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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Beyond Skin

Nitin Sawhney

1999

Beyond Skin
Album Summary

Beyond Skin is an album by English musician Nitin Sawhney. It was released on the Outcaste label in 1999. The album focuses largely on the theme of nuclear weapons; Sawhney states in the booklet that the album "has a timespan that runs backwards", beginning at "Broken Skin" with the India-Pakistan nuclear situation and ending at "Beyond Skin" with Robert Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita – "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds". Sawhney also aims to question what constitutes one's identity – he writes in the liner notes for the album: "I believe in Hindu philosophy. I am not religious. I am a pacifist. I am a British Asian. My identity and my history are defined only by myself – beyond politics, beyond nationality, beyond religion, and Beyond Skin."

Wikipedia

Rating

2.83

Votes

10125
Genres
Electronica
Jazz

Reviews

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Thu Jun 09 2022
1

Mood music for when you're in the mood to test the limits of boredom.

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Fri Apr 02 2021
1

I genuinely do not understand how this can in the list of best albums.

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Wed Oct 13 2021
1

1.8 - I cringe because I would’ve pretended to like this garbage in grad school to ingratiate myself with my intellectual classmates. It would’ve been playing at some potluck dinner where I and half the guests brought store-bought tabouli. This is music to very deeply contemplate, doing your best to deny the voice within screaming at you to shut it off. Because deep down you know this music sucks. The fusion of genres is an utter mess. And it tries so hard to be a concept album but what’s the actual concept? Nuclear annihilation? Xenophobia? The Indian diaspora? The only reason this album gets a pass is because it appeals to peoples’ need to appear smart and worldly. We choke it down and smile politely like we do with our store-bought tabouli.

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Thu Sep 24 2020
4

Cool album. The popier stuff reminded me of FKA Twigs and early Massive Attack -- which is a very high compliment. A very ecclectic album with all sorts of influences that I will return to.

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Wed Mar 17 2021
4

Really liked that, different

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Wed Jun 23 2021
1

what a load of artsy shit. not sure why it makes this list - beyond being a token entry for "weird shit". This actively annoyed me so 1/5.

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Thu Mar 18 2021
1

First one of these albums that I‘ve never heard of or recognise so it’s refreshing to do a review without any preconception of what it’ll be like... Its alright. A bit too much experimentation and far too high brow for me. There’s a couple of nice songs amongst mostly jarring over the top experiments with the Indian language but nothing stands out as incredible and I probably wouldn’t listen to it again unless for quiet background music with some snobby people. My first guess that this would’ve won the Mercury Prize. I was wrong, but it did get nominated and I really think this is pandering a little bit to the prestigious weirdness of the award.

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Wed Aug 25 2021
1

The algorithm must believe that I need another 1 rating to offset all the 5's I've been getting lately. The instrumental track was nice. So were some of the songs with the female vocalists. I was thisclose to bumping this up to a 2, but that album cover just annoys the shit out of me.

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Thu Jun 02 2022
1

I simply can't find this coffee-shop electronic interesting. It's too much precisely like the other world-compilation-sounding duds on the list, and I made the additional mistake of reading reviews. So many comments about "experimentalism"; There's nothing experimental here! It's literally just got a few samples and recordings of traditional percussion. Shame, since the fact that the West's most terrifying military achievement was connected explicitly to the Indian sacred is a legitimately tempting concept. But when the parodic synth instrument entered after the first vocal snippet I knew more or less what I was in for. (I should also note that the cover reminds me of Lafawndah's Fifth Season and the two projects are not totally dissimilar. My appreciation for that album illuminates the flaws in this review, I hope.)

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Mon Mar 13 2023
1

Another confusing entry from the editors. Here we have some Indian pop songs that have been watered down heavily with bland new age electronica. The samples the artist uses aren't bad at all, and it's an ok attempt at cross-cultural fusion, but at best this is suited as background music at one of those trendy chains that sell 100 varieties of not so freshly roasted coffee beans and overpriced little spice packets for suburban moms who want to experiment with a little ethnic cooking. It does not however, belong on any list attempting to curate an assortment of music that could even remotely be consider essential listening. 1 hard pass. 🙅

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Thu Apr 15 2021
5

I enjoyed this one. It was completely different to anything else I’ve heard in this collection so far, and it was nice to listen to. It was interesting and pretty varied and felt like it was introducing me to world music.

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Thu Mar 04 2021
5

Wow. I was really blown away by this one. A diverse album from an artist with seemingly endless talents. The apocalyptic "beyond skin" themes add a lot of gravity.

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Mon Mar 08 2021
5

Transcendent. Jazzy, cinematic. Excellent. The first track isn't really my cup of tea, but then it takes off from there.

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Wed Jan 12 2022
2

I found this to be mildly boring and frequently irritating.

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Sun Jul 31 2022
2

Some 90s trip-hop, pop, indian/world music thing. Some of the songs were really great and almost bumped my score up but then some were just painfully bad and pulled it back down again.

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Fri Dec 09 2022
1

Bro looks like he is nutting

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Fri Aug 04 2023
1

Not even good background music. It's like Sade got put through the X Factor machine, only with desperate BTEC Indian samples attached. It's worse than boring, it's bad.

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Sun Jun 20 2021
4

I think there is great genius in this album. What a labor of love and caring that this prolific artist, operating mostly in the shadows, would use his clout to speak out, beautifully, loudly and passionately, about a cause that concerns him. The production is absolutely stunning, the mixes so complex and yet focused and affecting. The vocals are compelling throughout. The various styles could strike some as too all over the place, but I saw the eclecticism as a way of bringing together many eras and many peoples in a salute to our varied humanity. The concept can be a little heavy-handed at times, but the subject matter is so important that I can let that slide a little. Working backwards in time feels right to me, as it gets us back, at the end of the album, to a time of more innocence and helps us wonder how we might get there again, or where might we be without this threat. This is not an album to put on for easy listening and I wouldn't necessarily dial up songs from it on a whim. But it is an Important album in other ways. I'm glad I've heard it and can see great value in revisiting it in the future.

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Thu Mar 18 2021
3

Some cools songs on here. Can't tell whether I love it or hate it. One minute the album is nice background music and the next it's aggressively shoving soundwaves in your ear (in a bad way). Very unique and sounds like it has a wide range of influences.

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Thu Mar 18 2021
3

A bit out-there in places, but there's some really interesting tracks on this album. Lots of diversity in the style of tracks - particularly liked the drum and bass influences in 'Nadia' and the hip-hop feel of 'Pilgrim'. Not sure I'd frequently play this album, but I enjoyed listening to it on the whole.

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Wed Oct 21 2020
5

lo-fi hip-hop w/ Indian music

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Thu Jan 28 2021
5

First 5 baybay. that first track tho

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Thu Jul 01 2021
5

5/5 - Cool! Adding this to my library.

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Fri May 28 2021
5

Beautifully composed. A spiritual journey.

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Sun Aug 22 2021
5

No entendí el disco (?), tampoco me esforcé esta vez en buscar más sobre él o el artista, pero la verdad es que lo disfruté y es un soundrtrack chill como para hacer otras cosas en la computadora o demás. Muy estraño, pero muy interesante. Favs: "Homelands", "Nadia", "The Conference" y "Beyond Skin". 9/10

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Fri Sep 24 2021
5

indian jazz/electronica. Might be too distracting for work but i hope not. I love it! not all his stuff but a great surprise and my first 5 star album <3

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Wed Dec 01 2021
5

super different. one of my favs so far, nadia, letting go, pilgrim, broken skin, homelands, nostalgia so fire

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

Brilliant! Really like this! Don’t know how. Haven’t heard it before. I’ll get it on vinyl

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Wed Jan 12 2022
5

A remarkable work of art with something to say and many layers to appreciate. Was new to me.

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Wed Feb 02 2022
5

First album to actually blow me away. I was not ready for this album to be so good. Great themes addressing important real world issues, and still being good music. Actually making every song vary from eachother and not just making a 50 min. song. I'm looking at you Rage Against The Machine. Starting off, or should I say, ending with a chill hip-hoppy, silent, broken future of a radioactive fallout or something. Just fucking builds up from there, cause "Homelands" really is a fucking masterpiece, and that caught me off-guard. "Serpents" is the only song that kinda sucks and gets tiring to listen to. "The Conference" was really fucking silly, but I heard it for the first time while getting my room ready for control in the military in like 2 minutes, stressing so much while two dudes yell "didkdkydduddjudjdududkdidudkidkdid" in my ears because I wouldn't take out my earbuds because I couldn't find my headphonecase. Crazy shit. But it really had an effect to say the least. 5/5

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Thu Mar 31 2022
5

Love this. Feel daft for missing it originally. I think jo whiley put me off. This is ace. I feel smarter listening to it. Layered multilingual vocals. Beats. Reverb. Class.

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Wed Sep 07 2022
5

interesting to say the least I had no idea there was such a big British Indian techno scene but I fuck with it

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Fri Dec 23 2022
5

Miscelanea de estilos musicales. Muy melódico. Vinilo.

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Sun Dec 25 2022
5

I really enjoyed this. Totally unlike anything I've heard so far on the list. It was a chilled out electronic world music journey, while also having a very important and terrifying subject matter at its core. A few of these songs are definitely going into my library. Favourite: Nadia

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Wed Feb 22 2023
5

Miscelanea de estilos musicales. Muy melódico. Vinilo.

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Sun Jul 16 2023
5

I absolutely loved this. The blend of styles, the concept, the sounds and variety, it all hit the spot just right.

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Fri Jul 21 2023
5

BEST SONGS: -Letting Go -Pilgrim

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Sat Aug 19 2023
5

A timely appearance. I saw Oppenheimer last week, and it’s really good. It’s Christopher Nolan at his Christopher Nolanest, so there's absolutely no hope of it passing the Bechdel test, but it should delight you if you recognise the name Leo Szilard. Anyway, this is an album that begins and ends nuclear weapon announcements: the first track, Broken Skin, samples a news report on the possibility of nuclear war between India and Pakistan, whilst the last track quotes Oppenheimer’s recollection that, when the first nuclear test proved successful, he thought of a line from the Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.” That Oppenheimer cited the Bhagavad Gita, a central text in Hinduism, chimes with another thematic element of the album: Indian identity, particularly seen through the prisms of strife between Hindus and Muslims in India, and the experience of the Indian diaspora in modern Britain. I am in no way informed enough to attempt to speak with any authority on those issues. What I can say is that in the late nineties, Indian influence on mainstream British culture expanded, as was inevitable. Nitin Sawhney has been a significant figure in that evolution, not only in musical spheres, but also as one of the writers and performers of the British Asian sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. However, he is far better known as a musician and composer. His musical palate has proven vast, with this album alone ranging from Indian classical music to flamenco and drum n bass. This of course ties in with the album’s message that identity is beyond skin colour, and that one should embrace the world, not aim nukes at it. And as such, I feel a little daunted trying to write a review. There are so many ingredients to this that I’m not especially familiar with, so one effect specifically on me is minor apprehension. This is both my fault and not my fault: anyone unaccustomed to a music tradition will initially feel a little adrift at first listen. Still, I want to have an increased appreciation of a wider range of music, hence why I’m undertaking this challenge. And there are passages of real beauty on this album: the female vocals on Immigrant are notably shiver-inducing (I’ve tried looking, but I’ve not been able to find out the name of the singer). But the album has such a wide musical buffet that I feared a touch of aural indigestion. That said, I will say that this album does deserve 5 stars. Just because it’s not my standard fare doesn’t mean I don’t find it delicious. The United States has lost 6 nuclear weapons. All of these are at the bottom of the sea (well, suspected but never confirmed in two cases). It is not known how many nuclear weapons Russia has lost, but some experts estimate that the number of missing Russian nukes could be dozens. Sleep well, my pukka sahibs and memsahibs! NoRadio, signing off.

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Mon Sep 11 2023
5

Loved this English-Indian music!

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Tue Sep 19 2023
5

crazy impressive album! it’s wild that something like this gets to exist what a rich blend of world music! — 9/10

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Thu Sep 28 2023
5

I had such a great time listening to this album! The production is soooo clean and powerful

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Mon Nov 13 2023
5

Really unique and interesting and beautiful listening experience

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Thu Nov 23 2023
5

Not my usual style, yet great sounds.

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Thu Dec 28 2023
5

The first song is really cool - low fi hiphop kind of vibe Really cool mix of Indian music, hip hop and other instrumentals. The songs do sort of blend together I think my favorite so far is the Broken Skin. Immigrant is also cool, I like the female vocals

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Wed Jan 10 2024
5

Really sick Jazz/Trip Hop fusion album. Will keep an eye for it on vinyl.

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Sun Jan 14 2024
5

Can't quite think what to say about this. Blew my mind a wee bit. Nice one

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Fri Jan 26 2024
5

Such a well thought out, unique album. Reminds me of massive attack (created a new trip hopish playlist because of it)

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Thu Mar 07 2024
5

A Hindu-tinged album about nuclear war that ends with Oppenheimer quoting the Bhagavad Gita? Go on… I’m listening. Glad to have heard this before I died. Utterly riveting - so much so I’ve listened to it three times.

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Thu Mar 07 2024
5

A striking blend of styles. Lovely and poignant. This is one I wouldn't have ever sought out but I'm so glad to have heard it.

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Thu Mar 07 2024
5

Just when I thought I was getting the groove of this album, it would throw me something a little different, but still in the flow. I like that, bunches!

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Thu Mar 07 2024
5

I have gotten slightly weary of some of the downtempo electronic albums that have been offered in this project over 900 albums in. At first I was not excited about this. However, this one got better and better and got my attention as a stand out. It has a strong connecting message along with a great variety of very different sounding tracks. The South Asian sounds woven throughout are only a plus for me.

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Sat Apr 06 2024
5

There is something familiar about this album cover, but perhaps I’m thinking of that creepy viral video from a few years back where that was a girl made of ice cream eating her own head. Yeah, I think that’s what I’m thinking of. Let’s listen! Songs I already knew: Broken Skin Favourites: Broken Skin, Homelands, Nadia I’m not sure why I recognised Broken Skin, but it was definitely familiar. This album is such a perfect mishmash of music from around the world. It is music that I wouldn’t expect to work, but it sounds pretty amazing. Obviously, a lot of the non-English lyrics are lost on me, but I enjoyed this album a lot.

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Fri Sep 04 2020
4

Really interesting album. Probably will listen more

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Wed Apr 14 2021
4

This is one of those albums that I NEVER would've come across without this site. Thankfully, I did. What a weird, wonderful, eclectic collection of songs.

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Thu Jan 28 2021
4

Actually created a groove in my brain

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Mon Feb 01 2021
4

This morning I'm finishing up listening to Nitin Sawhney's album called "Beyond Skin" from 1999. This feels fresh to me, and it was a great thing to hear last night as I was getting ready for bed. It's very close to some of the lounge/chill/instrumental playlists I often listen to on Spotify. I'm also a fan of world music and rhythms and this had some really fantastic parts related to Indian culture. The title of the album makes sense, it's like music that transcends culture and skin color and connects you with these beats and rhythms that feel elemental. You connect with it, even though it feels worlds away from my point of view. Surprising and very enjoyable.

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Fri Jul 09 2021
4

This is an old fave of mine - and you couldn't really ask for bigger subject matter for an album, could you!? Lovely vocals and melodies, gorgeous beats, and sobering samples. Fantastic stuff. Fave track - "Nadia" perhaps? "Homelands" is amazing though, as is "The Conference".

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Thu Feb 25 2021
4

Actually really liked the mix of styles in this, was great work music too

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Wed Jan 27 2021
4

Fascinating music with an occasional side swipe of intense 90s pop.

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Mon Jun 07 2021
4

Very interesting, but many songs don’t really hold up for their full lengths. The sound and production are amazing though. Overall, around a 7

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Mon Jun 07 2021
4

7/10. Tricky one to rate, but had an interesting concept, and was refreshingly different from a lot of the stuff on this list.

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Mon Jun 07 2021
4

pretty strange but interesting! I wish the concept had been stronger and I didn’t love the English lyrics 7/10

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Wed Apr 07 2021
4

Viel besser als gedacht. Teilweise richtig kluger Pop aber auch darüber hinaus

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Fri Jun 25 2021
4

Rating: 7/10 Best songs: Broken skin, Homelands, Nadia, The conference

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Wed Aug 11 2021
4

Creative, and different album. Enjoyed it

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Sun Aug 22 2021
4

Sí me gustó, por lo general todo intento de combinar y experimentar que salga decente tiene mi aprovacion. Fav: nostalgia, suena muy pop noventero.

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Mon Sep 06 2021
4

This was quite interesting. Enjoyed it.

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Wed Oct 20 2021
4

Heel verrassende muziek. Begon een beetje vreemd maar werd al snel een beetje RnB-achtig. Daarna kwam er toch iets meer India naar boven. Aangename zangstem. Muziek is wel een beetje voor de nacht, maar heel goed te luisteren. Mijn favoriet is "Nostalgia". ****

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Fri Nov 05 2021
4

Interesting, different, needs a few more listens to really get to grips with it

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Mon Nov 15 2021
4

It's very pretty but this kind of music rarely grabs me. The imposition of quotes for the upcoming nuclear apocalypse and the juxtaposition against beauty and slick production are jarring, however, and it certainly had an effect. I found myself morose for most of the day after listening. So four stars for really meaning something, and for getting a rise out of me, and for several songs I get to add to the rotation.

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Mon Nov 22 2021
4

This was an interesting listen. I enjoyed the originality of the album, and how they tried to weave a story with songs. I liked the overall vibes, even if a few songs are bit over the top.

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Fri Dec 17 2021
4

Jednostavno fantastičan album od početka do kraja. 👏

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Fri Dec 24 2021
4

Score might change on a second listen but was surprised how much i enjoyed it. Very unique

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Wed Dec 29 2021
4

really interesting blend of world and trance beats; The Conference has some crazy-impressive tongue work

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Tue Jan 11 2022
4

Really surprising mix of east and west. Liked this one a lot.

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Sun Jan 30 2022
4

Really enjoyed it - i guess I'm getting used to Indian music, but the overall vibe was of a chic curry house - one I'd like to eat at!

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Sun Jan 30 2022
4

I really liked this! Pretty much echoed my thoughts for the album OK by Talvin Singh. It's a different sound for electronic music to have. Very enjoyable listen

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Wed Feb 02 2022
4

I had never heard of this album before. It was a wild trip to listen to it slide through triphop, jazz, and back around again.

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Fri Feb 18 2022
4

Very mellow, like Anita Baker. One reviewer says it melds Spanish flamenco with Indian ragas, but i don't hear either on the first track

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Sun Feb 27 2022
4

A super clever fusion album. Sawhney collaborates with a number of artists to meld several disaparate styles. Some of these songs weren't my bag, but the format of the album is such that if you don't like something, all you have to do is wait a bit and something better is on the horizon. Really well constructed. Best track: Broken Skin

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Fri Mar 04 2022
4

Really liked this. Interesting and melodic and thoughtful and thought provoking. I will listen again and seek out more

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