Arko Mukherjee, a trained North Indian classical singer and an urban folk artist from Calcutta, India, has been researching on the roots of Indian and Bengali folk and contemporary music.
One of the most unique vocalists from the independent folk music scene in India, Arko's high tenor and natural husk, is unique to the sub –continental world music scene. Formally trained in Indian classical music from his parents, Arko is equally versatile with European, African, Middle – eastern, American and Indian folk songs along with blues, soul and several tribal music forms from India and Bengal in particular, which is what gives all his collaborations and projects, a unique blend of the tradition and the modern. He sings in more than 15 different languages and has been travelling all over Europe, collaborating with several other musicians in France, England and Germany and has played in eminent music festivals in Europe. During his time in France for the past 4 years, Arko has been playing with French folk and gypsy jazz musicians and African traditional artists. As a result of his love and passion for the blues, he is one of the very few Indian artists to have been programmed for blues festivals in France. He has also been extensively touring in England and East Europe with his ethno electronic musical collaboration called Ashram.
Arko has incorporated the bluegrass soundscape into his Indo - Irish musical duo called Crossover with Anna Tanvir, an Irish Harp player, by collaborating with Ben Krakauer, a banjo and fiddle player from the United States and Diptanshu Roy, the only traditional bluegrass artist from India. Arko is the front man and founder member of a very popular independent folk outfit from Calcutta called Fiddler's Green, a Bengali folk band with the elements of bluegrass and Appalachian music along with Celtic, afro Cuban, Middle Eastern, Jewish and gypsy folk soundscape.
Arko also has a duo with Ritoban Das, an incredibly versatile percussionist, familiar with both Indian and Afro-cuban percussions. The duo along with Satyaki Banerjee, a phenomenal rabab, oud and dotara player and spiritual singer from Calcutta, form The Arko Mukherjee Collective, and have played together at the international sufi festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2015.
He is also a popular playback singer having sung in several films, soaps and serials in Bengal and has been nominated for music awards in India for some of the songs.
Over the past many years Arko has been researching on the roots of Indian folk music and it’s vast history, trying to build a bridge between European, African and American folk music with the essential root music forms of India. A documentary called Bhorsha Thakuk Bangla Gaane was made in 2014, in Bangladesh, on his stories of travelling with music, discussing the evolution of Bengali folk music for the last 4 centuries.
Along with being a singer Arko plays the Kazoo and the ukulele along with the guitar and harmonica. He has recorded and released albums with several other folk and electronic projects from India and Europe. He released his first solo Bengali folk album called Ghater Kotha in 2013. His new album FIVE is an experimental folk album, based on collaborations with musicians from India and around the world.
FIVE - an album by Arko Mukhaerjee
"FIVE" is about exploring Five folk music forms that has inspired Bengali traditional music over the last five decades, through five musical collaborations and presenting the songs in a modern contemporary organic soundscape of today..
The evolution of Bengali language and music has happened due to many reasons. Sometimes, it happened, as a result of a group of working class people or artists, consciously adapting to a cultural change due to an immigration oriented, religious or socio – cultural phenomenon. On the other hand in some traditional and tribal music forms of this land, we can find, an ancient inherent Jungian character sharing characteristic similarities with many other root music forms from across the world, which is also due to an ancient unknown story of human migration that can be dated back to the root of mankind and it’s necessity to move .
FIVE is five collaborations of Arko with five world musicians, forming five musical duos. Each one of these musicians have their own genres of expertise and have been professionally practicing their individual music internationally for many years. The album involves the use of folk instruments from different parts of the world. The traditional Irish Harp, the Rabab, the Dotara (a traditional Bengali Lute), the Nylon String Guitar, mixed Afro Cuban Percussions, the Dubki (a Bengali tribal Hand Drum), the Ukulele, the Banjolele and the traditional Bluegrass Mandolin.
Each collaboration is a chapter and the chapters are named as follows:
Two n Four (From Appalachia to the Ganges)
with Diptanshu Roy, India (Mandolin and Banjolele)
Gypsy (The Nomadic World)
with Yann Beaujouan, France (Guitar)
Irish (Ballads from the West)
with Anna Tanvir, Ireland (Harp)
Afro - Tribal(Searching for the Roots)
with Ritoban Das, India (Dubki and other tribal percussions from Indian and Afro-Cuban origins)
Middle - Eastern and Central Asian(The Cry of Persia)
with Satyaki Banerjee, India (Dotara, Rabab)