Where Sitar Meets Hip-hop

Not many know Cornershop beyond their 1997 hit album When I Was Born for the 7th Time,whose epic track Brimful of Asha shot the band to fame.

Written by Deepika Nath | Published: March 19, 2011 12:20:52 am

Cornershop and the Double-O Groove Of

Cornershop

Ample Play/Rough Trade

$9.99

Rating: ****1/2

Not many know Cornershop beyond their 1997 hit album When I Was Born for the 7th Time,whose epic track Brimful of Asha shot the band to fame. The UK-based Indian noise pop band,which was formed in 1991 by frontman Tjinder Singh,along with brother Avtar Singh (bass),David Chambers (drums) and Ben Ayres (guitar,keyboards),made waves in the West when Fatboy Slim and Norman Cook remixed their tracks.

But when the band’s eighth album,Cornershop and the Double-O Groove Of,primarily in Punjabi,released this week,not many Indians took notice. And that’s not because they’re an “indie British” band.

It took Cornershop almost seven years to produce the album which has 10 tracks,including old singles like Topknot and Natch. The late English radio journalist John Peel,a fan of Topknot that plays on early 1960s British blues and funk,had apparently “played it to death”. Singing a full-length track for the first time,Delhi-born guest vocalist Bubbley Kaur has a sugary voice; something most Bollywood women singers lack. And to think she was discovered at a launderette!

Cornershop don’t limit themselves. Opening track United Province of India combines the hip-hop flavour of the UK with sitar solos and Kaur’s honey-coated vocals. If Biro Pen has a smooth sound,Supercomputed is erratic. Don’t shake it — the title almost mocks you as you do want to dance to it — has the potential of being a dance hit,at least in the indie scene,while the bass-heavy beats of Double decker eyelashes induce synchronised head-nodding.

Lighter and funkier than their previous albums,the 40-minute Cornershop and the Double-O Groove Of — apart from having a completely idiosyncratic title — is a blend of Punjabi folk vocals with Cornershop’s signature esoteric music. It also has an uncanny warmth. The band manages to fuse traditional vocals with heavy,hip-hop,dance-floor beats and that too with such effortlessness.

deepika.nath@expressindia.com

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