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The Bollywood Brass Band
RAHMANIA: THE MUSIC OF A.R. RAHMAN
(BOLLYWOOD)

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This London brass band more or less stumbled into playing music from Indian film scores — but once they became darlings of the city’s large Indian community, they knew they had a good thing going. This set of 12 mostly high-octane film tunes and four clubby remixes was written by A.R. Rahman, one of today’s most celebrated Bollywood composers. The music is full of high drama and zany zeal reminiscent of klezmer music, but with clopping, funky Indian beats. The klezmer connection makes sense — after all, much Hindi film music has its roots in wedding-band repertoire that has featured brass since the 19th century.

"Ramta Jogi (Devotee of Love)" unfolds with layerings of horns; an ominous tuba bass figure drives the procession. "Rangeela Medley," the album’s eight-minute centerpiece, delivers colorful brass and reed interplay over lively, tumbling rhythms. There are lots of dark tonalities here, but the overall mood is so playful that the darkness comes across as more humorous than haunting. Often the tabla percussion is beefed up with trap drums, which provide welcome heft. Only the remixes seem superfluous: they’re stiffer and sillier than the band grooves and not quite believable as club music.

BY BANNING EYRE

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