Various Artists – The Travelling Archive: Folk Music from Bengal (4 stars)

Various Artists – The Travelling Archive: Folk Music from Bengal

Captivating glimpse of a diverse musical culture

Sublime Frequencies

The latest batch from Sublime Frequencies includes a smokin' live album from Lebanese / Egyptian guitar legend Omar Khorshid and a compilation of mesmeric Sahel folk, but this collection is of particular interest, representing the first fruits of the label's relationship with Bengali musicians and researchers Moushoumi Bhowmik and Sukanta Majumdar. Their field recordings from Bangladesh, India and the Bengali diaspora offer a captivating glimpse of a diverse musical culture: wedding songs, Hindu devotionals, and songs from those travelling bards, the Baul. The striking instrumentation across these ten tracks includes tabla, violin and the brittle twang of the dotara. Taped in an office off Brick Lane, Ahmed Moyez's acapella performance of his Sufi poet grandfather's 'Paradhi Hoilam Ami' ('Friend and Master, by what law of yours am I made guilty') is deeply moving, while the Tea Garden singing and stories of a group of young women are a delight.

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