Jolly Mukherjee Fusebox

A prolific composer and singer in the Indian film industry, Jolly Mukherjee is best known to Western audiences as one of the major players involved with the orchestral arrangements on Talvin Singh's 1998 diasporic odyssey-in-sound, Traveller. With the sweeping sounds of the Madras Cinematic Orchestra once again under his wand on Fusebox, Mukherjee indulges deeper into his vision of an electro-Bollywood dream world - one that's emotionally sweeter than Singh's and much more confident with expressing melancholy than Indian film soundtracks otherwise tend to be. The disc also features State of Bengal, Badmarsh & Shri, Kingsuk Biswas and the Underwolves for beats and electronics, while introducing the Madras Magician for more acoustic, classical approaches to the songs. The diversity of names is exciting on one hand, but it also makes the disc a scattered production, lacking a constant theme or concept. A lot of these cuts come off like remixes, playing around with breakbeats and ambient effects rather than tuning into the mood of Mukherjee's melodic songwriting. There are some interesting experiments being attempted, such as Kingsuk's coupling of mrindingam and rock drums on "Jayjayanthi," but then there are also moments of DJ-culture vulgarity, as is the case on "Sarang," when State of Bengal attempts to cut the strings up like a turntablist. Nevertheless, the presence of the MCO, with their sonorous textures and harmonies of magnificence, keeps things grounded and ultimately remains pleasurable to the ears despite such treatments. (Palm Pictures)