TRANSGLOBAL UNDERGROUND (UK)
WINNER - CLUB GLOBAL
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”.
CD Review on BBC Music
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