One and One is One

Joi

Released 12 April 1999

  1. Fingers
  2. Everybody Say Yeah
  3. Asian Vibes
  4. Massive
  5. Oh My People
  6. ESY-SHJ
  7. March On
  8. Mission
  9. Heartbeat
  10. India
  11. Joi Bani

Liner notes

Signing in 1997 to Real World, the only label Joi felt happy to be involved with long term, Joi released their critically acclaimed debut album One And One Is One. An aspirational melting pot of melodic harmonies, tabla rhythms, electro beats, chants, and vocal snatches, the album was hailed across the board by critics from Q (“inventive and hard-hitting”) to Time Out (“a smooth, accomplished collection”). Limited edition remixes of ‘Fingers’ by Lion Rock and ‘Asian Vibes’ by Way Out West, and the use of their music in the TV programme Sex And The City, also helped to spread their appeal further.

First Equation – Friendship 1 + 1 = 3

Here, one plus one in friendship equals three. The one plus one is in the third, that being the world.

Second Equation – Love 1 + 1 = 1

Here, one plus one in love equals one. The one plus one are the total world.

RABINDRANATH TAGORE’S METAPHYSICAL MATHEMATICS FROM ‘RABINDRANATH TAGORE: A BIOGRAPHY’ BY KRISHNA KRIPALANI (VISVA-BHARATI, CALCUTTA, 1980)

Joi have always sought to illuminate, to push boundaries, to pique interest in other cultures while boldly bringing such cultures together. Their album titles are a case in point; just as One and One is One is a quote from the Indian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and their second album, We Are Three references the work of the great Sufi poet Rumi.

‘Set yourself free with the spirit of Joi’ read the T-shirts of clubbers who, hands in the air, were among the first to dance wildly to Farook and his late elder brother Haroon’s banging bhangra fusion in clubs not too far from where Farook still works today. “We would play a James Brown groove and very slowly mix in a traditional Bengali thing and then turn it up until the crowd moved to the traditional tune alone.” Farook sighs, smiles. “They probably saw it as mad, off-the-wall Paki music, but it was very natural to us. We wanted to give our people a sense of musical identity.” A feeling, if you like, that they were not alone.

Filmed in Times Square, New York City, this is the official video for Joi's single 'Asian Vibes', released in 1999.

The sons of a professional flautist who ran a traditional Asian music shop in Brick Lane, the Shamsher brothers matched their love of Bengali, Bollywood and qawwali music with their passion for hip hop, soul, funk, reggae and other urban stylings. They moved from being a sound system with tabla players improvising over beats to performing as a live band with wide-ranging instrumentalists and guest vocalists. When it suited them, they went back to being a sound system again. Along the way, they changed perceptions.

Photo credit: Tim Kavanagh

Reviews

  • ...Colours a thick flow of dance rhythms with vocal and instrumental effects reflecting...the excitement of this inventive, hard-hitting debut. ★★★★ Q Magazine (UK)
  • East collides majestically with West as Joi finally resurface with an acidic mish-mash of sitar, tabla and skittering drum 'n' bass. Trans-global for sure, but destined to leave the underground. NME (UK)
  • Susheela Raman’s vocals fuse over ‘Brick Lane’ breakbeats...Justin Robertson’s Lionrock mix with its quirky bassline maintains the Eastern flavour, adding Latin/carnival sounds. All in all, a refreshing tonic for the ‘big beat’ fraternity. Music Week (UK)
  • Pioneers of the ambient and dubbed eastern-influenced style that so many others have since attempted to imitate. DJ Magazine (UK)
  • The cultural legacy of Asians living here is treated with respect in Joi's music, while the influences of electro, techno and drum 'n' bass keep it appealing to the dancefloor. Joi incorporate elements of Indian music and philosophy in their work ... with a consciousness that reflects their upbringing in the East End music scene. Spirit Magazine (UK)

Listen

Further Listening

  • Joi Sound System

    Joi

    Released 19 June 2015

    Joi Sound System is a 22 track double album compiled from Joi's three gloriously inventive albums: 1999's One and One is One, 2000's We Are Three and 2007's Without Zero, plus three bonus tracks. Three sublime albums. A dazzling assemblage of tracks. Choosing a Best Of was never doing to be easy. And yet...
  • Trance

    Hassan Hakmoun

    Released 31 August 1993

    Primal Moroccan trance traditions collide with psychedelic New York rock and London dance grooves. What results is part of the story of the on-going story of Gnawa music, which spread from West Africa, the Sudan, and the Southern Sahara through centuries of migration until it reached Morocco.

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