Charanjit Singh, Inadvertent Inventor Of Acid House Passes Away

6 July 2015

We write this with heavy hearts.

Inadvertent inventor and pioneer of acid house music, Bollywood composer, guitarist and synth maestro Charanjit Singh, 74, passed away yesterday. He died in his Mumbai home, quietly in his sleep.

The announcement has been met with shock and sadness by the Indian and international music communities. Singh had been preparing for a show in London and working on an album of Indian folk music.

Despite being a commercial failure when it came out in 1982, Charanjit Singh’s iconic release - “Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat” has received attention only in the last decade or so, with musicians and critics recasting it as an originator of the acid house. According to Wikipedia:

“In the 21st century, reports surfaced about a 1982 album that sounds similar to what would later be called acid house. The album, Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, is by Charanjit Singh, a Bollywood session musician from Mumbai, and features Indian ragas fused with disco. The album was recorded using the same basic Roland equipment often used for later acid house music: the TR-808 and particularly the TB-303, which Singh was one of the first musicians to utilize. The record was initially a commercial failure in India and eventually forgotten, but its re-discovery in 2002 and eventual re-release in early 2010 has prompted many comparisons to acid house music, with some even considering it to be the first example of an acid house record.”

“Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat” re-emerged as a kind of missing link in modern music, with some even concluding that the album was an elaborate hoax – “an invention of the Aphex Twin, perhaps”. Charanjit Singh was undeniably a musician far ahead of his time, even if he wasn’t always aware of it himself. Rana Ghose documents a bit of his history and curious legacy on the REProduce Artists website, to which Charanjit Singh was signed.

Watch Berlin techno duo Modeselektor meet the icon on their trip to India in 2013 here, and listen to “Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat” here.

Singh also played at the flagship edition of Magnetic Fields 2013, closing the festival on Sunday night at the main stage (pictured above). Get lost in his ecstatic rendition of Raag Bhupali, with Johanz Westerman below:

Image credits: Sachin Soni




Join Our Mailing List