Sky Dancing: Nada Masala Vol. 3
he emergence of globalism as a dominant force in the world’s political and economic shaping is not merely limited to the flow of goods and technology. It’s also intrinsically tied to the idea of culture and, as such, music. The emergence of a variety of genres of music, for example, would have never taken place without the constant flow of ideas about melody, harmony and rhythm. In most cases, the recipe goes something like this: take a little of this a little of that and voila! —Italo prog disco. Unfortunately many of these fusions have been less than the sum of their parts. As engaging as the idea of the lyrical genius of hip-hop mixed with the aggression of metal might sound on paper, the most popular example of the genre is Limp Bizkit. Not exactly an appetizing melting pot of influences, is it?
Luckily, sometimes it does work. When a genre’s adherents become so ensconced in learning what makes a particular music work, the results of its combination with others is usually a fascinating and wondrous work, full of possibilities. Thus, when you mix the hypnotic qualities of dance music with the mystical range of Indian tablas, you open up the doors for interesting experimentation. The Dakini label has been following this merging of the ancient and spiritual with the rise of dance music over the past few years with their Sky Dancing: Nada Masala series. With the first two entries into the series the beat-driven side of this partnership was explored in great depth.
With this, the third installment, the label takes a step back from the frenetic pacing of the previous two compilations into a more chilled-out territory that rises and falls along the album’s running time. Makyo’s ‘Pashyanti (Deeply Dubbed Mix)’ starts the proceedings easily with a slow-burn atmospheric piece that owes as much to its melodic sensibility as it does to its creamy beat. The compilation picks up the pace with Bageshree’s ‘Bhakti’, which serves as the major beat-driven piece on the album. The groove succeeds in its purpose, but the track ends strangely with the intonation of the Lord’s Prayer.
The album’s gem is Karsh Kale’s ‘Ashes’, which was recorded in 1999. Rescued from a film score, the track typically changes little throughout its duration. Despite this, the song, propelled by a drum and n bass-esque electric tabla melody and a beautifully arranged chord sequence, ends up enchanting the listener.
From there, the disc once again returns to the atmospheric mood building of the opening tracks, providing the come-down for the climax of these two forceful tracks. Jaia’s ‘Evolving to Outside’, for example, takes nearly five minutes to unearth a trip-hop influenced beat amid the swirling atmospherics that permeate it.
In the ever-evolving search for the perfect collaboration of genres, it seems to be ignored by most that what these collaborations end up doing is point towards new roads of departure for the original form of music. The lengthy mystical compositions of a religious Far East shrouded in relative mystery to Western ears is, indeed, a perfect match for the atmospheric dance music that has been transplanted from Europe’s shores. Dakini is showing both genres how to do it. They’d be wise to listen.