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Trance Machine

Take a pinch of Indian classical, shake it up with a bit of techno-tronic sound and what you have is a platter full of trance music.

Now that World Music is the in-thing, such has been the trend in the past five years. The same goes for Pierre Moitram, Richard Bernet and Kapi, the musical stooges, whose footprints match those of their predecessors. Better known as NatarajXT, the trio joined hands to spread the message of the Indian classical all over the world. They are in India again, on their second all-country tour. Pierre Moitram and Richard Bernet had tuned their ears to the strings of the sitar and the sarod in the early ’70s. “I was introduced to the sound when I came here in 1972,” says Bernet aka Rishi. He came to India haunted by Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, and left enchanted by the deeply rooted musical history. He then studied under the strong hand of Pandit Ali Akbar Khan in California. Sounds familiar? Let’s proceed.

Pierre Moitram is the group’s sitar player. Once Ravi Shankar’s disciple, his musical leanings evolved slowly with worldwide recitals and a thesis in North Indian classical music. Together, the two were a perfect duo, experimenting with exotic sounds, wanting to break away from the secluded niche of classical listeners. And what better way to do that than by bringing in an electronic wizard to put a beat to the melody. Enters Kapi, who has no association with Indian music whatsoever. He’s from the headbanging generation. After that love affair wore out, he was part of the group.

In 1998, soon after their relationship as brothers was consented to, the trio began working on their first album, Tandava, which they confess was a hurried compilation. “We worked on the music for a week,” Bernet confesses. They have also started compiling their second album for which they’ve introduced a tabla player (he’s French) and a singer. And what has the response been like? “Listeners have been receptive. At times, they approach us after the concert to tell us that our music connects them to a kind of spirituality,” admits Bernet. Never mind that trance largely lures the crack-sniffing lot to one’s backyard. Kapi further explains: “Recently, France has been flooded with the deluge of novel sounds so it works to our advantage as they’re accepting sounds that are different from what is currently being churned out. ” And while there is a huge trance market worldwide, Bernet believes that his music is a real musical story, it’s not just ‘exoticism for effect’. Listen to Tandava and the difference is notapparent. The second piece of work that is slowly being carved out, however, is not embedded in the electronic. “The genre is limited, but we have to work around that with new ideas,” Kapi confronts the crisis.

Copyright 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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