Anjali may be the succesor to the Asian Underground crown. Okay this is very old, but in a little while I am going to be adding new information on her new album, The World of Lady A with a full review, so why not give you a quick background on one of my favorite British Asian musicians. This is an old article but still worth reading.
Who will be the next big Asian Underground artist? Who will take us beyond the jazzy dubs produced by Nitin Sawhney and tabla-and-bass sounds of Talvin Singh? Even though the Asian Underground scene is bursting with new artists who are experimenting with electronica and fusing it with the desi grooves, the question is: who will inherit the crown?
The answer lies somewhere in the music produced by a thirty-something British-Indian musician, Anjali. Her numerous singles and eponymously titled album, Anjali, are available on Wiiija Records, the home of another Asian Indian superstar band, Cornershop. The first time I heard about Anjali was when I popped in a CD, which accompanied the magazine, Revolution. Her song, Feline Woman was one of the featured downloads on the disc.
A few minutes later, I was hooked on Anjali’s music. Napster also carries quite a few tracks produced by her, and a Google search will yield much information about her as well. Browsing through the Wiiija biography of Ms. Bhatia is quite fascinating – I was amazed to find out that till recently she was part of all female riot-grrrl combo Voodoo Queens but only recently had wandered into the world of Trip-hop.
“With so many trip hop pedestrians out there, it’s heartening to see someone roar past in an aural Porsche,” is what influential British music weekly, New Music Express had to say about Anjali. Others believe that her well-produced, musically mature compositions packed with lush samples and soul moving bass could revive the trip-hop genre which has lost ground to Garage and other mongrel music forms. Trip hop, for the uninitiated is the music produced by the likes of Moby, Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead.
She left Voodoo Queens and resurfaced as a DJ at a leading Asian beats nightclub in London, Swaraj. There she spun an assortment of classic Marley Marl and Mantronik productions alongside sitar-driven funky soundtracks. From there on, she has been experimenting with newer and funkier sounds. Anjali’s four EP’s to date, Maharani, Ju Ju, Aquila and Feline Woman all feature on her Sheer Witchery compilation, which was released through Wiiija as well.
But the new album, Anjali, sees her taking more chances, laying out funky samples over laid-back beats, giving a very seductive feel to the album. Armed to the teeth with an arsenal of exotic samples and programmed breaks, her album, which features 11 tracks, is a delight, even though some tracks are disappointing.
Anjali, the album has a dark eerie quality, which makes it the perfect soundtrack for the post stock market crash world. Take the single, Lazy Lagoon as an example, which combines the samples of horns, hip-hop bears and string section with an ample sprinkling of Indian sounds. It is the best track I have heard since Nitin Sawhney’s Bengali Song.
Since Anajli has been a rock-musician, she uses those composition skills on these sample-heavy songs as well. Ample proof of her arrangement prowess is visible on tracks such as Dusk, Arabian Queen and Turquoise and Blue. The three tracks incidentally are my favorite on the album. I would recommend this album to anyone who is seriously interested in knowing how Asian Underground grooves are changing the world of electronica at large. It is worth the $20 odd you will spend.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommended link: www.wiiija.com