Talvin Singh Returns to The Tung Auditorium: A Mesmerizing Fusion of Tabla, Electronics, and Cinematic Soundscapes


At The Tung Auditorium 5.11.2023

It’s almost exactly a year since I last saw Talvin Singh live, at the same auditorium. I couldn’t help wondering how many members of the crowd had also been there, and – like me – knew this was an experience not to be missed.

Many of the aspects that made that concert so unforgettable – the incredible intricacy of his tabla playing, his mastery of the electronic wizardry, and the balance provided by the ever-present human touch, for example – are equally on display here, though the track selection gives the evening a more panoramic ‘widescreen’ feel. It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that a few tracks are culled from film scores Talvin and vocalist Hamiska Iyer have worked on over the years.

Added depth comes from Dilshad Khan on saranghi (a sort of Indian upright bowed violin, for want of a better description), whose playing verges on the devotional, whilst Shriram Sampath on bansuri (a traditional bamboo flute) brings atmosphere aplenty, summoning up a sense of wide open landscapes with changing weather.

Dhir Mody’s drums and Janie Patel’s keyboards may be more familiar to Western eyes and ears, but their playing likewise adds further layers to the glorious music, which feels at least semi-improvised, with the evolving playing often feeling like a musical conversation. 

Whilst some bands, with their more-or-less settled line-ups and pre-planned set-lists, may practice endlessly in pursuit of being able to reproduce their songs the same way every time, this invitational supergroup thrives on the trust they have in not only each other’s musicianship, but also in one another’s musical instincts. 

This is apparently only the second time they’ve played pieces from Talvin Singh’s new album, due out in 2024, though you’d never know it. Their musical prowess and ability to pick up on and run with each other’s cues makes for an evening’s entertainment that is as unrepeatably individual as it is deeply moving.

Photo Credit: Graham Smillie

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