Print this Page

World Music CD Reviews South Asia

Various Artists

By John Kuhlman
Published March 30, 2007

Voices Of Humans, Ancestors And Gods

One of the latest releases in the meticulously researched and packaged Topic Records World Series, these are recordings of a variety of vocal performances gathered by Rolf Kilius during his travels in East and Northeast India. The 13 tracks (with lyrics in seven languages) cover a dizzying amount of ethnic and geographic territory, including a buzzing three-note baptismal song performed by the priestesses of the Saroa tribe, with its hypnotic echo-chorusing; a rolling, up-tempo wedding song punctuated with an almost vaudevillian cross-patter routine; the raw, spiraling voice of a 16-year-old Baul singing, “If you love somebody, your mind will be fresh”; the call and response between a female singer delivering a quivering funereal elegy and an ecstatic choir of ululating mourners; the childlike simplicity of a simple greeting song, and more. If the variety seems a little overwhelming at first, it's only because there is so much of interest here to absorb.