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Songs from the Bengali Earth: Bhoomi’s Top 10

Amanda Sodhi
Formed in Kolkata in 1999, Bhoomi, which literally translates into “earth,” is credited with having revived Bengali folk music. The band consists of Surojit Chatterjee, Soumitra Ray, Hemanto Goswami, Abhijit Ghosh and Robin Lai. They have performed at the United Nations headquarters in New York, and in 2008, Bhoomi was the only Asian band to perform at the International Jazz Festival in Montreal, Canada. The band has a dozen albums to their credit and also has composed for UNICEF projects, television shows and commercials. Here’s looking back at Bhoomi’s top 10 songs.

10. “Pub Akasher Gaan” from Udaan (2001)

“Pub Akasher Gaan,” from Bhoomi’s successful second album Udaan, released by Times music, brings together an oriental-sounding flute with Indian percussion instruments played with a Middle Eastern touch. The song has a motivational sort of feel with a steady up-and-down pace, drum beat and dramatic vocals.

9. “Jamunar Tufan Dekhe” from Lokogiti Local (2004)

The sound of the wind, chimes, tabla, electric guitar and Russian-mood-conjuring accordion make Lokogiti Local the perfect song to relax to.

8. “Nozen Express” from Udaan (2001)

“Nozen Express” is a pretty neat composition – although it is one of Bhoomi’s longer tracks, the qawali touch is pretty neat, and the sound of a train and extensive use of a flute for a good two minutes towards the end really stands out.

7. “Sanjhe Fote Jhingaphool” from Lokogiti Local (2004)

Here comes another song from Lokogiti Local, “Sanjhe Fote Jhingaphool,” which conjures up a rustic setting. Sounds of birds, the dafli, and violins are pleasant to listen to. However, the emphasis this time around is on somber vocals.

6. “Khejur Gache Hari Badho Maan” from Lokogiti Local (2004)

Okay, so Lokogiti Local sure is a winner of an album, because another song from the album makes it on this list. ”Khejur Gache Hari Badho Maan” has a Bengali version of Indian Ocean sort of feel to it, probably because of use of the chorus and prominent instrumental interludes. Bhoomi use traditional instruments in this song, which makes sense as the album Lokotigiti Local was their tribute to Bengali soil.

5. “Rangila Re” from Jatra Shuru (2000)

“Rangila Re,” is significant as it is part of Bhoomi’s debut album Jatra Shuru, which released in 2000 and created history in terms of popularity and sales. In fact, the album was applauded as being Times Music’s best-selling album in the regional category – an impressive feat for a debut album. The composition draws from the traditional folk settings of India, the acoustic guitar, faint percussion taking a backseat and vocals taking the center stage.

4. “For a Better Day” from Gaan Bahan (2007)

“For a Better Day,” released by Times Music in Bhoomi’s eighth album Gaan Bahan, is an important composition for the band as it is their only English song – which was dedicated to the United Nations. The song revolves around homelessness, poverty and reaching out to those in need. Although the lyrics are in English, instruments used are traditional, including the piano, tabla and violin.

3. “Ami Jare Chai Re” from Paal Chhutechhe (2003)

From Paal Chhutechhe, Bhoomi’s fourth album released under the HMV SaReGaMa label, “Ami Jare Chai Re” leaves a lasting impact with a more somber tone, and a lovely array of instruments ranging from the piano, guitar and bass to the chimes and flute.

2. “Bare Bare Aar Aasa Hobe Na” from Paal Chhutechhe (2003)

Also from Paal Chhutechhe, “Bare Bare Aar Aasa Hobe Na” mixes Latin percussion with the traditional harmonium and keyboard giving the composition a unique world music feel.

1. “Amra Nutal Neel Digante” from Aamra Notun Jouboner Doot (2009)

Many of Bhoomi’s compositions draw from sounds from mother nature – “Amra Nutal Neel Digante” also begins with the sound of birds chirping. The use of a cheerful flute, steady dafli and tabla makes the song a soothing experience. The vocals sound heartfelt in this simply orchestrated composition.

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