Transglobal Underground

Transglobal Underground

Origins: U.K.
Styles: World groove, ethno techno, tribal, Middle Eastern fusion
Discography: 2011 – The Stone Turntable
2007 – Moonshout
2005 – Impossible Broadcasting
2001 – Yes Boss Food Corner
1999 – Backpacking
On The Graves Of Our Ancestors
1998 – Rejoice Rejoice
1997 – Psychic Karaoke
1994 – International Times
1993 – Dream of 100 Nations
Web Site: transglobalunderground.net
In their heyday, Transglobal Underground was one of the leading trendsetters in world fusion music. The U.K.-based collective remains a trans-world fusion ensemble, fusing as many different kinds of world music as its members can get their hands on. The group’s core is composed of keyboardist Alex Kasiek, drum programmer Hamid Mant Tu, multi-instrumentalist Neil Sparkes (half of Temple of Sound) and founder, bassist, and sampler Count Dubulah (also half of Temple of Sound). Numerous others have been part of the project, most notably vocalist Natacha Atlas. The project grew out of a mutual love for dance and world music and each album draws on collective members’ cultural backgrounds.

Their debut album, Dream of 100 Nations, was released in 1993, quickly followed by International Times. These releases announced the coming world fusion revolution and helped kicked off the Asian Underground movement. The music was eye-opening; driving dance music with world influences at its base. International Times especially was free-spirited fun music that was global in reach yet accessible. It was like the carnival had come to town and was treating the crowds to exotic wonders from far away.

Transglobal Underground returned in 1997 with Psychic Karaoke which pushed the music further into techno territory. Rejoice, Rejoice followed a year later and was more mellow, so much so it turned off some fans. Yes Boss Food Corner appeared in spring 2001 similar in intensity to Psychic Karaoke. After a four year layoff, Impossible Broadcasting turned out to be one of their best albums, especially their two songs with Trio Bulgarka. I’d even say it is one of the best high-energy world fusion albums ever.

By 2007’s Moonshout though, the group was a dim echo of their former self, having abandoned much of what made them great and adopting instead derivative urban mush (ironically, Temple of Sound’s album that year, Globalhead, was more true to the Transglobal Underground sound). For several years after that they seemed content to release only “greatest hits” albums and archival concert video. Suddenly in 2011, The Stone Turntable came out, unfortunately living up to its name as uninspired, leaden, and repetitive.

Then, in 2013, they teamed up with Albanian brass band Fanfara Tirana. The unlikely pairing produced a fresh, creative, and thoroughly enjoyable album that had to have been the world’s best world fusion album in years. The reinvention of folk music on the album is the best of world fusion and truly inspirational as are the blends of vocals, rhythms, and brass. The videos are great too. The two bands toured together in 2013 and then again in 2016. I hold out hope for a follow-up album with Fanfara Tirana or something more from Transglobal Underground on its own.

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