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Karsh Kale: Realize

David Adler By

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Karsh Kale (pronounced "Kursh Kah-lay") is one of a number of young musicians endeavoring to blend Indian music with underground DJ culture. A leading figure in what is known as the Asian Massive movement, Kale plays mainly tabla and drums, but he’s also a DJ, spinning monthly at Joe’s Pub in New York and elsewhere. Interestingly, Kale’s wide-ranging eclecticism has brought him into contact with the jazz world. Past associations with Bill Laswell landed him two guest appearances on Herbie Hancock’s new electronica foray, Future2Future. And he played tabla on pianist Aaron Goldberg’s debut CD, Turning Point (JCurve, 1999), on a cut called "Jackson’s Actions."

Realize is Kale’s first full-length solo album. Calling upon a number of guest vocalists and instrumentalists, he combines drum-n-bass and other contemporary dance genres with Indian wind instruments, vocal styles, and forms. The results are often striking, although ultimately the record sounds too much like a grafting of one sonic world onto another, lacking an organic connection. It’s also a bit too ambient and washy: despite the hard drum grooves on tracks like "One Step Beyond" and "Longing," Kale’s aesthetic often veers close to new-agey territory. After a while, the ethereal sounds of the voices and bansuri (Indian flute) take on a generic quality. There are some good tracks, but on the whole it’s a bit too predictable. A fascinating, talented figure like Kale is bound to put out better work as he matures, however.

Track Listing: 1. Empty Hands 2. Distance 3. Tour Guide 4. Anja 5. Home 6. Satellite 7. One Step Beyond 8. Saajana 9. Conception 10. Light Up the Love 11. Deepest Blue 12. Fabric 13. Longing

Personnel: Karsh Kale, tabla, drum kit, drum loops, keyboards, programming, electric santoor, acid lines and arpeggiators, low end; Shahid Siddiqui, vocals and guitar; Ustad Sultan Khan, vocals and sarangi; Pandit Ramesh Misra, sarangi; GiGi, Vishal Vaid, Falguni Shah, Vidya Shah, Lalitya Munshaw, vocals; Ajay Prasanna, Steve Gorn, bansuri; Kirk Douglas, guitar; Yosi Fine, bass; Gaurav Raina, drum programming

Title: Realize | Year Released: 2001


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