No Stranger Here

A poem by Kabir called Chadaria Jhini Re Jhini draws parallels between a man weaving an intricate blanket and God, or the supreme consciousness, doing the same thing to create a human being.

A few years ago, Delhi-based band Indian Ocean set those intriguing words to music. The result, a gorgeous track simply titled Jhini, bore testament to the fact that the Sufi saint (or mystic) continues to inspire those who go looking for him.

Whether you understand him or not, it’s hard not to be enamoured by Kabir. His poems (translations in English abound) blend concepts borrowed from spiritualism, mysticism, ancient religions and, at times, a bit of gibberish.

In other words, a lot of his work is open to reinterpretation. This is what makes No Stranger Here so accessible. It takes the words of a reputed spoken word artist (Ursula Rucker), gives them the voice of a powerful Indian singer (Shubha Mudgal) and has Kartick and Gotam — a.k.a.

Patrick Sebag and Yotam Agam, a.k.a. Business Class Refugees, a.k.a. purveyors of instrumental Electro-Folk — come up with the music. The result is, to cut a long review short, deeply satisfying. Kabir’s work, like that of all great writers, manages to be relevant at any point in human history.

In a world of unstable economies, corrupt leaders, alienated youth and the erosion of faith, then, it fits right in. Does it make sense to single out individual tracks for praise? Not really. Kabir probably didn’t care about titles for poems either.

— No Stranger Here, Shubha Mudgal, Ursula Rucker, Business Class Refugees, EarthSync.