Record of the day: "The Rough Guide to Bhangra Dance"

Record of the day: “The Rough Guide to Bhangra Dance”

Various Artists
The Rough Guide to Bhangra Dance (Cd World Music Network RGNET 1154 CD)

If you have to organize a party and want ideal music for dancing you can’t do without this album. Curated by a very talented Indian deejay, DJ Ritu, who has been programming dance evenings with an oriental flavor in London for several years, the CD offers a truly rich and quality overview of Bhangra music, originally from Punjab, in northern India.

Originally this music was born to celebrate the hemp harvest (Bhangra, precisely) and many of its original steps referred to gestures made during the harvest, whose rhythm was marked by a large wooden drum called Dhol; subsequently the Indians who moved to England for work began to hybridize these rhythms with decidedly more urban and dance sounds, often adding elements derived from techno, in a fascinating mixture of tradition and contemporaneity, mixing traditional instruments and sequencers, drums with an ancestral flavour, pounding tablas and electronic drums, harmonium sounds layered over synthesizers, with results that will force you to let loose on the floor thanks to the incandescent crucible that artists like Amlkit Singh, Aman Hayer, Taz and Madan Bata Sindhu know how to create.

In recent years Bhangra has become very popular in England, hitting the charts and becoming the daily soundtrack of the Anglo-Asian generations. Sinuous vocal performances with captivating melodies (listen
“Sajna” by Veronica, one of the few female stars of this musical genre) alternate with purely instrumental songs with dazzling colors, whose groove loaded like a spring will not give you respite until you are exhausted.

You will soon find yourself humming the refrains of these songs in Punjabi, which will stick in your head with extreme ease; after all, Bhangra absorbs very different musical influences like a sponge, from rock to reggae, from ragamuffin to hip-hop; this extreme permeability is its winning weapon, which allows it to continuously renew itself, avoiding mold and sclerosis.

Like all the CDs in the Rough Guide series, it is a very carefully crafted work, also including an interview with the curator and materials with historical-geographical information on the areas from which this music comes.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.