Paban Das Baul & Sam Mills :: Real Sugar

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Moving on further east from Persia (see Niyaz) to the province of Bengal in Eastern India and the nation of Bangladesh, one will encounter a rich musical tradition, known as Baul — literally meaning madmen. Baul musicians present an interesting potpourri of Tantric, Buddhist, Baishnavist, and Sufi subject matters, strung together by simple traditional instruments. Leading virtually ascetic lives, very few of these Bauls would aspire for world acclaim. Paban Das Baul is an exception, as he was discovered early on in his career by promoters of the Eastern culture, both from East and West. Sam Mills, while doing avant-garde experiments in London, happened to stumble upon Baul music, traveled to Bengal and met Paban Das Baul. Later collaborations between the two brought Real Sugar critical acclaim as a World Music album.


The songs from Real Sugar sound hugely different from original Baul music, which are based on mostly vocal performances, accompanied by one or two instruments, such as the ektara — single-stringed drone instrument, dotara — multi-stringed instrument, dugi — handheld earthen drum, or kartal — small cymbals. The fusion elements in Real Sugar will appeal more to listeners who do not understand Bengali. But in my opinion, the incorporation of guitar and saxophone sounds does more than wonders to infuse, through music, the philosophic depth of the themes in the listeners’ minds. Of course, we also hear Paban Das Baul join the jamming with traditional instruments on the tracks.

Sampler

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