Based in New Dehli, India, the MIDIval PunditZ are among the contemporary Indian outfits that combine high-tech electronica with a strong raga influence. The MIDIval PunditZ are not traditional Indian classical music à la Ravi Shankar, Bikram Ghosh or Ali Akbar Khan. However, their club-friendly electronic experimentation is heavily influenced by traditional Indian music (especially North Indian), and they combine electronic dance grooves with traditional, time-honored acoustic instruments like the santur and the tabla drums. The MIDIval PunditZ started working together in 1994, when two old acquaintances--Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj--were reunited in New Dehli. Raina and Raj had known each other since 1994, but it wasn't until 1994 that the producers formed a partnership. Before that, both of them had been heavily involved in India's contemporary music scene. Raina, who had studied architecture, was a radio DJ, while Tapan was an engineer in a New Dehli recording studio. It didn't take them long to realize that they had a lot of common ground. Both of them were lovers of Indian classical music, but they were also into the hip-hop, drum ‘n' bass/jungle and house that was being imported from the United States as well as Europe. And when they started working together, the goal was to combine all of their influences. Pooling their resources, they started their own recording studio, and by 1997, they were calling themselves the MIDIval PunditZ. In 1998, they met the London-born producer Talvin Singh, who was famous for fusing Indian music and electronica; thanks to their association with Singh, they became part of the group Tabla Beat Science. In addition to recording and producing, Raina and Raj hold dance parties (which they call Cyber Mehfil parties) from time to time at various New Dehli venues. The parties are held irregularly--in other words, whenever the mood strikes Raina and Raj. In the early 2002s, Raina and Raj decided to record a self-titled album as the MIDIval PunditZ. Singer Vidya Shah was recruited for the project, as were flute players Rajendra Prassanna and Shailendra. In October 2002, the MIDIval PunditZ' self-titled album was released in the United States by the San Francisco-based Six Degrees label. ~ Alex Henderson
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