Music to Your Ears – Bombay Dub Orchestra

Indian fusion is everywhere these days. Just try to find a DJ who hasn’t sampled a Bollywood track. Tabla player in the percussion section? It’s been done.

But Bombay Dub Orchestra is different. This British duo – consisting of veteran musicians Garry Hughes and Andrew T. Mackay – don’t just pay lip service to the term. They record with live musicians from the subcontinent. A lot of them. And by a lot we mean 48 for their self-titled debut, released in 2006, and more than 75 for their last album, 3 Cities.

Recording in Mumbai and Chennai (and remixing in London – hence the title, 3 Cities), BDO worked with classical singers as well as street musicians; up-and-coming talent as well as famous artists; and two full string orchestras. Renowned bansuri player Aswin Srinivasan, vocalist Hamsika Iyer, and Santoor legend Ulhas Bapat feature on the album.

Why India? Beyond the fact that both Hughes and Mackay have been visiting the country since the early 90s, Hughes says, “That’s where the musicians are. Nobody plays like that in Europe or anywhere else really. It’s sort of an amazing combination of classical playing skills with fantastic improvisational abilities.”

Producer/keyboardist Hughes has made solo electronica CDs and worked with artists such as Bjork and The Art of Noise. Mackay is a classically trained arranger/composer (he studied under Dr. Lloyd Weber, Andrew’s father, at the London College of Music). When they came together in 1998 on a session in Mumbai, they had an idea: combine electronics with Bollywood orchestras and Indian soloists. Thus BDO was born.

The results so far have been mindblowing. The largely instrumental 3 Cities is groovy and ambient, as you would expect from the synthesized backdrops, but also lush and cinematic and symphonic. The sound is at once classical and contemporary, and a true fusion of East and West.

BDO is currently at work on album number 3, which we’re told will go to another level with sessions not only in Mumbai but elsewhere, including Istanbul. We can’t wait for it to drop. In the meantime, take a listen to a few of our favorite tracks below. And courtesy of BDO, grab your free download of Junoon from 3 Cities, now until June 3rd. If you like what you hear, forward to your friends so they can groove for free too! Thanks BDO, for sharing the love with our Republic of Brown community.

‘Republic of Brown’ Bombay Dub Orchestra Playlist by BombayDubOrchestra

To buy:

In the US via Six Degrees Records – Buy it here

In the UK via Amazon – Buy it here

More on Bombay Dub Orchestra

Story by Republic of Brown contributor Laura Silverman

Republic of Brown is your free weekly email newsletter bringing all things Indo-cool straight to your inbox. You’ll hear from us again next Thursday.  Help us grow. Help your friends stay in the know. Forward this email to your friends and encourage them to sign up! We thank you. We think they will too.

Written By
More from Geetanjali

My Delhi Love Affair

Delhi will always be home to me. Even though I have spent...
Read More