Ami Dang – Hukam (CD Ehse Records)

It is very tempting to describe Ami Dang’s first record Hukam as having a strong cinematographical feel to it. Listening to “Manali“ and “A Strange Community”, it is not hard to imagine the lined up rows of people dancing so typical of Bollywood movies. Or a very sad, aggrandised scene of of a girl loosing her boyfriend complete with a setting sun on “Amorphous matter”, shot in burnt sienna colour, etc.  

Enough of these metaphors, now for the music itself ; The tracks on Hukam in essence are variations on global dancemusic, here given from the perspective of the Indian diaspora. The approach taken on most tracks is that of blending typical Indian instruments like sitar (played by Dang) with modern electronics and dance rhythms, yielding re-interpretations of traditional Indian music. The way Ami Dang’s nasal voice merges with the music brings Lisa Gerrard to mind, as if we are listening to work by Dead Can Dance after they've just got back from a trip through India and are eager to share what they’ve seen and heard.  

The word Hukam translates in most cases as ‘command’ or ‘order’ and used in a spiritual context it means ‘God’s will’. Most of the tracks sound mature, successfully blending Western dance music with Indian tradition without being too pretentious. Maybe partly because from time to time it’s just so difficult to let go of these images of Indian movies. PvdG