Trilok Gurtu – The Beat of Love

Trilok Gurtu
The Beat of Love

(Blue Thumb – 2001)
by John Barrett

Recorded on four continents (with at least that many styles), this album puts the Indian vocal tradition in the context of modern dance music. “Maya” crackles with tablas … and a buzzing synthesizer played by Wally Badarou. Roop Kumar handles the tense, pop-styled vocals; Trilok slaps the cymbals and the mood gets even stronger. The fast sitar near the end is a treat – this tune ROCKS, which you can’t say about most Indian music.

“A Friend” reminds me of Japanese pop music, with chirpy vocals and noisy synths. Starting with Badarou’s tough piano, “The Beat of Love” is a rush of wild rhythm. Kumar’s rap is insistent, there’s a great twang from the one-string rebab, and its restlessness will enthrall you. Wasir Diop growls sexy on “Passing By”: a deep warm voice, raspy with charm. Badarou floats a few chords around him – simple but it’s good. “Jhulelal” is a dance groove played by a shenai (it’s sort of an Asian oboe) and “Ingoma” grows on you, from the choral chants to the wispy sitar. In a way, this music is like incense: it may be slight but its presence is strong.

“Tuhe” belongs on the dance floor. The instruments weave in and out, as Kumar sings with romantic strength. The robotic chorus is great, as is the guitar-laden finale. “Ola Bombay” opens on a busy street, where resounding drums collide with metallic bleeps. The singer is a little dramatic, but in comes Diop and the tune becomes stronger. We hear ‘Seventies funk on “Dance with My Lover”, and the sitar finally breaks free on “Peace of the Five Elements”. As thunder booms, Ravi Chary plays a sweet theme (close to “Within You, Without You”) as bells chime and other elements seep through. This is not just “world music” … it is truly otherworldly.