Dusting Off... Nitin Sawhney's Prophesy
What is it?
Released in 2001, Prophesy is the fifth studio album from British-Indian electronic music producer Nitin Sawhney. Sawhney grew up in Rochester, Kent, where he began with his interest in music at an early age, learning to play the piano before adding guitar, tabla and sitar to his list of talents.
Sawhney's first taste of the music business came as a touring member of the James Taylor Quartet, one of the most prominent bands in the Acid Jazz scene that grew up during the early 1990s, but he was also good friends with comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar and together they created the radio show that would later become Bhaskar's breakthrough moment, the TV sketch show Goodness Gracious Me.
Releasing his first solo album Spirit Dance in 1994, Sawhney's own breakthrough came with his fourth album, Beyond Skin, which earned him a nomination for the 2000 Mercury Music Prize. Prophesy was released the following year and built its predecessor's blending of urban, electronic music and more traditional Indian and world music styles inspired by his cultural heritage. One example of this is Prophesy's opening track, 'Sunset', one of the album's standout moments that blends Indian vocals with a mellow, pulsing electronic beat and tablas.
Like much of Sawhney's music, lyrically the album deals with cultural and political issues and two of its tracks, 'Street Guru' parts 1 and 2, feature a spoken word monologue about our obsession with technology. One of the interesting things about his work is the sheer breadth of musical influences his music incorporates and across the album's 15 tracks there's a huge amount of scope, from the beautiful downtempo strings of 'Acquired Dreams' to the fuzzy, guitar-propelled hip-hop of 'Ripping Out Tears'. Whatever music you're into, you're bound to find something you like here.
Why should I revisit?
Sawhney is one of the most unique musical talents out there, having won countless awards and worked on projects from radio shows to Ivor Novello Award-winning scores. Prophesy - along with Broken Skin - represents a moment in his back catalogue when he was just realising his potential, and with another eight albums to choose from once you've devoured these two, there's plenty more to get your teeth into.
Who will enjoy it?
If you're a fan of Talvin Singh, Bjork or any boundary-pushing artist working with electronic music and world influences, this is right up your street and it's just a great album spin on a lazy weekend morning.