Outcaste celebrate a decade of redefining what British and Asian music is, will be and might have been. If many of the tracks seem familiar that is because they are
These are the songs that built the label and, to some extent, a scene. Listening to this album, it is hard to decide which is more remarkable: that it has been 10 whole years since Outcaste started up its club nights and put out the first compilation to catch the new wave of British Asian club music or that there was a time when these sounds were unimagined.
The compilation kicks off with the only good thing to have ever come out of Knight Rider, the bass line employed to delicious effect on Panjabi MC’s seminal ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’. Simultaneously, traditional, witty, urban, phat, fresh and contagious, the track’s omnipresence can only be compared to that monster of all Asian-influenced tracks, Dave Pike’s ‘Mathar’. Remixed by Badmarsh, this track was everywhere from TV to clubs and opened a lot of doors. The original tune was big on the jazz dance scene back in the day and when Badmarsh picked it up again, it somehow provided a key.
The other key was drum and bass as evidenced especially by the tracks from Badmarsh (and Shri) like ‘Jungle Sitars’. Drum and bass was an incredible solvent for creating new mixtures out of. Listening back to tracks like GES-E and Usman’s ‘Flute Song’ for instance you realise the legacy of drum and bass extended way beyond the genre itself.
Skipping back to 1995, Outcaste also launched one of the most important musicians in Britain, Nitin Sawnhey, with his album Migration. While not averse to pulling off a good club tune, Sawnhey provided proof of a wonderful depth and musicianship from the first. The track selected for this album is ‘Homelands’. Flamenco, tabla, classical: it’s all there but in an immediately accessible and chilled form.
So while there are few surprises (the bonus track by Oi Va Voi would definitely count as one), this is a well-deserved celebration of a label that has put out an inordinate number of great tunes that have brought different communities together and celebrated the unique urban landscape of millennial England.
If you don’t already have the compilations that were raided for this one, buy it. You’ll love it and play it until you annoy everyone you know.