Purna Chandra Das Baul

Songs of Love & Ecstasy

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It is easy to be moved to instant joy by the music of one's own culture -- Americans by Motown, for example -- but it can be very difficult to attain a pervasive enough emotional alignment with another culture to achieve that quick fix from the music of a very distant, very different people. Purna Das Baul, however, provides us with the happiest of exceptions. This is music rooted in the sheer bliss of being alive, perfectly in keeping with the philosophy of the nomadic Baul musicians, who espouse a kind of ecumenical, all-men-are-brothers religiosity. The music is Indian, since the Bauls are from the Indian state of Bengal, but it is far removed from the ragas of classical Indian music, which many Western listeners find impenetrable. It sounds somewhat like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but not so formal. This is folk music with singing, a little flute, a little lute, and a lot of percussion -- growling, unstoppable, vibrant percussion that makes bouncing tones like an udu drum. The songs have lyrics that speak of love and of the divine, sometimes both at the same time with deliberate ambiguity. The song "Aaj Gubi Ak " stands out because it seems to be a partial retelling of the story of Oedipus the King. The singing is shared by Purna Das Baul, his wife Manju Das, and his son Subhendu Das Bapi. The album was made in a RealWorld studio with a live audience. The Performance and the recording are both immaculate. If you want to get happy, listen to this music.

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