World Music

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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

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

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: 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

Jimi Tenor and Tony Allen: Inspiration Information 4 (Strut)

24 Jan 2010

The Flight of the Conchords’ astute parodies have spoiled some music for us -- and the opener here where Jimi Tenor oozes darkly “lean against the wall, I want to do it dancehall style with you baby . . . I got my tightest pants on” sounds so close to a Jemaine sleazy rap you’ll laugh aloud. That’s the intention, but hardly what you’d expect from legendary... > Read more

Jimi Tenor and Tony Allen: Path to Wisdom

Te Vaka: Haoloto (Spirit of Play)

24 Jan 2010

If the shadow of climate change has hung over previous albums by award-winning Te Vaka -- a pan-Pacific group (leader Opetaia Foa’i was born in Samoa, has family ties to endangered Tuvalu and grew up in Auckland‘s Tokelau community) -- then it is hard to hear some of this, their sixth album, without thinking of last year’s tsunami which is specifically the theme of the... > Read more

Te Vaka: Mana Malohi

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

4 Jan 2010

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... > Read more

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

17 Dec 2009    1

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... > Read more

Tinariwen: Tahult In

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

17 Dec 2009    1

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... > Read more

Speed Caravan: Galvanize

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

17 Dec 2009

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... > Read more

Staff Benda Bilili: Je t'aime

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

17 Dec 2009    1

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... > Read more

Jon Balke, Jon Hassell, Amina Alaoui: Ya Safwati

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

14 Dec 2009

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... > Read more

Pagadeja: Tamale

Various Artists: Panama!3 (Sound Way)

13 Dec 2009

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... > Read more

Lord Cobra: Colon Colon (1971)

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

7 Dec 2009

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... > Read more

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama el Hendy: Moonstone

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

29 Nov 2009    1

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... > Read more

Jacco Muller and Victor Ghannam: Luna Llena

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

26 Oct 2009

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... > Read more

Serge Gainsbourg: Ballad de Melody Nelson

Os Mutantes: Haih or Amortecedor (Anti)

21 Sep 2009

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... > Read more

Os Mutantes: Querida Querida

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

13 Sep 2009

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... > Read more

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

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

6 Sep 2009

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... > Read more

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama El Hendy: Ruby