At Travelling Archive Records, sound is our way of knowing about matters concerning time and history, tradition and change, landscapes and journeys; also questioning and interpreting them. From research and recording to sound design, writing the text, visual design, printing (partly on silkscreen) and packaging, the label with its small print-run is essentially hand-made; hence things to collect and keep.
Travelling Archive Records comes out in four series: Profiles, Landscape, Restoration, Interpretation.
- Profiles: This series profiles artists as living archives of music, products of a system of orality that is fast changing.
- Landscape: This series presents music as topography, where the contour lines of a region mark its composition, rendition and the quality of the voices which come out of it.
- Restoration: The series focuses on the digital remastering of existing, unpublished recordings of unknown and known singers and composers, often made in ‘home’ settings, mostly with amateur equipment.
- Interpretation: This series presents music and soundart works of contemporary urban artists, created with or inspired by music and ambient sounds heard and/or recorded in the field.
Songs from 26H
অথবা, তাই তোমার কাছে ফিরে ফিরে আসি
Home recordings of Moushumi Bhowmik
After 16 years of contemplation and creation, Bengali singer and songwriter Moushumi Bhowmik comes out with her thoughts on home and the search for it. The album holds recordings which draw the listener into the intimacy of a space called home.
The album is the work of four (and more) artists. Oliver Weeks, who is a multi-instrumentalist and composer based in London; Satyaki Banerjee, based in Kolkata and a dotara-oud-sarod player and singer; Moushumi Bhowmik, singer-songwriter and music researcher and Sukanta Majumdar, audiographer and sound artist (Moushumi and Sukanta also being co-creators of The Travelling Archive). The bilingual booklet has essays by Moushumi, Oliver and Sukanta and the songs in translation. It also has photographs by Ronny Sen, Sukanta Majumdar and others. The album is designed by Sunayan Roy and printed by Imprint, Kolkata.
Shakti Chattopadhyay in His Time
সময়ের শব্দে শক্তি চট্টোপাধ্যায়
Shakti Chattopadhyay (1935-1995) was one of the most important Bengali poets of the sixties to eighties period. His lines were imprinted on the sensibility of the youth of his time, his wild manner was emulated by his followers; he had an iconic presence in Bengali literary society in his lifetime and continues to be loved and revered even now. While Shakti’s poems were essentially lyrical and in his own reading they sounded like songs, he also had a natural gift for singing. He sang mostly song of Rabindranath Tagore.
This album, in our Restoration series, is made with home and private recordings of Shakti Chattopadhyay singing songs, reading poetry, interspersed with candid conversation and woven in with other sounds from his time. The accompanying 72-page bilingual booklet, with many beautiful images, explains the context and content of this audio essay, and more.
Chandrabati Roy Barman and Sushoma Das: Field Recordings from Sylhet
চন্দ্রাবতী রায় বর্মণ ও সুষমা দাশ
The CD features two brilliant women artists of Sylhet, Bangladesh, Chandrabati Roy Barman (1931-2014) and Sushoma Das (b. 1930). They have been living archives of musical knowledge and women’s songs of their region. The album covers a seven-year field recording period from 2006 to 2012. The unique soundtrack is created as an audio essay with candid and unaccompanied singing and conversation, one or two moments of more formal performance, audio quotes from old gramophone records and voice-overs, and ambient sounds, giving to the listener a sense of being in the field. The accompanying 74-page bilingual booklet explains the context and content of this audio essay.
Shambhunath’s Tea Stall
শম্ভুনাথের চায়ের দোকান
Shambhunath’s tea stall in Faridpur, Bangladesh has been at the centre of our field recordings for almost ten years. Here we have recorded the unpindownable artist Laila who can move between regions of song with the ease of a free-flowing river, and the moody Habib, who remains totally faithful to his form and songs and place, singing the same song again and again, beating the same beat on the table top. Here we have had the most illuminating and entertaining conversation with Salamot Khan, on music, politics, folklore, you name it. From here we have set out to record the old and wise Ibrahim Boyati, or gone a bit further in search of Gosai Das, the singer of ageless kirtan, or to Sadek Ali’s courtyard for his impassioned songs of love and separation. Varied singers and storytellers, all living within a few kilometers of one another, different from each other, but similar too, converge with their sounds on our landscape of Shambhunath’s Tea Stall.
Music as Devotion: The Songs of Renuka Acharya
শুধু তোমারে ডাকিতে চাহি : রেণুকা আচার্যর গান
Renuka Acharya (1931-2010) was an apparently ordinary woman who lived within her domestic confines in north Calcutta, had nine children, looked after her family and no one needed to take special notice of her. However, this quiet and invisible woman was also a highly inspired singer and songwriter, who could create for her music a private world within the space of her home and her life.
Renuka Acharya wrote mostly devotional songs to Goddess Kali; she had great faith in her. Sometimes she would also go away alone on pilgrimages. Thus it seems that faith and art were so tightly knit in her life, that one inspired the other. It is as if Kali, the Goddess of Darkness, was her own true Muse.
There is little of Renuka Acharya’s whole life’s work which has been preserved in sound; just a few hours of music recorded in her home by her children, in 2001, on a Sony micro-cassette recorder. However, there are manuscripts with her nearly 1500 devotional songs. Based on her audio recordings, manuscripts and remembrances of her children, several of whom got from her the gift of music and have turned out to be accomplished artists, this album will pay tribute to a remarkable woman who had the strength to create for herself her own special world of music, unperturbed by the absence of outward recognition. Her home was her world and in it she had built a shrine to her art.
We mourn the passing of Shibda, Shibaditya Sen (1952-2018), our teacher in Santiniketan. Gone too soon, and another light has faded out of our sky.
Read more in our tribute page
Salamat Khan (Salamot bhai as we called him) passed away at dawn on 12 August 2015. He was so essential to our world, yet so much like a bird impossible to catch. Forever uncaged and uncageable. His death to us is like the last visible flight which he has taken. As if he had a sharp beak with which he pierced the sky and once he went in, the sky closed itself upon us. We lesser mortals were left below looking skywards, our hearts filled with longing for a little bit more.
We grieve the passing of Chandrabati mashima. At the same time we feel blessed to have known her through this last decade of her life, although it seems like too short a time now.. Chandrabati mashima opened for us new worlds of listening and understanding music. Also new ways of understanding what it is to be a woman and an artist. There is much to learn from the utshaho--her boundless energy and courage--which was seemingly at the root of everything she did and dared to do. When we first heard her in 2006, we felt sure that this music would travel. It did indeed. Mashima was always loved in her own land, but when she came to our Baul Fakir Utsav in Kolkata in 2010, she won the hearts of thousands more. Now young singers of the city are singing some of her songs--dhoirojo na dhorite, pari na shohite, onurage tonu jhore --which they have picked up from the Utsav's CDs, also from our recordings perhaps. As they sing, we hope they will remember that it is Chandrabati Roy Barman who gave them to us. Our own CD of her and Sushoma Das' songs and conversation from Travelling Archive Records has been received with critical appreciation by many, crossing boundaries of language and culture. Slowly the music seeps in; music made of songs and conversation, everyday sounds and silences. As we listen, the image of the artist comes alive. Some do not die, they only make a transition.
Sadek Ali of Faridpur, Bangladesh sold grains for his living, but lived for his songs. As a child he followed the folk poet Jasimuddin around wherever he went and the poet’s shadow seemed to hang on him for the rest of his life. Every time he sang for us, he would religiously mention that he had spent 45 years with Jasimuddin. There was a framed photograph of Jasimuddin on the wall of his shop in Faridpur market. Sadek Ali not only sang for us but also generously organised recording sessions in the space of his house, first in 2006 and then again in 2008. Last time we went to see him in 2011, Sadek Ali bhai was lying semi-paralysed in bed having suffered a stroke some months ago. He passed away in 2013.
Nimai Chand Goswami, the baul musician who passed away on 14 June 2014, was on our first ever field recording session. Moushumi had been to his house in Suripara, Bolpur in November 2003 with Sudheer Palsane, who recorded the session on a Sony PD 150 DV camera, even before the first IFA grant was announced. They went unannounced and Nimai was generous enough to let them in; he played music and talked about his life, mixing reality with fiction. The reason for this early visit was the sound of Nimai's eloquent dotara, we hadn't yet heard much, but Nimai was among the few things which occupied us in that preparatory phase. We had heard him on albums released in Europe with Paban Das Baul, such as Manuche O Rautan. Later Nimai had taken Moushumi to meet Kalpana Dasi and Shyamsundar Das Baul of Masadda, also in Birbhum. One place led to another, from one recording session we went to the next. As the initial years passed and we began to gather experience, we did not go back to Nimai any more; only met him occasionally at melas and festivals, also at our own Baul Fakir Utsav. But it is not easy to forget the sound of Nimai's dotara--not for its virtuosity, but because it was deeply affecting. Coincidentally, the first text in Bangla on the top of our Home page, is from a song we had heard Nimai sing. When we chose those lines about the power of listening, little did we know that Nimai's dotara would fall silent so soon.