I first heard Transglobal Underground’s “Rejoice Rejoice” (the group’s fourth studio album) in 1997 and instantly loved them for their ability to successfully blend Asian, Arabic and African music with western dance beats. The quality and variety of their music has certainly improved over time; their sixth album, “Impossible Broadcasting” is a testament to their growing maturity and musical prowess. The album begins with a question, “What kind of music do you like” and takes the listener on a journey through varied styles, languages and cultures of music. The introductory track gives way to The Khaleegi Stomp which sounds like something you’d hear in a Brazilian club, except for the great sitar performance by Sheema Mukherjee. The Sikh Man and the Rasta is a perfect example of what TGU does best: blending disparate styles of music – in this case, reggae vocals from TUUP interspersed with bhangra-style dhol beats – into a successful whole. The journey continues with Drinking in Gomorrah, which contains prose recited by Tim Whelan masquerading as a bar owner in Cairo. This track would probably sound out of place in any other album but this one.
The first track of their collaboration with Trio Bulgaria, Isis K, comes in the form of hard-hitting dance beats with Bulgarian vocals by Yanka Rupkina. TGU follows this with a Yellow and Black Taxi cab, which pays homage to the one form of transportation that cannot be mistaken for anything else. I found this hip-hop flavored track one of the weaker on the album. Cikan – Le Message is another hip-hop flavored track on which the Malian rap crew Tatapound rap about corruption in Africa. Take the A Tram is more like a re-working of Shining Iron Face from “Rejoice Rejoice”, though a very interesting one. This is where the album takes a more political turn.
This is probably the most political album by TGU to date. Tatapound’s rapping about corruption is joined by Radio Unfree Europe, a collage of radio clips talking about the same things in Europe. Sentinel features clips from (what I assume are) public service announcements during one of the World Wars and sends a chill down your spine.
The second collaboration with Trio Bulgraka comes towards the end of the album with track featuring a down-tempo groove and beautiful Bulgarian vocals. Even if you don’t understand a word of what they are saying, you’ll still be singing along (or in my case, trying really hard to). The album comes to a close with some beautiful sitar work spattered with break beats on Vanilka.
The press release that came with the review copy of the album indicated that people don’t know how to classify TGU. Are they a band, a sound system or a group of DJs? It doesn’t matter how you classify TGU, they are some of the most innovative and inspired musicians out today. This album proves it.
3. The Sikh Man and the Rasta
4. Drinking in Gomorrah
6. Yellow and Black Taxi cab
11. Stoyane / Mele-le