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Oldies But Goldies: When Falu Ruled The World

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It was meant to go to see Falu last night at Joe’s Pub but on hearing it was a “traditional” Hindu acoustic set decided to blow it off and go the the Sunday day performance at Carnegie Hall instead. Maybe I was wrong.

I’ve had her eponymous debut album in heavy rotation for a coupla days now and I’m two years late on it. Released in 2007 it is something of a masterpiece. A part of what NY Press dubbed the “Asian Underground movement, a mid-90s British phenomenon that wended its way to the States first through tabla play” , I’m guessing Press means stuff like Cornerstone and Kula Shaker; it is better than either.

More traditional stuff like “Poojan’ while pretty seems too much like keening, the very next song ‘Same rain” is an electric rocker and from Falu’s opening wail to the end she seems to be crossing from the end of the world singing to the depths of rock, she sounds like Bono without the fake sincerity.
It is just one of many, the album, which completely passed me by at the time, is masterful. It seems at first thematically shallow but a couple of listens in you begin to notice that there is more going on than you initially heard, the ” be unclean with you” suggesting a sexual disruption almost heretical. “Hey baby” is the best of a great lot and it is followed by the tradional sounding “rabba” except the drums are not traditional at all. It is strange and beautiful, and, sure, takes some listens, but pays back with a sense of the timeless wonder of not just the Hindu religion but its Western counterparts.

There is a consistent depth to Falu, even on songs that should be nothing much, she seems capable of trasncending the genre to reach… to what? The lyric seldom awards it but especially when you can’t understand her it is a consisten yearing, an emotional tug reaching toward stuff I don’t quite know and yet believe in any way.

Despite her best efforts the English language sound more western and the Indian more eastern, except on the flawless “Copper Can” where she meets the two in the middle -as so often happens with falu, the drums are all four to floor while the backing track is very eastern “Take me to your door…” of perception, I guess. The last song “Poojan” is so beautiful it’s almost Middle eastern, as though she is singing the Koran acapella/ It is stunningly beautiful and along with “Hey baby” a highly on an album of high lights. The concert is at Carnegie Hall November 15th, 2009 -at $9 it is a must see, the acoustic at carnegie Hall is magnificent and hearing Fula sing there should be terrific.. My thanks to Inge Colsen for the heads up on this terrific artist.

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