World Music

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IMAGINING AFRICA IN THE SIXTIES: The Soul of Africa album considered

2 Aug 2010

Funny how “African music” has been perceived, adapted and mis-represented down the decades, innit? That’s not to say Bengt Berger and the other musicians from Stockholm who recorded Bitter Funeral Beer for ECM in the early 80s didn’t come up with something interesting when they used the voices and rhythms of Ghanaian people. Or that Talking Heads, Ginger Baker, Paul... > Read more

Afrobeast: Yaaba Funk (Sterns/Southbound)

12 Jul 2010

Here's a true meltdown of many African styles from a multi-culti/multi-continent group from Brixton which pulls together juju guitars and a horn section, brings in some rolling Afrobeat percussion of the old style and deliver the brew with a dose of palm wine warmth and Ghanaian highlife. Purists may bemoan the all-in collision of sounds but it works and hits head, heart and feet... > Read more

Afrobeast: Bukom Mashie

Various Artists: Next Stop Soweto Vol 2 (Strut)

6 Jul 2010

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 Monks kick in with Blockhead (the sample track here)... > Read more

The Monks: Blockhead

TEN SONGS WHICH CONJURE UP A MYTHICAL PACIFIC: From Blue Hawaii to the mean streets of urban Auckland

28 Jun 2010

Auckland, the city with the largest Polynesian population in the world, has an annual Pasifika Festival to celebrate this cultural diversity. But the songs picked here conjure up a mythical Pacific, the one of palm trees waving in the wind on a white sand beach, waves lapping on the side of the outrigger, lands where beautiful maidens and handsome men . . . You get the picture. Tune in,... > Read more

Bill Sevesi: Blue Moana

Various Artists: Afro-Rock Volume One (Strut)

27 Jun 2010

This 12-song compilation pulls together rare and unreleased Afro-beat from the likes of the pre-Fela star Geraldo Pino from Sierra Leone (with Heavy Heavy Heavy) to the 12-minute rolling, organ-driven groove of Yuda from Dackin Dackino and the explosive, dirty funk of Das Yahoos (Booker T taking a trip) and the Booker Band (with slippery harmonica). This is Afro-beat meets American... > Read more

Mercury Dance Band: Envy No Good

Etoile De Dakar: Once Upon a Time in Senegal (Sterns/Southbound)

27 Jun 2010

There is not exactly a shortage of collections of African music from the Sixties and Seventies these days: Fela is well covered so are the rumba scene out of Zaire, the Rail Band from Mali, the Syliphone label from Guinea, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Geraldo Pino, Congotronics from Kinshasa, Soweto township jive, high-life . . . If you can't afford the 10 CD set of Etoile De Dakar (through Sterns),... > Read more

Etoile De Dakar: Kine Kine

The Ipanemas: Que Beleza (Far Out/Southbound)

21 Jun 2010    1

The wonderful old Ipanemas (Wilson Das Neves and guitarist Neco) last appeared at Elsewhere two years ago with their Call of the Gods album, and at that time I wondered why they hadn't taken off in the manner of Cuba's famous Buena Vista Social Club because so many elements were the same: seasoned old musicians playing from the heart; wonderfully warm and exotic music; slippery rhythms and... > Read more

The Ipanemas: Passa o Ponto

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB in concert, review: Music, myth and marketing in Melbourne (2001)

21 Jun 2010

The old man looks desperately frail, shuffling as if each step could be his last. But as he is helped the few metres from the wings of the stage to the piano, each faltering footfall is accompanied by a deafening roar of applause and a standing ovation. The footstamping and clapping subsides, the band kicks in and Ruben Gonzalez starts to play.He may be fragile, but at 82 there is a direct... > Read more

Sarazino: Ya Foy! (Cumbancha)

20 Jun 2010

Singer, songwriter and producer Lamine Fellah (aka Sarazino) is a true child of the global village: born in Algeria, the son of a diplomat he lived with his family in Spain, Switzerland, Burundi and Burkina Faso; later studied in Montreal where he made music in various bands; and in '96 moved to Quito in Ecuador. Lucky him, you might say.  And for this melange of styles –... > Read more

Sarazino: Nadia

ANOUSHKA SHANKAR INTERVIEWED (2008): Never in the shadow

14 Jun 2010

As two Lennons and any number of Marleys might tell you, it isn’t easy carrying the name of a famous musician father, especially if you want a career in the business yourself. Certainly doors may open that otherwise wouldn’t -- but because of that critics and the public often treat your career with some scepticism, you have to grow up musically in public, and your best work will... > Read more

ETRAN FINATAWA INTERVIEWED (2006): From sands to stadiums

8 Jun 2010

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. Their debut album Introducing Etran Finatawa stormed... > Read more

Etran Finatawa: Iledeman

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

1 Jun 2010

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 danceable quality of this exciting music and the... > Read more

Rango: Henna Night

Paban Das Baul: Music of the Honey Gatherers (World Music Network/Southbound)

24 May 2010

The music of the itinerant Bauls of Bengal has only made a brief appearance at Elsewhere previously (the album by Bapi Das Baul here) but its uplifting spiritual quality in pop-sized bites (it is often improvised, but on CD nothing stretches much longer than Hey Jude or Stairway to Heaven) which makes it appealing on a number of fronts. Paban Das Baul has been quite the ambassador for this... > Read more

Paban Das Baul: Prem Katha Ti Shunte Bhalo

Various Artists: Rumba Blues (Rhythm and Blues Records/Southbound)

20 May 2010

From the same label which has brought the superb 4-CD sets of rhythm and blues (here) comes this equally excellent 26-song collection of post-war material which had soaked in a Latin rumba-shuffle influence. And when you look at who is here, that influence was considerable and across a wide range of artists: T-Bone Walker; the Johnny Otis Orchestra; Lowell Fulson; r'n'b legend Big Mama... > Read more

Fats Domino: Mardi Gras in New Orleans (1949)

YUNGCHEN LHAMO INTERVIEWED (1999): The singer as national emblem

10 May 2010

When this interview appeared in 1999 I was subject to some interesting passive-aggressive communications from people purporting to be sympathisers with the Free Tibet cause who suggested that what I had written about Tibet before the Chinese was "unhelpful". I pointed out it was however, the truth . . . In the thorough and informative Rough Guide to World Music, Tibetan... > Read more

Yungchen Lhamo: Om Mani Padme Hunge Hung

Francoise Hardy: La Pluie Sans Parapluie (Virgin)

10 May 2010    1

At first glance this might just seem to be one for those who knew the title meant "Rain Without an Umbrella" or just want a bit of that breathy chanteuse mood music for dinner parties. But if you are in the latter camp you will be a little surprised: although this certainly has reflective ballads over piano and soft strings, Hardy's vocals are more prominent than mere background... > Read more

Francoise Hardy: Noir sur blanc

Gotan Project: Tango 3.0 (XL)

9 May 2010    1

After their double live of 18 months ago some might have thought this slippery trio (and guests) who have made tango-cool albums a life-style accessories would have exhausted their self-invented genre. And while this album is no huge re-invention for those who are ho-hum about them (this writer), the dub elements, more pronounced tango-noir and slippery horn parts discreetly elevate... > Read more

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

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

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