Paban Das Baul

Music of the Honey Gatherers

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Paban Das Baul is the best known of the Bengali Baul family of itinerant musicians. This very stripped-down new album is, for all intents and purposes, timeless trance music with his voice as the center. The impression this gives is a little false, though; it's hypnotic, but also passionately emotional at times. It's certainly an indication of Baul's power that the only instrumental track here, "Murshidi," is the weakest. Regardless of his origins, you'd be hard-pressed to tie this music down to any specific continent, as traces from all over slip in -- the Middle East, Africa, Asia -- making it something that travels the world easily. There's a stark, spare beauty to all this, and it certainly doesn't sound like music made in the 21st century. That, perhaps, is part of its appeal. Not so much timeless as out of time and place, existing just as music, wandering.

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