The New World Manifesto... (or, Against the Incense Stick)

So-called "world music" has reached a turning point. It's time for a new generation of travelers, immigrants, expats and half-breeds to use the melodies and rhythms available to us, in abundance previously unimaginable, to express our place in the world.

For too long, world music has been polarized. On one side, the world fusion product for the mass market, cutting-and-pasting non-Western melodies and rhythms into an easy-to-clap, easy-to-dance, easy listening 'experience'. On the other side, a dedicated group of serious Indian, Africa, Asian, European and American artists who preserve and renew their own wildly different traditions, yet are all lumped together on the same world music shelf.

What's missing is the genuine encounter: music that speaks to the new global, cross-cultural reality we all live in. Music which means something to people for whom time and place mean little. Music filled with arguments, nostalgia, jet lag and awakenings. Music which reads the newspaper. In short, a truly global fusion.

In our quintet, we all grew up listening not to only ragas and palmas, but to Fugazi, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and the Cure. Then we all traveled - some East to West, some the other way around - and found the traditions of Andalucia, India and beyond. Somewhere along the way, we found cheap airline tickets, the Internet and music studios shrunk to laptop size; combining and re-interpreting global traditions suddenly became a form of musical biography.

It's no surprise, really, that we found each other in the global melting-pot of London.

We found four other kindred spirits wanting to make music that is respectful and relevant at the same time. Music inspired by artists such as Nitin Sawhney and Manu Chao that freely mix French or Hindi poetry with reggae or electronica. Music played live to the audiences built by the great world music pioneers: John McLaughlin, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Shankar (Ravi and L.), Peter Gabriel and others. Music that doesn't need incense sticks or subtitles.

S.S.