Maker, September 95
Listen to Bedouin Ascents Music For Particles, and you quickly
realise that, for its 27-year-old creator Kingsuk Biswas, percussion
is the thing. The Bedouin sound is a shimmying mist of drum machine
polyrhythms and synth tics interwoven with ribbons of ultra-minimal
melody - is steeped in the influence of African and North Indian classical
music (the latter thanks to Bizs Bengali background).
Western music emphasizes harmony
and melody over rhythmic complexity Biz explains. The most
empty music, I always thought, was the most melodious music, and it's
easy to indulge in that with an electronic keyboard. But with West African
percussion ensembles, melody is the product of 4O drummers jamming together.
The boundary between melody, rhythm and harmony is blurred. That discovery
was the Holy Grail for me!" he gushes, adding that he aims to achieve
the same effect with machines and computers. As for Indian classical
music, that contains some of the most angular rhythms and abstract funk
on the planet!
Dub is another crucial influence; as a 10-year-old, hed listen,
amazed, to Dave Rodigan's late Seventies show on Capital. "It was
mad, mental music, beats stopping, cut-ups and weird noises, lots of
toasting." Later, after a spell immersed in punk culture, he got
into the Adrian Sherwood/On-U skool of dub terrorism and early Eighties
avant-funk (A Certain Ratio, 23 Skidoo). Then came electro and street
Being Asian, Biz says, gives him the "privilege of being
"It's made me more objective, Cos I'm less involved. I can look
at the cultural institutions that surround me and just laugh at them,
and see them for what they are. Because Of this, my music background
is very broad. I'm willing to penetrate anything I encounter and find
something positive in it."
After a long period of guitar noise experimentation, Biz got into electronic
music prior to 1988s acieeed explosion. At the time, I was listening
to minimalist composers like Steve Reich", and it was amazing to
see music based on similar ideas become mainstream. To go to a club
and hear things that were so far out was really exciting. That hasn't
really changed - the barriers between avant-garde and populist music
are still totally irrelevant.
Enthused by the idea of acieed as avant-gardism for the masses,
and inspired by performance art, Biz actually busked his early electronic
experiments: I'd take my drum machine out into shopping centers
in the middle of Cardiff, and people would gawp!"
'Music For Particles' stems from these early days being written between
1989-93. (As with most art-tekno boffins, Biz has a huge backlog of
material, hence the timelog).
Particles" chimes in with the lofty titles of his earlier
releases - 1994's 'Science, Art And Ritual', EPs like Pavilion
Of The New Spirit, "Further Self Evident Truths in
that it's informed by Biz's interest in the new mysticism in science.
This is the convergence of the latest theories in physics (quantum mechanics,
chaos maths, information theory) with the ancient mystical institutions
of the east (Zen, Tao, Vedanta, Tantric Magik, etc). Biz is not eagar
to spell any of this stuff out, though.
Ive never been a preacher.
Its contrary to the beauty of this stuff and how it unfolds before
you. I'm very much an amoralist and a spiritual anarchist. But theres
patterns and processes in the music for those open to it. And if not,
fine! We don't all have to be mystics!
Bedouin Ascent's rhythm-as- melody aesthetic has much in common with
jungle, which Biz loves ("I can't wait for the weekends, Its
pirates all the way). Thankfully, he's savvy enough to be wary of "intelligent
jungle, preferring instead "jungle that isn't trying to be jazz,
but is being itself". Sensible chap, after all, this is the bloke
who uttered the pearl of wisdom: "intelligent techno
was the most unmusical phenomenon ever".
"Intelligence, as for as I'm concerned,
is not a musical virtue. A lot of the stuff put out as intelligent techno
was very beautiful, but calling it 'intelligent' misses the point. It
was about human enquiry and the abstract, and those are very real qualities
and have as much to do with intuition as intellect. Primitive impulses.
Just the fact that there are thousands of people in their bedrooms,
each making thousands of hours of this music - for no money whatsoever,
believe me! - indicates that there's a compulsion to do it. Intelligence
is just one facet of music. Personally, I like to leave things as open
as possible, because it's in possibility that exists magic.