Listen Up: Wednesday, August 8, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Tabla Beat Science

Tabla Beat Science: Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove (Axiom Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

A fusion of classical Indian music, African vocalese, breakbeats, and electronica? Sounds cumbersome, but in the hands of this group of musicians headed by Zakir Hussain, master of the tabla — a single-headed Indian drum — and bassist/producer Bill Laswell, it’s actually seamless. Indian music that incorporates modern pop influences is nothing new — remember Cornershop? — but it’s not been done before on such an expansive canvas.

Hussain’s the son of Ustad Alla Rakha, longtime Ravi Shankar sideman and bossman of the modern tabla. Laswell’s the Lower Manhattan underground stalwart who produced Herbie Hancock’s hip-hop hit “Rockit.” The two first blended the sound of the tabla with modern beats and electronics on 2000’s Tala Matrix. This double c.d. set is drawn from an August 2001 show where the group performed expanded versions of three of the Tala Matrix pieces, as well as new material.

Laswell’s always been inspired by the dark, pulsing groove of ‘70s-era Miles Davis, and some of the music here has that vibe. However, there are other elements that give it a more open, organic feel: the sinuous sound of Ustad Sultan Khan’s sarangi (a kind of bowed lute) and the haunting vocals of Ethiopian vocalist Ejigayehu “Gigi” Shibabaw with Sultan Khan. On the second disc, Bay Area turntablist DJ Disk cuts his way across the mix, while the Indian production duo Midival Punditz adds cinematic atmosphere, as on “Trajic.”

This set is definitely recommended for the adventurous only — world-beat aficionados and electronica fans with a taste for something different. In particular, the attention-challenged might be put off by the opening “Taarul,” a 16-minute traditional Indian duet between Hussain and Sultan Khan. But for those with ears wide enough to hear it, Tabla Beat Science is an intriguing, scintillating listen.


Email this Article...

Back to Top


Copyright 2002 to 2017 FW Weekly.
3311 Hamilton Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76107
Phone: (817) 321-9700 - Fax: (817) 335-9575 - Email Contact
Archive System by PrimeSite Web Solutions