You normally don’t want to call your project something like Reheated Naan & Curry, 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?)