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Beyond Skin

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Album Review

Nitin Sawhney's Beyond Skin works on at least two levels. First, it's a plea against racism and war, relating, as Sawhney writes in the liner notes, that one's identity is defined only by oneself — that identity is "beyond skin." Second, the music is an extremely accomplished blend of classical, drum'n'bass, jazz, hip-hop, and Indian elements. The album's political statements are seen most clearly in the samples imbedded in the beginning and ending of most tracks. Dealing with nuclear testing and identity, the samples are effective in setting the tone for the songs. The music is quite lush, featuring among other instruments, tablas, pianos, and cellos to equally beautiful effect. The production brings a crystal-clear polish to nearly every element in the mix, whether it's the passionate, intense vocals of the Rizwan Qawwali Group on "Homelands" or the stunning, impossibly gorgeous voice of Swati Natekar on "Nadia." The entire album is bathed in eclectic touches which never fail to maintain a poetic, accessible sense of charm and wonder. Rarely has electronic music been crafted with as much substance and style as it has on Beyond Skin. Sawhney travels back and forth between genres quite effortlessly. "Nadia" is as good a drum'n'bass track as one is likely to find. "Letting Go" suggests the coffee-table trip-pop of Morcheeba's Big Calm. "The Pilgrim" is moody, soul-searching hip-hop aided by the wiry vocals of Spek. "Tides" is an excellent, breezy jazz number suggesting Vince Guaraladi in his finest, most experimental moments. "Nostalgia" sounds like a more-relaxed Lamb. "The Conference" is a treat, featuring incredible vocal interplay that simply must be heard to be believed. "Beyond Skin," which opens and closes with a sample of Edward Murrow reading the poem "Now I'm become death," is a powerful conclusion to Sawhney's pacifistic vision. Accessible, frightening, emotional, and most-of-all accomplished, Sawhney's Beyond Skin is a remarkable album of rewarding, organic music.

Customer Reviews

A total classic

This album has been a firm favourite since its first airing in our house many, many years ago. The quality of the writing, performance and production remains unsurpassed. The test of time has proven the value of a large number of tracks that are firm favourites with many. I'll just pick out one for this review - Immigrant. I defy you to find a better song anywhere on iTunes. It's apparent simplicity masks an exceptionally clever arrangement, performed (as ever) with incredible feeling. In his own words 'Let me take you there.....'.

You will not be disappointed.



Fifty shades of awful

This wS in the book, so thought give it a try, miserable, annoying, boring, turn off Christian grey


Born: 1964 in Dulwich, London, England

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

One of the most talented and recognized producers and songwriters within the British electronic and fusion music scene, Nitin Sawhney is also a respected actor, writer, and scriptwriter. Conceiving daring theme combinations of electronica-style beats with gleaming pieces of Asian inspirations driven within the trip-hop and jazzy styles, Sawhney delivers exclusive and overwhelming sound pieces, enlightened by his indubitable creative insight. Following an education in the Kent region of England, obscured...
Full bio
Beyond Skin, Nitin Sawhney
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Customer Ratings