TJ Rehmi Invisible Man

TJ Rehmi may fall under that notoriously saleable term "Asian underground," but it is an awkward fit, as he prefers the relative quiet of his Birmingham home to the bustling city of London. Despite this, he has been hard at work well through the '80s and '90s, creating his own brand of Asian-inspired, soulful programming music while playing his part in the then burgeoning bhangra scene. Invisible Man is his third album to date and follows a critically hailed debut from 1998 called Mindfilter, as well as 1999's Mera Therapy. Moving from his beginnings on Nation Records and in the bhangra scene, he has crafted an introspective and inspired piece of work. The 11 tracks clock in at little over an hour, showing Rehmi's preference for long songs that build gently and settle into a mood without feeling any pressure to shift gears and experiment unnecessarily. "Transform" and "Invisible Rain" are richly atmospheric without overlaying the Asian elements to increase the "exotica" quotient. Interestingly, in the liner notes he offers his preferred track order and the alternative does greater justice to the songs, building from a slow ambient mood to one of cascading broken beats and disjointed rhythms, best exemplified by "Tonik" and "Spiritual Technology." His political consciousness and optimism are clearly evident in the way this alternative track order builds: pensive and internal at first, but concretely in the world and intensely involved in the end. This is a promising continuation from an underrated talent. (Independent)