Paban Das Baul & Sam Mills

India, United Kingdom

Real Sugar

Paban Das Baul & Sam Mills

Released 24 March 1997

  1. Dil Ki Doya
  2. Nacho Kali
  3. Porojonome
  4. Ore Poinkha
  5. Boshondharar Buke
  6. Mon Fakira
  7. Choncholo Mon
  8. Mon Moti
  9. Gopun Premer Kotha

Paban Das Baul & Sam Mills

Liner notes

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.

Paban started to play and sing from the age of five: “When my father, a champion of martial arts, lost his lands, he wandered around the villages of Murshidabad, singing and wrestling for money. I would accompany him, and learnt how to sing and play the dubki from the Sufi fakirs. Later, I met the Bauls and played in their festivals. At the age of 14, I was initiated by Subal Das Baul.”

Sam Mills was born in London in 1963. He started playing guitar with 23 Skidoo in 1979 and continued until 1982. At that time 23 Skidoo were top of the independent charts and were renowned for the intensity of their live performances. They fused avant-garde experimentation and stylistic eclecticism with dance rhythms and, borrowing from bands like Can, This Heat, Fela Kuti, and whatever
The ‘Real Sugar’ album involved ex-23 Skidoo-ers Fritz Catlin, who helped to programme and produce the record, and bassist Sketch (also formerly of Lynx).

The musical collaboration started casually at first in 1988. Sam says: “I would sit on the veranda of the house in Calcutta where Paban and Mimlu Sen stayed and play their piano. Paban would always be singing and playing, so we started to jam together. He gave me a komok, and a dotara which I also learned to play, although never as well as the Bauls do.

“All the time I was hearing a lot of the music, learning the language,and getting a whole background to the kind of work Paban was doing, which made him seem more rather than less remarkable to me. I used to listen to a lot of Bengali songs, which are very rich and melodic, and think about how they could fit in with the kinds of chords we use in pop music here, as well as with the kind of beats and grooves that run through African music, or funk, or whatever.”

Listen

Reviews

  • Paban’s mesmerising vocals gyrate around the calmly looping Mills guitar, expertly married to programmed beats, frilled by rickety dubki. Q Magazine (UK)
  • It’s both traditional and actual - or now. Beautiful. Time Out, New York (USA)
  • Syncretic Bengali mysticism never sounded better, here augmented by Hammond organ fills, meandering Pharaoh Sanders sax breaks and drum ‘n’ bass backing tracks that appear, for once, to be an organic development... illuminated by lightning. World Music Album Of The Month MOJO (UK)
  • Real Sugar presents this music as it has never been heard before with Sam Mills ... mixing the warm traditional vocals of the Bauls with ambient and even drum ‘n’ bass sounds. Billboard (USA)

Further Listening

  • Night Song

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook

    Released 01 March 1996

    The potent relationship between Qawwali legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Canadian rock musician Michael Brook reached compelling emotional heights on this Grammy nominated sequel to Mustt Mustt. Once again the partnership tests the emotional boundaries of the human voice. It wasn't made in Detroit or Memphis, but this truly is soul music.
  • Mraya

    Abdel Ali Slimani

    Released 08 January 1996

    Mraya is an assured debut, with Abdel Ali Slimani's Algerian Rai roots finding solid ground in trance-like grooves. The album's theme reflects the emigre looking back at his home to which he cannot return, the music taking Rai to new areas - but retaining the spirit of its desert roots.

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