Bombay Dub Orchestra
Douglas Heselgrave's #14 album for 2008
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2008, Volume 15, #12
Written by Douglas Heselgrave
Mon December 22, 2008, 06:30 AM CST
Scary as its name might seem, Bombay Dub Orchestra thankfully is not another collective of musicians from outside the Caribbean who are attempting to put their own spin on Jamaican-imbued fare. Although Garry Hughes and Andrew T. Mackay — the British duo that comprises Bombay Dub Orchestra — certainly pay passing tribute to the Jamaican echo-laden and reverb bass-heavy style that currently is enjoying a resurgence, they clearly have their sights trained on a multitude of other sounds and textures. Coming in the wake of Bombay Dub Orchestra’s 2006 debut, 3 Cities is a lovely collection of mostly instrumental music that can be enjoyed both actively and passively.
3 Cities is named for the locations where Hughes and Mackay recorded the endeavor: Mumbai, Chennai, and London. Featuring many of India’s most famous musicians and vocalists — including flautist Ashwin Srinivasan and santoorist Ulhas Bapat — the collection’s 11 compositions explore a variety of moods and textures. On some of 3 Cities’ tracks — such as Egypt by Air and Junoon — Bombay Dub Orchestra makes use of a full-fledged, Bollywood-style symphony, thereby offering some of the most lush and compelling string arrangements this side of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Other songs like Journey and Fallen sound more akin to traditional Indian classical fare. Yet, the sublime instrumentation and vocals that grace them help to raise the project to a higher level of sophistication. In fact, 3 Cities often seems less like a collection of individual songs and more like the soundtrack for a film that exists only in the listener’s imagination.
Ultimately, the influence of 3 Cities will extend well beyond the world music community. Careful listening reveals that sources and influences as diverse as Pink Floyd and the Beach Boys inform the production style that was applied to the collection. Perhaps the most compelling ting about 3 Cities, however, is that it feels like an album that emerged from a different era. The effort recalls a time before synthesizers and samplers threatened the livelihood of orchestras and big bands, and the unmistakable pulse supplied by the usage of real instruments is quite intoxicating to hear. In the end, 3 Cities is so cinematically lush that it proves itself to be a real treat for discerning music fans everywhere.
Of Further Interest...
3 Cities is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box