Olli and the Bollywood Orchestra Kitch'en

Here’s a curiosity: Olli is a Frenchman singing Bollywood covers and original material in apparently heavily accented Hindi. His website makes it clear that there’s some deep funding behind this concept, what with the Orchestra, major festival performances and international promotion of a double CD. This set is divided into acoustic and electric discs, both of which are slight misnomers for each style. Disc one is acoustic in a relative sense only. The production is very slick, with upfront acoustic guitar and the familiar mass of strings abetted by samples, digital kick drums and dub efx. The mix is kept very light and accessible, bringing to mind major dance sequences rather than solo ballads of Bollywood films. The electric disc is almost entirely programmed beats and divebombing strings. The beats are above average in places ("Tah Mahal Symphonie”), but have big room ambitions with their Fatboy Slim/Prodigy heritage, which is pretty entertaining when it works but pretty tired when it doesn’t. In any case, the programmed disc isn’t as interesting as the "acoustic” one. This is a far from a perfect fusion, but it’s a welcome change from the arch-slickness of contemporary Bollywood, and a window onto its more genre-defying past, containing elements of both. (Independent)