CART003 LP - VA "Play That Beat Mr. Raja #1"
Selected Oddities From The Tamil Film Industry (1984 - 1991)
MORE TO COME SOON !!
Everett True - Collapse Board /
Intrigued? You know, fuck you. One of the tricks of my trade is to be able to immediately separate the wheat from the chaff, saves a fuck of a lot of time. Gaspare and his label is on the side of the angels, the outsiders, the kids who blog about music from Indonesia and the London Nobody Sings because if they don’t, no one will, and if no one does that will make them desperately sad because this music is so BRUTALLY GOOD. This music, here. (Can’t you tell by the album sleeve alone?) This music, here. (I found a video to one of the songs on the compilation and plonked it in the middle of Gaspare’s email: it’s a little more synthi than most of the other tracks, which are crazy beautiful psych shit, but it gives a taste). This music, here. (Mangamma Sabatham’s ‘Coca Cola Coca Cola’ from 1985 is like Neu! on… no wait, that’s a phrase I vowed never to use…is like outrageous cheesy Western ideals sending the sweet ladies of the Tamil film industry demented, with drum rolls and succulent unnameable wind instruments and Minnie Mouse.) This music, here.
Go have a listen at the record. Go on. Expand some fucking horizons. Do it. Now.
Brian Turner - WFMU /
"Totally boss French-compiled document of that Tamil film industry's greatest hits between 1977-1984. Well directed and curated assortment of Kollywood dancefloor busters that burst with genre-confusion, rawness and bubbly fun all around while being pulled in three directions by traditional Indian arrangements, Westernisms and the state-of-the-art (for the 80's) production techniques...We LOVE the Mr. Raja compilation, it is totally up our alley!"
Scott Pearsall - 20 Jazz Funk Greats /
"Cartilage Records's 'Play That Beat Mr Raja #1' is an incredible, vitalic patchwork of stylistic anomalies ranging from the Traditional to the Absurd. At one moment sounding like Munich Machine conducted by Mr Bungle instead of Georgio, another like an eccentric Bappi Lahiri, if minimal wave had happened in Southern India and he recorded onto the same warped C90 as the Human Ear records posse - this album contains so many supreme micro-compositions that it would be a re-editors dream, were it not for the fact that each track is so enjoyable under its own terms of accordant miscellany."
Jonny Trunk - The Record Collector /
"Play That Beat Mr Raja (Cartilage Rds) bills itself as“Selected Oddities From the Tamil Film Industry 1984-1991”. And yes, they’re right; it’s an absolutely unexpected mix of everything – and all at quite highspeed. We wondered if our turntable was playing up or something – but no; high-speed, helium-style vocals and super-fast bleepy things are apparently all quite normal in this genre. We have blasting horns, funny hip-hop things,kooky, Munchkin-like vocals, nutty keyboards, strange breakdowns and more besides. It’s a joy from start to finish, simply because you have no idea what’s coming next. And we love the chaotic artwork too. It’s like being trapped in a video game circa 1985 with the cast of the Carry On films as company. This release comes from a new label, and we predict more fine things coming our way. Let’s hope so."
Doug Mosurock - Dusted Magazine - Still Single /
"Maybe the most freewheeling Asia/Pacific film music comp to come out yet, for better or worse. French DJs and curators assembled this collection of songs from Tamil cinema of the ’80s and ‘90s. Like almost all of these comps, we get to hear Western culture thrown back at us with regional zeal and anti-technology chintz, but in the case of these tracks, the composers are more than content to zip back into musical cinema history, throwing in big band/carnival elements and tongue-twister vocalese against dusty FM synths and swarms of deft strings. The relentless kick drum of Illaiyaraaja’s “Puthiya Ulagille (The Whole Day)” and the peppy descending chorus of his “Chittu Kuruvi (The Sparrow)” suggest a compositional integrity that surpasses the point A-to-point B genre fanaticism on a lot of these efforts – not to say that it’s bad, just that it’s somewhat of a narrow field, and Play That Beat has found a way to position itself well, through ear-pleasing oddity and farflung but wise sensibilities."
Brian Morton - Wire /
"Tamil film music is famously eclectic and unusually electric by subcontinental standards. Synthetized orchestral beats abound and there's a strong liking for rich Western classical structures over hard-edged and minmal patterns, often in irregular measures that derive from Carnatic forms. The leading composer represented on this compilation is Illaiyaraaja, whose pungent, vocoded "Vikram Vikram" you're bound to have heard echoing out of some Asian shop some time in the last 20 years. It is a perfect representation of Ilaiyaraaja's clever multicultural style, which imports elements of Western pop and classicism, and counts Giorgio Moroder as a significant influence. The best and strangest stuff here is reserved for the second side. The complex language background of the "Tamil" film industry is further complicated by a taste for polysemous imitation (anything from birdsong, which is an important element in Tamil folk music, to animal noises) that gives Tamil film music a unique an fascinating sound palette, quite unlike the Bollywood norm."
Boomkat - Album Of The Week /
"'Play That Beat Mr. Raja' is a gobsmacking compilation of recordings made for the Tamil film industry, taking in all manner of bizarre mid-late '80s sonics in the most beguiling, mindblowing manner. Like Charanjit Singh's 'Ten Raga's To A Disco Beat' or the Tafo Brothers' 'Plugged-in Pakistani Pops' it's an ear-opening exposé of the nascent, yet hugely sophisticated, electronic productions from this part of the world, making for a potently intoxicating experience to these Western sensibilities. To be fair, we're being a bit broad there, as this sound is really most specific to the Kollywood film industry based in the South Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras) at the opposite end of the sub continent to Charanjit Singh and the Tafo Bros. It was compiled by the obsessives over at Cartilage Records, a team of Parisian bloggers/DJs and runs through eleven ecstatic fusions of truly insane drum machine acrobatics, slashing cinematic strings, the nuttiest analog synth sounds and the most charming vocals with an innate feel for daring structures and delirious composition. The sense of freedom and creativity is utterly endearing, placing familiar western concepts in a whole other context to leave us floored at every turn. Take the almost avian vocals and fractal arrangement of Japanil Kalyanaraman's opening 'Title Music' (1985) for starters, then just try keeping your composure when the machine funk and vocoders of Vikram's 'Vikram Vikram' (1986) hit, because we certainly couldn't! There's just too much to sink into, from the demented drum flurries of Mangamma Sabatham's 'Cola Cola Cola Cola' to the lethal street funk of Putham Puthu Nayagan's 'Nallmuzhuvathum' or the Ghost Box-like charm of Punnagai Mannan's 'Love Theme', all of it leaving us dazed and (almost) speechless. If you've checked the clips and need any more persuasion, consider the dazzling sleeve art and full colour, printed inner. It's just droolworthy and totally ESSENTIAL!!!"
Mark Gergis (Sublime Frequencies) /
"If you're familiar with Indian film music of the 20th century, you already know that it can be a stunning hybrid of east-meets-west compositional pastiche with a history arguably as rich as traditional Indian music itself.
Now that pulp international music is beginning to be reexamined, and dug from the shelves(before the dust even has time to form a crust) there's no doubt we'll be seeing the likes of comps like this one more often.
This is a well-assembled foray into the often hilarious landscape and cheap tweakery of 80's and 90's Tamil film music anomalies. Hyper-charged, and ready for the dance-floor or the headphones..."
Gerald Van Waes - Psyche Folk /
"The "Play That Beat Mr. Raja #1" compilation focuses mainly on a next stage of sound and new period (1984-91)... and tracks are preserved pretty well. Also these tracks show its sense for humour. Only in this case more synthesisers are used. Some of the synthesizers are primitive equipment compared to analogue synths, but also Bob Theil, who visited my show, said about these tracks that the difference really is that “the composer has music in him” which makes this absolutely work, a perfect in its use of rhythms and alternation of music elements, clarity and inspiration. ‘Title music” is a combination of remind-Morricone-trumpets, fast lush strings, wahwah-children-story vocals, drum machine and playful synth melody accents, baroque coloratura vocals, dance rhythms and so on. “Vikram Vikram” is using primitive synths, deformed voices. It is in fact electro-pop with Indian flavours. Respectful to a playful Indian core element, hiphopping at a certain point too (in an Indian way again and mixed with Indian vocal-rhythms). “Cola Cola Coca Cola” is synth based again with playful elements based upon fast drum box, female vocals and electric guitars, a funny track with hilarious lyrics about coca cola variations. It shows attractive variations in the singing. Also here, Illiaijaraaja is pretty distinctive from all other composers. Also the next few tracks using synths and cornet/brass and vocals are arranged with lots of humour. “Raaja Rajathi” is the track I have noticed from the ‘Oriental’ compilation, is the track that we took as an example of a perfect inspired use of the 80s generation synthesizers with rhythmbox. It has beautiful vocal harmonies arrangements, a fast up tempo creating vivid music. After another synth instrumental, “Love Theme”, “Thakkum Thalaangu Thatthom” shows also some funky guitar and strings with the synths and singing. The last track, (with a great “I love you interlude” movie excerpt), “Chittu Kuruvi” is distinctive as well. Here you can hear how well Tamil language suits to funny and playful vocal plays with language and its inner rhythms. Also here a bit of orchestration and guitar is added to the synth accompaniment. This compilation shows the highly original electro-pop associations of Ilajaraaja, resulting in a unique and attractive sound."
Etienne Jaumet (Zombie Zombie) /
"What I find most amazing about this compilation is the feeling of freedom it exudes!
Arrangements and interpretations have gone completely wild ! So we feel instantly overwhelmed by this refreshing, communicative dimension, which carries us away from our Occidental preconceived ideas about “good taste”... Track after track, we get caught into this musical adventure. Dance and buoyancy take control of the situation, and you suddenly hear yourself singing the “Cola Cola” praises with a wiggling of your shoulders... Both iconoclastic and coherent, all the tracks will astound you, so you’d better get ready for it. And that’s how you recognize a good compilation, innit?"
Clint - Norman Rds /
"Subtitled ‘Selected Oddities from the Tamil Film Industry, 1984-1991′, this wins the highly coveted “Clint oddball release of the week” accolade. It’s on the Cartilage label and is comprised of a hearty selection of wierd, wired, hyper music straight out of Andhra Pradesh. Strings, analogue synths, percussion, bontempi, madcap yet heartfelt vocals, bizzare horns, shrieks, whistling, topsy turvy melodies. It’s a tremendous pile of fun throughout. There’s not much more that can be said of such an obvious labour of love, except if you like eccentric archive music from the exotic East then this has got to feature in your life!!"