillout feel to it and Apache Indian's Rasta inspired "Om Numah Shivaya." "Exhilio" by Washington DC's Thievery Corporation and Khaled's guitar and trumpet infused "Didi" were also highlights of the side. Outkast and other hip-hop fans will be sure to revel at the inclusion of The Urban Underground Society's haunting down-tempo Technova mix of "Hey Ya."
While I enjoyed Sunset, I am partial to the second-half of the compilation, the more upbeat Sunrise. With the opening track, Chris Coco's remix of Heather Nova's soulful and melodius "Aquamarine," I was immediately hooked. The production, when combined with Nova's airy voice, got my foot tapping. And my foot did not stop moving until the disc finished spinning some 12 tracks later. Highlights of the side are too many to list, but Tominaga's funky bass and band driven "Maresias," Baaba Mal's upbeat drum and bass meets Africa "Fa Laay Fanaan," the quirky but catchy Cicada remix of "Manila" by Seelenluft, and Rachid Taha's Arabian influenced "Rock El Casbah" are all stand out tracks. And fans of Depeche Mode will rejoice at Pathaans inclusion of Ewan Pearson's remix of "Enjoy the Silence." If Pathaan was searching for a cohesive collection of diverse and eclectic sounds, he was certainly triumphant on Sunrise.
After the success of Pathaan's two previous Sunset compilations, both of which were widely accessible, I was unsure if Pathaan could better himself with Universal Sunset. After a few spins of the album I was glad to find that he did.