I never paid attention to Indian music before this. You get Asha Bhosle, the Kronos Quartet, and Rahul Dev Burman in one shot.
The Kronos Quartet has been confounding purists and expectations with their commissions and collaborations for years, but this one has to be among their most adventurous yet. For You've Stolen My Heart, they collaborated with Asha Bhosle, one of India's best-loved singers, to pay tribute to R.D. Burman, India's most renowned film composer. Burman was both brilliant and prolific, and had a knack for incorporating nearly any and every style of music into his works.
Not only that, but he was a sonic technician/alchemist who invented or discovered, then incorporated, all manner of sound and tape effects into the songs as well. The band looked to Burman's originals for the arrangements rather than commissioning new ones, but in order to do this correctly the core quartet was going to need some help. So in addition to Asha Bhosle on vocals for much of the program, previous collaborators Wu Man and Zakir Hussain figure prominently into the sound.
In addition, besides their customary stringed instruments, the members of Kronos add farfisa, synthesizers, accordion, electric bass, percussion, theremin, and more! With all this going on, multi-tracking is obviously a necessity, but beyond the different instruments there are places where the strings got "massive overdubs" to achieve a lush string section, and others where experiments with bowing technique and microphone placement add odd tonal qualities.
Add to that Wu Man's pipa and electric sitar(!), and this is clearly not your average classical recording. Despite his penchant for experimentation and musical cannibalism, Burman's compositions are no novelty. His songs are deeply melodic and beautiful, and some are so catchy you may find yourself singing along. Asha Bhosle still has a great voice; it's hard to believe she was 70 at the time of these sessions.
And what can you say about the Kronos Quartet? After more than 30 years, they continue to push the boundaries and continue to put out exciting records. You've Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman's Bollywood is an absolute triumph.