NatarajXT Tandava

NatarajXT is the moniker for Pierre Moitram, Richard Bernet and Kapi - three French electronic musicians with an avid interest in North Indian classical music. Their debut release Tandava, on Vancouver-based label NuTone Records, is a testament to their interests and, no doubt, their technical skills as trained musicians in the area of Hindustani music. Preamble aside, unlike the eclectic outtakes of a label such as Six Degrees, which also works on the premise of cataloguing experimental approaches to music making, NuTone seems to aim for the same without the due results. Take NatarajXT as a case-in-point. It is a disturbing example of how the hype around the already improperly defined "Asian underground" can lead to a lot of generic attempts of fusing "Western" electronic music and beats with "Eastern" instrumentation. The East-West thing is already a little unnerving, because as with the album, Tandava‚ all the organic, spiritual and soul-moving elements are handed over to the mystical influence of North Indian music. Fusion, though it is becoming a bandwagon for random attempts at eclecticism, can be done well. NatarajXT's attempt, however, is not fusion so much as it is cut-and-paste. There seems to be very little genuine dialogue happening between the "organic" elements defined by the sarod, esraj, tabla and sitar and the Rm1x, or Octapad equipment. For most part, two parallel musical escapades seem to be happening independent of each other, held together by rather exquisite packaging and references to Hindu divinity to make the whole attempt appear sincere and spiritually moving. Even the independent parts don't make a deep impression. This is the kind of inoffensive and palatable music that Peter Gabriel's Real World label would buy in a second to sell to the new age masses that want ethnic music but framed for convenient consumption. (Nutone)