“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s it’s the welcome return of a VS regular, the polymath musician, songwriter, engineer, promoter, indie eminence gris Ajay Saggar. He is a man we know well from many bands including Peel favourites Dandelion Adventure, not to mention Donkey, and more recent avant artistes ranging from The Bent Moustache to the ever brilliant King Champion Sounds, The Common Cold and Deutsche Ashram, plus his indomitable work at the Paradiso club in Amsterdam, his standing as a longterm live soundie for the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Sebadoh, and his indubitable status as an uber fan of The Fall.
I’ve been used to seeing Ajay around at gigs ever since I started going (remember gigs?) and now I’m just as accustomed to him on my stereo and even better on these very pages. In Lockdown, he’s been involved in some super quick turnaround compositions with fellow KCS member, Oli Heffernan but most excitingly, he’s also released one of the albums of the year – basically his first ever solo record – socially distanced before his bandmates before that was even a thing.
It is as alter ego BHAJAN BHOY and the record “Bless Bless” is truly mesmeric, shamanic, hypnotic stuff, perfect for self isolating introspection – especially while swaying, stuck to one spot on your shag pile carpet, staring into the middle distance.
I am very pleased to herald the return to VS of a singular and beguiling talent whose commitment is as total as the football his beloved Ajax play and whose mercurial MVP qualities are as pivotal as Bruno Fernandes to his other team of choice Manchester United – it’s Ajay Saggar!
Check out the cosmic/kosmiche BHAJAN BHOY song “Stuck In A Barrel” here…
BHAJAN BHOY have even managed some shows despite the unusual current circumstances…more about that below….
“Bless Bless” features contributions from Prana Crafter (aka William Sol) on the fittingly titled song “Strung Out” and Holly Habstritt Gaal on “Cascade” but beyond that it’s an album that emits straight from Ajay’s brain to a higher plain. If you like Mogwai, Popol Vuh, The Cure’s “Disintegration”, White Hills and “Cross The Breeze” on Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation”, you are going to love BHAJAN BHOY let me tell you!
But better still, let BHAJAN BHOY’s Ajay tell you himself…hot off the press with an exclusive statement for VS…
“In a crazy year to date where a pandemic has turned the world on its head, racism has reared its ugly head again but been met with united stance against it, and the march of the new right wing gathers momentum, I have sought and gained solace in making my music, and sharing it with the wider world in a small attempt to try and make the world a better place.
The BHAJAN BHOY album (“Bless Bless”) is my first outing as solo artist having made music for over 30 years in different combinations / groups. It felt like I became a free man, a chance to release a thousand ideas onto a musical plain, and enjoy the journey it took me on.
The reactions to the album have been incredible. People from all over the world (and I mean from the west cost of the USA to the east coast of Australia…and all and sundry in between) have bought the album and been incredibly nice with sharing their thought and feelings about it. WFMU, BBC Radio 6 (Gideon Coe) and the amazing Steve Barker at “On The Wire” (BBC Radio Lancashire) have all given the album substantial airplay and attention….I feel honoured.
The lockdown has meant no shows were possible for the last months, but since 1 June restrictions were lifted in The Netherlands for shows to happen for a maximum audience of 30 people. I wasted no time in arranging shows…all DIY.
The response to the shows played to date was amazing….people so grateful to hear live music again. More shows are planned in the coming weeks. My wishes are to play all around Europe and beyond…this will take some time, but who knows, it could happen. In the meantime, the album is there for people to sink into.”
(see the new upcoming dates …)
Ajay has chosen some brilliant tunes for Velvet Sheep before including one of my fav ever “songs for ewe” – “Weatherman Skank” by Ray I, Mikey Dread, King Tubby & Carlton Patterson not to mention “Kicker Conspiracy” by The Fall, and his latest pick is equally enthralling. So without further ado, here’s Ajay’s “song for ewe”…
“My “song for ewe” is by psychedelic ensemble TOP DRAWER with their “Song Of A Sinner”
Top Drawer are one of those most perplexing psych groups. The sole offering “Solid Oak” hints at a sly sense of humour and forces those collectors silly enough to list their album in their eBay searches to endure listing after listing of wooden dressers and cabinets.
The band hailed from Kentucky, and recorded their only album in Louisville in the early 70s. Since then no band members have resurfaced to explain why they, in the introductory track to an album of rural hard rock with garagey edges, recorded an epic psychedelic number that flirts with perfection. The vocals are delivered in an angelic tone, in contrast to his sinner’s lament.
The band remain understated, letting their powerful vamp and the lead guitarist’s tasteful solo take front stage. This song is one that I repeatedly come back to for inspiration, musical gratification, and spiritual transformation when needed. Almost nine minutes of sonic bliss!
MANY THANKS TO AJAY AND TO SEAN NEWSHAM FROM MUTANTE
You can and should buy “Bless Bless” by BHAJAN BHOY from Bandcamp below…
And here’s a video for track “Universal Love”
And if you love Ajay and his music, here’s the previous VS appearances:
and as part of King Champion Sounds…