Vedic

Rhythmic Intelligence

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Like Talvin Singh's more heavily-hyped collection, Anokha, this compilation from Indian artist Vedic (aka V. Sharma) gathers together a variety of experimental electronic artists from the "Asian Underground." On nine diverse tracks, many of which feature the same musicians, Sharma and company prove that Indian musicians can explore the possibilities of modern technology without losing touch with their rich classical traditions. The opening track, "Sweet Omkara," is a hypnotic, worshipful song featuring Sharma's subtle orchestration and S. Kumar's psychedelically reverberated vocals that seem perfect in keeping with India's ultra-traditional past. But each subsequent track seems to take bolder strides into the future. Bedouin Ascent's trance-inducing "Ancient Ocean" is an unlikely but delicious fusion of Indian music and dub, with programmed beats and samples augmented by syncopated tabla and a soaring flute melody. Vedic's "Trip to Tripurari" is even more bizarre, matching Indian percussion, sitar, and vocals with subterranean basslines and the skittering rhythms of drum'n'bass. With each passing track, the fusion of the ancient and the modern, the organic and the synthetic becomes a little more complete, until -- on Lelonek's furiously frantic "Rashanki" and Euphonic's psychotically funky "Way of the Exploding Fist" -- the walls dividing the two come crashing down. Albums like this break down the boundaries of musical convention, carrying the torch of experimentalism forward into the new millennium.

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