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Take-out music

Danceability and hip beats frustrate any attempt to connect organically with the past. We're left with impressive technology and no music

Rs 50

Pravin Mani, ace drummer and drum programmer, has worked on some A R Rahman songs. Here he dons the role of remixer.

The promo describes this as an "electrifyingly danceable album that will wow you". Danceability is a quality that remix albums force even on songs that were never meant to be danced to. If it is not danceability, then they alienate familiar, much-loved songs from their context and strip them of nostalgia.

Take Chingari koi from Amar Prem, perhaps the best slow song R D Burman ever made. It talks of betrayal and deep pain. "If a spark breaks out, you can put it out, but what can you do if the monsoon rains fire?" sings Kishore in a lovely tune R D Burman based on raga Bilaskhani Todi.

By adding a hip beat to a song that articulates a helpless ache in the heart, this remix pushes us into the absurdity of being denied even the dignity of quiet sadness. Not that such a paradoxical situation is unimaginable in the modern world, but then one goes to such old songs to pause and introspect about the paths our lives have taken, and the paths where we were overwhelmed by treacherous flames when we went expecting love.

Pravin Mani uses several remix drum patterns -- with their trendily fanciful spellings of "slowjamz," "drumz n bazz" and "chug a long" -- to paste a new sound on each of the eight tracks.

Bambai se aaya mera dost , Bappi Lahiri's cheerful, Goan-sounding song is here, and of course it deserves a place on a dance album. There's also a "mood mix" of Sama hai suhana suhana by R D Burman.

Surender Bharadwaj sings all tracks. He tries to approximate the original singer's rendering. He manages Bappi Lahiri's thick enunciation and Kishore Kumar's stylish voice modulation, but then what marks does one give to something that's merely copied?

The slower songs sound lifeless where Kishore brought to them his own emotional charge.

The recording quality is excellent, and the credit goes to Mo' Mani Music Productions, Australia. Again, can technology make up for lack of ideas?

S Suchitra Lata

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