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Feature: Music Collaborations 2012

[Discovery, Mix it]

The world of electronic music is peppered with producers working in seclusion, in a basement or bedroom studio set-up where their creative output is crystallised over hours of hard work. Most artists find an inherent need to reach out, to hear the opinion of a friend or a community of listeners. And ever so often, artists also team up with each other to craft a piece of music that steps out of their comfort zones. Think of reclusive British act Burial’s work with Four Tet, or vocalist Jarboe from American post-punk band Swans, contributing vocals to a track with art-metal megastars, Neurosis; and singer-songwriter Zola Jesus clashing with LA Vampires to create experimental trippy music. Hennessy Artistry’s commitment to putting together artists of the highest calibre at events in Bangalore and Chennai has similarly resulted in many memorable gigs in the country. Here, we pick our list of memorable collaborations with Indian acts.

Apocalypse Meow

A brand new-electronic music project, Apocalypse Meow is the collaboration of a video game designer and a singer/songwriter. Currently consisting of three members, the line-up includes Delhi-based musicians Aalap Davjekar (singer/songwriter, arrangements), Angad Singh (bass, arrangements) and Saurabh Babbar (guitar).

Bandish Projekt feat. Monica Dogra – Lover

The man behind a hundred different collaborations, Mr Versatile, Mayur Narvekar first collaborated with Monica Dogra from Shaair n Func back in July 2011, on the tragic day of the terrorist bombings in Mumbai. A little over six months later, the duo returned with another tune to top the previous one. ‘Lover’ comes across as a twisted ode not just to Dogra’s titular beau, but to the various bass frequencies that dominate the world of Bandish Projekt. One of Hennessy Artistry’s regular features, the latter regularly brings the house down at nightlife events in Bangalore.

Bay Beat Collective feat. Rhys D’souza & Microphno3

Weekend concerts in Bangalore always have an extra air of anticipation when the Bay Beat Collective comes to town. And it’s not hard to see why. After touring extensively across the country, the trio has set their sights on producing and releasing an EP in 2012. Part of that process has involved working with live musicians. Their collaboration with jazz saxophonist Rhy D’souza and MC Microphono3 at Mehboob Studios in October last year took inspiration from 2ManyDJs’ sets, with short samples from classic and indie tunes. It gave the set a kinetic energy that kept electronic music fans, indie scene regulars and newbies hooked.

Bombay Bassment / The Funk Fraternity – Bombay Blues

Widely voted as one of the top bands of 2011, Bombay Bassment added another element to their funky catalogue when they teamed up with the Funky Fraternity, a collective that includes beatboxer Alan DeSouza (one half of beatbox duo BoXy-tUrvY), trumpeter Agnelo Picardo and saxophonist Nigel Rajaratnam (from indie act Dischordian), and a trio female choral singers called The Sopranos. The idea was to replace their sampled sounds with musicians playing them live and to keep their performances fresh. ‘Bombay Blues’ is from their debut show at the Blue Frog in September last year.

Bramfatura feat. Siddharth Basrur

DJ-Producers Mark Fulgado and Gaurav Godkhindi from Bramfatura have worked with several vocalists, but none of them have been more effective than Siddharth Basrur, a lynchpin of the death/heavy metal scene in Mumbai, with the supremely talented band, Goddess Gagged. Basrur, who jokingly referred to himself as a ‘vocal whore’ for the large number of tracks he lends his voice to, said that ‘Red’ was that the first time someone directed his voice for a track. The tune is dark, electronic music ballad that hurtles towards a fatalistic end, with ominous keys and Basrur’s haunting, melancholy howl of a voice.

Delhi Sultanate / Chris McGuiness / Teddy Boy Kill feat Bant Singh – Word, Sound & Power (Bant Singh Project)

Teddy Boy Kill recently curated a great line-up of acts for a New Year’s eve concert at Counterculture, Bangalore’s top venue for weekend events. And the Bant Singh Project is just another example. A truly cross-continental initiative, it featured Brooklyn-based producer Chris McGuiness, Delhi Sultanate (MC Taru Dalmia) on vocals and Delhi’s cultural and electronic music instigator, Samrat B journeying to the Jabbar village in Punjab to collaborate with Bant Singh, a Dalit Sikh farmer and singer, who has emerged as an agricultural labour activist, fighting against the power of the landowner. Funded by the Goethe Institut in India, Word, Sound & Power mashes electronic music beats and the power of the spoken word to spread the message of justice, self expression, human rights and more to listeners through diverse genres of music like dancehall, dubstep, reggae and poetry.

DJ Uri / Marc Hype and Jim Dunloop – Bollykraut Mixtape

Bangalore music event favourite DJ Uri is a fixture at Hennessy Artistry’s concerts across India – in September last year he participated at the Berlin Music Week in Germany and spent time gigging with DJ Marc Hype and pianist Jim Dunloop, the brilliant live hip hop duo. As an extension of their musical meeting and friendship, they decided to record a Bollywood-tinged set in one take at Hype’s home in Berlin. The output is a fantastic selection of classic and rare breaks that is as funky as it is fresh.

Gods Robots feat. Alam Khan – Rain

One of the first Asian acts to be selected as part of file sharing company Bit Torrent’s Artist Spotlight programme, Gods Robots are producer DJ Janaka Atugoda and vocalist Shridevi Kesavan, who have graced several top Bangalore events in the past year. ‘Rain’ features sarod player Alam Khan (who is featured on the 2012 Grammy Award Winning album ‘Revelator’ with the Tedeschi Trucks Band). Son of the legendary sarod maestro Ali Akhbar Khan, Alam’s sometimes introspective, sometimes playful sound fits perfectly amidst the pitter-patter breaks and occasional wobble, with Kesavan’s voice doing the rest.

Mikey McCleary / Suman Sridhar – ‘Hawa Hawaii’, ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’

Music producer Mikey McCleary’s ‘Classic Bollywood: Shaken not Stirred’ album, released in JuIy last year introduced a host of indie voices to the Hindi film industry. In an album studded with fantastic interpretations of songs ranging from 1950 to 1970, the two outstanding tunes featured Hennessy Artistry and Bangalore concert favourite, vocalist Suman Sridhar. Her sassy, jazzy, quirky rendition of the iconic ‘Hawa Hawai’ from sci-fi adventure film Mr India directed by Shekhar Kapur and the more  morbid, Tarantino-esque sexiness of ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’, featured in Shaitaan give both tracks an intoxicating touch.

Ricardo Villalobos [Remix - Mujhko Pehchano] – Don 2 OST

The Chilean-German producer and DJ is one of the leading global names in the minimal techno scene but is completely out of his depth with this remix for the Farhan Akhtar directed sequel of the legendary film Don. Not just this remix, but the entire soundtrack was panned by critics for its unimaginative, dull, standard issue songs which did nothing for the film. Villalobos seems to have caught the same virus – his relentless loop of Shah Rukh Khan chanting Don over an acid house beat and KK’s lacklustre vocals is probably one of those efforts he might never want to revisit.

Zero featuring Ravi Chari – Christmas in July

Indian alt rock band Zero has a legendary following across the country and fans looked forward to ‘Christmas in July’ for guitarist Warren Mendonsa’s stunning solo. The band actually found a way to top this experience by adding eclectic sitar player Ravi Chary, who has performed alongside creative talents like Trilok Gurtu, Angelique Kidjo and Robert Miles. Few would have guessed that Chary would steal the show with his memorable sitar solo. As Mendonsa recounted in an interview, “we feel like the classical musicians, and Chary is the rock star.”