State of Bengal Vs Paban Das Baul

Saifullah 'Sam' Zaman, the east London DJ and producer who records as State Of Bengal, was first introduced to Paban Das Baul when he attended a tribute to the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at the Royal Festival Hall, shortly after the qawwali legend's death in 1997.

Zaman had been attracted to the music of the Bauls ever since coming across a vinyl LP by an elderly singer called Burna Das Baul, who possesses a heavy, screaming, untamed punky voice. He’d also been impressed by the first track on Paban’s Real World album with Sam Mills (the guitarist from worldly punk-funk outfit 23 Skidoo), entitled Real Sugar, often spinning it when out playing DJ sets.

Paban Das Baul was born in 1961 in the village of Mohammedpur in the district of Murshidabad in West Bengal, India – land of a population incarnating the spirit of syncretism between Tantric, Vaishnava, Muslim and Buddhist traditions through music, dance and song. He is well known for the inspired lyrical beauty of his songs and his genius in improvisation on the dubki (a small tambourine), which gives him the power to create trance-like states in his listeners.

Further reading

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at WOMAD 1985: Were you there?

Nusrat's concert at the festival in 1985 was the first in front of a primarily non-Asian audience

Alan James Creative Bursaries 2019

The English Folk Dance and Song Society have awarded four new bursaries.

Riding a wave of emotion: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at WOMAD 1985

David Hutcheon explores the significance of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's iconic show at WOMAD in 1985.

7 East African artists performing at this year’s Ongala Music Festival

Named after the late Remmy Ongala, the event showcases exciting new East African talent.