Most Westerners have a limited grasp of world music, save maybe for the sound system at Whole Foods, the local organic coffee shop, or scanning past it on the low end of the FM dial.
Yes, the world craves Western pop, but other cultures have started to step up and make pop music as well, and they want to be heard. Bringing Indian music to our shores is Rimi Basu, who is, in fact, an American of Indian descent. While in medical school in California, she up and quit, heading to India to immerse herself in the music scene there. Studying classical Indian music, she infused it with American influences, as well as a steady dose of Bollywood, to create two EPs, The Unveiling and Crossing Over.
To the untrained ear, it certainly sounds more Western than Indian, particularly with the synthesized rhythms. The vocals, about half of which aren’t in English, are very smooth, and defy the stereotypical view of music from the Sub-Continent. Loads of hooks and melodies can be found within as well.
Basu’s goal upon returning to the United States is to broaden the appeal of Indian music in the West. She seems to have found an appealing way of doing it. These are both pop records with an international flavor, but nothing so strong or exotic as to put off people used to domestic chart music. Oh, and she’s also an accomplished belly dancer.
Crossing Over is the most diverse of the two albums, pushing the extremes of both cultural influences. On the Anglo/American end, “Ele Na” presents itself as a ‘70s-influenced MOR song and seems to borrow a bit from Elton John’s “Daniel.” Similarly, the sax-flavored “Jaani Jaani” is much more ‘70s funk than Bollywood.
Basu seems to have mixed her cultural influences well and those who can take their pop music sans English language vocals may be in for a treat, and not just the kind you pick up at Whole Foods.
7 Stars out of 10
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.