/ Rips

Charanjit Singh - India Goes Calypso [CD, Audiorec, 1990]

Charanjit Singh is a legend of electronic music, accidentally inventing a genre after becoming enchanted with the Roland TB-303, TR-808 and the Jupiter-8 on a trip to Singapore, making one groundbreaking outlier of an album, Synthesizing - Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, which sounds so mystifying and powerful even today that it led quite the revival some 30 years after its release in 1982, leading to him being tracked down in Mumbai and eventually performing his outstanding work all over the world, which would seem like quite the departure for his apparently quiet life given how hard he was to reach, but as his wife noted in 2010, they'd been touring all over the world already, playing just the same ragas at private shows, though perhaps not through the trio of instruments that made him so beloved from that fateful re-release of his album.

Charanjit Singh would pass away in 2015 at the age of 75, surrounded by adoration and still touring with his music to the end. However, one strange question remained - in article after article, a mysterious "calypso album" keeps coming up. here it is in Bruzz, here in an Indian obit, and even as early as 2010 alongside the reissue it was being talked about.

Scan of an article in Mojo magazine from 2010 alongside the reissue of Synthesizing - Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat that mentions the "Experiments in Calypso" album at the end
Article from Mojo magazine, 2010, with a final paragraph hinting at the "Experiments in Calypso" album

I first found out about Charanjit Singh around 2013 or so, and while I've always been a huge fan of Synthesizing - Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, I've also been haunted by this calypso album. I struggled to find any details about it - hardly surprising given how hard it must have been to find the original record that shot him to stardom! But around 2015 I noticed this Discogs page which seemed to be the fabled calypso album. Problem was, it sold once in 2015 and then...never again. This was likely never going to show up, but I put it on my watchlist on a whim, in case it ever came up. Days turned into months which turned into years, and I had long given up on ever finding it this way, but sure enough, a few weeks back I got that email notification that got me to leap out of my chair and order it as soon as humanly possible, lest it fall into some other collector's hands and perhaps destined to rot in obscurity. I was so profoundly excited, I started collecting up the articles I had read all those years ago for this post and...found out that Sony Music India had beat me to the punch by about a month. This is up on Spotify, Tidal, you name it, it's probably on there, out of the blue, with no explanation. It had around 20 views on YouTube when I ordered the CD. My heart sank, but I still had my holy grail, and I was going to post about it!

Until, at least, I realized upon arrival that I got a "Generic" sleeve which I did not notice at the time of ordering. Not that I'd mind normally - this is one-of-a-kind after all - but I really was hoping I would get a tiny scrap of liner notes I could share with the world about why this came to be. Instead, all I have is a mystery, as even if Mr. Singh were alive today, he was always very reserved about his work and focused more on playing than talking about it. Perhaps some day someone will come forward with more info, but as it is, let's just enjoy the music together.

If you come in expecting the same as Synthesizing - Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, you'd be half right. It's the same trio of synthesizers, with lots of acid house moments, though he definitely is using much more lush percussion in this album, including some really delightful conga samples that he pitch shifts throughout in interesting ways. The base material for the album is also no longer ragas - it's Bollywood film music, which I assume are hits from his long career as a film composer, but I am not remotely a Bollywood expert and I leave it to my readers more well-versed in Indian culture to let me know how big of a deal the individual songs are. The format is also quite different, as opposed to distinct tracks, this is one long megamix that seamlessly goes from one to the next, something easy to lose yourself in as you listen. It doesn't feel nearly as "serious" as his previous work, overall, but is it good? Yes! It's a great fun time, and I definitely advise sitting down with it. I don't know if it's "brain-melting" as noted in that Mojo article, but I do love it, and it sure does nail the calypso rhythm while being distinctly electronic and artificial like his other work. Fantastic overall.

Liner Notes

None this time! I got a generic sleeve and didn't realize. It's unfortunate, but this is also the only copy that's been on sale in seven years, so I take what I can get.

Track List and Rip

Fortunately, unlike in my previous post involving a CD from 1990, this CD was made in Switzerland and has absolutely no flaws despite having fingerprints and scratches all over. Fantastic work by whoever Audiorec in London contracted with, I would definitely have expected a little rot by now.

Please note that the CD is just one single long track and is intended to be listened as such - even the YouTube upload splitting it in two is strictly an erroneous presentation of the music. I have therefore labeled the "song" with all the individual track titles separated by slashes; this should work for most modern music players, but I do worry about hitting some hidden character limit in car entertainment systems, so my apologies if I crash your sound system!

As for the orthography, this comes straight from the CD. If you know the titles in their original script, or what these translate to, please let me know.

  1. Om Shanti Om
  2. Shola Jo Bhadke
  3. He Mujhe Dil
  4. Main Hoon Jhumroo
  5. Ye Dil Na Hota Bechara
  6. Dil Dil Se Milakar
  7. Pyar Huwa Hai
  8. Hai Apna Dil To Awara
  9. Gore Gore
  10. Dil Deke Dekho
  11. Khwaab Ho Tum Ya

Get the music HERE! No ZIP this time because it's just one big file.