Friday, April 01, 2011

United Province of India

Song: United Province of India
Artist: Cornershop
Album: Cornershop & he Double 'o' Groove Of

I became a big Cornershop fan immediately upon hearing their incredible 1997 single "Brimful of Asha," and the very very good album it lived on, "When I Was Born for the 7th Time."  I liked their side project Clinton and the subsequent album, "Disco and the Halfway to Discontent," as well as the Cornershop follow up, the genre-hopping brilliance of "Handcream for a Generation."  But their last album, '09's "Judy Sucked a Lemon for Breakfast" was ultimately a disappointment given the powerhouse albums that proceeded it.  They've gone in a different direction for their follow up.

Back in 2004, Tjinder Singh the leader of the band, discovered the unrecorded New Delhi-born, Lancashire-raised housewife Bubbley Kaur singing in a laundromat.  He convinced her to record a song with the band and they released the track "Topknot" (which included M.I.A.) as a single.  It proved popular, with legendary DJ John Peel saying he "played it to death."  After the release of "Judy," Singh contacted Kaur to begin work on an entire album with her singing in Punjabi... hence, "Double 'o' Groove Of."

I was intrigued, as I am with anything that Cornershop do, but was surprised at just how much I connected with it.  The band keep the hip hop beats and electronic/dance elements to their music, a global stew that continues to unfold with each listen, but this time they focus in on their Indian influences, married with Bubbley Kaur's beautiful voice... it's quite magical.

Opener "United Province of India" jumps right into the sound you can expect throughout the album.  An infectious mix of sitar, tabla, and then subtle synthesizers.  Very cool.  "Topknot" is next, though a prettier, M.I.A.-less version.  Kaur's vocals are pure in this version, which I like a bit better.  I really dig the next track, "The 911 Curry," which has a great 80's hip-hop beat and some trippy keyboard work, as well as "Supercomputed."  I don't have a clue what Kaur is singing about on any of these songs, and yet I feel them somehow.  It's hard to explain.

This obviously won't be everyones cup of tea, but if you like the sound of "United Province of India," you'll enjoy this record throughout.  It's got me smiling about Cornershop again, and I plan to get their very first records, which I haven't heard to see where it all started.


United Province of India



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