Monday, December 10, 2007

Dan the Automator and DJ Shadow - 1999 - Bombay The Hard Way: Guns, Cars And Sitars [OST]

This 1999 compilation from Motel presents 15 tracks from ultra-obscure Bollywood exploitation films of the 1960s and 1970s and gives them the dance-friendly treatment courtesy of producer Dan the Automator and co-collaborator DJ Shadow.

The results are much as might be expected: Impressive so long as one doesn't care about overmuch about authenticity, with dialogue samples – who is Jay from Delhi, other than some Indian James Bond – extra dance and trip-hop styled beats and sitar overdubs embellishing the originals, the danger of exploiting the exotic thankfully countered by a combination of the effectiveness of the method and the sense that riffs on – for example – Lalo Schifrin's Mission: Impossible theme and The Surfaris' Wipeout were there in the Bollywood sources in any case.

Slightly more problematic, however, are the imaginative retitlings the producers have given their tracks, with names like "The Good, the Bad and the Chutney" "Punjabis, Pimps and Players" and "Fear of a Brown Planet" adding to the difficulty of contextualising the pieces and, perhaps, showing a lack of respect for the culture of the "other".

But, then again, who is really being exploited here – the Indian composers and musicans whose work is being appropriated, or the white western hipster who's probably paying over the odds compared to buying a few tapes of Bollywood music produced by and for the Asian markets?

Mostly though it's the infectious fun of the music, clearly not to be taken too seriously either way, that comes through to make this a winner. - K H Brown (