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Singh, Charanjit – “Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat” – [Bombay Connection]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, International

Charanjit Singh is a veteran of countless Bollywood soundtrack orchestras in the Hindi film industry of the 1960s and ???70s. Singh would turn up at sessions with the latest new synthesiser, acquired at great expense from London or Singapore. He was not, however, widely regarded among his country folk as someone “pushing things forward”. His band, the Charanjit Singh Orchestra, made their rupees touring weddings, performing the hits of the day, and even though he played on many popular Bollywood recordings, Charanjit Singh was never a household name.

In 1982, though, Singh did something unusual. Inspired by the sound of disco imports from the west making waves among Bombay’s hipster cognoscenti, he went into the studio with some new kit ??? a Roland Jupiter-8 keyboard, a Roland TR-808 drum machine and a Roland TB-303 ??? and decided to make a record that combined western dance music with the droning ragas of Indian classical music. Recorded in two days, Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat garnered some interest, excerpts finding their way on to national radio, but it was a commercial flop and was soon forgotten.

In 2002, record collector Edo Bouman came across Ten Ragas in a a shop in Delhi. “Back at my hotel I played it on my portable player, and I was blown away. It sounded like acid house, or like an ultra-minimal Kraftwerk.” But it was the date on the record that shocked Bouman. Released 1982, it predated the first acid house record. AArbor

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