Raghu Dixit – Raghu Dixit

Release Date 13/09/2010 (Wrasse Records)

By Chris Gilliver

Raghu DixitI am massively susceptible to World Music. The fact that the singer usually sings in a foreign language lends a mysticism to the music, and the plethora of unfamiliar instruments and unusual timings transports me away to somewhere exotic, well away from the mundanity of these same four walls. Unfortunately, this predisposition allows me to listen to World Music uncritically. The freshness and novelty of such music means that I don’t even try to separate the bud from the hash. Usually I don’t have to justify my reasons for liking something, but where Raghu Dixit is concerned I do, so this becomes problematic.

Raghu is a man of many faces. He has a Masters in Microbiology; he is a Vidwat master in Bharatanatyam – one of the more popular ancient classical Indian dance disciplines; and now he is a folk fusion musician. Dixit’s fascination with such disparate subjects permeates his music. Opening track ‘Hey Bhagwan’ deceptively plays like traditional Indian folk, when it delightfully rolls off to Jamaica halfway though, fusing reggae with traditional Indian instruments. It is a bold and exhilarating move. ‘Mysore Se Ayi’ is a gentle song with hints of Arabic music made concrete by Bedouin yelping.

Unfortunately Raghu’s quest for breaking the boundaries between genres and regional styles falls flat as frequently as it flies.  ‘Gudugudiya Sedi Nodo’ makes Dixit sound like a Bollywood Enrique Iglesias, and ‘Ambar’, though undeniably pretty, is an Aerosmith ballad in a different guise. No further criticism needed! When he croons like Sting on ‘Khidki’ I feel like I’m playing guess the shit guest performer. When he returns to something more traditional on the beautiful ‘No Man Will Ever Love You, Like I Do’ it confirms the fact that Raghu Dixit succeeds best when he pays no tribute to western music.

Worse still are the guitar solos. Dixit’s family warned him against playing this instrument as it’s associated with Christianity, but the real problem is that he plays like a third rate heavy metal soloist, too into his masturbatory efforts to be aware of the denigratory affect on the rest of the music.

But you’d expect it to be hit and miss with such a wildly experimental fusion of different styles – for every flunking ‘Khidki’, there’s an ‘I’m Waiting For A Miracle’ pleasing all and sundry like Jesus with that magic fish trick. Dixit is obviously talented, and I will be waiting in earnest to hear if he can harness that talent in a more satisfying manner in future releases. I’m sure he will if he can kick those God awful Gordon Sumner vocals.

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