Karsh Kale, electronic tabla: A rare fusion

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley

Counter Culture which began as a restaurant, bar and an open space, soon became a platform for live performances, while encouraging fresh talent from the world of music, theater, dance and comedy. Counter Culture which has also featured world-renowned artists, will soon fuse in more of such music. With the beats of tabla and a rhythm from the west, Karsh Kale, an Indian-American musician will stage his performance.

Music is the only medicine that heals us from within. A novice, a professional or even a person from a non-music background gets in rhythm as soon as any melody hits them, be it the fast beat electronica or sullen ragas from classical. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa or Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti, music transcends boundaries and language, much like what Shankar Mahadevan sang in Mission Kashmir, “Sangeet ko naa roke deewar, sangeet jaaye sarhad ke paar”. When it comes to music, what is more amusing is the marriage of two distinct genres of music.

A wonderful communion of carnatic and electronic is seen in Mahesh Dattani‘s film, Morning Raga starring Shabana Azmi as a Carnatic singer who joins her son’s band. The film gives us the best of both worlds and attempts to reduce the generation gap. Many veterans like Dr. L. Subramaniam every year bring forth a music festival which is a blend of global music. Fusion enjoys immense popularity amongst the crowd in India and abroad, which is why we see it incubating in Bollywood music as well. Coke Studio (India), which became a platform for live music performances has vastly contributed in giving us a taste of fusion music. Variations of dynamics, style and tempo is what attracts the listener to this sort of music. Another distinctive kind of fusion that has created ripples in the world of music is Asian Underground. The pioneer in defining the genre, Karsh Kale, has been in the forefront. His blend of Indian classical and folk with electronica, rock, pop and ambient music has become a rage amongst the Indian music aficionados.

Born as Utkarsha Kale to Indian immigrant parents, this music magician is a self-thought musician. His musical love affair began with drums, tabla and graduated to electronic tabla. Celebrated as global music’s brightest star, Kale has been revered to be a visionary composer and producer (Billboard Magazine). Kale collaborated with celebrated music maestros which includes Ustad Zakir Hussain, Salim-Sulaiman, Anoushka Shankar, Vishal Dadlani, Imogen Heap and bands like Midival Punditz and Indian Ocean. Kale has in no time, become a rage amongst Indian masses.

“Karsh Kale’s music is like a therapy,” says a student Paloma Sharma who is an ardent Kale fan. Chirps in Subhash Balasubramanian, “The music that Kale makes is rare in India. His music is magnificiently appealing!” Sharma recommends Kale’s music to her peers and the listeners as she believes, “His (Kale’s) music is vibrant and is unlike anything you have ever heard before. Karsh Kale can move his listeners”.

Apart from music composition and production, Kale has also written songs for Stint and Norah Jones and has scored music for crossover and Bollywood films like Indian Cowboy, Ocean of Pearls, Pyaar Impossible!, to name a few. Kale’s work with singers like Apeksha Dandekar, Monali Thakur and Benny Dayal for Coke Studio (India) are cited amongst the most-innovative tracks in the series. With two songs used as sample music in Microsoft’s Windows Vista to his credit, Kale has proved to be a rising music genius, a sensation which will slowly grip the audience in the Indian subcontinent.

Leaving you with the best of Karsh Kale’s music. Do lend an ear:

Kajar Bin Kare featuring Ustad Zakir Hussain

Abyss featuring Karsh Kale and Anoushka Shankar in their joint venture, Breathing Under Water

Kajar Bin Kare revoked on Coke Studio by Karsh Kale and Salim Merchant

Glorious featuring Shruti Pathak, Mandeep Sethi, Benny Dayal on Coke Studio

Reviving yesteryear’s “Dil Cheez Kya Hai” with vocals by Monali Thakur

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1 Comment

  1. Kevin Pereira

    November 27, 2013 at 1:17 am

    He doesn’t play electronic tabla, he play’s Tabla , then modifies the sound in real time using pedals / EQ/ Mixer’s , it is still a regular tabla he is playing with a pickup in it. An actual electronic tabla has only been created recently by some students in university, but as a tabla player, I would say it lacks the sound quality of the original. Why don’t I have your job…

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