This is a strange production: the famous string quartet's take on R.D. Burman's music left me rather confused at first. But I do like it more and more as I keep discovering very interesting nuances in the musical fabric.
My introduction to Kronos was through the violent soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream, and I was hoping for something radical here, a jazzy classical Bollywood fusion, but they almost disappear in the mix. The first question may be "Where's Kronos?"
I have been listening to Bollywood soundtracks for years; it's not easy getting these CDs in India, with 100 plus new movies out every month, anything older than a year is hard to find, and they are still relying on tape a lot, but thanks to wonders of technology leapfrogging, you can buy CDs of mp3 tracks, as did on my recent trips. Now my Bollywood playlist has hundreds of songs, from good ol' Kishore Kumar to all the latest flicks, and this Kronos outing would blend in there just fine.
And that's the problem- some tracks on this CD sound just like the originals, especiallly Dum Maro Dum. But there are some enhancements, too subtle to pick up at first: strange sound of the instruments, old fashion keyboards adding surreal touch, dissonances and weird sounds- elephants, occasional laughter, and a wicked James Bond thing in Saiyan Re Saiyan, plus that woozy feel of string quartet gone native.
Asha Bhosle's voice is as good as ever- her and her sister, the great Lata Mangeshkar are like Placido Domingos of the Indian music, and will only retire when they are 120 years old. And I really loved the subdued, instrumental Mehbooba Mehbooba- if you know the raunchy original version, from the Sholay movie soundtrack, it's something new and different.
In essence, Kronos have stripped these compositions, leaving the skeleton and adding their own subtle colors. Nothing radical- but it is a gentle, tickling listening pleasure...
Once you have ingested a whole lot of mainstream Bollywood songs and yearn for something new and interesting, you should get A.R. Rahman's Dil Se soundtrack and start exploring the brave new world of remixes, but if this music is new 4U, Stolen Heart will serve as a great Bollywood appetizer, and a very tasty Kronos dish, all at once.