Search - State of Bengal :: Visual Audio

Visual Audio
State of Bengal
Visual Audio
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

Much anticipated, long overdue, and well worth the wait, the full-length debut from Sam Zaman (a.k.a. State of Bengal) propels him straight to the head of the class of progressive drum & bass and global groove. Along with ...  more »


Larger Image

CD Details

All Artists: State of Bengal
Title: Visual Audio
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: Six Degrees
Original Release Date: 1/1/2000
Re-Release Date: 10/24/2000
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Pop
Styles: Trip-Hop, Dance Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Other Editions: Visual Audio
UPC: 657036103726

Much anticipated, long overdue, and well worth the wait, the full-length debut from Sam Zaman (a.k.a. State of Bengal) propels him straight to the head of the class of progressive drum & bass and global groove. Along with Talvin Singh, State of Bengal is one of the pillars of London's Asian Underground scene documented on the classic Anokha collection of DJs and drum & bass renegades. Liberally and ingenuously mixing Bengali folk music with Western dance music, State of Bengal cooks up an exquisite blend that effortlessly marries the traditional to the up-to-the-moment. In fact, the blend is what Zaman really excels at, bringing jazzy sax and funky guitar together with jittery drum loops in "Chittagong Chill" while putting a harmonium and cut-up vocals against tablas and violins in "Taki Naki." Zaman clearly takes delight in fusing the musical language of his Pakistani roots with whatever strikes his fancy--listen to the slightly goofy "Elephant Ride" or the insistent down-shifting groove of "Hunters" to hear the sound of a man truly enjoying his work. Zaman is much more than just another clever mixologist: he's a true craftsman and visionary with perfect instincts for getting the most out of every moment. He's also gifted with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of good ideas. The years of DJ'ing, mixing, producing, and playing (he plays bass and percussion), including remixes for such heavyweights as Massive Attack and the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, have paid off in experience and a broad perspective. State of Bengal? State of the art--and then some. --Carl Hanni

Similarly Requested CDs


CD Reviews

Not as good as I expected!
HHK | Silver Spring, MD United States | 11/10/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)

"So it's finally here! I have been waiting for this album to be released here in US for a long time. I even e-mailed Sam Zaman a couple months ago asking when it would be released in US. He said "towards the end of the year", so here it is, released by my favorite super-cool hip record label , Six Degrees of SF. (Check out DJ Cheb i Sabbah from this label) As most of the other people who bought this album, I heard of State of Bengal in the pioneering Asian Underground compilation "Anokha" for the first time. Being addicted to Asian Underground scene since then, I felt I had to buy all material released by these artists. The State of Bengal songs in "Anokha" were some of the best songs in the compilation. Later, he remixed songs by very well-known artists, including Bjork (wonderful Hunter remix), Massive Attack (seductive Inertia Creeps remix) and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Shadow remix--the coolest remix on "Star Rise- Nusrat Tribute"). After listening to these songs, I could not wait for SOB's solo album "Visual Audio". Although I was ready to be amazed, I was not. I liked "Flight IC408" and "Chittagong Chill" in this album. (They are both from "Anokha" compilation) Both songs are slightly reconstructed. I especially liked the new jazzy saxophone in the "Chittagong Chill". "Flight IC408 " is an Asian Underground classic already with the flight announcement by a heavy Indian-accented hostess in the beginning of the song. Very cute. Other standout tracks in the album are "Elephant Ride" (also on "rebirth of cool" compilation), "Rama Communication" and "Hectic City". The first two of these songs are a nice blend of South Asian music with killer drum'n'bass beats."Hectic city" is a great trip-hop song and maybe the most seductive one on the album. The rest of the album is not good. We hear a lot of bland, outdated (3 years old) drum'n'bass beats here and there, Indian chants sung by a "not-so-good" Indian female vocalist (You should check out Amar on "Jaan" in Anokha compilation or Swati Natekar on "Nadia" in Nitin Sawhney's "Beyond Skin" album, if you want to hear good Indian vocal). In short, 5 out of 11 songs are good, while the rest is not innovative or seamless blend. I expected much better work from Sam Zaman. I hope he does better next time. By the way, if you like this kind of fusion music, I recommend Dj Cheb i Sabbah's "Shri Durga", Talvin Singh's "Anokha" compilation, Black Star Liner's "Bengali Bantam Youth Experience!" (a super-funky album, 6 stars, not released in US yet) and Cornershop's "When I was born for the 7th Time" (not as beat-heavy as the rest, but still very cool)"
State of Unfulfilled Expectations
DJ ProFusion - | Evanston, IL | 01/31/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The Bottom Line: Zaman excels when he fully embraces fusion blending jazzy sax, funky guitar, drones, and tablas. Unfortunately, he doesn't do it on every song. State of Bengal is the stage name of fusion DJ extraordinaire Sam Zaman, member of the hot Asian Underground scene in London. Zaman blends jazz, funk, techno, and Indian power pop together in surprising and often eminently pleasing ways. He has remixed some of the greats, including Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and appeared on several popular world fusion compilation CDs. His singles and remixes created a pent-up demand and high expectations for his full-length release, which seemed to take forever to come out. Visual Audio is that first release. However, it fails to reach expectations with some bad tracks mixed amongst the good ones and alas, two of the good ones were previously released as singles. When it is at its best, Visual Audio is chill out music on the order of Thievery Corporation. It's ambient with a healthy dose of funk rhythms. All-in-all though, the album is uneven and at times uninspired. The album starts slow. While the opening track, "Flight IC408" is a favorite of many (was previously released on the Anokha compilation) and is fun and interesting, but no song should have as long and slow a beginning as this one does. It begins with one of the longest samples in recording history and it is well over a minute before anything really interesting happens in the song. Once it finally does, the Indian-styled keyboards, syncopated drums, and funky vocals are fun in a casual way. Some great musical ideas here, but could use a good remix.The second track, "Elephant Ride," is, sorry to say, just too repetitive and uninteresting. It has a good central rift, in true Asian Underground style. Yet, no rift, no matter how good, should be repeated for four minutes. Zaman never explores the theme he sets up. Again, a great candidate for a remix.Finally, the third track, "Burn Your Toes" gives us what we are looking for: a cool mix of female south Asian vocals, new wave jazz and scat vocals.Mournful saxophone opens "Chittagong Chill" and, joined by a light syncopated drum line, carries the song for several minutes. Then it suddenly gives way to the frenzy of Indian vocal percussion. As you might guess, Indian vocal percussion is mimicking drums with the voice and some practitioners produce amazing rhythms this way (de dak ka dee doe ta tee doo doo) A massive track. "Taki Naki" is a strange little number, an homage to cheesy Indian pop music. Common to many south and southeast Asian music is a woman singing falsetto creating this incredibly high pitched voice. "Taki Naki" samples a female falsetto and blends it with harmonium and tablas. It's a catchy and fun tune. "Red Earth" and "Hunters" follow with spacey downtempo grooves. They are built on syncopated percussion loops clearly Indian in origin. Good but not great tracks, suffering again from over repetitiveness.The album descends into a creative desert starting with "Ek Bullet." The track throws down some drum-and-bass, which is probably above average but still suffers from the repetitive mind-numbing boredom endemic to the genre. "Rama Communication" goes psychedelic with drones, flutes, and spacey vocals and though Zaman almost ruins it with a clichéd stutter vocal effect the song survives. "Hectic City" actually is ruined, first by stutters and poor wailing vocals giving way to unoriginal American drum-and-bass. I don't know what Zaman was thinking on this track.Just when you've given up hope, Zaman rediscovers his Pakistani roots with "Music Is." Ahhhhhh, here is the song that fulfills all of Zaman's promise. With the vocal line "Music is the only language I really know," intermingled with sitar-sounding strings, drones, and tabla, it closes out the album in high style. While there are periods of tedium in this album, you can tell that this happens only when Zaman leaves his heritage behind and falls into run-of-the-mill Western rhythms. Zaman really excels when he fully embraces fusion blending jazzy sax, funky guitar, drones, and tablas. He is gifted with some great ideas, but he has yet to show that he is capable of more than remixing other artists and creating a few decent songs."
Hearing this makes me dance!
DJ ProFusion - | 08/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Years of going to Indian restaurants in England must have seeped into my subconcious. I am a Birmingham UK native white person who has lived 15 years in Upstate NY. I was homesick for some Asian sounds. I bought some classical Indian from Amazon.{COM} I had heard some of this new Asian underground stuff on PBS but was unable to find it in my part of the world. As I wandered around the Amazon{.COM} world I was lucky to hit on this. This is my favorite... it has humor and zest and cheers me up.... everytime I hear it I want to dance. I love Elephant Dance and Taki Naki...I have no idea why... its simple and familiar to me..."