Review - Compilasian: The World of Indipop

Artist: Various Artists

When Steve Coe started the Indipop label nearly 20 years ago, the closest anyone had ever gotten to fusing Indian music and Western pop was either "Tomorrow Never Knows" or Ananda Shankar covering "Light My Fire" on the sitar, depending on who you ask. Neither of them, obviously, came close to capturing the essence of both elements, and many of Coe's earliest attempts failed to as well. Hamstrung by digital synths that sounded cheesy then -- and even worse now -- a lot of the early works on the label (notably the initial output of Sheila Chandra, the label's indisputable star) resonated beyond world music dorks who thought they were getting "with it" in a pop sense. Eventually, Indipop's sound became both more refined, more revolutionary and more distinctive, a growth well-documented by this 15-track compilation: From the cringeworthy early stuff ("Can't Face the Night" by East West) to the evocative early stuff ("Mysteries of the East" by Jhalib is so richly textured, it's hard to believe it was one of the label's earliest releases) to explosively gorgeous recent stuff (any of the droney tracks supplied by Coe's Ganges Orchestra, Chandra's later work). The path the label has been on has always been daring, but to see the truly groundbreaking work Indipop is doing now (you never knew how good a 17-minute cut-and-paste drone could sound) certainly bodes well for its future progression.

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