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State of Bengal aka Sam Zaman Dead at 50

One of the leading figures in the Asian Underground music scene, Zaman collaborated with the likes of sitarist-composer Anoushka Shankar and singer Bjork

Nerm May 20, 2015
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Producer and DJ Sam Zaman, who performed under the moniker State of Bengal as part of the Asian Underground movement in the UK passed away due to an apparent cardiac arrest. UK-based website Nada Brahma reported the news of Bangladeshi-born, London-based Zaman’s death today.

Zaman moved to London in the early Eighties and became a part of the Asian Underground scene in the UK, alongside the likes of Talvin Singh. Originally a group that included his brother Deedar and MC Mushtaq, State of Bengal took off when Zaman composed his best-known track to date, “Flight IC408,” which appeared on the 1997 Talvin Singh-helmed compilation Anokha ”“ Soundz of the Asian Underground. The compilation also included another track by Zaman, “Chittagong Chill.”

State of Bengal became a regular on the UK electronic music scene through the Nineties and gained more prominence in the new millennium after gaining the attention from the likes of Icelandic singer Bjork and UK trip hop group Massive Attack. In addition to two collaboration albums ”“Walking On, released in 2000 and featuring Bengali singer Ananda Shankar and 2004’s Tana Tani with Bengali folk Baul singer Paban Das Baul ”“ Zaman released Skip-Ij in 2007, which continued State of Bengal’s signature mix of traditional Indian percussions, dense bass and synth.

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State of Bengal has performed regularly in India, ranging from festivals such as M.A.D. Festival in Ooty in 2012 and at the Blue Frog in 2013, where Mumbai-based breakbeat group Bay Beat Collective [BBC] opened for him. Says BBC’s Sohail Arora, also a part of electronic music booking and artist management agency KRUNK, “State of Bengal’s music was one of my earliest introductions to the Asian Underground sound. I got to know him briefly when I opened for him at Blue Frog.” Like many other followers and fans, Arora says he’ll always remember “Flight IC408.” He adds, “It was a big tune for all of us. Knowing his contribution to the Asian Underground, his death is sad news.”

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