V2 Music – 2001 – 52 minutes
Most people's first encounter with Nitin Sawhney probably occurred last year when his 1999 album 'Beyond Skin' was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. While cynical assertions about him being the 'token Asian' inclusion were bandied around, Sawhney's work stood up for itself, differentiating itself from previous Mercury winner Talvin Singh.
Critics and fans alike lauded 'Beyond Skin' as a magnificent wake-up call to music, but Sawhney can claim to have surpassed it with his latest album 'Prophesy'. The depth and breadth of styles and influences are vast, and although the east/west fusion is apparent, Sawhney avoids the quagmire of predictable stereotypes. When this musical fusion does occur, it's always a subtle marriage of sounds as on 'Acquired Dreams'.
Sawhney commands the role of musical web weaver, leaving the singing to an eclectic array of (predominantly female) vocalists. The opening track 'Sunset' is a duet featuring Jayanta Bose and Eska Mtungwazi spun around strings and gospel choir harmonies. The clinical drum and bass breakbeats on 'Nothing' melt in a blend of percussion and Tina Grace's vocals. Then, just when you think you know where you are on Sawhney's musical map, the Latin American, salsa-esque 'Moonrise' appears on the horizon.
'Street Guru (Part One)' borrows from funk and hip-hop, with beats permeated by a streetwise storyteller railing against technology. These urban breaks are also found on 'Ripping Out Tears', an angry, angsty song fusing metal guitars and a female rapper. 'Walk Away' - a mellow melancholic number – brings Nina Rocha Miranda's stunning vocals together with samples of Martin Luther King.
'Prophesy ' will make you think on a variety of levels. It is an intensely universal album but a hugely personal journey for Sawhney. It meanders along the musical spectrum of breakbeat, samba, trip-hop, Indian and rap, drawing on spiritual and cultural dynamics along the way. A truly imaginative, wide-ranging and unique piece of work, 'Prophesy' is Sawhney's best work to date and it shouldn't be long before he's known world-wide (something the unassuming Anglo-Asian probably won't have much of an interest in).
Tracklisting: – Sunset – Nothing – Acquired Dreams – Nothing More – Moonrise – Street Guru (Part One) – The Preacher – Breathing Light – Developed – Footsteps – Walk Away – Cold & Intimate – Street Guru (Part Two) – Ripping Out Tears - Prophesy
Listen to clips from all of these tracks in the 2FM musiczone.