World Music

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The Creole Choir of Cuba: Tande-la (Real World/Southbound)

28 Nov 2010

Already tipped to be one of the highlights at next year's New Zealand Womad in Taranaki, this choir of Haitian ancestry certainly sing up a powerful sentiment (see clip). But this isn't an easy album: Cuban creole (a meltdown of French, various words and phrases from African languages and some other seasoning thrown in) means whatever they are singing isn't going to easily understood. If... > Read more

The Creole Choir of Cuba: Lumane Casimir

PROFESSOR BYUNGKI HWANG INTERVIEWED (2008): The Korean master musician at home

21 Nov 2010    2

In Seoul, the vibrant capital of South Korea the old and new, the raw and polished, frequently rub together in odd juxtapositions. So a butcher’s shop with pig trotters on the wet floor is perhaps to be expected in the suburban street where the country’s most famous musician lives. At 72, Byungki Hwang is Korea’s leading player of the traditional gayageum -- a unique... > Read more

Byungki Hwang: Sounds of the Night Part 4, from the album Kayagum Masterpieces, 2001

Tom Ze: Estudando a Bossa; Nordeste Plaza (Luaka Bop)

7 Nov 2010

Tom Ze was one of the stars of Brazil's Tropicalia movement in the late Sixties and his edgy music and approaches to song structure and instrumentation was collected by David Byrne for the Best of Tom Ze album on Byrne's Luaka Bop label in 1990. It was quite exceptional (Ze used household appliances like a blender and vacuum cleaners to get certain sounds), and lead to a subsequent volume... > Read more

Tom Ze and David Byrne: Outra Insensatez, Poe

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

7 Nov 2010

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 they invite comparisons with their American peers... > Read more

Allen Kwela Octet: Question Mark

CARLOS GARDEL: The voice of Argentina

7 Nov 2010

Just as there is no English-language equivalent of Jacques Brel (suggestions anyone?) or Edith Piaf, so there is no equivalent to Carlos Gardel (1890-1935) who became the voice of Argentinean folk-tango. At a guess we might say Gardel was akin to an implosion Irving Berlin/Lennon-McCartney/Hank Williams with a touch of (unhelpfully) Brel and Piaf. Although the facts of his birth are... > Read more

Carlos Gardel: Mano a mano

SHANGHAI LOUNGE DIVAS: The old world into the new

23 Oct 2010    1

Shanghai has always been China's hotspot, the most cosmopolitan of cities in that vast and diverse country. In the Twenties and Thirties the place was awash with jazz, blues and international pop thanks to the international community, and that rubbed alongside the local folk, Mandarin pop and opera. At one time there were 30 radio stations in Shanghai and nightclubs were everywhere. The... > Read more

The Wandering Songstress (2003 remix)

Cheikh Lo: Jamm (World Circuit)

11 Oct 2010

This inventive singer, writer and arranger from Senegal hasn't appeared at Elsewhere since is wonderful Lamp Fall on '06 at which time I observed he was like a Paul Simon from an alternative universe: he assimilates and explores musical styles and genres to create something his own. This even better album -- cleanly produced by Nick Gold and Lo, and only Lo's fourth in 16 years -- is all of... > Read more

Cheikh Lo: Il N'est Jamais Trop Tard

Various Artists: Anywhere on the Road (Warners)

11 Oct 2010    1

As many Elsewhere readers would be aware, the late English radio DJ Charlie Gillett hosted important weekly radio shows over the decades which pulled music from around the planet: World Music from Elsewhere in other words? This double disc collection -- ideal for a long drive or a late afternoon I have to say -- picks up a considerable number of artists who have appeared at Elsewhere, among... > Read more

Kottarashky: Manda (Bulgaria)

NELLY OMAR: The restless soul of Argentina

11 Oct 2010

Sometimes it is possible to feel some sympathy for the aging Rolling Stones, and not because they are aging -- but because that has become an issue. It must be extremely tedious for Jagger, Richards, Watts and Wood to see in just about every article written their ages added up to some collective number, as if that had something to do with their ability to make music. In many cultures... > Read more

Nelly Omar: Veijo Jardin

Natacha Atlas: Mounqaliba/In a State of Reversal (World Village)

10 Oct 2010

This great interpreter of Arabic music has made a number of appearances at Elsewhere for her sinuous voice and often remarkable songs. She could hold her own with TransGobal Undergrounds in the electronica-beat-driven world music end of the spectrum but her more traditional albums were much more persuasive. This time out she goes for a broad conceptual piece with a large Turkish ensemble... > Read more

Natacha Atlas: Batkallim

Various Artists: Cumbia Beat Vol 1 (Vampi Soul/Southbound)

4 Oct 2010    1

This double-disc -- with fat multilingual booklet and period photos of bands and chintzy album covers -- pulls together 25 intrumental tracks from the Sixties and Seventies by Peruvian guitar pop bands who bring traditional percussion backbeats to their slightlydelic pop and proto-rock. There is cool guitar jangle and sharp playing (think Telstar with funky congas) and you'll perhaps want to... > Read more

Los Sander's de Nana: El Tramboyito (1972)

HUONG THANH AND NGUYEN LE: Fragile Beauty reviewed (2008)

4 Oct 2010

These days world music compilations are pretty thick on the ground -- largely because they have been thrown there by disillusioned buyers who thought they might be getting a decent collection but discovered some lazily cobbled-together Thailand-lite or Indo-groove tracks which commit that most grave of sins: they are boring. The high profile Putumayo label has been churning out such... > Read more

Huong Than and Nguyen Le: Rowing the Sampan

Various Artists: Rhythms del Mundo, Revival (Ape)

3 Oct 2010    1

After the Buena Vista Social Club alerted the planet to great old, and largely forgotten, musicians in Cuba – and of course the beguiling rhythms of that small island – it was open season on catalogue exploitation for major record companies, many of whom suddenly discovered they had Cuban bands on their books from decades before the American cultural boycott. Rubbish... > Read more

Wyclef Jean: Stayin' Alive

Nour Eddine: Morocco; Traditional Songs and Music (Arc)

3 Oct 2010

The propulsive, rhythmic music of the Gnawa in North Africa has been surreptitiously infiltrating Western ears through the likes of Bill Laswell and his world music meltdowns with jazz and de facto "rock" musicians on the Axiom label. Here the oud, guitar and percussion player Nour Eddine -- with some young musicians from the Maghreb -- offers music from rituals designed to... > Read more

Nour Eddine: J'bel

1 GIANT LEAP'S DUNCAN BRIDGEMAN INTERVIEWED (2008): Into the great wide open

20 Sep 2010    1

A few drinks and late afternoon pre-dinner nibbles in an Auckland bar with London-based, world music-inclusive musician Duncan Bridgeman of 1 Giant Leap means a free ranging conversation: American politics; how the Western world unforgivably medicates its young (especially teenage boys); Maori moko; 70s prog-rock (he likes the voice of Yes frontman Jon Anderson, and that lapse in taste... > Read more

1 Giant Leap: How Can I Be a Better Friend to You?

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Desert Blues (Rough Guide/Southbound)

19 Sep 2010    1

Elsewhere has long advanced the case for the thrilling music which comes out of the sub-Sahara and is driven by barbed-wire guitars and passionate vocals. This collection pulls together all the big names so merely listing them with the internal link to their albums at Elsewhere (which have sample tracks) should do the business. Here is your journey into a music which will just drag you... > Read more

Malouma: Yarab

SUSAN AGLUKARK INTERVIEWED (1995): Inuit into the mainstream

18 Sep 2010

It is 1995 and Susan Aglukark is speculating on how she’d like to see herself in five years; married certainly (she and her boyfriend have talked about it), a lot of children, learn to fly, go to law school . . . Making music doesn't come into it? "Oops," she laughs and glances guiltily around the record-company office where she is sitting doing promotional work for... > Read more

Susan Aglukark: O Siem

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of Afghanistan (RG/Southbound)

5 Sep 2010    1

Although it would take an expert in this field to say whether this 15 track collection (with a bonus disc of mesmerising music by Ahmad Sham's qawwali group) is a fair overview, you can't help but get caught up in the swirling pop, evocative instrumentals and often quite thrilling Afghani "rock" on display. Clearly much of this music isn't Taliban-approved because some of the... > Read more

Farhad Darya: Salaamalek

Doug Cox and Salil Bhatt: Slide to Freedom 2 (Northern Blues)

5 Sep 2010

Slide guitarist Cox from Canada and Indian veena player Bhatt appeared at Elsewhere a couple of years back with the first of their Indo-blues crossover albums, Slide to Freedom. And Cox reappeared with a fine compilation album Without Words of some of his instrumentals. For this sequel to Slide to Freedom, he and Bhatt have brought in New Orleans singer John Boutte whose soulful and... > Read more

Dog Cox and Salil Bhatt: Blessings

ITALIAN POP AND ROCK: Searching for the young soul rebels

1 Sep 2010

Let’s be honest, Italian opera might be wonderfully transcendent -- despite Oasis’ Noel Gallagher dismissing Placido, Carreras and the Big Pav as “three fat blokes shouting” -- but Italian pop/rock hasn’t made it internationally. A book entitled Famous Italian Bands would be slim indeed -- and wisely not include the unfortunately-named Shampoo who did... > Read more

Shampoo: Nowhere Man