Talvin Singh & Niladri Kumar, Manchester – 25.Sept.09
A review of my first Talvin Singh gig I attended last year:
2001, I was accidentally introduced to Talvin Singh by listening to a cassette labelled “OK” initiating my passion for Asian Underground.
I wouldn’t describe it as a concert but more an intimate transmission showcasing pioneering talent that reshaped the way we see and listen to music. Being fortunate enough to have arrived quite early (as opposed to IST), seating was on the front row, where both maestros where less than a meter away.
From the first strike of the Tablas, I was captivated by the taal which resonated through the speakers. You never fully appreciate music until you actually see it coming to life in front of your very eyes. Like artists with a blank canvas they orchestrated some of the finest audio paintings imaginable!
The night consisted of an array of styles, ranging from elements of dub, drum n bass, electronica and classical, all beautifully amalgamated into their performances that intensified one after another. The energy and drama with which the artists played was remarkable, the unison between them and their respective instruments was quite magical. Knowing what to strike, how, where and when, knowing their instruments like they know themselves.
Like a book, the music was being read through their smiles, acknowledging each others immeasurable talents communicating in a way only musicians can. Both sat on stage evoking feelings and emotions that are not familiar to words, indefinable, yet familiar to us all. The very sight was electric!
Talvin Singh – a visionary and pioneer. Niladri Kumar – someone who I think is a true personification of music. You witness someone who is one with the Sitar. Who is Niladri and who is the sitar? His whole body swayed with his instrument, creating reverb by simply moving the instrument itself, to his emotions and facial expressions whilst playing. There is no clear distinction; all you witness is a true state of musical harmony.
The finale was truly magnificent. Nildari introduced it as being played in the Bhairavi raaga but it was an improvisation piece which they were relying on each other to make something from it. While playing Niladri managed to some how sneak in Beethoven’s Fur Elise and Deep Purples – Smoke on the Water without adulterating the original piece and providing bit of comedy hehe.
Over the years I had built up certain expectations of Talvin Singh (and more recently of Niladri Kumar), that I was beginning to think was it wrong of me to do so, but you cant help it if you’re a fan. As the concert went on each expectation I had turned to dust and was blown away by their performance.