The Bauls of Bengal

Bauls of Bengal Mystic Songs from India

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Part of the extraordinarily extensive catalog of recordings from the travels of Deben Bhattacharya, this album of Baul music was recorded shortly before the death of the ethnomusicologist in 2001. The music ranges from sparse vocal runs to fuller instrumental arrangements. The vocal style of the Bauls is almost always a heartfelt, almost shouting form. It suits the music well in general, but can become a bit monotonous after long stretches. The instrumentation is the standard stuff for the area: gichaks, tombaks, etc. There are some hidden treats buried within the album as various street musicians and the like get their chance to show off their chops. Almost all of the tracks are actually the work of three singers: Robi Das Baul, Nikhil Das Baul, and Jaganath Hajra. Robi is probably the standout here, effective and ethereal with only a bit of accompaniment. That said, there's also a single track from Narottam Fakir with some exceptional dhrupad-like vocals. Worth a shot if one is generally curious about the music of the Bauls, though there are more notable figures on the scene here and there already.

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