Along with a select few other re-releases this year, Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat stands out as something ahead of its time and totally infectious. Originally released back in 1982 (almost 30 years ago!), this 10 track release may very well be the true birth of acid house music. Constructed by Singh on a Roland Jupiter-8, Roland TB-303, and Roland TR-808, it takes century-old classical ragas and turns them into something magical, predicting the future of trance and acid house music with arpeggiated basslines, soaring melodies, and relentless beats.
On first listen, it sounds like some sort of an elaborate prank by Luke Vibert or even Richard D. James, but this is the real thing, and it’s a lot of fun, and not just for kitsch value. There’s definitely a formula for construction in place, and while the release sticks to said routine (every single track is within 10 seconds of 5 minutes in running length and the total time is exactly 50 minutes), there’s plenty of delightful moments.
My favorite cut on the disc is “Raga Bhupali,” and while it starts out in a similar place as most of the tracks, it quickly ups the anti with some gorgeous, dancing synth sounds that very quickly spiral upwards while getting little pitch tweaks that only add to their charm (especially with the more subdued counter-melody bouncing off).
“Raga Bhupali” – Charanjit Singh
“Raga Bairagi” closes the release and features the main melody played in a synth sound that’s much closer to what one might expect from an Indian Raga, but placed into the new context it takes on a whole new life, snaking seductively over the incessant beat.
“Raga Bairagi” – Charanjit Singh
As I mentioned above, this is a hypnotic release to say the least, and although most tracks run a similar length and then fade out, one gets the feeling that they could simply continue on to infinity, stepping through their progressions until the power simply runs out.
Waaaaay ahead of its time, Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat is easily among my favorite reissues of the year.