ROUGH GUIDE TO PSYCHEDELIC INDIA
The psychedelic experience is integral to the history of the 1960s American underground. This was the era of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters driving around in their brightly painted bus, indulging in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, swallowing hallucinogenic potions in search of altered mind-states. Bold free-thinkers led the nascent psychedelic movement, looking eastwards for esoteric and artistic inspiration. The first musical whispers of India's burgeoning influence on Western popular music were heard in 1965 when the Beatles' George Harrison added the sounds of a sitar to the Rubber Soul album track Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). Soon everybody from The Yardbirds and The Rolling Stones to Sergio Mendes and The Byrds was reflecting an Indian influence. During these years in India, drug culture wasn't flooding it's shores, but the country was undergoing it's own transformation the 1960s saw the advent of a DIY garage band scene. Western rock imitations seamed through with raga reverberations began to sound out across the country. The rock-zine Junior Statesmen and the Battle of the Bands competition nights held by Simla Cigarettes at Shanmukhananda Hall in Mumbai cemented the movement. Soon the seductive sound seeped into Bollywood's output with film composers mixing psych with luxuriously lysergic orchestration. A two-way path of influence bound the music of 1960s India with the West. When compiling this Rough Guide, DJ Ritu cast her psychedelic net wide into the diaspora and the modern day. This album pays homage to the swinging 1960s history whilst forging the journey onwards into psychedelia's present-day incarnations. Beginning the mix was easy; Ritu knew instinctively Ananda Shankar's Dancing Drums was first on her list. She first heard this track on an EMI India album she bought on vinyl in 1995 at Honest Jon's record shop in West London. The LP was a rare find, hotly desired on the newly formed Asian Underground scene and played by the likes of groove aficionado Gilles Petersen at choice cut club nights. Dancing Drums is a killer track, part Indian head-trip, part retro swagger, part Moogmarvel. Other vintage finds on this album include R. D Burman's Bollywood hit Dum Maro Dum from the film Hare Rama Hare Krishna. In the film the protagonist, sung here by the inimitable Asha Bhosle, takes deep drags on a large chillum before dancing floppy limbed amidst a throng of her beatnik friends. Dance Music is another throwback Bollywood number by brother composer duo Kalyanji-Anandji. This instrumental explosion has an irresistibly psych-funk feel with fat trumpets, echoing electric keys and breakneck rhythm. Other tracks on the album root the listener firmly back in the present day and launches into the music of India's vast diaspora. Sunday Driver are a merry band of musicians based in London and Cambridge. They set out their Indian shades of influence against a backdrop of Sgt. Pepper-ish Victoriana. The Bombay Royale are an eleven-piece Australian band inspired by old school Bollywood soundtracks. Ritu was their support DJ at their recent London date, a bombastic show with a stage set that included a life-size model elephant suspended from the ceiling. Brishtir Pani by Tiger Blossom spotlights an arresting female lead vocal sung in Bengali, underpinned by warping guitar. Lose yourself in this collection of far out sounds soaring sitars, tremulous tabla, distorted deep-set drones and unbound improvisations, all twisted through a rock and roll edge.