Joi We Are Three

Joi formerly consisted of brothers Haroon and Farook Shamser, until 34-year old Haroon Shamser died suddenly in 1999 of a heart attack. Proceeding with the work that began in the early '90s under the pioneering Joi Bangla Sound System, Farook Shamser has released what stands as a tribute to his brother and to the inception of Asian breakbeat music that Joi is credited with. Originally from Bengal, and raised in London's East End, the brothers were a part of the Sound System that grew out of the League of Joi Bangla Youth Organisation, a Bengali youth movement. They started out in the context of community work and events and subsequently became active members of a growing Asian dance scene in England. As Farook Shamser states in the liner notes, the weeks preceding his death, Haroon Shamser re-visited their home village in Bangladesh and recorded the remarkable artists he met there, ranging from vocalists to flautists and tabla players who had themselves played with their father. What emerges in We Are Three is a synthesis of the music that punctuated Haroon's journey and his brother's completion of this material in the studio, with sounds ranging from breakbeats to traditional Bengali instrumentation. In the given context, the defining tone of this album is one of poignancy. Many of the songs, despite the presence of traditional instrumentation by way of flutes and a repetitive sitar refrain, are primarily dance floor numbers and even good pop songs in the likes of Cornershop, in their heyday. In "Tacadin," the vocalist reminds us "This is not the sound of the Asian underground. This is music." An important assertion given the myth built around the "Asian underground," especially after Talvin Singh's compilation release in the mid-'90s. Musicians like State of Bengal to Badmarsh and Shri or Talvin Singh populate the scene with their diversified experimentation in this realm. It is important to be able to imagine Joi emerging with its scene counterparts in the early '90s and pioneering a sound that has now become the modus operandi for many. In the early '90s, this music likely traversed new territory, but it's not likely that this album will stand the test of time or appear uniquely innovative in what it does in the context of the early 21st century. Purists might want to hear more of the traditional instrumentation, but that isn't the question at hand. What matters more is what people mean when they say "fusion" and what is being celebrated when a record is hailed for being good "fusion music. We Are Three's strength is the story that fuels the album's conception, a story whose mood infuse the entirety of this album. (Real World)