World Music

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Tamikrest: Adagh (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

3 May 2010

As we know, for every breakthrough band there are a dozen or more who can successfully coattail. Tamikrest come from the same area -- geographical and musical -- as the great Tinariwan and Etra Finatawa so create a kind of hypnotic desert blues . But where their two predecessors have established a genre and staked out territory within it, the younger Tamikrest expand the parameters by... > Read more

Tamikrest: Alhoriya

Jah Wobble and the Nippon Dub Ensemble (30 Hertz/Southbound)

3 May 2010

Because Japanese folk tends to be elegantly austere and melodically understated you could think there's not a lot to flute, koto and percussion that could be done by way of dub. But that would be to underestimate world music explorer Jah Wobble who previously delivered an exceptional -- and unexpected -- album of Chinese dub. Here with a small ensemble of Japanese and Western musicians on... > Read more

Jah Wobble/Nippon Dub Ensemble: Cherry Blossom of my Youth

Dirt Music: BKO (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

3 May 2010

In a way this album was inevitable -- although has come from an unexpected source. The whole "Sahara Blues" style of Etran Finatawa, Tinariwen and more recently Tamikrest has always lent itself to being brought to wider attention by collaborations with European musicians. The co-joining of Anglo-alt.folkers Tuung with Tinariwen was unusual -- and so is this: BKO is the... > Read more

Dirt Music: All Tomorrow's Parties

Pacific Curls: Te Kore (Ode)

2 May 2010

The previous album, Pacifi Celta, by this increasingly interesting trio of singer, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Kim Halliday, singer/percussionist Ora Barlow and fiddle player Sarah Beattie lifted them right out of that special corner of te reo-cum-folk/women's music where they could have languished away from more mainstream attention. Pacifi Celtic merged Pasifika music with Celtic folk... > Read more

Pacific Curls: Kalimba Trance 2

Alex Malheiros and Banda Utopia: The Wave (Far Out/Southbound)

2 May 2010

The exciting reissue/remake of Sabrina Malheiros' album New Morning recently should set many listeners up for this one by her father Alex and his jazzy band, and which features Sabrina on five tracks -- and, as with her album, comes here with some remix and dub versions, which show again how flexible and malleable this suple bossa-groove sound can be. AS mentioned about Sabrina's album --... > Read more

Alex and Sabrina Malheiros: Sem Presse

Sabrina Malheiros: New Morning; Deluxe Edition (Far Out/Southbound)

26 Apr 2010    1

Regular readers of Elsewhere will know that not too much of that self-satisfied, cooler-than-you, breathy bossa gets a look in. It bores me witless. But here is an exception: this is cool for sure, but it also swings, Malheiros has a voice of depth and flexibility, and the backing musicians are superb jazz players who come at the music from interesting angles. This is a rejigged and... > Read more

Sabrina Malheiros: Connexao

The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder: San Patricio (Universal)

18 Apr 2010

Here's something we don't hear as often as we used to: a concept album with guest stars and telling a historical story – in this case the Irish Catholics migrant soldiers who deserted from the predominantly Protestant US army during the Mexican-American war and sided with the Mexicans. The San Patricio Battalion actually contained a multi-cultural crew but Paddy Moloney of... > Read more

The Chieftains with Ry Cooder: A La Orilla de un Palmar (with Linda Ronstadt)

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars:Rise and Shine (Cumbancha/Ode)

12 Apr 2010

These guys certainly have a great back-story: in six years they went from languishing in a refugee camp, through being the subject of a doco (see clip below) to Oprah. They appeared on the Blood Diamond soundtrack, their self-titled debut album won widespread praise and for this one they went to New Orleans and recorded with producer Steve Berlin (of Los Lobos) as well as some local horn... > Read more

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars: Dununya

Kamel El Harrachi: Ghana Fenou (Mosaic/Ode)

11 Apr 2010

By coincidence Elsewhere here acknowledges the son of another music master in the same week as we pick up the album by Jakob Dylan. Kamel El Harrachi is the Paris-based son of the late oud player/singer Dahmane El Harrachi from Algeria and this is his tribute on the 30th anniversary of his father's death. Singer/oud player Kamel has a powerful and gutteral voice but on the lighter... > Read more

Kamel El Harrachi: Hyati Maak

Mahala Rai Banda: Ghetto Blasters (Asphalt Tango/Southbound)

2 Apr 2010

Okay, definitely not for every taste but here is clubland, rocked up Gypsy music from Bucharest driven by a brassy horn section and hefty backbeats, and fronted by singer/composer/violinist Ionita Aurel. At times it sounds as much mad Mexican as Balkan and when guest voclaists Jony Iliev and Tato Garcia come in on Solo Part Ti there is an almost dangerous passion brought to bear. So... > Read more

Mahala Rai Banda: Balada

Sa Dingding: Harmony (Go East)

29 Mar 2010

The debut album Alive of two years ago by this photogenic Chinese singer was a mish-mash of electro-pop, slightly twee vocals, Chinese folk, new age blandness and deadening over-production. This new album however -- while still mining electro-pop and again putting traditional instruments alongside synths -- is a much more interesting item. The opener -- a crunching Ha Ha Li Li with odd... > Read more

Sa Dingding: Lucky Day

Various: Masters of Indian Classical Music Vol II (Arc)

28 Mar 2010

With the recent appearance of Ravi Shankar (with his daughter Anoushka) at the arts festival in Wellington, there may be some interest in an album such as this: a well annotated double disc which includes the greatest names in Indian classical music, among them sitar player Shankar, the master of the shehnai (a brusque oboe-like instrument) Bismillah Khan, tabla genius Zakir Hussain, sarangi (a... > Read more

Ravi Shankar: Mishra Ghara Dhun


21 Mar 2010

As the century closes it's interesting to look back on how the West has briefly adopted music from other cultures - Indian musics, for example. Where once these long traditions were confined to ethnomusicology departments of universities, they crept into Western consciousness through jazz musicians such as Jamaica-born British saxophonist Joe Harriott and American saxophonist John... > Read more

Trilok Gurtu: Manani (with Joe Zawinul, Pat Metheny and others, 1993)

Various: Next Stop . . . Soweto (Strut/Border)

21 Mar 2010

Subtitled "Township Sounds from the Golden Age of Mbaqanga" this lively, groove-oriented and guitar jangle collection of 20 songs comes from Strut, the same label which has brought you various Nigerian and Ethiopiques collections -- as well as the terrific Mulatu Astatke album and the Inspiration Information series. This is the first volume of a promised three in which they scoop... > Read more

The Big Four: Wenzani Umoya

Kailash Kher and Kailasa: Yatra /Nomadic Souls (Cumbancha)

17 Mar 2010

If the sound of Indian (Bollywood) playback singers or Indo-pop has never made much sense to you then you are directed to the thrilling soundtrack to the film Cash (video clip here) or maybe this very Western-framed album by one of the country's biggest stars. Kher has become something of singing superstar (it would be fair to observe he didn't get there on his looks) and he has one of... > Read more

Kailash Kher and Kailasa: Turiya Turiya

Nortec Collective: Tijuana Sound Machine (Nacional/Southbound)

8 Mar 2010    2

Often things just turn up unexpectedly at Elsewhere and this album from Tijuana's electronica outfit Nortec (a neoligism from Norteno and Techno), was certainly unexpected. It came out almost two years ago. The NC keep things very simple -- beats, samples, melodies -- and that is part of the charm: think back to the roots of hip-hop or electronica and remember how elemental things were.... > Read more

Nortec Collective: Rosarito

Angelique Kidjo: Oyo (Razor and Tie/Shock)

28 Feb 2010

When singer Kidjo from Benin emerged in the early Nineties it seemed to me she got more mileage than she deserved, largely on the back of her story and looks rather than the music. Her early albums prior to and including Aye ('94?) really did nothing for me and so I tuned out for a while. But then it became increasingly clear that Kidjo was no world music/folklorist/cover girl and her... > Read more

Angelique Kidjo: Dil Main Chuppa Ke Pyar Ka

Various Artists: Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura (Brownswood/Soutbound)

28 Feb 2010

The global success of Buena Vista Social Club a decade ago meant some presumed the group represented the sound of Cuba -- and that shut out any notion there might be vibrant young players (or even hip-hop) in that land of cigars, old cars and benign, soft-focus images.  Here itinerant UK DJ Peterson helps correct that misconception and presents a double disc of contemporary music by... > Read more

Havana Cultura Band: Arroz Con Pollo

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic (Cartell)

13 Feb 2010

Another year, another compilation to accompany the Alliance Francaise Film Festival -- and a chance for an overview of chic music out of France. Big names here are Charlotte Gainsbourg with the electro-title track of her new IRM album, Nouvelle Vague (a previously unreleased version of Fad Gadget's Under the Flag), Rachid Taha (in rather restrained fashion) and Vanessa Paradis.... > Read more

Lilicub: La Belle Vie

Niko Ne Zna: Niko Ne Zna EP (Monkey)

29 Jan 2010    2

The interest in good time "gypsy" music continues after the success of the Benka Borodovsky Bordello Band (with whose style I had some problem). This outfit from Wellington -- sax, trumpet, trombone, sousaphone, accordion and percussion -- work similar oompa/mad dancing/immediately familiar folk-framed tunes and by not having a vocalist this is straight to the dancefloor with no... > Read more

Niko Ne Zna: Mere