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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Listen To This While High: Acid-House Forefather 'Raga Bhairav,' by Charanjit Singh

Posted By on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 12:24 PM


Hear this while high: "Raga Bhairav" by Charanjit Singh.

Behind the buzz: This sliver off a 1982 EMI-India album Synthesizing - Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat was hailed earlier this year as the accidental invention of acid house, some months shy and several thousand miles away from its accepted provenance in mid-decade Chicago. One hesitates to grant full faith and credit -- rock crits have been Trevor-Ropered into repeating some crazyass shit ere this -- but it seems that in the thunderous dawn of the Reagan Age, Bollywood session man Singh sired a decade's worth of electro-oontz through this double handful of traditional Indian ragas into a double LP's worth of proggy, synth-heavy disco. First crate-dug late in the Dubya Era and touted as "antique futurism" by Pitchfork, the album itself was reissued on Bombay Connection; I heard this very track in the sonic welter of Burning Man 2010. Singh's music sounded gloriously contemporary and entirely appropriate. This is one of the best slabs of blogged music of the past year, and comparable to finding Hello Kitty in a 1938 Hoot Gibson western.

Today's weed: A doughty and aromatic sativa called "Green Crack."

Psychoactive verdict:
After opening prayer to Shiva hovers in vocoder frost for a few gelid seconds, up kicks the familiar minimal warmth of a drum machine and the ambient temperature begins to notch skyward. The core nobility and ecstasy of this form is present even in the worst dregs of late-1960s raga rock and fully accessible no matter how much green crack one has. Which, in my case, was a mere two hits before feeling the familiar slow rise from the top of my skull gently lifting me up from my chair to dance. My girl walked in from the next room and began to dance with her eyes shut, her face wearing that same dreamy expression it had last September at Burning Man, which is its own delight the week after Xmas.

The part where you know you're high: Your mind lets loose its search for the right early 1990s trance-based sub-Goa generic label for this music and begins to move to it.

The part where you wish you were higher: You open your eyes and scan the horizon for Nevada cops. Seeing none, you toke again.

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Ron Garmon


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