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Bombay Dub Orchestra - Review

Bombay Dub Orchestra

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

UK-based duo Garry Hughes and Andrew T Mackay are the brains behind Bombay Dub Orchestra, a new act specialising in a unique crossover of orchestral arrangements, lush modern beats, synthesizers and a heavy slant on the music of India.

The result is an utterly intoxicating self-titled album that delivers one of the chillout surprises of the year. Think the mellowness of Zero 7 and Air coupled with the epic sound of a 28-piece Indian string section as a backdrop.

It lends the album a truly cinematic scope that spurs the imagination to think of big movie moments in epics such as House of Flying Daggers, Out of Africa, James Bond and

The idea behind the album began seven years ago when producer Hughes and string arranger/composer Mackay went to India to record some of the top session players for a project by the London-based Indian duo, Spellbound.

“I produced and Andrew managed,” says Hughes. “It was a fantastic experience and on the plane home we thought how great it would be to make an orchestral chill-out record with these players.”

That was easier said than done, however, since both Mackay and Hughes had other irons in the fire – the former a busy career writing music for films, television and artists as diverse as photographers Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts; the latter as a keyboardist and producer with artists like Bjork, Sly and Robbie, Garbage and The Art Of Noise.

Now that they’ve finally come together, the result is an album that was conceived to “explore music that no one else had so far done”.

Taking the Indian influence and merging it with trip-hop beats and cinematic, strings-laden vistas proves a masterstroke and gives rise to one of the most deliciously beautiful and sonically rich mellow listens of the year.

Tracks to look out for include the delightfully mellow To The Shore, which drifts along in deliciously dreamy fashion, and Feel, a beautiful collection of trip-hop beats, elegaic synths and sitars that eventually give way into the vocals of Rakesh Pandit, a young Bombay-based singer who was brought in by engineering legend, Daman Sood.

Dust, meanwhile, drops a supremely soothing beat that perfectly compliments the lyrical flow of the strings and dreamy keyboards that wash over you rather like a cool breathe on a really hot day.

Throughout the album, however, the unique mix of influences combine to create a richly satisfying chillout experience that marks Mackay and Hughes out as artists of supreme confidence and ability.

For sure, there are elements of the aforementioned likes of Zero 7 and Air, as well as Lemon Jelly and Bonobo (both of whom draw on different cultures to augment their sound), but the lasting impression is that you have listened to something very different and really quite special.

Further highlights include the brooding Unexpected Rain with its magnetic mix of flutes, violins and percussion, or the eight-minute plus epic that is Beauty and the East with its deeply alluring blend of electronica and Indian instruments.

It is here, more than anywhere, that Bombay Dub Orchestra’s overwhelming talent yields fruit. Sitar, voice, tabla, bansuri, santoor and violin appear in rapid succession, overshifting electronic drones and a sturdy, rocking tabla and rhythm. A sitar melody alternates with strings over redoubled percussion, while the opening theme returns and a solo-style Indian violin floats over a sensuous set of vocals.

It is the undisputed highlight and a quite enchanting experience that takes chillout into wonderful new directions.

As if the album wasn’t rich enough by itself, Mackay and Hughes have co-produced a double-CD that includes remixes on CD2. It’s clear from listening to it that they’re having fun toying with the sounds they have created and several of the re-imagined versions sparkle as brightly as they do in original form.

This is, in short, one of the must-have chillout releases of the year.

Track listing:
CD1

  1. Compassion Listen
  2. Rare Earth Listen
  3. Mumtaz Listen
  4. Berber Of Seville Listen
  5. To The Shore Listen
  6. Greater Silence Listen
  7. Feel Listen
  8. Dust Listen
  9. Sonata

CD2

  1. Rare Earth Listen
  2. Feel Listen
  3. Beauty And The East Listen
  4. Berber Of Seville Listen
  5. Dust Listen
  6. Compassion Listen
  7. Berber Of Seville Listen
  8. Remembrance

  1. `Great review of a great album. I got it this week and it's true. It is a fantastic album’

    Rachid    Jul 28    #