Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

World Music

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OTTMAR LIEBERT INTERVIEWED (2006): A new age of flamenco

OTTMAR LIEBERT INTERVIEWED (2006): A new age of flamenco

Very few musicians can claim to have created a genre, but with his 1990 album Nouveau Flamenco, guitarist Ottmar Liebert did exactly that. Liebert’s hybrid style -- which existed somewhere between Spanish passion, classical melodicism and mellow New Age music -- spawned innumerable imitators and ensured this affable Santa Fe-based musician (who was born in Cologne to a Chinese-German... more >>

4 Jan 2010

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Tinariwen: Imidiwan:Companions (Filter CD/DVD)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Tinariwen: Imidiwan:Companions (Filter CD/DVD)

Alongside Etran Finitawa, Tinariwen out of north Africa have been in the vanguard of what the international music press has dubbed "Sahara blues" for their stinging guitars which seem to refer to Chicago '65 and the mesmerising rhythms which conjure up space and landscapes of the subsconscious. They are grounded but elevating. Their Amassakoul album was considered one of the... more >>

Tinariwen: Tahult In

17 Dec 2009    1

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Speed Caravan: Kalashnik Love (Real World/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Speed Caravan: Kalashnik Love (Real World/Southbound)

At last! When Elsewhere reviewed this thrilling album last year it was almost immediately deleted and people were demanding it, even more so after this group played at the Taranaki Womad where they were, not unexpectedly, a real highlight. Speed Caravan's Mehdi Haddab does for the oud what Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton did for the electric guitar: he expands the boundaries and... more >>

Speed Caravan: Galvanize

17 Dec 2009    1

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Staff Benda Bilili: Tres Tres Fort (Crammed/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Staff Benda Bilili: Tres Tres Fort (Crammed/Southbound)

Elsewhere has previously noted the surprising music which comes out of Kinshasa in the Congo, notably the Congotronics albums. But where that music hit a strange place somewhere around cheap electronic instruments alongside traditional thumb piano, odd chants and a production job that cost all of $2.50, this album is something very different again. The core of the band in question here are... more >>

Staff Benda Bilili: Je t'aime

17 Dec 2009

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Balke and Amina Alaoui: Siwan (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Balke and Amina Alaoui: Siwan (ECM/Ode)

This album fits squarely into Elsewhere, but perhaps in few other places. Not only does it feature Elsewhere favourite Jon Hassell on trumpet and electronic effects, but it has a swooning Arab North African quality (singer Amina Alaoui comes from Morocco), the poetic lyrics come from Sufi writers and the whole thing is beautifully, and emotionally, orchestrated by Jon Balke. With... more >>

Jon Balke, Jon Hassell, Amina Alaoui: Ya Safwati

17 Dec 2009    1

Various Artists: Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Ghanaian Blues 1968-81 (Sound Way)

Various Artists: Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Ghanaian Blues 1968-81 (Sound Way)

In the past few years there has been a remarakble rediscovery and re-issue of music out of various parts of Africa: Elsewhere has previously noted the comprehensive (and enjoyable) Funky Lagos collection, the early years of Fela Kuti collected on Lagos Baby, the Geraldo Pino compilation, the exceptional Authenticite compilation of artists from Guinea and many more. This collection (on the... more >>

Pagadeja: Tamale

14 Dec 2009

Various Artists: Panama!3 (Sound Way)

Various Artists: Panama!3 (Sound Way)

This third installment of this excellent and enjoyable on-going series of music pulled from old singles is subtitled "Calypso Panameno, Guajira Jazz and Cumbia Tipica on the Isthmus 1960-75". Even if you don't have a clue about those various styles (the liner notes are exceptionally helpful) you can still enjoy these warm sounds which are driven by horns and percussion, accordion... more >>

Lord Cobra: Colon Colon (1971)

13 Dec 2009

HOSSAM RAMZY INTERVIEWED (2004): Egypt's music ambassador

HOSSAM RAMZY INTERVIEWED (2004): Egypt's music ambassador

Hossam Ramzy, who has a home in England and an apartment in Cairo, is a hard man to pin down. The first call is to the British office where the Egyptian composer and percussionist is supposed to be. No, he's flying right now but you could try him on his cellphone in two days at noon, his time. Fine, that's 10pm here, so the call goes through - and the racket from the other end... more >>

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama el Hendy: Moonstone

7 Dec 2009

Jacco Muller and Victor Ghannam: Viento del Desierto (Mihrab)

Jacco Muller and Victor Ghannam: Viento del Desierto (Mihrab)

This exotic blend of flamenco guitar and oud alternates between the thrilling and the exotic, and succeeds on both counts. Libertad, driven by urgent clapping and with the vocals of Doris Farhat keening and soaring, is a standout. It is the last track and the journey to it is utterly rewarding.  Muller (from the Netherlands originally) brings a rich, deep and dramatic tone to... more >>

Jacco Muller and Victor Ghannam: Luna Llena

29 Nov 2009    1

Serge Gainsbourg: Histoire de Melody Nelson (LightintheAttic/Rhythmethod)

Serge Gainsbourg: Histoire de Melody Nelson (LightintheAttic/Rhythmethod)

As with the great Jacques Brel, there is no easy shorthand into the French singer, songwriter, actor and cultural icon that was Serge Gainsbourg (1928-91). Gainsbourg -- much revered in France by many -- was undoubtably a roue and in these rather more sensitive times many would doubtless disapprove of his serial sexual encounters, love of young women, heroic smoking and drinking, and many... more >>

Serge Gainsbourg: Ballad de Melody Nelson

26 Oct 2009

Os Mutantes: Haih or Amortecedor (Anti)

Os Mutantes: Haih or Amortecedor (Anti)

This isn't quite the same Os Mutantes that was one of the seminal bands in the Brazilian tropicalia rcok'n'roll revolutionary movement of the late Sixties (members departed, the band broke up in the late Seventies) but it is a pretty good facsimile, and does include founder member Sergio Dias who here collaborates with the great Tom Ze and hauls in a hot young band. The original Os Mutantes... more >>

Os Mutantes: Querida Querida

21 Sep 2009

Bapi Das Baul: Sufi Baul; Madness and Happiness (Arc)

Bapi Das Baul: Sufi Baul; Madness and Happiness (Arc)

Perhaps the only Sufi musician many are familiar with is the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but his uplifting, sky-scaling vocals and the joyous spiritual elevation of his music might recommend this one. Let's hope so. Bapi Das Baul is of the itinerant Baul tradition whose people follow a kind of divinely ecstatic madness and celebration of the spiritual in all aspects of life. So the... more >>

Bapi Das Baul: Betha Dio Na (Free Love and Soul)

13 Sep 2009

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama El Hendy: Ruby (ARC Music)

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama El Hendy: Ruby (ARC Music)

Said it before but will say it again: you should never judge a bellydance album by its cover.  You should look for a name like Hossam Ramzy and consider that a hallmark of quality. The man is genius and also astonishingly prolific as a writer and performer. This time out the percussionist pairs up with multi-instrumentalist El Hendy (keyboards, accordion, bass) to lead the small and... more >>

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama El Hendy: Ruby

6 Sep 2009

Federico Aubele: Amatoria (Border)

Federico Aubele: Amatoria (Border)

This New York-based Argentinean singer-songwriter goes straight for the heart with barely sung ballads which ride gentle electronica soundbeds and acoustic guitars, with soft vocals (and some lady guests). It sounds lightweight to the point of vapid to my ears, and I dislike this as much as I did his Panamericana album of a couple of years back which I never even bothered with at Elsewhere.... more >>

Federico Aubele: Este Amor

6 Sep 2009    1

Vayo: Tango (Pantaleon)

Vayo: Tango (Pantaleon)

Every journalist-cum-travel writer who goes to Argentina writes about the seduction of tango, the sensual poetry of the dance and so on. To be honest, having been there, it's hard not to. Like Venice and gondolas, Buenos Aires and tango just go together and invite words. But fewer people write about the music of tango (as opposed to the dance), and for me who had dance beaten out of him... more >>

Vayo: Nunca me Amo (She Never Loved Me)

30 Aug 2009    1

Titi Robin: Kali Sultana (Filter/Shock)

Titi Robin: Kali Sultana (Filter/Shock)

Surprisingly, this French multi-instrumentalist (oud, guitar, anything with strings) hasn't previously appeared at Elsewhere, largely because his albums are in woefully short supply in New Zealand. Pity, he's huge in Europe for his inclusive approach which means he brings together North African styles with gypsy music, flamenco with Middle Eastern, Breton folk with  . . . You get the... more >>

Titi Robin: Un rubis du Yemen

30 Aug 2009

Various: Panama! 2 (Sound Way)

Various: Panama! 2 (Sound Way)

The geographical location of Panama is probably clue enough to second guess the sounds on this collection of late Sixties to late Seventies material: Panama has as its neighbours the Caribbean and Latin America, and each of those vast and musically diverse regions felt the influence of Spanish, Portuguese and African musics. And of course Panama could hardly be immune to the pop, soul and... more >>

Sir Jablonsky: Juck Juck Part 1

3 Aug 2009

SERGIO MENDES INTERVIEWED (2006): The return of the cool and the kitsch

SERGIO MENDES INTERVIEWED (2006): The return of the cool and the kitsch

If you need further proof that you should go through your parents‘ and grandparents‘ old records it’s the current revival of Sixties hitmaker Sergio Mendes. The pop career of Brazilian-born Mendes, now 65, effectively ended in the mid Seventies. Yes, he kept touring and scored a rare revival with his Grammy-winning Brasileiro album in ‘92, but the man who epitomised... more >>

Sergio Mendes:Let Me (with Jill Scott and will.i.am)

12 Jul 2009

The Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band: Polkapocalypse (Monkey)

The Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band: Polkapocalypse (Monkey)

The problem with playing certain kinds of folk music -- Jewish klezmer, polka and gypsy music come to mind -- is that it can too easily fall into the area of parody and ridicule, albeit unintentionally, if that isn't your culture. Roots Americana is internationally transferable because musicians can put in their own concerns in the lyrics. But polka, gypsy music etc if not your culture... more >>

The Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band: Dark Eyes

15 May 2009

Rokia Traore: Tchamantche (Lateral Note/Southbound)

Rokia Traore: Tchamantche (Lateral Note/Southbound)

You don't have to have spent too long with world music to come across the deep well of talent out of Mali, much of which has appeared at Elsewhere: the late Ali Farka Toure and his son Vieux, Toumani Diabate, Salif Keita, the very popular Amadou and Miriam and many more. And if you didn't already know this remarkable singer you can add her to that long list. Born in Mali, educated in... more >>

Rokia Traore: Aimer

15 May 2009