MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST REACHES NEW HEIGHTS ON ALBUM ‘UP’
British-born Indian electro producer Karsh Kale has spent the last two decades zig-zagging the world, headlining major festivals and spinning records at the White House for Barack Obama. Now, the culmination of his planetary library can be heard on his reflective fifth studio album ‘UP’, out on 29 January 2016 via Six Degrees Records.
A pioneering figure in defining the Asian Underground genre by mixing classical Indian folk with ambient electro rock/pop, this New York raised multi-instrumentalist has travelled between Brooklyn and India over fifty times. Critically-acclaimed for his tabla drumming and film composition, Kale delivers both awe-inspiring cinematic and visual rhythms in this transformational album.
Described by Billboard Magazine as a “visionary composer and producer”, Kale has witnessed the Indian music scene explode over the past half-decade, with a huge array of exciting genres and styles emerging at once.
“When we were young, having such a diverse taste in music was rare, whereas nowadays kids have access to all types of music – for them this is normal.”
Kale searched backwards to his musical influences— notably Shakti and Led Zeppelin—and the retro feel of the rock guitars mixed with his signature tablas gave him comfort, especially in ‘Up’ and ‘Shiva’. On the title track Kale sings in English, one of the few times in his prolific career, depicting his personal endeavor to change direction. The emotional struggle between being a father and an artistic juggernaut can also be heard on both.
“When you’re always traveling you’re never really ready to go. I’d be a father in Brooklyn one moment then fly to India and go straight to a TV show or a festival the next.”
Guitarist Warren Mendonsa, nephew of famed Bollywood composer Loy Mendonsa, creates an exceptional ambience on many of the albums tracks. On ‘Shiva,’ Mendonsa’s grand guitar lies behind vocalist Benny Dayal’s version of a traditional Carnatik melody honoring India’s lord of destruction.
‘Thin Line of Blue’ is songwriting at its best; reminiscent of Kale’s unforgettable Coke Studios sessions and demonstrating exactly why Cannes Film Award-winning show The Dewarists included Kale in its docu-travelogue debut season. His quick fingers on the tablas, vocals and flutes flying in and fading out and Mendonsa and Kale trading watery guitar riffs.
In 2011, Kale opened the Hollywood Bowl for Bollywood’s biggest composer AR Rahman. Later that year he joined Alicia Keys, The Black Keys and Norah Jones at a tribute concert for George Harrison in New York. His remix of John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ broke Billboard’s Top 10 Dance charts. Collaborations with Imogen Heap and Anoushka Shankar have futher confirmed his status as a go-to producer and player.
A musical leader in global fusion, his remix of Sa Dingding’s ‘Play’ (China’s answer to Bjork) is by far the most electronic, experimental cut and undoubtedly one of the most unique tracks in his deep catalog. Closing track ‘Shyam’ is reminiscent of some of Kale’s most thought-provoking emotional soundscapes with vocalist Monali Thakur angelic over Kale’s classic glitchy minimalist beat.