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DVD/Video/Film Reviews

Transglobal Underground

By Published: July 28, 2008
Transglobal Underground
Transglobal Underground
La Huit
2008

This film features the London-based music collective Transglobal Underground, whose birth in the early 1990s was conceived among a group of producer-DJs and belly dancers. But don't be misled by their curious origins: they may just be one of the most diverse and exciting groups in today's world music culture.

Shot in 2007 in London and at Les Escales de Saint-Nazaire Festival in France, the film reveals an eclectic set of musicians, a diverse, multicultural community integrating Caribbean, Indian, European, African, Western, and other music influences—a true melting pot. Filmmaker Guillaume Dero captures the magnetic spirit of the collective via street and concert footage, plus enlightening interviews. The various scenes show TGU entertaining the crowds with an overall tone that is one of infectious energy and youthful exuberance.

The opening shots of the performance of a tune called "Mouth Wedding" are of a typical modern-day rock concert—an electrified crowd and jumping music. But the scene is unique as the virtuoso woman musician, Sheema Mukherjee, shreds as her ax of choice, not an electric guitar, but an awe-inspiring sitar.

Despite the on-location footage at Saint-Nazaire, the film paints a portrait of a modern-day metro England where the music is as diverse as its people. From the rhythmic backbone of "Drums of Navarone" to the hip-hop funk poetry of "Yellow and Black Taxi Cab," the sounds of roots reggae, Arabic vocals, electro beats, and other strains are all heard within the mix. We witness not only a unique music convolution but an evolution as well, the mix of world influences becoming an everyday part of daily life almost as naturally as breathing.

Commentaries by individual members and two non-concert solos (one by Mukherjee on sitar, the other by Doreen Thobekile on kalimba) are as intriguing as the live footage. Founding members keyboardist Tim Whelan and drummer Hamid Man Tu, singers Krupa Patinta and storyteller Godfrey Duncan, aka T.U.U.P (The Unprecedented Unorthodox Preacher) share insights into TGU's background and purpose. The various instruments—keyboard, djembe, tabla, laptop—along with their human counterparts are shown working together in complete harmony.

Personnel: Tim Whelan: keyboards, voice; Hamid Man Tu: drums; T.U.U.P: vocals, percussion; Sheema Mukherjee: sitar, bass; Krupa Pattni: voice; Gurjit Sihra: dhol; guests: Doreen Thobekile + Naufalle.

Tracks: Mouth Wedding; Drums of Navarone; Dancehall Operator; Temple Head; The Sikhman and the Rasta; Yellow and Black Taxi Cab; Awal; Vanilka; Mera Jhumka; Emotional Yoyo.

Production Notes: Multi Zone; DVD.5; 50 minutes; Stereo; 16.9.



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