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Leading the Ethnoglobal charge this time is the very welcome, handsomely packaged King Of Ghosts (Globe Music GM-004). Its headliners are Soumik Datta and City of London Sinfonia. As a lad the future saro- dist saw the Bengali film-maker, Satyajit Ray’s film Goupy Gyne Bagha Byne, sometimes ren- dered The Adventures Of Goopy And Bagha. (Here it is rendered as King Of Ghosts.) It entranced. This is that future sarodist’s freshly minted music, debuted in June 2017 at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse of Shakespeare’s Globe in London. The ensemble laid down these tracks last September at the same Play- house for this release.


Goupy Gyne Bagha Byne is a minor work


in Ray’s canon. It is a minor masterpiece in its way. It polarises. It also repays tracking down and watching. One inescapable criticism lev- elled at it was – and is – it’s over-long to be a film purportedly for children and their atten- tion span. When it ’hit’ Bengal’s picture places in 1969, it broke records for atten- dance and the length of its run. Ray laid its inspiration at the feet of his grandfather Upendrakisore who concocted the plot. A fantasy and musical with comedic streaks – perm vicey-versies at will, it provided him with licence to once again compose music. The plotline is that the two heroes are such rotten music-makers that they get booted out of town. In exile Goopy and Bagha meet Bhuter Raja, the king of ghosts. He grants the proverbial three boons. Our heroes/anti- heroes acquire supernatural powers. The film also stretched cinematic techniques.


Soumik Datta’s compositions are his, quite unlike Satyajit Ray’s original sound- track. He captures the film’s feeling and inner essence. (Listening without the visual rein- forcement of the film, as the ensemble per- formed it to screen that June works beauti- fully.) In his film Ray conveyed a range of emotions both as a film-maker and a music composer. Perhaps most memorably in the original, this occurred in the scary sequence


marker. Bill Barclay conducts. Johannes Berauer composes, adapts and reworks Datta’s tunes and themes for western strings and wind instruments. The strings on Encounter and the title track are further takeaway delights. With this project Soumik Datta enters a different league. King of Ghosts has the kind of packaging to long for, too. Suggested entry points: How To Stop A War and Ghost Dance.


East Meets West Music is described as the Soumik Datta


dubbed The Dance Of The Ghosts. This spooky percussion extravaganza – hand drums and morsing (Jew’s harp) – of a dance sequence was directed by the legendary dancer-choreographer Sambhu Bhattacharya, who, like film composer Salil Chowdhury and sitarist Ravi Shankar, had been part of the Indian People’s Theatre Association in pre- Partition Bengal. When their time of ghosts comes, Datta and featured bodhrán player and percussionist Cormac Byrne blaze. They take it to a place where Ray’s soundtrack music fades to a dimly recalled reference


official recording label of the Ravi Shankar Foundation. Maya – Bickram Ghosh’s Dedi- cation To Ravi Shankar (East Meets West Music EMWM1016) also has Utsav! Cele- brating Ravi Shankar running down its spine. The word utsav means ‘celebration’ while maya is illusion. (Fun fact: the latter was mispronounced like the Amerindian peo- ple rather than like m¯ay on the Incredible String Band song Maya – “Maya Maya/All this world is but a play/Be thou the joyful player” – on Wee Tam And The Big Huge.) Under the banner of Ravi Shankar’s formidable percussionist Bickram Ghosh, Maya gathers together students, collabora- tors, and fellow musicians. It is a distillation of Shankar’smusical sensibilities and a further- ance of the way he reached out like very few in Indian classical music. Many of Ghosh’s col- laborators are more senior in the fold than him. Mohana and Shringara, for example, both have Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in the driving chair (with remarkable sarangi embellish- ments from Sarwar Husain on the former and vocal ornamentations from Somchanda Bhat- tacharya on the latter). The flautist Ronu Majumdar occupies the same position on The Veil of Kaya. For those with long memories, Maya might be reminiscent of the Indian Quintet (Daya Shankar, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Tarun Bhattacharya, Ramesh Mishra and Kumar Bose) on Raga-Ragini (Chhanda Dhara, 1988). And that’s a high compliment. A remarkable project. Suggested entry points: Mohana and The Veil of Kaya.


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