“Reheated Naan & Curry” — A Brief Review

You normally don’t want to call your project something like Reheated Naan & Curry, deejay om reheated naan and curry.jpg because you’re setting yourself up for some clever critic (or blogger) to take the reference and turn it into something ugly, along the lines of: “‘Reheated Naan’? Sorry, Just Stale Bread.” (This game could be extended — if you wrote a highbrow novel called Ennui, a reviewer would surely title his or her review something like, “Ennui, Another Name For ‘Boring’”).

In this case, Deejay OM’s new releasee, which is being released this week on the Galapagos4 label, should be safe from “clever” put-downs by the likes of yours truly, because it’s pretty good. People who listen to a lot of retro Bollywood might in fact find the concept somewhat familiar (reheated, if not rehashed), as Deejay OM seems to be mining samples from forgotten scores from old Hindi films, and recontextualizing them with hip hop beats and loops. As such, Reheated Naan & Curry reminds me a bit of the 1998 CD by producer Dan Nakamura, Bombay the Hard Way — but for most people the approach taken by Deejay OM may nevertheless sound pretty fresh.

The standout track on the record has to be “The Arrival,” which you can hear at Deejay OM’s Myspace (if that doesn’t work, the song can also be listened to at NPR). You can also hear samples of other tracks at Amazon.

Of course, this music is just beats, and I’m often left thinking what these tracks could sound like with great rappers or singers on them.

One final thought: in case you were wondering, Deejay OM has no “substantial” connection to the Indian subcontinent — as far as I can tell, he’s an Italian American DJ and producer from San Francisco who is sampling the old Bollywood sound to create a particular effect. (That appropriation mostly isn’t an issue for me, as long as the beats are interesting. Though I suppose one could object to the revealing use of the word “curry” in the title of the CD — the incorrect western term for all Desi khana. And are there readers who also object to the use of the word “OM” in Deejay OM’s name?)

32 thoughts on ““Reheated Naan & Curry” — A Brief Review

  1. Sigh. There will be readers who object to everything, just for the sake of it. ;)

    Although, the quotation on his My Space page is mildly vomitacious:

    “Sound, as a means of enlightenment….”
  2. Ganeesha in Space? Homie didn’t find one person in SF who knew how to spell Ganesha? I almost opened my third eye. But he picked Gulzar / RDB tune from Ijazat, so all is forgiven.

  3. I don’t dislike it at all… which surprises me. I, for one, couldn’t stand the Dan the Automator compilations: the campiness factor wasn’t campy enough to really ‘get’ the inherent absurdity/campiness of masala-era bollywood, and the hiphop production was really, really, really, really mediocre.

    This is catchier, simpler in perspective, and on the whole… successful and fun. It reminds me a bit of the (scorching!) new Joi CD, actually.

  4. Mr. C, I had entirely missed the new Joi. The bits and pieces of it at Realworld’s website are pretty enticing (and the “Remix contest” is a cool idea). I might have to go out and order that one too.

    Puck, thanks for mentioning the local restaurant connection. Maybe Deejay OM isn’t clueless about desi food after all!

  5. i just like the record labels name.. why galapagos4? and not 3 or 2 or 1? the islands are awesome.. hmm.. thinking that it stands for evolution..(sorry, thinking and typing aloud)

    and as for him going on the entire ‘indian’ flavor.. other artists have manipulated it before.. madonna, shakira, and gwen stefani.. i think i’ve seen so much of it..that it doesn’t phase me anymore.

  6. A

    s such, Reheated Naan & Curry reminds me a bit of the 1998 CD by producer Dan Nakamura, Bombay the Hard Way — but for most people the approach taken by Deejay OM may nevertheless sound pretty fresh

    that would be Dan Nakamura, aka “Dan the Automator,” who quit the Gorrilaz ship before it crashed into mainstream expectations.

    that Bombay album was amusing, even for a hindi movie novie like myself, and it was intended to be so. Is this album really all that ‘serious’ or making some half-boiled attempt at ‘authenticity’?

    meanwhile, where’s the love for Asian Dub Foundation and FunDaMental (aki nawaz before he got weird)?

  7. Muralimannered, I think this CD is meant to be in a retro-kitsch ironic vein as well. (Note the titles to the tracks!)

    I’ve been a big fan of ADF over the years. I still like to listen to tracks like “New Way, New Life” every so often for inspiration, though I think my musical tastes have moved on somewhat. Not too long ago, I blogged about their attempt to stage an “opera” about Moammar Gaddafi last year in London.

  8. mural are Asian Dub Foundation still putting out albums? I loved their whole steez in the nineties..

  9. unfortunately, ADF have bled quite a lot of talent in the past five years. Rocky Singh left afer Enemy of the Enemy, Deedar left after Community Music and Dr. Das left after Enemy of the Enemy as well.

    Akatavarta and Spex were engaging on EoftheE but didn’t match the raw-throated (and short-of-breath) delivery of Master D. Also losing Das for the Tank album took out the heart of ADF which was an iron-clad rythm section and dubby baselines.

    Amardeep,

    I too listen to New Way, New Life every now and then for inspiration (and reminders–though brixton textile mills are a long way from sweeping 7/11 floors and teaching classical indian dance in rural virginia). I’m a fan of perpetual youth movements from a prior age (i was entirely too young to find ADF on the internets while they were getting signed, etc.)

    I just can’t appreciate acts like Nitin Sawhney because his music hews too closely to the self-consciously ‘adult’ buddha-bar genre which has taken over nearly every wine-bar in the world (another self-consciously ‘adult’ place to be). Are there any other acts out there that can’t separate dancing from ‘revolution’ (like ADF)?

    i know there are brown grime artists in Toronto and London–just not finding them except on u-tube.

  10. what kind of statement is he trying to make with this album ? “reheated naan and curry” ??? WTF, it’s almost like it’s making fun of it’s listeners.. And what is with the weird color scheme and the weird clothes on the album cover ? The music is just as weird and “stale” sounding as reheated naan and curry would be stale tasting..

    Is there something I am not understanding because to me it seems like shitty album that only fools would buy..

  11. MuraliMannered, well, there’s Outernational — who are back and playing shows again after a short pause. This past month they were on a mini-tour with Ozomatli; don’t know what’s next.

    I’m with you on Nitin Sawhney, though maybe not for quite the same reasons — personally, I don’t mind the mellow, lounge style these days (sorry; something must have happened to my brain when I turned 30). My problem has been that the music is often so stretched out between genres that it often doesn’t really work musically. Sawhney did have a couple of good tracks on “Philtre” (2005) — try “Dead Man,” which is an interesting fusion of American blues and Hindustani ghazal. I also enjoyed “Mausam,” which is more or less just a upbeat Indi-pop type song.

    I have to admit, I let the grime thing pass me by. I tried my hand at Dizzee Rascal a few years ago, and that was about enough. (Sometimes it’s better not to pay too much attention to Sasha Frere-Jones’ latest underground fad…)

  12. At last — someone has breached the Nitin Sawhney taboo, that is, expressed that it is OK to find much of his stuff boring. Phew!

    Well, he does lots of soundtracks for movies, TV and theatre these days, and he’s a really nice, righteous guy, so I feel bad about finding his music abit…..blegh.

  13. amardeep,

    if you love production (and damn the lyrics as I often do)i can send you a wish list of downloadable grime that’s very much unlike the Dizzee orthodoxy.

    as far as fusion goes try google video and type “shakti” or John McLaughlin. A conglomeration of the greatest exponents of their instruments (Mclaughlin, L. Shanker and zakir hussain) playing free-style with abandon. The revival vids are also on u-tube.

    look up Fareed Haque on archive.org for a more recent jam-bandy-ish effort that’s worth a listen.

  14. Murali, Tell me you don’t listen to grime while you do Yoga! (or, am I just not getting the Yogaville link?)

    Anyway, please do hook me up. amardeep t gmail dt kom.

  15. no no. i haven’t been in regular hatha yoga practice in many years. grime sessions go together with uncoordinated feet, hands, torso and head flailing. a list of downloadables will follow. I should actually just put it up on rapidshare.

  16. First Mr. C pontification: ADF has a new album out on Virgin France… i believe the title of the record is “Stop/Start;” at the very least, the new single is called that.

    And unless i’ve completely lost my mind, Das and Deedar are back in the fold as well. ADF started as a collective rather than a band; i think the whole thing is a bit more fluid than we expect.

    anyway what i’ve heard of “Stop/Start” is killing–groovy, intense, thought-provoking, forward-moving… It’s in rotation on the BBC Asian Network and BBC Radio1 (Bobby Friction & Nihal interviewed Steve Chandrasonic a few weeks back), check it out and i’m sure you can find some audio.

    Second Mr. C pontification: I kinda like grime, and am remixing a sort-of Desi grime crew from the midlands called the MDK Cartel literally right now. I absolutely love grime’s grown up, 30hz younger brother, dubstep. There’s quite the strong South Asian presence in the dubstep scene, as well (ahem.. ahemm… is this thing on?)

    Final pontification: I think Nitin writes strong, emotive music but to characterize it as similar dancefloor-aimed stuff is kind of an apples-and-oranges situation… though the London Elektricity remix of “Sunset” is brrrrrriliant on all counts.

  17. mr. cicatrix

    glad to find another fan of dubstep! I always wondered what it would be like to take out the junglish percussion and see where the evil, nefarious bassline would take us (at 30hz of course). I get through many long car rides blasting dubstep, and ferrying jet-lagged relatives from pillar to post.

    where can i get my hands on the new album? I thought Dr. Das was done with the concept of ADF and totally into doing ‘his own thing.’ I remember seeing a big “EX-ADF” banner on his myspace page for a while…

  18. aha! So realizing I didn’t fully know what the new record was all about, i did some googling: it’s a 2xCD greatest hits package, called “time freeze,” 3 new songs, tons of b-sides (like the jazzwad rmx of “fortress europe,” etc. avail. on amazon.

    As a very self-serving dubstep recommendation, tune into Maryanne Hobbes’ Breezeblock show on BBC1 the last week in May… some very new (and very good) post-desi dubstep goodies!

  19. I think the latest ADF single being played on BF&N is called ‘Target Practice’ but I could be wrong. From what I’ve heard of it, it is quite close to old skool ADF, except for a little bhangra-poppish beat.

  20. “The Arrival” sounds pretty cool….it’s a relief from the remix-of-the-remix bollywood songs. Given the music mood is psychedelic/experimental, it is pretty good. I like the fact he didn’t just mashup bollywood music – he has definitely done his homework and a good taste. It has a little bit red-hot-pepper-ish / pinkfloyd-ish touch …what do you guys think? Or am I the only one enjoying this?

  21. Thanks for posting this, Amardeep. After listening to a couple tracks, I’m led to believe that Deejay Om’s beats are not bad at all, despite the fact his strongest connection to the desh is his penchant for the restaurant that inspired the album. I still believe that anyone can bring “desi back,” as long as it’s fresh and well done.

    I don’t dislike it at all… which surprises me. I, for one, couldn’t stand the Dan the Automator compilations: the campiness factor wasn’t campy enough to really ‘get’ the inherent absurdity/campiness of masala-era bollywood, and the hiphop production was really, really, really, really mediocre.

    Have you heard Bombay the Hard Way II: Electric Vindaloo? I wasn’t a huge fan of it, though I’ll concede it’s chock full of hilarious titles and impressive crate-digging, especially considering it’s a compilation of various, non-desi DJs. And rah, it’s cover is just as kitch. (Check out the member of the Blue Macaca Group in the center.)

    And unless i’ve completely lost my mind, Das and Deedar are back in the fold as well.

    Dr. Das is indeed back and rawking it old skool. I saw his last set at Worldy get cut short due to technical problems, but that shouldn’t preclude you macacas check him out later this month at the Elbo Room in SF.

    There’s quite the strong South Asian presence in the dubstep scene, as well (ahem.. ahemm… is this thing on?)

    It’s on in the Bay, that’s for sure. Kush and Maneesh are holding down the only monthly South Asian dubstep night that I’m aware of.

    Btw, when am I going to get to hear your liquid-funk remix of Do the Thang Thang, Mr. C?

    Shameless Self Promotion Alert: All this talk of Bollywood remixes and crate-digging and bringing desi back has me all giddy. Here’s a Bollywood remix I did, with the requisite 80′s cock-rock and tumbi samples in tow. Enjoy.

  22. DJ Drrrty, nice remix.

    Out of curiosity, did you clean up the originals to isolate the vocals yourself, or are there vocal track samples of of songs like “Choli ke peeche” floating around?

  23. “I just can’t appreciate acts like Nitin Sawhney because his music hews too closely to the self-consciously ‘adult’ buddha-bar genre”

    I hear you on that mural!

  24. Thanks Amardeep. Bollywood a cappellas are nearly impossible to find (at least in my experience), so I did all the vocal editing myself. If you’re interested in exactly how, or want some pointers, just drop me a line on my blog and I can get into more detail.

  25. quote: Btw, when am I going to get to hear your liquid-funk remix of Do the Thang Thang, Mr. C?–DjDP

    You know, i sat down to migrate into the new DAW-of-choice and… got bored. eventually. I’ll be in SF the last week July, @ Surya Dub w/ Maneesh so… we’ll see? maybe then? Or Kush will be out here in a few weeks for subswara, perhaps i’ll send him back w/ a care package.

    I’m really diggin’ the Chole-ke-peechay rmx! As far as vocal ‘isolation’ goes, there’s usually so much sonic junk going on in 60s/70s bollywood that slicing and dicing out the offending eq’s tends to make EVERYTHING sound better.

    D

  26. Mr C, I’m glad you like my remix. I can send you the stems if you’re interested. You’re spot on about eqing, but I opted to throw in the 60′s sample raw.

    I’ll be sure to meet up with Kush and vest him with a copy of my album before he leaves and to check out your beats at Surya Dub in July. Peace.