Tales of Ghosts and Dhols

10 12 2007


The Rusalka Cycle (Diaphonica)

More than twenty years after the nuclear fallout in Chernobyl, the incident has become part of our collective past — for the most part. While scouting and studying native rusalka folk songs, the nine-woman group, Kitka, journeyed from San Francisco to the Ukraine. Along the way they stumbled on a daunting realization: Radiation still profoundly affects the daily lives of locals. The rusalka are part of regional mythology; spirit relics of women that died untimely deaths, they now inhabit the folklore and music of the Ukraine. Kitka interprets rusalka folklore in this gorgeous nine-song album, embodying the Shiva/Shakti edge between the harmonies of angels and deep, heavy laments — sometimes a cappella, sometimes backed by orchestras or even lone cellos. Their dedication is simultaneously ecological and mythological, capturing the spirit and sound of a politically tortured and culturally rich region. – DB

Presents Basement Bhangra (KOCH)

Modern bhangra would most likely still be indigenous to London and India had Rekha Malhotra not launched Basement Bhangra in New York’s Tribeca in 1997. Ten years into the monthly gathering, DJ Rekha drops her first album, an exceptional seventeen-track compilation which — like the two guarantees at her club nights: first, it will be packed and second, everyone will dance — doesn’t dissapoint. “Basement Bhangra Anthem,” which features Wyclef Jean and Bikram Singh trading vocal duties, engages in the same dance-floor-igniting textures and rhythms. Defined by the stringed tumbi and iktar, and the heavy beat of the dhol, the sound is instantly recognizable, but with an influx of imported bhangra. Meshing the upbeat “Fakir” through Panjabi MC into a Gunjan/Tigerstyle collaboration, Rekha’s sound is immediately diverse — a trend she maintains for over an hour on CD and over a decade behind the turntables.- DB

These were originally published in Conscious Choice.




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