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Natives of Bengal, India, the Shamsher brothers -- Asian/Anglo DJ-vocalists Haroon and Farook -- first attracted attention in the early-'90s as members of the Joi Bengal Sound System. Their debut single, "Desert Storm," was released in 1993. Masters of the new studio technology, they often appeared at DAT/DJ session in London clubs where they artistically mixed DATs with vinyl and sampling and live percussion by Bongo Paul. 1999 seemed to be the year that Joi had envisioned for nearly a decade. After years of building a following in London clubs, the self-described "original Asian backbeat fusionists" had successfully toured North America and had released a groundbreaking album, One and One Is One, on Peter Gabriel's Real World label. Combining Asian chants, India-influenced melodies and westernized dance music and hip-hop, the Shamsher brothers had been embraced by the popular music world. The headliners of the "Freshworld" Free Music Festival in London, Joi received a BBC Asian Music award in 1999. While VH1 claimed that Joi "mesh the fabrics of underground dance, Indian percussion, trance-inducing chants and a rhythm far more futurist than old-school funk", MTV said, "They've concocted a batch of four-on-the-floor dance numbers that incorporate relentlessly upbeat and free-spirited sound." Just as the momentum of the band's rise peaked, Haroon Shamsher was forced to shut down operations when his brother fell victim to a heart attack and died on July 8, 1999. After a four-month period of mourning, Farook pulled together a new line-up for the group and began to pick up the pieces, touring as opening act for the British tour by Eurythmics. 2001's We Are Three and 2006's Without Zero followed.
© Craig Harris /TiVo
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