Talvin Singh

Ha!

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Who would have guessed that dance music's most threadbare tabla drum'n'bass pioneer would stop, have a think, and spin around to offer some cool-headed bhangra chill-out? Ha -- another near-universally understood title -- proves just that, and the result is a credibly restrained, sometimes woefully arrogant sidestep. The tip-off should be the cover: moving from abstracted computer blueprint X-rays to, unhappily, a close-up of Talvin Singh himself, it implies a certain rise of narcissism instead of a deepening of crossbred musical concepts. A theory not entirely disproved throughout most of the LP. In the creeping 11-minute opener "One" or the magnetic "Ablonia," Singh unfolds his transglobal trots to much success, but almost anywhere else -- see "Uphold" -- he hums with carefully demolished trip-hop clich├ęs, lacking the mental energy of his roots. In a way, one gets the sense that he broke up his band of one and went solo into a travel-guide's version of multicultural nooks and crannies. And Singh should know far better than such conceits by now.

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