You cant be active in the Asian Underground scene and never have heard of State of Bengal. State of Bengal aka Sam Zaman released his first album in the US titled "Visual Audio" and has succeeded in maintaining his reputation of being one of the pioneers in the British-Asian underground scene.
Tracks / Reviews:
- Flight 1C: A definite trend-setter, this was State of Bengal's highly acclaimed track from the Anokha collection. Definitely his most famous piece of work, this song is intricately woven with aircraft sounds, core tabla beats and an uncanny sense of rhythm. Note: This is a different version of the song from the one found on Talvin Singh's Anokha.
- Elephant Ride: Light eastern Indian cymbals jinging in the beginning, breaking into a good beat quarter of a way into the song, building up beatifully into a song encasing many Indian instruments while maintaining a groovy beat. Shehnai's included.
- Burn Your Toes (Vocal Version): The title got me thinking. The song didnt. Dont get me wrong, its not a bad song. Just didnt stand out all that much. An Ibiza chillout kind of tune to it, with a little jazz thrown in.
- Chittagong Chill: Another song from the Anokha collection and this one isnt any less from the first.A very well composed song. Flutes, hihats, snares, break in the beats, this songs going to take you on a lovely rhythmical ride. A must hear.
- Taki Naki: The chanting of "Taki Naki" between the violins and violas in the otherwise qawwali-influenced track, make this track worth a listen.
- Red Earth (Instrumental Version): A very chillout-sounding track, almost easy listening. Definitely worth a listen, as it's put together beautifully.
- Hunters: Nothing struck out as being very spectacular about this track (atleast to my untrained ears). But a review on the Six Degrees Records website described this track as one "with...dreamlike opening of highly processed percussion and zither, [with] serpentine synthesizer, and...subtle use of samples well back in the mix, sounds like 1970s English psychedelia for the 21st century dance crowd" Go figure.
- Ek Bullet: This song has someone singing "Tak Dina Din" with the drones of the dhol often heard during the Durga Puja's. About three quarters into the song, the song has signs of building up into something bigger, but sadly, it doesn't. There's a kind of an "easter egg" at the end of the song if you know bengali as the singer explains the meaning of the title of the track.
- Rama Communication: Definitely, one of the better songs in the album. Again, has a huge plethora of instruments from a wide range. Includes sounds ranging from digital to abacus age. Sam Zaman has employed a good reverse loop which he drops in periodically. One of my favourites from this album.
- Hectic City: The starting is below par, but heats up to be a song reminding you that you're listening to the Asian Underground. An upbeat groove-plucky strings with an union of deep beats.
- Music Is: Another favourite of mine from the album, I thought this should've been featured in the Anokha collection. Zaman's voice sample repeats "Music is the only language that I know". And how true that is. In our times, music is the universal language that crosses physical and political boundaries bringing people of the world together, something that the Asian Massive/Underground revolution has always worked towards. Encasing this album in a lovely feeling of musical unity, this song makes you truly "...believe in Nada Brahma - [that] the Sound is God".
You cant miss out on buying State of Bengal's only album release, so I'd definitely recommend it. Even though I've have not given it a high rating, I think this is one of those albums that you have to grow into. When you do, I'm afraid you'll never part with it.