Gulfisha (The Kaushik Remix)
Recently, The Guardian asked the question, Where Is The New Asian Wave?
Are young Asians simply not interested in making pop music? Or are there bands out there, just not being widely heard? This year's UK Asian Music Awards honoured people like Sukshinder Shinda and Hardkaur , who are hardly household names (their You Tube appearances suggest they make American-sounding hip-hop about "laydeez" and sound as Asian as I am), although Nitin Sawhney is rightly (if a little vaguely) honoured for "commitment to the scene". It's 16 years since I looked into this with anything like a magnifying glass, so I'm confessing to some naivety here, but I wonder what happened to Radical Sista, Pardesi Music Machine and all those other hopeful people I met back in 92. Where is the next generation?
A similar question could be asked for artists across the pond but that would be doing a disservice to great musicians like Kaushik Mukherjee who has been producing wonderful music in DC for the better part of this decade. A couple of qualities separate Kaushik from his contemporaries. The first is this: of all the UK/US based South Asian artists I've heard, Kaushik understands funk. There are any number of tracks by other groups/artists I've heard which feature much tablratronica and other percussive wizardry but are really jerkoff exercises for virtuosos, much like overlong guitar solos by progressive rock groups. But funk is as much a function of timing as anything else and Kaushik understands the distinction. The second feature of his music is the warmth. His music will draw you in, not batter you into submission. This is not to say his tracks aren't uptempo or uproarious. They are best described as an invitation to soak in a Sonoma hot tub on a yacht hurtling down Russian River.
His own tracks are wonderful in their own right but it is as a remixer that Kaushik excels. Just check out his version of AR Rahman's Gulfisha, a track from the forthcoming film Ada - A Way Of Life. Kaushik put together the mix following the availability of 30 seconds worth of raw vocals from a remix contest and his version blows away anything else on that contest site. Compared to some of the Casiotoned entries over there, his might as well be on another nebula. With Chemical Brothers like breakbeats and layers upon layers of electronica and warm echo-ey Bolly vocals, it's a revelation. In fact, without even hearing the original, I'd argue AR would have a tough time topping this version. Here's to you Mr. K, long may your turntables spin.
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