review from biz
Nataraj XT, a French trio composed of two Indian
classically trained musicians, and one
DJ/programmer/multi-instrumentalist, take their name from the
incarnation of Shiva as Lord of the Dance. Dimmsummer gave me
his copy of their first album Tandava
explaining that it really didn't do anything for him. On first
brush I gravitated towards what these guys were trying to
create in combining the straight classical playing of sitar,
sarod, and esraj over DJ club beats. It certainly seemed like
the two "Indian" players of the group were true students of
their traditions and could be applauded for their skills on
non-Western instruments, and in trying to fuse them with world
techno. Compositionally though, in attempting to play
different ragas, as track titles such as Ya Man, K Fi, Jan
Poori, Teelak, & Kirwan suggested, the inherent
limitations of the tuning of the plucked Indian instruments,
or just a lack of knowledge of the part of the musicians made
Tandava sound repetitive after a few listens. So
brother Dimm was right.
On Ocean Birds, Nataraj
XT doesn't seem to deviate too far from their original
formula. The DJ's sonic pallette of synths, samples, &
beats, however, has improved, and it seems he's no longer
serving as background to the sitar, sarod, & esraj, which
dominated as voices in the first release. A much better
collaboration of give and take is prevalent throughout the
tracks of "Ocean Birds."
I still question the heavy
reliance on the three classical instruments, but that
certainly sets these guys apart from the rest of the pack.
Perhaps following your personal vision of how your music
should sound and be performed isn't necessarily a bad thing.
They won't compete with the Karsh Kales and Cheb I Sabbahs,
but I guess that's not their point. There's always room for
everyone if you're willing.