From the heart of Bengal
(The Statesman Friday 20 September 2002)
albums by Swapan Basu confirm the singer's credentials
as a serious explorer of the folk from in all its variety.
It is not just virtuosity and painstaking selection
of folk songs from the heart of Bengal but the blend
of philosophical harmony with earthly passions that
make Matir Bichchana (HMV) rare treat. As in his earlieralbums,
the language of music is common - simple melody, clear
rhythms translated into human appeal.
songs are all traditional in lyrics and tunes including
"Aaami ekdine na dekhilam" and "Chirodinkancha
baansher khaancha thaakbe na" by Lanlan Fakir,
"Poran tarey jodi bandhitey paritam" by Manoj
Thakur and the soulful "Manush nairay deshey"
by Charankabi Mukundadas. As in "Sona bandhu"
sung in his earlier album Baashbhumi, Swapan Basu possibly
prizes friendship. His opening number - "Hawar
gaadi choila gelo re, samara bandhu aile na" -
starts with a pleasing interlude of dhol and earionet
and is all about welcoming a friend. A touch of Jhumur
follows in "Jakhan phool koli chhilo", but
all the singer's passions are on display in the very
meaningful title song, 'Khat palankey shuiya remon".
Not withstanding the impassioned execution of the singer,
the efforts of the flute, rabab, banjo, serinda, violin
and dotara adda weight to this intellectual effort.
(HMV), the earlier album, selected folk songs from the
Santhal Paraganas (Purlixa) erstwhile East Bengal and
Kamrup regions. As always, the singer's renditions are
not only pleasant but give athe listener a taste of
the soil with lyrical completeness. The tunes are obviously
all traditional except for "Dyesher badi"
(lyrics and tune by Manoj Thakur) where the singer emphasizes
his emotions and longing for his village home. "Sona
bondhu" is in athe form of a letter.
2 has the best songs complete with a Hasanraja number
"Lokey bolely". There are taouches of Jhumur
in "Aamar e nabo jouban" and "Basanta
asilo sakhi" but the number tahat one likes to
hear most is "Parnkrishna". It a Kamrupi folk,
uncommon one, where Satyaabhama's anguish afterbeing
hurt by Krishna (who presents Rukmani with a Parijat
from heaven) finds exquisite expression.
Kathlo Kuthar Dotara
telegraph Friday 16 June 2000)
Bose preserves his reputation as a leading folk singer
here. The rhythm and simplicity of Bengali folk music
has always made it tenjoyable and he is well supported
by music arranger Durbadal Chattopadhyay.
offers quite a bit of variety from the different streams
of Baul. There is hearty effort in the title song and
Kothay pabitaare. But though the songs are lucid, they
sound a trifle too 'sophisticated' some times.
(The Statesman Friday 20 November 1998)
sings are in and have been "urbanized" with
contemporary lyrics and electronic orchestration, but
Swapan Basu's latest album, Hari Hey (HMV) retains the
phrases and melodies of the folk and classical folk
forms of undivided Bengal while offering a diversity
in lyrics and tunes. He uses to advantage traditional
instruments like the flute, sarinda and dotara, as well
as the banjo and tabla in well conceptualized musical
for the title number (written and composed by Salil
Chaudhuri) which is the odd one out, the album is made
up of traditional tunes and lyrics. "Aamar antaray"
is a beautiful "pala gaan"with a strong "panchali"
flavour while "Jhin jhin jhan jhan" is a wonderfully
rendered "bhadu" song. Swapan Basu's articulation
and rendition capture the nuances of the earthy flavour
in this album and he is all excellence in "Bardaey
bhabhire dichhe". His individualistic style makes
a winning combination with the selectionof songs. Definitely
a treat for folk song lovers.
Rooted in old Bengal (The
Statesman Wednesday October 16 1991)
the traditional can also be excitingly modern both in
musical ideas and presentation is to be aptly found
in the folk explorations of Swapan Basu. This young
singer has been captivating connoisseurs and lay audiences
alike with his lively and altogether original approach
to the musical heritage rooted in old Bengal. His latest
album, Pranbandhu Koi Go (Concord), is like a journey
into the lives and experiences
of the peasants, their jous and sorrows, their agonies
and aspirations. The result is far from maudlin as it
often becomes in the case of both Bengali folk and adhunik:
the pain and poignancy are conveyed with a delicate
album of eight songs is enriched by a commentary by
the singer himself and this gives the effort not only
a sense of intensity and involvement but also helps
communicate better with urban listeners. Swapan Basu
puts athe lyrics in the local dialects. As in the opening
number "Shonen re bhai samachar" which makes
use of the typical rural fashion of making announcements
to the local villagers. The song comes alive with his
subtle tone and effective use of the dotara to underline
the hardship caused by rising prices.
concerning the lives of the villagers crop up in other
songs as well. Such as the one rendered by the garden
workers who lament that they have no means of finding
a better livelihood. But perhaps the most significant
number is "Taka khowa mukta", a take-off on
the Ameena case in which the singer voices voice to
the painful outbursts of the child bride sold to an
elderly husband - a ritual in one of the North Bengal
districts coming down the years.
does not mean that the album is heavy with social comment.
Some of the songs express simple love - such as the
title song. The music and melody suit the longings of
the female protagonists. Commonplace though some of
the ideas are, the songs acquire a urbane freshness
which makes Swapan Basu certainly something different
and delightful on the folk scene.