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Awards for World Music 2008
Transglobal Underground
Transglobal Underground album cover

Transglobal Underground first took shape in the early 1990s as various London-based musicians began experimenting with sound. Several were veterans of the punk scene and they kept the punk ethic of do-it-yourself as their guiding spirit. Bringing in the influence of Jamaican dub and dancehall while sharing a keen interest in Arabic music helped give focus to the TGU sound. Around the same time the acid house revolution meant everyone wanted to dance all night and, initially at least, embrace Indian flavoured music. From such diverse enthusiasms and energies came TGU’s 1992 debut single, Temple Head.

Temple Head was, to put it mildly, a sonic bomb of a record, winning the band Single of the Week in the then esteemed rock newspaper Melody Maker. Their 1993 debut album Dream Of 100 Nations was a crazy blend of samples from Bollywood films, Arabic orchestras and Tibetan monks mixed over huge dub basslines and Latin piano riffs as favoured in house music. On top of all this they boasted a rapper, an oud player and a young vocalist named Natacha Atlas who not only sang in several languages but also belly danced. Many a free festival and all night rave came alive when TGU hit the stage.

More albums followed and lots of touring, including dates in Egypt and a tour supporting Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. The London-based collective helped pioneer the now very popular (and lucrative) mix of electronic dance culture and ethnic music yet their eclectic spirit meant they never won the large audience who embraced The Prodigy and Underworld. As Atlas’s solo career took off in the late-1990s some of the members followed into her band. Since then certain key members have kept TGU alive as an occasional recording and performing outfit, both calling on old friends (Atlas guests on one track on 2007 album Moonshout) and bringing in fresh talent. Today Transglobal Underground remain masters of what is often called something like “tribal house-world fusion-ambient dub”.

Garth Cartwright

CD Review on BBC Music
Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:

Lazar Staykov, Berlin
Truly devoted to the music of our world. They deserve this award and recognition much more than the others, surely respectful competitors.

Mitch Hart, Lewes
Stunning live act, often effortlessly blending the unblendable. I was seriously turned onto a lot of world music because of their influence. They deserve wider recognition for their part in making a wide spectrum of music accessible and feasible.

kath P London
Great live band - so why aren't they performing at the prizewinners' show?!!!!

charlie, london
Why haven't you been invited to perform at the winners event in July? Your pioneering musical ideas & collaborations have been an inspiration to so many global artists. Good luck with future projects.

bekki, Bradford
Transglobal Underground are by far the best band iv seen live. These guys are brilliant and everyone should get the chance to see them :) x

Ian Palmer, Lancaster
Seen TGu several times at various festivals in the UK. For the music, colour and entertainment value they are one of the best groups around. Look forward to seeing them again this summer.

Shri - California
I do envy europeans - the world beat is well and alive thanks to TGU and other bands unlike uni-dimensional US of AThanks TGU for bringing the world closer with your Beats and Music

Sarah Flavell
Great music especially when you see them live.

Vince MIllett, Croydon
I'm not sure these awards and this whole genre (as a marketing label) would exist if it wasn't for TGU. They deserve respect.

Norma Tenbury wells
saw them at Sheep Music after hearing how good they were, what a night! Wonderful music,great entertainment, lovely atmosphere good luck x

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