Bombay Dub Orchestra
3 Cities (Six Degrees, 2008)
Following up on their self-titled first release, Bombay Dub Orchestra has returned with their second release 3 Cities. This time composers and producers Garry Hughes and Andrew T. Mackay, who comprise Bombay Dub Orchestra, have colored their East meets West fusion with the hues of Mumbai, Chennai and London through the extraordinary talent of some 75 musicians from the three cities. Providing a sumptuous tapestry of sound fashioned out of Indian classical traditions, electronica and trance, 3 Cities is not just a fusion or a cross pollination of elements as much as it is a hypnotic carpet ride, boldly offering a fantastical journey seamlessly constructed out of mind and musician.
Opening with “Egypt by Air,” Hughes and Mackay spike their savory brew with a dose of Middle Eastern sound that includes oud and darbuka. With dashes of santoor and a heady mix of strings, percussion by Sirishkumar and a chunky electronic beat, “Egypt by Air” is deliciously delightful. The track “Journey” blows across the landscape like a warm wind with Kartick’s shimmering vocals, a lazy, laid-back beat and the bright work of Ulhas Bapat on santoor and Sunil Das on sitar. “Strange Constellations” lounges in a plumy pop sound with a revolving melody and ‘other space’ electronica feel.
The rolling Indian rhythm set down by Abdullah Mufa on “Junoon” against Mackay on piano, Ashwin Srinivasan on bansuri, thick programming by Mackay and Hughes and soaring vocals provided by Hamiska Iyer is perfectly wonderful. The darkly seductive sound of “Spiral” is born out of the careful crafting of percussion laid down by Sirishkumar, Abdullah Mufa, Madhu Suthnan, Jaya Chandran, not to mention the dilruba tarshenai by Saroja, bansuri by Napoleon, sitar by Jonathan Mayer, strings by a whole host of Chennai musicians and Kartik’s astonishing vocals.
The tracks “Map of Dusk,” with its slick electronica veneer and cool lounge sound with Ashwin Srinivasan again on the bansuri, and the shapely “Fallen,” with Menaka Das’s jazzy vocals, stand out as genre-bending inventions that ripple with exotic allure. The intoxicating Indian landscape and vibrant piano work on “Greenish Blue,” along with a Phillip Glass feel fashioned out of layered vocals on “Monsoon Malabar,” and finally the depth of lush strings of the Mumbai musicians and Russian zither by Adam Lamprell on final track “Amina” further lure the listener into that ‘other space’ with splendid artistry.
3 Cities is a fantasy journey that rises up like a thin thread of smoke before it circles the room and sails out the window to destinations unknown – all you have to do is listen and follow.
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