Boomkat Product Review:
Outernational documentarians Hive Mind usher the poetic debut recordings of a Pakistani Benju maestro from the Makran Coast of Balochistan near Iran, accompanied by dual tambura on a spellbinding recital.
Named ‘Jingul’ for the bird that visits his house, Ustad Noor Baksh’s first record reels four interpretations of local poetry and shepherd’s songs in the Sufi devotional form of qawwali. While it may be his first recording, it’s evident from his mastery of the electric benju - a keyed dulcimer deriving from a modified form of the Japanese taishōgoto instrument and adapted with pick-ups - that he has spent a lifetime with it, and the music flows forth with spellbinding, storytelling quality.
In Baksh’s hands the the benju is a noumenal loom for weaving the criss-crossed stories of his region, speaking to its conflux of migrations between Africa, Persia, and Arabia via the Indian Ocean that laps Baluchistan’s coast. The instrument’s distinctive, buzzing, bluesy twang leads with cascading melodies buoyed by the drone chronics of Jamadar Gohram & Doshambay’s damboora or tanpura, the traditional Indian instrument recently deployed on a deadly CC Hennix session, and here in its classic supporting role, creating sustained beds of drone that equally help carry the stories - and the imagination - with them.