Boomkat Product Review:
Enchanting collab between Bangladeshi migrant Mohammad After Hussain and Italian artist Andrea Rusconi, reframing traditional Baul folk songs as psychedelic paeans for Brighton’s ace Hive Mind Records.
A warmly spirited and ingenious fusion of styles, ‘Matir Gaan: Songs From the Earth’ is the result of a project for asylum seekers in Rimini, Italy seeking to create an archive of songs, stories and sounds by the people who have spent time with its programme. Mohammad After Hussain escaped Bangladesh in 2015 and arrived in Italy via an arduous and dangerous journey, experiencing violence in Libya before crossing the mediterranean. Finding sanctuary with Rimini’s Associazione Ardea, the group’s Andrea Rusconi aka Paq encouraged Hussain to sing the songs of his Bangla village, taught him by the minstrel-like Baul people, who come from a culture rooted in early Sufi mystics and Hindu Fakirs. The result is a gently gorgeous raft of songs sung by Hussain and performed by him on the harmonium and pakhawaj (double headed drum), and gilded with Crumar and Veena synth drones by Paq that beautifully suspend the music in cosmic space.
Although Hussain does not consider himself a part of the Baul ascetic tradition, the songs are clearly etched on his heart as a key part of Bangla village life. They flow naturally from him across ‘Matir Gaan: Songs From The Earth’, whose title refers to the Baul beliefs in a bind of celestial and earthly love and the philosophy of “Deha tattoo” or truth in the body, epitomised by the aphorism “whatever is in the universe is in the body”. Stemming from traditions far older than any in the West, it’s perhaps not hard for ears attuned to European folk musics to hear the natural links between Indo-European linguistic branches and music manifesting in the natural cadence of and spirit of these 10 songs about life, love, earth and the cosmos, no matter your mother tongue.