1/  Secret Channel                             (Hussain,Laswell)             7.34
  2/  Magnetic                                   (Hussain,Laswell,Khan)        7.43
  3/  Audiomaze                                  (Hussain,Laswell)             7.49
  4/  Don't                            (Singh,Somatik)               6.13
  5/  Palmistry                                  (Kale)                        4.39
  6/  Devotional                                 (Hussain,Laswell,Khan)        8.11
  7/  Big Brother                                (Gurtu)                       4.56
  8/  Triangular Objects                         (Singh,Kale)                  7.57
  9/  Biotech                                    (Hussain,Laswell)             6.42
  10/ Alla                                       (Hussain)                     11.52

          Recorded and mixed at Orange Music Sound Studios, West Orange, New Jersey,
            Studio Zerkall, Germany and Calcutta Cyber Studio, London
          Engineered at Ornage Music by Robert Musso and Studio Zerkall by Matt Howe
          Conceived and constructed by Bill Laswell
          Additional production on tracks 4 and 8 by Talvin Singh
          Additional production on track 7 by Matt Howe with Trilok Gurtu
          Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Studio, New York City
Zakir Hussain: tabla; Ustad Sultan Khan (2,6): sarangi, vocal; Talvin Singh (4,8): vox, tabla, virus manipulation; Trilok Gurtu (7): drums, tabla; Karsh Kale: drums (5,8), tabla (5), keyboards (5), electronics (8); Bill Laswell : bass (1,2,3,6,9), sound construction; Brad Somatik (4): logic programming.

          2000 - Axiom/Palm Pictures (USA), PALMCD 2046-2 (CD)


The rhythm of Indian music is geared to long cycles, often 16 beats. These recurring cycles are known as a tala. Each tala has a different point of emphasis, which can give rise to an almost limitless amount of possibilities. No wonder that Indian percussionists can study 16 hours a day for years and years in order to master the thousands of possible percussive patterns or what might be called 'the tala matrix.'

Take an Indian tabla master like Zakir Hussain or Talvin Singh. Theoretically, they could play more rhythmic talas than any drum machine is capable of. What if you pushed the tabla out in front of the audio mix so that they essentially became the extroverted soloistthen filled in the supporting players with a combination of traditional Indian drone and with a collection of ambient musical sculptures a la Bill Laswell? You would have the group known as Tabla Beat Science.

The material on Tala Matrix ranges from the very traditional to very modern ambient world fusion. There is the classical sounding "Devotional," featuring sarangi and vocal by Ustad Sultan Khan with just a hint of rhythmic augmentation from Bill Laswell. At the other end of the spectrum, there's the modern deejay club remix "Triangular Objects." Call it Indian-house-music.

Contributions by the different members of Tabla Beat Science pull the tala matrix in many different directions. Karsh Kale moves to the deejay underground. Zakir Hussain moves along the more traditional routes of Indian music, yet he's strong enough to focus the most far-out ambient-trance sounds that Bill Laswell can come up with. Percussionist Trilok Gurtu contributes "Big Brother," a dance track on which he plays both tabla and drums. Talvin Singh contributes two tracks, "Don't worry.Com" and "Triangular Objects", which are in the 'future groove' vein. Tala Matrix is an adventurous blend of Indian groove music that should find its most enthusiastic audience among young dance-oriented people whether they live in Bombay, London or New York

Aaron Howard (courtesy of the Roots World website)


With their debut CD Tala Matrix, the project known as Tabla Beat Science has essentially taken the rich and time-honored tradition of the tabla (a pair of North Indian hand drums) and fused it with contemporary electronica studio wizardry. Tala Matrix is dedicated to the memory of the late, great, and innovative tabla virtuoso Ustad Alla Rakha (1919-2000). The Tabla Beat Science project is comprised of one of Ustad Alla Rakha's sons, the tabla superman Zakir Hussain. Additional members include the venerated sarangi player Ustad Sultan Khan; Indian and jazz percussion innovator Trilok Gurtu; New York drummer Karsh Kale; bass, drum, and tabla visionary Talvin Singh; and music programmer Brad Somatik. Producer/bassist Bill Laswell, who "conceived and constructed" the CD, acts as the catalyst for the outfit, adding the bottom end with his dub basslines and the overall aesthetic with his studio prowess. More of a consortium than a full-blown collaboration, not one of the songs on Tala Matrix features all members of the group. Zakir Hussain's many tracks are among the best on the album, though Trilok Gurtu's funky Big Brother and Talvin Singh's Don't Worry.Com are both extremely compelling. The often zombie-ridden doldrums of electronica should benefit immensely from this experimental union with tabla. An excellent CD that deserves to be heard many times by many people, Tala Matrix manages to be innovative without loosing sight of tradition.

John Vallier (courtesy of All Music Guide website)


Ten years ago, during a trip to visit my extended family in India, I came across a tape in a local record shop in Calcutta called "The Ultimate in Percussion" by Ustad Zakir Hussain. I'd grown up listening to Indian classical music all my life up to that point, but had never really 'gotten it' until that moment. What Zakir was doing with just his palms and fingers, on what I'd previously and incorrectly assumed were glorified bongos, was a stunning revelation. Not only in terms of the beauty of the seemingly infinite palette of sounds capable of being produced by the tabla, but also in the vast complexity of the intricate rhythms produced by them. Eight years later I was fortunate enough to begin my own formal study of these profound hand drums and it's been an absolute blast ever since.

For purists of tabla this album may take some getting used to, but after a few listens it'll start to make sense. Zakir Hussain is without doubt the undisputed reigning Master of the tabla today and his playing is as flawless and expressive as ever. However, the real treats on this CD are from the contributions by the new generation of players. Talvin Singh and Karsh Kale seamlessly combine tabla beats with lush multi-layered drum and bass loops and hints of melody throughout. Ustad Sultan Khan lends his haunting sarangi and vocals on two tracks for an air of traditional authenticity to the project. A notable mention to jazz-fusion 'pundit' Trilok Gurtu for his inspired track on "Big Brother." The grand finale is Zakir's closing track on "Alla," dedicated to his late father, the legendary Ustad Alla Rakha, displaying the true tabla in all it's 'undigitized' glory.

biz (courtesy of Ethno Techno website)