If you're familiar at all with the terms "Asian Underground" or "Asian Massive," then you've been touched by the influence of multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale, a British-born son of Indian parents who has lived in the United States since the age of three. Although he initially made a splash as a drummer and tabla player, his work as a producer, remixer, and now a film composer has broadened both his stylistic range and his musical impact, and Cinema serves as a sort of summary of his work up to 2011. Its title is apt; throughout the album his approach is explicitly cinematic (especially so on the Bollywood-flavored "Turnpike") even as he weaves together multiple threads from the ever-expanding tapestry of both modern Indian and Western pop music. When a project is this ambitious, you have to expect that some tracks might fail to cohere completely, and indeed "Avalanche" is a bit boring and "Peekaboo" offers lots of cabaret-ish mood without providing much in the way of rhythm or melody. But just about everything else on the program is brilliant, from the dream-funk opener "Island" to the equally fine "Sunbeam," which ends the album on a quietly intense note. In between are such gems as the utterly thrilling title track, with its Hindi vocals (courtesy of the flute-voiced Vidhi Sharma), orchestral strings, and pulse-quickening drum patterns, and "Ma," the album's masterpiece, with its spare but intense dubstep rhythm, dubwise insertions of vocal and sarod, and the least embarrassing use of a child's voice to be heard on a pop song in years. This track alone is worth the price of the album, and most of the rest of it is very nearly as good.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson