3/19/2007

Renegade Dhols: A Square Dancing UK Bhangra Compilation

(Click on the picture to download.)

Fusing the rich musical heritage of the Indian-Pakistani border region Punjab with elements of hiphop, dancehal
l reggae, UK garage, house and r&b, you'd think that UK Bhangra has to be the greatest music genre ever, at least in theory. In practice this turns out to be only partially true. The main reason being that there's an awful lot of tunes that are pretty generic in terms of rhythm and often actually far behind the standards of the genre the producers draw on. But then again, it seems that on just about every UK Bhangra compilation or artist album you will find at least three or four real killers. I generally prefer my UK Bhangra to be quite close rhythmically to traditional Bhangra, so on those 21 tracks you'll get plenty of awesome, hypnotical polyrhythms, mostly played on dhol drums, tablas and the high-pitched one-stringed ektara.

For this compilation I put together the absolute highlights of a bunch of cds I got from a local Pakistani grocery store about two years ago, namely Urban Flavas 1 & 2, UK Bhangra Vol. 11 & 12, Street Beats and the bootleg compilation Gangster Bhangra. Unfortunately it seems like all the Indian and Pakistani stores in Vienna stopped selling UK Bhangra cds, which virtually cut off my supply of Punjabi wickedness since it seems quite hard to find the stuff on the net. By the way, from what I've read it seems that even in the UK Bhangra cds hardly ever to be found at record shops, but rather get sold at British Asian grocery stores and supermarkets. Another thing that I found fascinating was the fact that not a one of the cds I bought was a legit pressing. Actually, to judge from statements on various artist and label sites, it seems that bootlegging is regarded as being a serious problem for the scene.

The majority of tunes on this compilation was produced by Rhythm Dhol Bass (RDB). This dj and production team, consisting of the Sikh brothers
Kuldeep, Surjeet und Manjeet Ral, is releasing cds under the RDB and Lethal Dholis monikers as well as producing and remixing tons of tracks for other artists. Next to Dr. Zeus they seem to be the most prolific and influential producers on the scene right now and are a serious force in UK Bhangra. Their albums are released through UntouchablesUK, the label, promotion company and artist agency responsible for two of the most important compilation series, Urban Flava and Danger, who's roster includes many of the most popular Bhangra artists.

Quite an interesting case are Ruthless Records and their Street Beats series. I only have the first volume which contains a surprising number of tracks using big chunks of well-known r&b, dancehall and hiphop tracks by major artists. I couldn't really find out wether Ruthless are actually a kind of bootleg label (apparently they don't have a website). But I'd be surprised if their releases where a 100 % legit, since it's quite doubtable that they could afford the rights to sample virtually half of Sean Paul's Gimme The Light.

Some more links:

Woebot of the great eponymous music-blog on desi beat/UK Bhangra

RDB's press kit, containing a quite interesting article from The Face
RDBTV, RDB's extremely popular Bhangra video magazine
BBC's Bhangra show Breakdown
BBC 1Xtra's Desi Beats with Punjabi Hit Squad

I downloaded a bunch of more recent (2005/06-ish) tracks via bit torrent, so there'll probably be a follow up if this comp goes down well with you peepz.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice compilation - THANKS!

square dancer said...

Thanks for your comment, glad you like it! Cheers!

Turkish Records said...

thank you from ARGENTINA

square dancer said...

You're very welcome!

Anonymous said...

I also agree - EXCELLENT compilation... it's about time my world music collection expanded beyond dub and Turkish pop music (although some Turkish pop music is AMAZING!!!)

square dancer said...

Thanks a lot! Those are the high-lights of a bunch of compilations I bought about two years ago. I'll provide some information in the next couple of days. Don't know much about Turkish pop, only heard a bit of Oriental, which is basically a form of r&b-tinged pop with elements of traditional Turkish music. Some was quite good, some rather awful.

Kristi said...

this is really great, thanks!!

square dancer said...

Glad you like it!

Lyall said...

Thank you.

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Anonymous said...

Very cool. Thanks