SYNTHESIZING: ten ragas to a disco beat by Charanjit Singh (India, 1982)
For those of you who have watched BBC’s ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ will remember the Sanjeev Bhaskar playing the Indian dad who believes everything originated in India. If he heard this next genre he would stand proud with his arms folded holding his head up high saying I told you so.
Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, is a rather profound album produced in 1982 by a Bollywood session musician Charanjit Singh. He never really became a household name like Kalyanji Anandji or R.D. Burman, working on a few albums in the 70’s but nothing more than just playing popular Bollywood tracks and doing weddings.
One thing that set Singh apart from the rest is when he bought some state of the art kit, a Roland Jupiter-8 keyboard, a Roland TR-808 drum machine and a Roland TB-303 and to do the unthinkable … He then decided to make a record fusing western dance beats and Indian ragas … Two days later the product was Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat.
THUS the first ever Acid House/Goa Trance minimalistic sounds were born predating the Chicago acid house revolution of the mid-1980s. This album doused with TB-303 acid lines, TR-808 repetitive beats all wrapped up neatly with hypnotic droning Indian Ragas played live on analogue synthesizer.
Now restored and reissued by Dutch label BOMBAY CONNECTION:
The album kicks off with “Raga Bhairav”, according to Indian tradition, that is meant to be played early in the morning. You can hear a Robo-Voice at the beginning of the track uttering “Om Namah Shivaya” surrounded by some deadly basslines. WHOMP!
Track 6: “Raga Megh Malhar“, Megh meaning Cloud in Sanskrit, traditional it is said that this raga has the power to open the heavens and bring down the rain and inspired by the monsoon no wonder it begins with a roar of synthesized thundering fills your sound space. As this Raga becomes submerged in the electrics it transforms into a psychedelic fascinating piece of music. I got to admit, first time I heard it – reminded me of Donna Summer’s – I Feel Love.
The work of a pioneering genius or a pure fluke? who cares, underlying message i think this album gives out is, do your own thing. Nothing beats originality …
Whether you have a classically trained ear or just a house junkie you’ll have a lot of fun listening to this …