Now Hear This: Rupa — “Aaj Shanibar”

I love discovering unusual and odd stories behind my favorite songs. Take, for example, “Aaj Shanibar” from Rupa Biswas, which was released in 1982 on the LP, “Disco Jazz.”

“Aaj Shanibar” is an incredible song — a one-of-a-kind mixture of Sarod and synthesizer, a perfect fusion of East meets West. Admittedly, the track is “barely disco and hardly jazz,” as Numero Group recently said. The label has just reissued “Disco Jazz.”

But let’s talk a little more about “Aaj Shanibar” and the wonderful Rupa Biswas…

The stunning track, like the rest of the LP itself, was recorded at Calgary’s Living Room Studios by a combination of Indian and Canadian musicians. While nothing else from the era sounds like quite it, the record did not achieve commercial success. Apparently, music listeners weren’t ready for melodies intrically played on the sarod atop a disco beat and synth playing.

“Aaj Shanibar” languished in obscurity until Internet fame beckoned.

It was only when Ruba’s son, Debayan, searched for her record online that they found it had been uploaded to YouTube, that original copies of the record were selling for more than £500, and that it was being reissued by the US label Numero Group.

It had earned new fans, such as Dan Snaith, AKA Caribou and Daphni, who brought it to wider attention after including the track Aaj Shanibar in his DJ sets. That track has now had more than a million streams on YouTube.


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