Record Review - 4 September 11 2002

India has become the hip musical destination of choice for many American producers and DJs in the past few years. Dan the Automator's compilation, Bombay the Hard Way, continues to spawn knock-off tributes to the music of India's Bollywood film industry. And down-tempo anesthesiologists like D.C.'s Thievery Corporation have made the sympathetic drone of the sitar synonymous with highballs, modern furniture and private jets.

When Western producers sample and compile Eastern sounds, the results tend to fall along that fine line between progressive multicultural integration and blind appropriation. On this live recording, Tabla Beat Science takes a more equilateral approach to exploring the commonalities between the classical music of India and the electronic styles nurtured in the West. On "Tala Matrix," turntablist DJ Disk and tabla guru Zakir Hussain trade similarly syncopated, vocal expressiveness on their respective instruments. Another highlight, "Sacred Channel" connects the staggered rhythmic textures of the tabla to the berserk down-strokes of drum 'n' bass.

Hussain (whose father, Ustad Allarakha, performed the same rhythm instrument on the seminal recordings of Ravi Shankar) and venerable dub/fusion/world producer Bill Laswell comprise the spiritual core of Table Beat Science. And while there is a level of tension between their respective musical traditions, Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove is at its best when it taps into a sense of transparent connection.??