Musician/performer Bishi portrayed as Britannia - Hardern/Harris 2012
Described as the doyenne of hybrid music she combines ancient folk, left field pop and Asian instruments with fluency, charm and lyrical melody. She released her second album ‘Albion Voice’ digitally on 16 July 2012 via iTunes, which moves through many sounds and styles as diverse as punk, baroque, glam and medieval folk. Ideas of nationality, migration and patriotism in a shrinking world are explored taking her experiences as a British Asian as the starting point. The rich sounds and symbolism of Britain as a sovereign nation and ancient Isle provide recurring themes in both lyric and music.
This is quite possibly the greatest song EVER written about being brown in the UK. It touches on everything I’ve ever thought about in relation to identity & nationhood plus it manages to be revolutionary & political as well as twee in a folk kind of way. Bishi is one of the most important artists we have (in my opinion) but she’s also one of the most bonkers!
I wont tell a lie, but this track has had me blubbing like a baby on more than one occasion.
Bishi with guest vocals via her mother, Susmita Bhattacharya (renowned Bengali singer) in the video for “Gram Chara" of of Albion Voice.
Directed by Matthew Hardern
From Bishi’s Youtube Channel:
"From the album ‘Albion Voice’ this well known poem by Bengali poet and novelist Rabindranath Tagore has been set for voice and strings by Neil Kaczor & produced by Matthew Hardern. Bishi’s mum - Susmita Bhattacharya is a highly respected classical singer who has studied the Tagore tradition throughout her life. The main strings are played by The Ligetti Quartet whilst the solo viola da gamba is played by Liam Byrne.
Rabindranath Tagore, regarded by many as the greatest writer in modern Indian literature, became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: the Republic of India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla.
He was an accomplished artist and established a new dance form called Rabindra Nritya, an educationist, environmentalist, a rural reconstructionist, a political thinker and philosopher; he also founded the International University, Visva-Bharati.
Tagore had strong links with Scotland after establishing a close friendship with Patrick Geddes, the pioneering Scottish town planner. Tagore’s grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore was honoured with the Freedom of the City award by Edinburgh in 1845.
The string arrangement echoes with Scottish themes that pay respect to this historic International communion of art, literature and humanity.
English Translation…… Beguiles my mind the earthly road Beyond the village it does spread I know not for whom my mind thrusts With arms languishing in those dusts Pulling at my feet the road drags me out To an obscure end I know nothing about In which turning in the road Will I find the mother lode? Where some new person I will befriend I can’t fathom where it will end”