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KARSH KALE (pronounced Kursh Kah-lay) is widely regarded as a pioneer of global fusion and electronica, as his music has inspired and defined the worldwide club phenomenon known as “Asian Massive” or “Asian Underground.” Today Kale’s music has travelled far past the underground club scene and has been featured on stages from Lincoln Center to the Burning Man Festival, and from the Barbican Center to the Hollywood Bowl. His diverse musical talents – whether as a world-class tabla player/drummer, producer, composer, songwriter, remixer, or DJ – have led him to working with some of the world’s leading artists, such as Pandit Ravi Shankar, Sting, Zakir Hussain, Herbie Hancock, Lenny Kravitz, Anoushka Shankar, Yoko Ono, Bill Laswell, DJ Spooky, Shujaat Khan, Vijay Iyer, Chaka Khan, Paul Oakenfold, and many others. As if his existing list of accomplishments and talents were not enough, Karsh has established himself as a cutting edge film composer in India’s fast-paced Bollywood film industry while continuing to score independent and crossover films in the West. Kale and his production partners (MPKK) have also recently composed original music for a musical directed by Academy Award-nominated director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth: The Golden Age). In the past ten years, Karsh released four critically acclaimed solo albums and has toured the world with various ensembles, including Cinema Live, Timeline, Realize Live, Tabla Beat Science (with Zakir Hussain), Breathing Under Water (with Anoushka Shankar), and Midival Punditz. Describing the effect of having so many platforms at his disposal, Karsh states, “Having many outlets for my sound has opened up the possibilities of what that sound can actually be for me. I often find myself moving quickly between a live set with my band to composing strings for a film to DJing a dirty dance set to writing an acoustic song within a short period of time. My sound comes from finding inspiration from those moments in between all of that madness.”
Cinema (released April 2011) is Kale’s most ambitious album to date. Despite the myriad of influences pulsating through him during the two years it took to produce Cinema, many of the compositions were written on an acoustic guitar or piano – often while Karsh was either on the road or in a studio. But as the title Cinema suggests, the process of scoring films has had as much impact on this album’s sound as Kale’s usual palette of progressive electro-rock and fusion influences. Cinema is the aggregate of these diverse inspirations, experiences and musical expressions within one cohesive vision.
Karsh Kale honed his talents as a songwriter and penned songs with Sting, Norah Jones, Anne Rani, Ed Kowalczyk, and Midival Punditz. (Kale co-wrote and co-produced much of the Midival Punditz release Hello Hello in 2009). Writing on an acoustic guitar forced Karsh to start “writing songs based on changes and chord structure rather than modes and raags (Indian scales)”.
The sonic landscape of Cinema was created with Karsh’s tried and true team of collaborators: Gaurav Raina of Midival Punditz co-produced the album while Indian film composer Salim Merchant also makes an appearance – this time as a co-writer on “Ma,” which also features a vocal hook sung by Kale’s daughter Milan Xai. Kale also employed good friend and master producer Lasse “Illinton” Jensen for the final mixes. An album inspired by his film-related musical endeavors required a strong visual statement to compliment the music on Cinema. For this, Karsh collaborated with award-winning visual artist Archan Nair from New Delhi.
With Cinema, it is clear that Karsh’s sources of inspiration have expanded – from Indian classical, to electronica, to rock, and now to music for film. Challenging himself to write songs with an ear for Western modalities, Karsh further pushes if not blurs the boundaries of rock, world, and electronic music.