Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat

By Audio Pervert - 6/07/2012

Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat by C h a r a n j i t   S i n g h !

In 1982, bollywood based guitarist, accordion player and upstart composer, Charanjit Singh recorded an album titled Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat. The album is techno before there was any techno ! An exotic yet esoteric approach to playing classical ragas on analog synthesizers, backed by square bass patterns, programmed beats and chordal arpeggiators. The album's sonic foundation is based on the globally sought after instruments of acid-house ( an unborn musical genre and uprising then ) - The holy trinity of Acid ~ The Roland 303 Bass - The 909 Drum Machine & The Jupitor 6 Polyphonic synthesizer. 1982, EMI India released the album ( vinyl only ) limited to a few thousand copies titled "Synthesizing: Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat". Albeit a marginal run on late night radio, the album vanished without a trace. The future is written elsewhere.

Yet it marks the earliest and most short lived sparks of the acid-house phenomenon which would gather itself in a completely unrelated space-time - In Detroit and Chicago circa 1984 - At the hands and ears of unemployed producers and DJs, rising out of the industrial collapse of Detroit (and the automobile industry of America).

A lot changed inside the electronic music universe in the years and decades to follow ...

Fast Forward to 2008, the record is unearthed by Edo Boeman, a Dutch record collector and avid enthusiast of indian film panorama and music. He was blown by the record! In early 2010, his label, based in Holland, Bombay Connection re-releases this remastered LP in 2 Volumes : to an unsuspecting and largely impressionable public, who were quickly convinced that the sound was emerging from Chicago, Detroit and or Manchester in the mid-late eighties. Some even argued it was Aphex Twin 'belting' out the 'old-acid' under one of his dozen avatars. The disbelief aside, the sound of this record was immediately vintage, futuristic yet controversial - Just as the first (1985-88) and second (1994-97) wave of acid-house did arrive and thrive on the Roland 303 / 808 / 909 combination - on the albums of Phuture, Acid Trax, Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Cybotron in the late 80s - and later as with Aphex Twin, Ritchie Hawtins, Orbital, Luke Vibert etc in mid 90s. These artists, today are revered as superheroes of electronic music culture as much as the instruments itself which went onto become a standard, an uber-class within the canvas of electronic music for decades ...

Charanjits album sparks off a curious debate. As many western music critiques and researchers have completely missed the existence of this album, since its inception - The argument persists ; the fact that Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat predates any acid-house record by 2 years straight. Even if one sets aside the dates and difference of backgrounds - The fact, that this album and its composer bypassed every change and upheaval inside the ever changing universe of electronic music, is epic and strange. An even more curious facet is that Charanjit Singh had no idea, almost clueless about the contemporary standards, or the forms of existing electronic music or how eventually synthesizers, drum machines and computers would rule the roost in the coming decades. He had no interest in the massive rise of electronic music and sounds in the new millennium. Though Charanjit Singh would eventually sell his 303 and 909, in favor of large digital synthesizers, more attuned for Bollywood studio sessions and composing. By 2011, the album had caught the attention of numerous 303-addicts, record collectors and thousands of avid listners and diggers in UK, Holland, Germany, Belgium and Sweden - mostly viral (online) and via the re-release on wax : As Boomtake nails it by saying " This is proto-techno from India .. Truly rare find "

We rediscovered and featured Charanjit's legacy in HUB (2010) - India's Electronic Music Anthology - READ HERE / DOWNLOAD - Charanjit Singh lives in Bombay. His life has changed much. Yet music remains integral. We met him. Presenting HUB, the anthology of Indian Electronic Music was a moment to cherish - Charanjit Singh and Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat is where the story of Indian Electronic music actually begins .. A re-birth of sorts .. 28 years later. Back home, in India, most electronica enthusiasts remain ignorant about this pioneer musician and the album itself. Though it continues to percolate into the realms of underground listening allover the world, as much as Charanjit Singh, at the age of 61 is made to realize, in retrospect, about the avant-garde value of the 10 Ragas album and it's current relevance. A rebirth of sorts...


Ten Ragas will re'reappear in India in the most quixotic turn of events. December 13th and 15th. 2013. READ REVIEW HERE. The sheer coincidental combination of Johanz Westerman engineering the delivery of Charanjit Singhs retrosonic performance is quixotic, surely enthralling and at times almost preposterous. The die-hard acid-house fan is yet to agree or even realize such sound. This Indo-dutch sound combo would go unto tour Europe and the US in 2013/14 at over 20 different venues and festivals. These concerts and the rise to fame are the efforts of Rana Ghosh (Reproduce Artist India), working closely with Charanjit Singh as his manager and planner. Charanjit Singh, and his sound designer Johanz Westerman (Holland) will be performing live, with the 808 303 and Jupiter 6 combination in India for the first time at the Amaraas Festival in New Delhi and the Magnetic Fields Electronic Festival in Al Sisar, Rajasthan. Audio Pervert and Lionel Dentan as supporting artists these concerts. The record label Saregama India, which held the rights of the original 1982 record (via EMI) attempted to stake a claim in the proceeding business and the use of Charanjit's music, as seen by many 'greedy' labels in their dying stage.Yet gladly, they failed.

A piece of history in the making! Finding Charanjit Singh.
2010 Bombay.

C h a r a n j i t S i n g h  passed away July 2015 in Bombay, soon after his wife's death earlier in May. 

  • Share:


0 -