Transglobal Underground

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Transglobal Underground
Transglobal Underground Athens 2007.jpg
Transglobal Underground performing on World Music Day (21 June) 2007 at Kotzia Square, Athens, Greece
Background information
Also known as TGU
Origin London, England, UK
Genres World fusion, ethnic electronica
Years active 1990 (1990)–present
Labels Nation
Associated acts Natacha Atlas
Website TransglobalUnderground.net
Members
Past members

Transglobal Underground (sometimes written as Trans-Global Underground or simply as TGU) is a London-based music collective who specialise in a fusion of western, Asian and African music styles (sometimes labelled world fusion and ethno techno). Their first four albums featured Natacha Atlas as lead singer and their single "Temple Head" was used in a Coca-Cola advertising campaign for the 1996 Olympic Games.[1] In 2008 they won the BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music after the release of their seventh official album, Moonshout. Their most recent release is a collaboration with Albanian brass band Fanfara Tirana entitled 'Kabatronics' which was released on World Village Records in February 2013. [1]

Membership and pseudonyms[edit]

Although Transglobal Underground has always had a fluid line-up, the two core members of the group are Tim Whelan (keyboards, guitar, flute, melodica, programming, vocals) and Hamilton Lee (percussion, drums, keyboards, programming). Throughout the group's history, Whelan and Lee have deliberately clouded their identities via multiple pseudonyms and obscure credits - Whelan generally operating under the alias of "Alex Kasiek" and Lee under the alias of "Hamid Mantu" (also "Hamid Man Tu").[2] Whelan has also used his "Alex Kasiek" pseudonym outside TGU work (sometimes combining it with his real name, as he did for his guest appearance on the 2002 Project Dark album Gramophone De Luxe) and has sometimes implied that Kasiek is a separate person.[3] (For the purposes of this article, Whelan and Lee will be predominantly referred to by their main pseudonyms of Alex Kasiek and Hamid Mantu.)

Other musicians who have been long-time TGU members or associates include:

Artists who have made guest appearances on TGU albums include:[4]

Transglobal Underground tracks have been remixed by Dreadzone, Lionrock and Youth and they in turn have remixed tracks for Warsaw Village Band, Banco de Gaia, Fun-Da-Mental, Transjoik, Pop Will Eat Itself and Tragic Roundabout.

Biography[edit]

Musical collaborators since their schooldays, Tim Whelan and Hamilton Lee were previously both founding members of British pop band Furniture and had played with the experimental psychedelic art-punk group The Transmitters. While with Furniture, both musicians had already demonstrated an interest in world music by bringing in more culturally-diverse instrumentation to what was originally a fairly conventional rock band line up (Lee had played tongue drums and other percussion in addition to his standard drumkit, while Whelan had supplemented his guitar playing with extensive use of the Chinese yangqin zither). Following the break-up of Furniture, Whelan and Lee worked together as part of the Flavel Bambi Septet (an Ealing-based world music band with a shifting lineup including other Transmitters members and future TGU member Natacha Atlas).

Transglobal Underground was first formed when Whelan and Lee teamed up with a third musician, Nick Page. All three took on pseudonyms for the project, which they have determinedly maintained (albeit with variations) up until the present day. Whelan became "Alex Kasiek", Lee "Hamid Mantu" and Page "Count Dubulah". The first recording by the group was the single "Temple Head" which was shopped around various labels before eventually being released by Nation Records in 1991. Although not a major hit, it was named "Single of the Week" in Melody Maker a publication that frequently reviewed and promoted the group, and heavily featured at clubs such as Whirl-Y-Gig.[1] The group was quickly signed to Deconstruction Records, for whom they recorded an album. The label, however, declined to release the album,[5] which eventually saw the light of day on the Nation label in 1994 as Dream of 100 Nations. This album marked the group debut of Natacha Atlas, formerly best known for her work with Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart, with percussionist Neil Sparkes joining at around the same time.

TGU developed a reputation for flamboyant live performances featuring dramatic costumes, belly dancing, endless percussion and members of the group disguised as Nepalese Temple guardians. The group released their second album International Times, later in 1994. This was followed in 1995 by the remix album Interplanetary Meltdown (with contributions from Dreadzone, Lionrock and Youth amongst others) aimed squarely at commercial club play. After a number of tours around Europe and 1997 (and the Psychic Karaoke album), Dubulah and Sparkes left to form Temple Of Sound.

A new TGU line-up emerged in 1998 with the album Rejoice Rejoice partly recorded in Hungary and featuring a number of Hungarian gypsy musicians, plus percussionist Johnny Kalsi from the Dhol Foundation. The group toured Europe supporting Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Atlas then left the group to concentrate on her burgeoning solo career, with which Kasiek and Mantu were already heavily involved as producers. Transglobal Underground subsequently also parted company with Nation Records (who released a compilation album, 1991-1998: Backpacking On The Graves Of Our Ancestors, in 1999).

In 2001 Transglobal Underground released the album Yes Boss Food Corner on Mondo Rhythmica (part of the Ark 21 label),featuring Zulu vocalist Thobekile Doreen Webster (with whom Mantu and Kasiek still work as producers). The seven-piece line-up of this period (including British-born Asian musicians sitarist Sheema Mukherjee and percussionist Gurjit Sihra) played all over the world and toured the USA twice. After the demise of Ark21, Transglobal Underground spent some time working in Egypt, notably with Egyptian vocalist Hakim.

On their return from Egypt, Kasiek and Mantu set up their own Mule Satellite label for their 2005 album Impossible Broadcasting.[4] For the next tour, the live band (now stripped down to a five-piece and with, once more, a more club-based line-up) started playing the UK regularly for the first time in more than six years, turning up regularly at festivals and venues throughout the country. A flurry of studio activity in 2007 resulted in a collaboration with Real World act The Imagined Village (which won a Radio 2 Folk Award), another remix album (Impossible Re-Broadcasts), the release of the seventh Transglobal Underground album (the Radio-3-award-winning Moonshout) and the soundtrack to the film Whatever Lola Wants. The latter two projects were collaborations with Natacha Atlas, who had returned to closer work with the core band. In 2009, Nascente Records released a double CD compilation of the groups entire history to date, under the title 'Run Devils and Demons.'

Towards the end of 2009 Transglobal Underground took a break from their live schedule to work on a new project which was released in May 2010 as an album entitled 'A Gathering of Strangers' under the name U.N.I.T.E. (an acronym of Urban Native Integrated Traditions of Europe). Drawing traditional sources from all across Europe, the album contains performances by artists from the UK, Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Hungary, France and Denmark. Amongst the featured vocalists are Yanka Rupkina, Stuart A Staples of Tindersticks, Jim Moray, and Martin Furey of the High Kings.

Transglobal Underground's next major project was with the River of Music festival in London, for which they put together a group consisting of artists from all the Arabic Persian Gulf nations, [2] Entitled 'In Transit' this project still continues in London, although, as often with Transglobal Underground, under a number of aliases. [3]

In 2012 it was announced that Transglobal Underground would release their first record for a label other than Mule Satellite since 2005, a collaboration with Albanian brass band Fanfara Tirana. The album, entitled 'Kabatronics' was put out on the World Village label, a subsidiary of Harmonia Mundi.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Bold numbers indicate peak positions on the UK Albums Chart[6]

  • Dream of 100 Nations, 1993, 45
  • International Times, 1994, 40
  • Psychic Karaoke, 1996, 62
  • Rejoice Rejoice, 1998
  • Yes Boss Food Corner, 2001
  • Impossible Broadcasting, 2004
  • Moonshout, 2007
  • A Gathering of Strangers , 2010
  • The Stone Turntable, 2011
  • Kabatronics 2013

Compilation and remix albums[edit]

  • Interplanetary Meltdown, 1995 (remix album)
  • Backpacking On The Graves Of Our Ancestors, 1999 (greatest hits album with some new tracks and mixes)
  • Impossible Re-Broadcasting, 2007 (remix album)
  • Run Devils and Demons, 2009 (2 CD compilation of TGU's career)

DVD[edit]

  • Trans-Global Underground: A film by Guillaume Dero 2008 (documentary and live recording)[7]

Singles[edit]

Year Single Album
1991 "Templehead" singles only
1992 "Immortality" (promo only)
"I, Voyager" Dream Of 100 Nations
1993 "Shimmer"
"Temple Head" (new remixes)
"Sirius B / Zombie'Ites"
1994 "Earth Tribe / Slowfinger" International Times
"Protean"
"Lookee Here"
1995 "International Times"
1996 "Boss Tabla EP" Psychic Karaoke
1997 "Chariots" (promo only)
"Eyeway Souljah" (promo only)
1998 "Body Machine" (promo only) Rejoice Rejoice
2001 "Spellbound" Yes Boss Food Corner
"Drums Of Navarone" (promo only)
2005 "Impossible Broadcasting Remixes EP" (promo only) Impossible Broadcasting
2008 "Dancehall Operator" (promo only) Moonshout
2011 "Deolali Junglee" (promo only) The Stone Turntable
2013 "No Guns To The Wedding" (promo only) Kabatronics
(as "Fanfara Tirana meets Transglobal Underground")

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b World Music Central article
  2. ^ World Music Central.org. "World Music Central.org". World Music Central.org. Retrieved 2012-04-27. 
  3. ^ Robert Christgau (1999-07-20). "Consumer Guide - Page 2 - Music - New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 2012-04-27. 
  4. ^ a b Review from inthemix.com.au
  5. ^ Article at global-trance.co.uk
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 564. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  7. ^ "Transglobal Underground". lahuit.com. Retrieved April 27, 2012. 

External links[edit]