Suns of Arqa - Cosmic Jugalbandi (Arka Sound, 1999)
Suns of Arqa
CD Arka Sound Arka 22115 CD (UK, 1999)
01. Based on Raga Bhupali (John Leckie Mix)
02. Based on Raga Khammaj (John Leckie Mix)
03. Based on Raga Khammaj (Zion Train Mix)
04. Based on Raga Puria Dhaneshri (John Leckie Mix)
05. Based on Raga Puria Dhaneshri (Zion Train Mix)
06. Based on Assane folk tune (John Leckie Mix)
07. Based on Assane folk tune (Zion Train Mix)
08. Based on Raga Bhairavi (John Leckie Mix)
09. Based on Raga Bhairavi (Zion Train Mix)
10. Based on Raga Misra Bilawal (John Leckie Mix)
11. Based on Raga Misra Bilawal (Zion Train Mix)
12. Based on Raga Khammaj (Youth Mix)
Note : A cosmic jugalbandi based on five ragas:
Track 1 based on Raga Bhupali.
Tracks 2, 3, 12 based on Raga Khammaj.
Tracks 4, 5 based on Raga Puria Dhaneshri.
Tracks 6, 7 based on Assane folk tune.
Tracks 8, 9 based on Raga Bhairavi.
Tracks 10, 11 based on Raga Misra Bilawal.
Fans of vintage roots reggae know the Suns of Arqa as the band that backed up Prince Far I on his excellent live album of 1982. But their usual domain is an unusual fusion of South Asian and Western music that tends to steer clear of the punk and dancehall extremes of the Asian Underground movement in favor of a more contemplative style that comes across as a bit more respectful toward the religious and classical traditions from which it draws. Which is not to say that the Suns of Arqa shy away from laying down a heavy groove. On Cosmic Jugalbandi, the group takes material from five traditional ragas, and each track begins with the flute and/or violin's traditional arrhythmic exposition of the raga's scale. But at the point where a rhythmic pulse usually enters the picture and the tabla or mridangam would begin embellishing the proceedings with intricate rhythmic variations, the Suns of Arqa add a dark, melodic reggae bassline and a few shards of dubbed-up trap drums. It's an unusual and highly effective approach, and one that doesn't vary much from track to track, creating a consistent but never boring listening experience. The album's final track, however, finishes off the program with an aggressively dub-inflected mix by Youth. A must for fans of the Asian Underground scene, modern bhangra, jungle, or experimental dub.