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World Music CD Reviews South Asia


By Robert Kaye
Published June 22, 2006

Big Drum: Small World
Shakti Records

The dhol, a double-ended drum that originated in 16th century North India becomes the inspiration for music “modernica” in the electrified mind (and hands) of master drummer Johnny Kalsi. Completely self-taught, Kalsi has playing the dhol for nearly 20 years. His innate mastery of the instrument eventually led him to form The Dhol Foundation a decade ago with TDF now running a dozen classes throughout the UK. Kalsi subsequently worked with Transglobal Underground, Natacha Atlas, AfroCelt Sound System, The Bollywood Brass Band and others. This debut album, released last summer, creates a credible combo of Bhagara, dance and electronica. The renowned “Dholaholik” enlists the talents of fellow drummers and also Indian vocalists Vijay Prakash and Natacha Atlas on several numbers. For those fond of traditional tabla solo/duet albums, or other classical Indian rhythmic masterpieces, this project, essentially designed for dance clubs, may prove somewhat commercial, despite its inherent craftsmanship. Nonetheless it’s loads of fun to move to, and a welcome addition to the ever-growing family of ethno-dance projects.