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The Music Multiverse – Where one man creates techno before anyone else notices….

25 May

For most people who know me, i´m a bit of a comics fan. Okay, scratch that I´m a massive comics fan.

One thing that any comics fan may be aware of is the concept of the comics multiverse. Essentially the multiverse is the concept that there are multiple worlds that exist “in parallel” to our existing world. In these multiple worlds, there would be numerous variations of well-known superheroes. So on one existing earth you´d have a Nazi superman, on another you´d have a Black wonder Woman and on still another you´d have a Monkey Batman with four arses. the whole idea is to believe that there are numerous possibilities and that they could all exist at the same time.

But a multiverse in real life? I wouldn´t have thought much of it until i came across some blog posts regarding a lost album that was seeing the light after nearly 30 years.

In 1982 Bollywood session musician CHARANJIT SINGH imported Some of the latest synthesizer equipment into India. A good investment as Bollywood composers liked to feature the latest sound in their songs, and with these keyboards Singh spiced up numerous Bollywood recordings.

What he then did was take the traditional raga melodies of India and transfer them to a sped up disco beat. The End result was the album “Ten Ragas to a disco Beat”. At the time it totally bombed in India and only sold a few hundred copies. But what Singh had accidently done was create what is thought to be the first “Acid house” Record. In 1982!

Listening to the tracks is a rather surreal experience. The minimal style, the wobbling bass synth and drum track  entirely mimics the style of a lot of early house. It´s worth noting that Singh used the same equipment that would be used in Early techno and acid house (Roland TR-808 for the drum beat, The Roland TB-303 for the bass-lines and the Roland Jupiter-8 for the melodies) about 5 years before anyone else!

Now obviously this throws an old spanner in the orthodox worldview that the pathway of techno was Funk-disco-Chicago House music-Detroit-UK Acid house. that´s not to take away the pioneering work that many producers made in that part of the world. But it´s very interesting to note that a worldwide known genre of music could be credited as the creation of an Indian Session musician instead of a group of Black American producers.

It just raises the possibility that if a musical multiverse exists, then there could be vastly divergent music genre paths existing at the same time. Perhaps Punk derived not from sleazy US rockers and Ginger British surrealists, but from mexican youths doing electrified sped up versions of traditional mexican songs. Glacial Post-Rock was not spearheaded by shy awkward Icelanders, but by Chinese dissidents as a protest to state totalitarianism. And Indie was created by Black south Africans in the ghetto townships instead of Manchester in the early 80´s.

At the very least it should serve as a reminder to us all that music rarely if ever follows a linear, easy to follow line that can´be used to sell numerous musical history books. It often has many diverse paths and tangents that sometimes exist completely separately from each other.

You can try “Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat” Here

You can then buy it here

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Posted by on May 25, 2010 in history, music

 

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