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The Participant Observer Music CD of the Month is Music of the Honey Gatherers by Paban Das Baul.

Steeped in the ancient tradition of the Bauls, the wandering spiritual musicians of Bengal, Music Of The Honey Gatherers is a beautiful and varied collection of stripped back and powerful trance-inducing Baul songs, imbued with the itinerant flavour of life on the road.

The Bauls of Bangladesh and Bengal, India, are spiritual troubadours who may incorporate Sufi Islam, Hindu, or Tantric Buddhism in their practice of wandering the villages, singing of the divine and its quest, exchanging their joyous spirituality for food and shelter. Paban Das Baul of Bengal had largely left this life for modern music technology, concerts, and fusion, but in this album he gets back to basics. A studio album from London and Paris, he is supported by Mimhu Sen on mandiras, finger bells; Nimai Goswami playing dotara, a two- to four-string lute; Nathoolal Solank of Rajasthan on the nagara kettle drum; and fellow Rajasthani Chugga Khan playing khartal, wood clappers, and morchang jaw harp. Paban sings and plays the dubki tambourine, duggi hand drum (similar to tabla), the khamak (which is drum with an attached string that is stretched and plucked), and dotara. Thus, the variety of timbre and rhythms further interest to the devotional songs, whose lyrics in English are included in the notes. The lyrical references are metaphors, such as honey gathering, which is about the sweetness of experiencing the divine. The sound quality is very clear but dry. Paban sings with simplicity, sensitivity, and gentleness. This Baul music are variant blends of Hindu bhajan and Central Asian Islamic ghazal devotional melodies. Few albums of Baul music are available, and while the feeling of the field, of practice before public audiences, is absent, the remarkable, beautiful issue does document the Baul musical style and conveys the intensity of the seeker.—Amazon Review by Dr. Debra Jan Bibel

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