The Bauls of Bengal,
The Bauls of Bengal
(Empire Musicwerks, 2005)

This CD contains eight traditional songs by the Bauls of Bengal. The Bauls are also a religious group, but the name here refers to two brothers, Purma Das and Nupor Luxman Das, with various other musicians. The two are best known for appearing on the cover with Bob Dylan on the latter's John Wesley Harding album.

The Bauls take their beliefs from many sources, including Hinduism and Sufism. Their music is different than other Indian forms, concentrating on vocals, usually by one but sometimes with alternating singers. The lyrics, not in English, are notable for spiritual feeling.

The musicians play percussive and simple stringed instruments of ancient origins. One of the stringed instruments sounds something like a banjo.

These songs, generally about five minutes long, will not be easily accessible to Western listeners. It seems that the best way to appreciate them might be for their trance-like qualities, as simple folk music with dramatic delivery. They have much to offer, for those who take the time to listen.

review by
Dave Howell

27 September 2008

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