Bombay Dub Orchestra ‘3 Cities’ (Six Degrees) 4/5

World roots fusion music is a rapidly expanding sub-genre and keyboardist and programmer Garry Hughes and pianist Andrew Mackay have come up with a bold and fascinating East-West musical cross-pollination that successfully combines the orchestral side of Indian classical with the contemporary beats of electronica. Less jazzy than say Shakti, but using the layered strings as effectively as Alice Coltrane did in the early 1970s, this project is truly twenty-first century in its conception with Indian musicians in three cities, Mumbai, Chennai and London, adding their contributions and the sound as a whole being mixed in Wales. The modal bass line on ‘Strange constellations’ serves as the backbeat for the sensitive combination of keyboards and strings. On the repetitive jazz guitar riff of ‘Man at dusk’ inventive keyboards and Indian bansuri swing in unison. Perhaps, the musical experiments of Bill Laswell have proved inspirational for Hughes and Mackay and this is no more evident than on ‘Journey’ where dub and percusssion fuse with the haunting bansuri over a composition that has an epic cinematic quality to it. Indeed one wonders whether the pair would be usefully employed on a film score at some future recording. Vocals and strings come together effectively on ‘Junaan’. Only on a few tracks does the electronica side take over to the detriment of the traditional Indian one. Overall a supremely confident and well executed project that brings music from the Indian sub-continent into the new millenium while respecting its centuries old tradition.

Tim Stenhouse