Not so much a preview, this one, since I believe “The Glorious Gongs Of Hainuwele” may have come out the best part of a year ago. Forgive the tardiness, anyhow: this pretty amazing album has only just showed up on my radar, shamefully.

Not so much a preview, this one, since I believe “The Glorious Gongs Of Hainuwele” may have come out the best part of a year ago. Forgive the tardiness, anyhow: this pretty amazing album has only just showed up on my radar, shamefully.



Harappian Night Recordings are, by all accounts (there’s an article in a recent Wire, which I must admit I missed), part of a very underground free psych scene focused on Sheffield, also involving Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides, Chora and The Hunter Gracchus. Again, I’m going to have to apologise for what I can best describe as a formative knowledge of this scene: Part Wild Horses are great on brief exposure; Chora and The Hunter Gracchus I’m going to investigate later today, all being well.

Doubtless it would’ve been more sensible to wait until I was better informed about the whole scene, but “The Glorious Gongs Of Hainuwele” has exerted a strong pull this week, a heady, playful and intense piece of work by one Dr Syed Kamran Ali who knits (and I’m quoting Bo’Weavil’s label description) “Duelling ouds, whirling mizmars, screeching jouhikkos, tapping finger harps, rumbling monosynths, groaning harmoniums, a fist full of khene, talking gamelan.”

There’s been a lot of talk lately, focused on Vampire Weekend’s “Contra”, about the perceived morality or immorality of using (or plundering, as those in the latter camp would argue) non-western musics as inspiration (I wrote about it a bit here). Seems like a healthy rather than malign trend to me; an argument reinforced by “The Glorious Gongs Of Hainuwele”.

Harappian’s most obvious antecedents in their “ethnological forgeries”, if you like, are that Pacific Northwestern cluster of activity originally centred on the Sun City Girls, their Sublime Frequencies label, and the Master Musicians Of Bukkake (especially “The Visible Sign Of The Invisible Order”). Pasted together like a freestyled, headspinning collage, “The Glorious Gongs…” takes culturally diverse snippets of sound, smudges them with disorienting fuzz, applies found sounds, breaks and God knows what else, and comes up with an exhilarating fourth-world psychedelia.

Like Sun City Girls, there’s a strange and sometimes unnerving tension between pranksterism and mysticism, but at heart there seems to be a liberated, adventurous relationship with the possibilities of music. We’re reminded here, too, of perhaps the rickety juxtapositions found on very early Cornershop records, plus the ghostly imprecations of someone like Third Eye Foundation. I suspect there might be connections with the subterranean improv world inhabited by the mighty Vibracathedral Orchestra, too.

It’s all, as you might imagine, a hell of a long way from Vampire Weekend, MIA and other global fusionists. But when I hear something as exciting as, say, “Bare Cairo” or “Headless Mule” (and there’s another, only slightly inferior Harappian album called “Non Euclidean Elucidation of Shamanic Ecstasies” I’ve found; maybe more?), Harappian seems part of an upsurge in musical open-mindedness among musicians, from the top of the US charts to the most obscure leftfield explorers. Not, I suspect, that Harappian or their ilk would ever like to be categorised that way… Have a go on the Myspace, anyhow – www.myspace.com/harappiannightrecordings – some brilliant stuff there.