The Bhangra master returns with more mixes of traditional and new...
Louis Pattison 2007-07-31
This album is a featured release on BBC's Asian Network
Birmingham-born Sukshinder Singh Shinda first made his name in the studio, producing hit Bhangra records for a string of British and Punjabi artists including Jazzy B, Sardool Sikander, Amrinder Gill and Panjabi MC. In 2003, however, this skilled multi-instrumentalist pulled a Timbaland, stepping out from behind the mixing desk and embarking on a solo career that’s made him one of the most familiar faces in the genre. Unlike many modern Bhangra artists, Shinda has made waves internationally by ensuring his music retains a core, traditional sound. Proficient on the tabla, dhol, dholki, and harmonium, as well as all the tricks of the modern studio, the likes of Majajne and Wanga mix familiar Indian instrumentation with keyboards and beats inspired by electronica and hip-hop. The result is a sound that’s unmistakably modern, but rooted in the old.
While Shinda’s 2006 album Collaborations saw him joined by an impressive line-up of collaborators, Living The Dream finds him very much in the driving seat, supplying the lion’s share of the vocals – although there are also male and female backing vocals and, on a couple of tracks, Aao Gidha Palay-Eh and Lak Tera, sing-song vocals from two young children. Confirming the impression this is an album for all the family, "Majajne" is an enjoyably straightforward, upbeat party pop tune with a stomping 4/4 beat, handclaps, and synth whooshes that recall mainstream trance. But there’s also darker fare here: "Tera Bina" is a hip-hop influenced number that mixes Bhangra percussion with thudding street beats and sees Shinda adopt a terse, half-rapped vocal style, while "Sangdi" is the album’s most explicit crossover, a rap track featuring English language rhymes from New Jersey-born Asian rapper Don Revo. Standouts though, include "Tara", a straightforward Desi track with an infectious melody, and the closing "Chardi Khalla".