Finders Keepers dives into India’s Kollywood with “Solla Solla” from Ilaiyaraaja
Finders Keepers Records
Recorded from 1977-1983
If you’re playing this album from track one you’re probably still gazing in awe at the gorgeous Indian fro on the cover. That’s Kollywood (think Tamil’s Bollywood) superstar Kamal Haasan from the 1981 film Ellam Inba Mayam (Happiness Everywhere). Although he’s been a huge name in the industry for decades, while this disc is spinning he is merely a bobbing stylistic vessel, the floating head of every English or Tamil cry heard over the beach party that is this new Finders Keepers Records collection. He is the bodiless voice who dubiously asks, “Ooh, you want cha cha cha?” in the midst of bongo fury. He’s the spirit animal and gatekeeper of the late 70′s jewel of Indian Culturescapes that we call Maestro Ilaiyaraaja. Ilaiyaraaja, the mild mannered man in the spectacles, see him up there? He’s the real star of the show. You can’t tell, but he’s standing next to a tower of around nine hundred film scores. He composed over eighteen soundtracks in 2011 alone.
What he developed in the early days of scoring was a style future generations would hear in Ilaiyaraaja inspired Bollywood clips glimpsed through American films like Ghost World or in grainy YouTube videos passed around online. In the mid 70′s Ilaiyaraaja mixed western orchestration popular at the time with Tamil folk music. Long before A. R. Rahman could reach the top knob on a mixing board Ilaiyaraaja took disco pop, flamenco, psych, jazz and other frantic genres blown in from the west and synthesized them with the rhythms of traditional Indian music. The infusion was a hit, Indian audiences embraced it lovingly. His immediate success allowed the newly minted maestro to compose some of the most exciting scores he would ever be so bold to make. This collection from Finders Keepers, Solla Solla: Maestro Ilaiyaraaja and the Electronic Pop Sounds of Kollywood 1977-1983 takes tracks from a period where the Maestro galloped, laser-pistols blazing, into that pop landscape. I bet you’re still picturing the bearded wonder Kamal Haasan, aren’t you? I doubt Ilaiyaraaja would have it any other way.
From track to track, Solla Solla shows the vast musical genius of a man who kept his ear piqued toward every happening sound on the planet. The song “Raja Rani Jaaki” could be inserted into a Tropicalia collection flawlessly, “Yennadi Meenakshi” experiments with the switch between surf music and big band at break-neck speed, yet it still maintains an ominously Indian feel. If you’re here for the outlandish, look no farther than “Naanthaan Ungappanda”, which holds the strangest array of sound on the album. In fact, this song alone proves just how forward thinking the Maestro was. He steps into the present state of South African electro, 8-bit music, electropsych and surf revival better than today’s greatest mixers. Singer S.P. Balu, who performs on six of Solla Solla’s tracks, keeps up with a Jello Biafra snarl and impressively speedy pacing.“Naanthaan Ungappanda” is a jam that lashes out at everyone, play it at your next Freak-Out.
The music on Solla Solla is collected from various movie productions, yet best used as the film score of your minds’ eye. All of the classic 70′s tropes are at your disposal, your very own James Bond, Kamal Haasan or whoever, complete with a sultry vixen to shake hips against after kicking back a highball. The stomping percussion, the sharp spastic horns, and the rolling groove of the electric strings provide an atmosphere of intrigue. There is a foot chase in a busy market, bullets fly, we all stop in a crowded ballroom for a choreographed dance number before the chase picks up again, faster this time. Finders Keepers once again gives us an album from days past that sounds just as new and innovative today as it did in the days it crackled to life. Bravo. – Nick Bernal
01. Kholapurase Kudasathrivasi - S.P. Sailaja & Chorus
02. Thanimayil - Vani Jairam & Chorus
03. Mayakkama - Vani Jairam mp3
04. Vaa! Naailukku Naall - S.P. Balasubrahmanyam
05. Solla Solla - S.P. Balasubrahmaniam mp3
06. Raja Rani Jaakki - S.P. Sailaja & Malaysia Vasudevan
07. Thithikkum - S.P. Sailaja & S.P. Balasubramanyam mp3
08. One And Two Chachacha - T.M. Soundarajan & L.R. Eswari
09. Disco Sound – Hariram & Ramola mp3
10. Yennadi Meenakshi - S.P. Balasubrahmanyam
11. Kanavu Ondru - S. Janaki mp3
12. Naanthaan Ungappanda - S.P. Balasubrahmanyam
13. Sorgam Madhuvile - S.P. Balasubrahmanyam & Chorus
14. Ponnana Neram - S. Janaki
15. Rasigane - Ilayairaaja
16. Aadal Paadalil - T.M. Soundararajan & Chorus
From Finders Keepers Records:
Ilaiyaraaja, Ilayaraja, Ilayaraaja, Isaignani, The Maestro… The undeniable prince of Kollywood cinema, India’s second largest film industry, Ilaiyaraaja is more than equal to his forward thinking contemporaries in Bollywood and Lollywood in both productivity and experimentation. However, once you have exhausted all possible leads using his various names (and the numerous misspellings) you’re faced with the unenviable task of sifting through a 34-year career spanning more than 900 film scores in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada in order to unearth some the heaviest dancefloor friendly electronic pop to ever emerge from Southern India.
Impossible to pigeonhole and characterised by his own indefinable style the man is a genre in his own right.
’21′ comes from the flickr page of Romana Klee