"there are immaturities, but there are immensities" - Bright Star (dir. Jane Campion)>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
"the fear of being wrong can keep you from being anything at all" - Nayland Blake >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> "It may be foolish to be foolish, but, somehow, even more so, to not be" - Airport Through The Trees
Thursday, September 11, 2014
BEDOUIN ASCENT Melody Maker, 1996 by Simon Reynolds
Listen to Bedouin Ascent's recent LP
"Music For Particles", and you quickly realise that, for
its 27 year old creator Kingsuk Biswas, percussion is the thing. The Bedouin sound --a shimmying mist of drum
machine polyrhythms and
synth tics, interwoven with ribbons of ultra-minimal
melody--is steeped in the influence of African and North Indian Classical music
(the latter thanks to Bis' Bengali background).
"Western music emphasises harmony and
melody over rhythmic complexity," Bis explains.
"The most empty music, I thought, was the most melodious music, and it's easy to
indulge in that with an electronic keyboard. But with West African percussion
ensembles, melody is the product of 40 drummers jamming together; the
melody, rhythm and harmony is blurred.
That discovery was the holy grail for
me!," he gushes, adding that he aims to achieve the same effect with drum
machines and computers. "As for Indian classical ragas, that music contains some of
the funkiest rhythms on the planet!".
Dub is another crucial influence; as a
ten year old he'd listen, amazed, to Dave Rodigan's
late '70s show on Capital. "It was mad, mental music, beats stopping and
weird noises, lots of toasting." Later, after a spell as a punk-rocker, he got
into the Adrian Sherwood/On U skool of dub-terrorism and early '80s avant-funk
(A Certain Ratio, 23 Skidoo). Then came electro and street soul.
Being Asian, Bis says, gives him the
"privilege" of being marginal. "It's made me more
objective, cos I'm less involved. I can look at the cultural institutions that
surround me and just laugh at them. Because of this, my music background is
very broad, I'm willing to penetrate anything I encounter and find
positive in it."
After a period of guitar-noise
experimentation, Bis got into electronic music circa
1988's acieeed explosion. "At the time, I was listening to minimalist composers like
Steve Reich, and it was thrilling to see music based on the same ideas become
mainstream. To go to a club and hear things that were far out was really
exciting. That hasn't really
changed--the barriers between avant-garde
music are still totally irrelevant".
Enthused by the idea of 'aciiied as
avant-gardism for the masses', and inspired by performance art, Bis actually busked
his early electronic experiments: "I'd take my drum machine out into shopping
centres in the middle of Cardiff, and people would gawp!".
"Music For Particles" stems from
these early days. (As with most art-tekno boffins, Bis has
a huge backlog of material; hence the timelag). "Particles" chimes in with
the lofty titles of his earlier releases--1994's "Science, Art and Ritual",
EP's like "Pavilions of the New Spirit" and "Further
that it's informed by Bis' interest in the 'new mysticism in science'. This is
the convergence of the latest theories in physics (quantum
theory) with the ancient mystical intuitions of the East (Zen, Tao, etc). Bis is
not eager to spell out any of this stuff, though.
"I've never been a preacher, I'm very
much an amoralist and a spiritual anarchist. But
there's stuff in the music for those open to it. And if not, fine! We don't all have
to be mystics and eso-terrorists!".
Bedouin Ascent's rhythm-as-melody
aesthetic has much in common with jungle,which Bis loves
("I can't wait for the weekends, it's pirates all the way"). Thankfully, he's
savvy enough to be wary of 'intelligent jungle', preferring instead
"jungle that isn't trying to sound like jazz, but is being itself."
but after all, this is the bloke who uttered the pearl-of-wisdom: "'intelligent
techno' was the most unmusical phenonemon ever".
"Intelligence, as far as I'm
concerned, is not a musical virtue. A lot of the stuff put out
as intelligent techno was beautiful, but calling it 'intelligent'
misses the point: it was about human enquiry and the abstract, and those are to do
with intuition, not intellect. Primitive
impulses. Just the
fact that there
are thousands of people in their bedrooms each making thousands of hours of this
music--for no money whatsoever, believe me!--indicates there's a compulsion to do
it. Intelligence is just one facet of
music. Personally, I like to leave
things as open as possible, 'cos it's in possibility that exists