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KS CHITHRA

KS Chithra

KS Chithra

    Known by adoring fans and devotees, throughout South India, as Chinna Kuyil (Little Nightingale) on account of her expansive vocal range and crystaline sweet voice, the uplifting and surprising sound of KS Chithra is, for many, best exemplified by the early plugged-in-pop she made in the 1980s with the man/machine who first introduced her to the Tamil film industry, Maestro Ilaiyaraaja.

    There are few records you will hear this year that combine the sounds of a child's choir, a DX7 bassline, three types of drum machine, a mariachi trumpet cry, a resampled 40-piece orchestra and an electronic bassline that takes the Moog taurus by the horns and rides into the Indian summer. There is probably less chance of hearing a vocal performance so confusingly dazzling that it instantly detracts from the previously aforementioned wish list combination of bizarre instruments, but for those intrepid enough to dig a little deeper and take a detour due East, pick-axing right where Lollywood meets Bollywood - then prepare to be rewarded with a double, triple and quadruple whammy!

    For odd pop fans with bad concentration spans, no musical staying power, or commitment issues then perhaps these schizoid ADD arrangements will push the right buttons and recharge your batteries. For some of you, records like this only existed in your dreams.

    Often locally discussed behind the limelight of her wider continental contemporaries such as Asha Bhosle and Noor Jehan it is almost impossible to find adequate comparison to KS Chithra. Try taking the yearning vocal energy of Turkey's Selda and the falsetto range of Morricone's best Italian choirs, add the playful existentialism of Poland's Urszala Dudziak and the cinematic pedigree of Asha then sprinkle some saccharine Jane Birkinisms on top and set your turntable pitch at plus 8 while you dream of "Dots And Loops" era Stereolab or a Malayalam Mantronix - alternatively just buy this first-time compendium and press play.

    This compilation focuses on a small and select handful of Chithra and Ilaiyaraaja's developing collaborations from the formative years of their relationship between - 1986 and 1991- a vibrant time where analog recording techniques and digital technology first overlapped and Chithra, as a developing vocalist, adapted to the the sounds and arrangements of a classic maverick composer pushing the boundaries.


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