Nitin Sawhney

Today I want to tell you about Nitin Sawhney, and it's such a colourful story to tell. Nitin Sawhney; born and raised in Rochester, Kent. Studied law at Liverpool University. Created popular sitcom Goodness Gracious Me. Then joined the James Taylor Quartet and later worked with Talvin Singh, before finally launching himself as a solo artist. All of this by 1993. So there's Nitin's roots for you in an extremely condensed fashion! Now about his music…

Nitin Sawhney is a pioneer of the Asian Underground sound, but asides from his cultural backgrounds his sound is both diverse and eclectic. He's a producer, a DJ, and even a composer. To date he has scored over 25 films, not to mention music for adverts and television programmes. He is both a flamenco guitarist and a classical/jazz pianist, and to date has released eight albums…

  • Philtre (2005)
  • All Mixed Up (2004)
  • Human (2003)
  • Prophesy (2001)
  • Beyond Skin (1999)
  • Displacing The Priest (1996)
  • Migration (1995)
  • Spirit Dance (1994)

Words cannot really describe the sounds of Nitin Sawhney. To hear his music is to experience it. Nitin merges sounds from many cultures in both classical and cinematic terms. One minute you can be listening to a drum 'n' bass breakdown, and the next a classical piece. His songs tell stories and are usually bearing a very political emphasis. Nitin has been very outspoken with his views towards culture, community, and in particular immigration and awareness – all of this shows through his musical work. One would expect that Nitin's music wouldn't seem half as powerful if it was not driven by his passions and morals.

I can return to each of the aforementioned albums time and again, they are all beautiful, but I do have some favourite tracks, such as; Falling Angels, Nadia, Immigrant, Serpents, and Say Hello. Give Falling Angels (taken from Human) a taster here..

Nitin Sawhney – Falling Angels
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 3rd July.

I don't think there will ever be a time when the track Falling Angels doesn't make the hair on my arms and the back of my neck stand on end. It truly is a beautiful track. The classical strings, the acoustic guitar, the chilling vocals, and the steady drums. Just listen to it.

The thing with an artist like Nitin Sawhney is that in a world obsessed with pigeon-holing people, he just cant be pigeon-holed that easily. But, that doesn't mean people haven't tried, and he has gone on record as saying he really does not appreciate the tag world-music. And I agree – it seems like a cop-out, it's almost a form of prejudice. To suggest that an artist not making familiar music, but using eastern samples and creative arrangements, would deem it world-music, is either ignorant or desperate – but to be fair, probably a mixture of the two. Brings us back to the discussion of the relative need for genres and tags. Of course it is very helpful to know my hip-hop from my rock by sections and files, but sometimes, in certain cases, I think a bit more effort is needed to 'label' music. So, what would I say it was? Progressive orchestral electronica? Maybe sometimes. The conundrum remains.

Nitin has had his work remixed by many very highly acclaimed artists over the years, some of which are; 4hero, MJ Cole, and Talvin Singh. But, as a producer and DJ, he has also remixed or produced other peoples' work, like; Jeff Beck, Lamb, Robert Miles, and Sinead O'Connor. The 2004 album All Mixed Up was actually a compilation of Nitin Sawhney tracks that were remixed by other artists.

For me the ultimate attraction to Nitin's music is the cinematic element and the raw passion felt through his music. It truly does feel like a journey, an experience. Everyone, regardless of tastes, should listen to at least one Nitin Sawhney album all the way through. Check out the fantastic track Homelands (from Beyond Skin)…

Nitin Sawhney – Homelands
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 3rd July.

Like I said before, it's difficult to pigeon-hole an artist such as Nitin Sawhney, but as far as comparisons go, I guess you could find hints of the following in his music; The Cinematic Orchestra, Massive Attack, Nightmares On Wax, and 4hero – but just think along quite an orchestral line, although Nitin's sound does tend to vary from track to track, so you'll be bound to hear lots of different influences for yourself.

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