bedouin ascent >>

Melody Maker, September 95
Simon Reynolds

Listen to Bedouin Ascent’s 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 Biz’s 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, he’d 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 soul.

Being Asian, Biz says, gives him the "privilege” of being marginal.
"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.
     “I’ve never been a preacher. It’s contrary to the beauty of this stuff and how it unfolds before you. I'm very much an amoralist and a spiritual anarchist. But there’s 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, It’s 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.

bedouin ascent

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