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ETRAN FINATAWA INTERVIEWED (2006): From sands to stadiums

ETRAN FINATAWA INTERVIEWED (2006): From sands to stadiums

Etran Finatawa have band members from two nomadic groups from around Niger, and play music which sounds like the raw electric blues from Chicago in the Fifties and Sixties. Their electrifying music is tough, but full of yearning. It may have a hypnotic quality which conjures up the open spaces of their region, but it also rocks mightily....

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Steps Ahead (Strut)

This transplanted jazz musician from Ethiopia (vibes/keyboards) has been one of the major (re)discoveries of the past few years. His ascent continues on this album which drifts to life on the airy, almost ambient opener where muted trumpet pokes over long and languid horn lines to create a post-Kind of Blue dreamscape. Then it springs up a...

Rango: Bride of the Zar (30IPS/Southbound)

Rango: Bride of the Zar (30IPS/Southbound)

Just as pop and rock suddenly throws up new cover stars, so too in world music -- and Rango out of Egypt by way of the Sudan with their spiritual trance sound, odd-looking and strangely tuned wooden xylophone (the rango), driving percussion and music which rises to states of ecstasy are the latest off the block. There is no denying the...

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 2 (Strut)

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 2 (Strut)

Following on from the recent and pretty cool Next Stop Soweto (volume one, obviously) comes this even better collection, this subtitled "soul, funk and organ grooves from the townships 1969-76". This is a steamy collection of 22 tracks -- many of them with some real guitar sting as much as funky grooves. In fact when the...

King Sunny Ade: Synchro System (1983)

King Sunny Ade: Synchro System (1983)

Given the long (and often shameful) history Britain has had with various parts of Africa from colonial times, it comes as a surprise that this album -- from 1983 no less -- was the first pop album to be recorded by an African musician in London. In the early Eighties there was surge of interest by the UK music press in certain African...

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 3; Giants, Ministers and Makers (Strut)

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 3; Giants, Ministers and Makers (Strut)

Subtitled "Jazz in South Africa 1963-1984" this is the third volume in the excellent Strut excavation of crucial SA music which has previously picked up Township jive music and mad funk/psychedelic sounds. This collection is the least of three: the improvisations often sound constrained, in other places where the players let go...

Mamadou Diabate: Courage (World Village)

Mamadou Diabate: Courage (World Village)

As the son of kora player N'fa Diabate who was a founder of the Instrumental Ensemble of Mali and with the great Toumani Diabate as a cousin, Mamadou was born to play the kora. For this, his fifth album -- it follows his previous Douga Mansa which won the '09 Grammy for Best Traditional World Music album and his second album Behmanka which...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Fatoumata Diawara: Fatou (World Circuit)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Fatoumata Diawara: Fatou (World Circuit)

Yet another artist out of Mali who confirms that country -- alongside only Jamaica perhaps -- seems to have more gifted and distinctive performers per head of population than any other country on the planet. This debut from the ear-pleasing, hypnotically melodic and folk-framed Diawara is given subtle, warm and clean studio production by...

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