Barmer Boys - Kesariya Balm
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Recorded and produced over an intense two-week period in April 2017, the sophomore album of Barmer Boys - Kesariya Balm, features a more contemporary side of the band with a mix of upbeat Rajasthani wedding and devotional songs, bhajans with beatboxing, their homage to the great Sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and a bass-deep, synth heavy, minimal remix of Bole To Mitho Lage by Audio Pervert (a.k.a. Samrat Bee, electronic/analog producer and DJ from India/Spain).
The trio's much awaited album comes after a five year gap, with their debut At Home released in 2012 on Amarrass Records ("4 Stars - incandescent Sufi voices that incite ecstasy" - Songlines). Their new release was conceived keeping a vinyl release in mind (the first vinyl records to be manufactured in India in the 21st century!), and features six tracks, with the Limited Edition LPs are available for pre-order at the Amarrass store AND digital download at the Barmer Boys Bandcamp page.
A note about the album cover and name: 'Kesariya Balam' is the name of one of the most popular songs from Rajasthan - a staple in every Manganiyar musicians songbook, and one that Barmer Boys get requested to sing often at their concerts. The album cover, featuring a bottle of pain relief ointment 'Kesariya Balm', is a subtle snub of the notion that all artists from the region have to sing the same song, rather than showcase scores of other songs they rather play and perform so well. Album artwork conceived and designed by Amarrass, hand-painted cover art by Hari Om sign painter (in a style that is rapidly disappearing, being replaced by cheaper and faster digital art).
Track information: Side A of the LP features three acoustic tracks, with the B Side a dance floor oriented bass-heavy, beatboxing and electronic sound.
1) Bole to Mitho Lage - a traditional Rajasthani song (sing in Marwari, a regional language), the song's lyrics literally translates to "your voice fills me with sweetness, your smile fills me with joy". A favorite of audiences around the world, their YouTube video has garnered almost a million views (watch here) and features in the Associated Press documentary on India's cart pullers (watch here).
2) Vaari Jaun - A Hindu bhajan sung on auspicious occasions such as weddings, and a reference to the ecumenical nature of the songbook of the Manganiyar community, who are Muslims but sing songs in praise of Hindu gods and goddesses (and in fact they worship a Hindu goddess, Rani Bathiayani Devi). Video from one of many Amarrass Terrace Sessions.
3) Padosan - A more contemporary folk song from the region, alluding to a love affair with the neighbour ("padosan" in Hindi) gypsy girl. Video from their performance at D.R.O.M. in New York City.
4) Ranaji - Side B of the LP begins with another Krishna bhajan, with beatboxing by Rais Khan. An acoustic version of the song from their Sofar Sounds concert in Toronto Canada.
5) Allah Hu - a homage to the great Sufi qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (who is also an inspiration to Manga - the vocalist of the group).
6) Bole To - Awaara Remix (by Audio Pervert) - bass heavy, analog synths, textured minimal sounds and vocoder! Audio Pervert a.k.a. Samrat Bee is an electronic music producer and DJ from India (now based in Spain) and makes a trippy club banger out of Bole To Mitho Lage!
Artists/instruments on the album: Manga - vocals, harmonium; Rais Khan - khartaal, bhapang, beatboxing, Magada Khan - dholak. Recorded and mixed by Akshat Taneja. Analog mastering by Johanz Westerman, Ballyhoo Studio, Groningen, The Netherlands. Produced by Amarrass Records India.