How do you begin to succinctly summarise a multifarious percussionist, meditative producer, and multi-instrumentalist composer? Perhaps it should be by stating the obvious.
Sandeep Raval is a man of many talents. But, fundamentally, he’s a musician with a constant hunger for new aural adventures. His broad palate of drums and deft scores seamlessly meld syncopation with vivid imagination, grand theatricality, and a mischievous sense of humour.
There are his three albums, Worship Through Sound, Mosaic in Motion and most recent Drum Travel Double Album Collaboration with producer and worldbeat recording artist James Asher. Then he played an invaluable part in the production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s acclaimed musical, Bombay Dreams (scored by A R Rahman- Slumdog Millionaire).
Elsewhere, The Guardian heralded another stage blockbuster in receipt of Raval’s rhythms, The Far Pavilion, as an outright success. And this is before you get to his 2010 Mosaic In Motion tour.
Whatever point in his story you start from, glancing back over the pages of Raval’s life reveals a myriad of musical influences. From urban UK bass music, to traditional folk and Central Asian classical, chapters spanning continents contribute to his sonic compendium.
Born a British overseas citizen, he spent most of his formative years in India, before relocating to London. But well before arriving in the UK full time, circa 1991, Raval had already realised his destiny in the spotlight. With performances everywhere from Delhi to Moscow, and film work to boot, so much had been achieved by the tender age of 13.
This early success was a sign of things to come. Determinedly Raval began striving to push the boundaries of sound as he crossed the globe’s borders. Soon there was a home studio and a move to Northampton, followed by countless hours spent playing the perpetual insomniac.
Whether it’s 5am or 1pm, in the studio or on stage, Raval’s passion for production and performance leads to standout results. His second Mosaic tour, which saw conceptualised soundtracks played by a large ensemble to packed venues across the UK in 2011, left critics describing shows that were ‘like nothing you’ve ever seen’. Meanwhile, work with acclaimed world music producer James Asher explains even more.
Yet there is so much still to learn. Raval’s constant evolution references everything from jazz, IDM, Giles Peterson, Kruder & Dorfmeister, and LTJ Bukem, to century old Indian roots and experimental alternative, which is what makes him so vital. Enigmatic and wonderfully unpredictable, but unquestionably talented and consistently impressive, new avenues are nothing more than business as usual, leaving most musical fusions sounding like simple combinations.