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International praise for Rahman's music - MondoIndia CD International praise for Rahman's music - MondoIndia CD

Topic started by Karthik S (@ on Wed Aug 14 03:15:37 EDT 2002.
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

Check out the info on this CD compilation and track list. Has mostly ARR songs, 2 by other composers (Vishal and RDB). Check out the very interesting liner notes in the same page.

Here are the international reviews:

""World music label Mondo just sent me its new anthologies, Mondo
Africa, Mondo Greece, and Mondo India. I already have so many African
music samplers in a back closet that my house leans to one side. And
the Greek disc didn't grab me. Mondo India throbs with originality,
however, and that's as much to do with the bass and drum-heavy
production as the modern approach of filmi impresario A. R. Rahman.
Compiler Gerald Seligman is so taken with Rahman that all but two
tracks on the disc are his, and one of the stragglers belongs to
Vishal, a composer influenced by Rahman. The late R. D. Burham ,
credited with introducing non-Indian musical elements to soundtracks,
fills the other non-Rahman slot with 1994's "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha." The
lean arrangement is a far cry from the heyday of filmi when
everything from jazz, country, soul, and European classical music
motifs crowded into a single three-minute opus. Rahman's hallmark is
the same homogeneity. Instead of yesteryear's exciting kitsch
collages, he assembles glassy panoramas that blur Indian elements
with a familiar world music topography of effects-laden vocals, up-
front electronic percussion, samples, and synthesizers. All is
tastefully integrated with dreamy voices and melodies evoking
romantic themes, while percussive wallops jab the thrill-seeking
contingent of the audience awake at regular intervals.

Saving these songs from the realm of Joi, Atman, and other plunderers
of Indian treasure is faithfulness to the subcontinental material
that generally rings true. Instruments may dive and surface, rhythms
may be parsed, but the lead vocals maintain their integrity and
therefore a sustained power of mood. "Narumugaiye" is contemporary
more by attitude than instrumentation as sarangi, vernacular flute,
zither, and tuned percussion join a lovely duet by Unnikrishnan and
Bombay Jayasree. Atmospherics and a synthesizer solo put it in the
1990s, but the entwined vocals convey the eternal spirit of pop chart-
style young love. "Gopika Poornima" pushes a similar concept into the
realm of the maudlin. And "Alyayio Kanavaa" is so diluted it could be
from anywheresporting a church choir opening, hip hop beats, and the
kind of vacuous signifying that passes for passion in place of the
more traditional delivery that make Indian vocals unique. But even
this is done with real appeal. In a crowded soundtrack field that
sees something like 800 films produced each year, Rahman is really
onto something, selling over 40 million cassettes in the last three
years. That's usually a guarantee of mediocrity, but this sample
culled from 35 cds proves that Rahman is the raja."

"Henry Ford lives! Sure, his surname may now be Patel or Singh, and
he hails from Madras instead of Motown. But he does live and, instead
of producing cars, movies are his thing. Bollywood, baby. Where
singers are locked up in sweatshops, belting out thousands of songs a
day and new movies deluge the subcontinent like monsoon rain. But in
this maelstrom of activity where conformity is king (tons of music,
tons of action, boatloads of dancing, and heaps of love scenes --
with no kissing!), truly artistic jewels do emerge. After all, the
company that gave us the Model T did also deliver the '68 'Stang.

A.R. Rahman is just such a jewel, and Mondo India is a tribute to his
artistry. This film composer has a nice, subtle touch, able to mix
Western sensibilities with Indian tradition that can satisfy both
East and West alike (which is a difficult task, since Indian music
can grate on Western ears). But, who would expect anything less from
Deepa Mehta's (Fire and Earth) personal composer?

"Narumugaiye" is a sweet ballad that combines classic raga percussion
with a peculiar symphonic quality that is charming. There's the slow-
crawling, funk bass in "Pachaikiligal." And "Aiyaiyo Kanavaa" is a
true culture clash that sounds like it's been mixed by a minimalist
DJ, whose been strongly influenced by Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush,
and an R&B diva who wails as though she's back in the Church.

One can tell that the producers of this compilation specially hand-
picked each track with an American audience in mind. Each song
contains elements with which we can identify and enjoy. It makes one
wonder if this is truly representative of Rahman's work. However, the
disc works quite well. The only problem is that they should've just
made this a Rahman disc. In an attempt to give the composer some kind
of historical context, they picked one song each by his mentor, R.D.
Burman, and his disciple, Vishal. While both are good songs, they add
nothing to the compilation (since most of us don't know the history
of Bollywood composers, what kind of context do we get from one guy
we don't know being influenced by another guy we don't know and a guy
we don't know who is strongly influenced by the first guy we don't
know?) and distract from an otherwise excellent overview of Rahman's
work (or Rahman's work we're sure to like)."

"While a compilation, Mondo India is essentially a celebration of the
work of A.R. Rahman--possibly the greatest of the modern filmi
composers, and a man who can seamlessly marry Indian and Western
melodies, instruments, and techniques in a way no one has managed
before. While there's a track each from his mentor R.D. Burman and
his disciple Vishal, it's Rahman's work that sparkles with melody
upon melody and an almost infinite sense of invention in the songs.
He is to the Bollywood scene what Ennio Morricone or Nino Rota have
been to European cinema: people who transcend the idea of score and
soundtrack to bring forth pieces like "Dheeme Dheeme" that can stand
alone as pieces of music. He's not perfect--the ambient-
oriented "Alyaiyo Kanavaa" never really goes anywhere, for example--
but the vast majority of Rahman's work outstrips his contemporaries,
both Eastern and Western. He's been called a genius; on the basis of
this collection, that's not idle chatter. --Chris Nickson"

A search for reviews of MondoIndia CD in Google would throw up many more like the above. We know how good his music is. Most of these reviews are by non-Indians who might not be exposed to Indian music at all. And they comprehend Rahman's music and shower accolades to such extent, it truly means ARR's music transcends boundaries!


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