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Bombay Dub Orchestra: 3 Cities

Chris M. Slawecki By

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In the 1950s, some of the first waves of a "third stream" music flowed through the works of Gunther Schuller, John Lewis, and others working to harmonize the traditions of American classical (jazz) and European classical music. Thanks to communication technology, the world has grown both bigger and smaller in the decades since passed. Today, visionary musicians such as the Bombay Dub Orchestra work to synthesize a new "third stream" that brings together the historic, modern, and popular music traditions of Western and Eastern cultures to chart their own new path toward a profoundly global musical village.

3 Cities was primarily recorded with vocalists with classical and street musicians in Chennai and Mumbai (India), then assembled and produced by Garry Hughes and Andrew T. Mackay in London. It is simultaneously ancient and spiritual, and hip-hop stylish and sleek. "Journey" snapshots in brilliant colors the terrain of this third path: built upon two Indian ragas intersected by an acoustic jazz piano interlude, all enrobed in twirling flutes and strings like thick dark chocolate, with final steps that seem to have no measured rhythm and essentially float in space time. "Journey" leaves a breathtaking view of "Strange Constellations," a sadly beautiful lesson in how electronic or synthetic music can still feel emotionally expressive.

"Map of Dusk" sways upon a softly blue guitar hook that would not sound out of place on a typical smooth jazz "groove" playlist. But Cities does more than contemplate modern life—it reflects in chrome and steel its often harrowing pace. Twisting within the twin spines of North Indian vocals and South Indian percussion, "Spiral" whips through its landscape like a tornado, even pouring out a volcanic duel between the drums and Kartik's vocal. "Monsoon Malabar" sounds nearly indescribable: the production masterfully stretches out one single vocal syllable, "ripples" it into repeated beats, then folds those beats into the rhythm track. The rhythm track keeps propelling the futuristic beat forward even as it keeps tugging backward into traditional Indian melodies and sounds. Here and almost every other place, 3 Cities proves to be an amazing travelogue and amazing music.


Track Listing: Egypt by Air; Journey; Strange Constellations; Junoon; Spiral; Map of Dusk; Fallen; Greenish Blue; Monsoon Malabar; Feasting with Panthers; Amina.

Personnel: Ashwin Srinivasan: bansuri; Sunil Das: sitar; Ulhas Bapat: santoor; Tapas Roy: oud, rebab, saz, santoor; Zarine Sharma: sarod; Dilshad Khan: sarangi; Pradeep Pandit: vocals; Hamsika Iyer: vocals; Rakesh Pandit: vocals; Nishadh Chandra: percussion; Deepak Bhatt: dhol; Madhu Suthnan: percussion; Jaya Chandran: percussion; Saroja: dilruba, tarshenai; Napoleon: bansuri; Sirishkumar: percussion, tablas; Abdullah Mufa: percussion; Will Brown: drums; Abdullah Mufa: drums; Meneka: vocals; Kartik: vocals; David Rainger: guitar; Adam Lamprell: Russian zither; Jonathan Mayer: sitar; Garry Hughes: keyboards, programming; Andrew T. Mackay: piano, bass, programming; Neville Franco: violin, orchestra leader; Shyam Jawda: violin; Chander Makwana: violin; Kamal Pradhan: violin; Errol: violin; Puran Singh: violin; Earnest: violin; Buddhev: violin; Suresh Lalwani: violin; Jitu Thakur: violin; Sanjeev Rao: violin; Suresh Tamayaiya: violin; Nandkishore: viola; Rizwan Sheikh: viola; Evrol D

Title: 3 Cities | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Six Degrees Records

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