Matir Gaan

16/03/2022Bengali Migrant Md. After Hussain Teams Up With Italian Electronic Artist Andrea Rusconi To Reimagine Mystic Baul Traditions

Breathe in, breathe out, as the waves ebb and flow and our minds travel. It's stories like these that purvey deeper meaning in artistic production and resonate with us, both spiritually and sonically. Brighton's Hive Mind Records has released a truly divine new record, featuring a stirring collaboration between young Bengali migrant Mohammed After Hussain and Italian electronic artist Andrea Rusconi, aka PAQ. "Matir Gaan: Songs from the Earth" sees the two "delightfully combining the ancient folk songs of Md. After's homeland with PAQ's cosmic synth exotica," as they reimagine and amplify mystic Baul traditions.

In 2015, Md. After Hussain fled Bangladesh and set out on a perilous and even violent two-year journey that led him from Libya to Italy. Finding refuge with Rimini's Associazione Ardea migrant aid network, he crossed paths with Andrea Rusconi, who happened to be there working on Ardea Recordings, "a project aiming to create an archive of songs, stories and sounds" by refugees enrolled in the programme. The two eventually joined forces, with After Hussain singing and playing "the folk and village songs he knew on the harmonium and pakhawaj (two-headed drum)" and Rusconi adding Crumar synth and Veena drones to the mix.

The result is an "album of totally unique renditions of [...] Baul folk songs known so well by people across the Bangla speaking regions of India." The Baul are "a group of [wayfaring] minstrels [...] whose culture is derived from the teachings of the early Sufi mystics and Hindu Fakhirs. [Their] devotees are considered to be mad, or possessed, with the love of God [...] seeking to access divinity through music and dance."  To this day, they continue to be a presence in rural Bangladesh, "wandering from village to village offering ecstatic sound waves in exchange for sustenance."

Having grown up in the region After Hussain is well familiar with their songs although he does not consider himself part of their "ascetic tradition". The effect of these sonorous reinterpretations, however, is no less cathartic, inviting listeners to reconnect with their own spirituality or simply find peace in song. Though repetitive in their mantric, devotional nature, these psychedelic recordings still retain wondrous melodic depth and emanate infinite warmth, a welcome sonic haven for knots to unravel, thoughts to meander and worn souls to regain their footing.

"Matir Gaan" is easily absorbed in one session and definitely a record to diversify the collection. Plus, it comes with gorgeous artwork by Theo Payne. Now available to stream/buy via Hive Mind. 

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom