World Music

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WOMAD NEW ZEALAND 2013: When the world comes to town

1 Nov 2012    1

Time for all good citizens of the global village to get their passports stamped at yet another Womad New Zealand, once more in the beautiful site at Taranaki, New Zealand. Over three days in March 2013 (15 - 17), musicians and performers from all parts of the globe will bring their music and culture to entertain, illuminate and thrill those looking for something just a bit different, new... > Read more

Many Rivers to Cross

Staff Benda Bilili: Bouger le Monde (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

29 Oct 2012    1

Recently while looking out music for a DJ night of African music I played dozens of tracks at home back-to-back searching for the best sounds . . . and one thing became very clear. Most of this stuff would drive people crazy and I'd get booted out the bar. The relentless chant-sing style of so much of what I played at home became off-putting even to me, and I like this stuff . . . so I... > Read more

Ne me quitte pas

Mucca Pazza: Safety Fifth (

28 Oct 2012

What with the funky lineage out of New Orleans, the woozy sound of the late Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy and the likes of the free-wheeling Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the ground has been well prepared for this big band (like HBE, from Chicago). These heretics throw funk, rock, avant-garde jazz, imagined movie themes, a smattering of world music (tango in the house!) and a dozen different... > Read more

Sexy Bull

Victor Ghannam and Jacco Muller: Palace of Dreams

22 Oct 2012

Regrettably like the proverbial curate's egg, this is good in parts. But then again, too few to mention.  Following their Viento del Desierto collaboration in 2009, Dutch flamenco guitarist Muller again teams up with oud player Ghannam. And on paper this looks an even more daring bridging of cultures and styles which brings in electric guitar, tabla drums, synth-strings and... > Read more

Old Snake Boots

Vusa Mkhaya: Vocalism (Arc)

17 Oct 2012

The recent Paul Simon concerts and reissue of Graceland doubtless reminded many of the vocal power of the great South African ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo who were on that album and Simon's subsequent tours. If you yearn for an artist who can hit the middle ground between Mambazo, genius juju guitarist King Sunny Ade and a kind of fine-grain sandpaper soul style, then Vusa Mkhaya... > Read more


Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang: En Yay Sah (Luaka Bop/Southbound)

11 Oct 2012

This excitingly duffed-up world beat/low-rent psychedelic rock has a wild urban pedigree which comes through in its stupidly different but absolutely addictive Afro-meets-Manhattan groove. Juju goes downtown NYC via an old school Yellow Cab, parks up outside a Warhol event and pulls out incessant machine-gun groove to blow away Lou and Candy Darling. Fronted by singer-songwriter Ahmed... > Read more

Eh Mane Ha

Choban Elektrik; Choban Elektrik (CDBY)

24 Sep 2012    1

Among the more irritating people on the planet are those who ask you if you've heard such'n'such a band (usually utterly obscure, not available to hear on Spotify or buy through some on-line source) or a DJ who bangs on about rare grooves from some far flung corner of the planet only available on massively expensive limited edition vinyl import. When you say you haven't heard these things... > Read more


The Malawi Mouse Boys: He is #1 (Southbound)

17 Sep 2012    1

Their name alone sends you to You Tube to find out more about the Malawi Mouse Boys . . . and indeed that is exactly what they are. They sell mice kebabs on the roadside as a kind of snack-to-go for passing cars and trucks in some remote and dusty part of Malawi. But then you see them walk behind a house into the garden, pick up the most battered of instruments imaginable and sing.... > Read more

Mtsilikali (Soldier)

Koo Nimo: Highlife Roots Revival (Riverboat)

6 Aug 2012

An educated man who studied science in London in the Sixties and spent two years as a professor of ethnomusicology in Seattle in the late Nineties, 78-year old Koo Nimo from Ghana also immersed himself in the Western classical tradition and is a fan of Thelonious Monk's complex jazz compositions and flamenco, the latter two evident in his deft guitar work. He is however part of the... > Read more

See Wo Nom Me

Rob: Make It Fast, Make It Slow (Soundway)

1 Jun 2012

In a reproduction of what must have been the original cheap cover, this minimal and curiously religious/sexual album by Rob from Ghana has all the look -- and resonance -- of a rare reggae album from Jamaica, the kind of music which comes with an air of mystery because you are hypnotosed by the sheer peculiar nature of the thing. Singer/writer Rob was something of an enigmatic figure by all... > Read more

Make It Fast, Make It Slow

Jennifer Zea and the Antipodean Collective: The Latin Soul (Mama Wata)

28 May 2012    1

Venezuelan singer and songwriter Zea must be thanking the gods that in 1994 she saw The Piano . . . and was so seduced by the New Zealand landscape she decided to move here. And that she brought with her a background of various musical styles picked up on home turf, American soul from the radio and time in Detroit, chanson in Paris, Brazilian and Caribbean sounds . . . In this country she... > Read more

Mi Nina

The Funkees: Dancing Time (Soundway Records)

28 May 2012

The band name might be slightly misleading -- there is more Afrogroove than funk here -- but we will take the subtitle (The Best of Eastern Nigeria's Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77) at its word because this is 18 short songs full of punch and fire. In fact is there's a complaint it's that these songs are too short. Most come in at fewer than four and half minutes and you wish they could... > Read more

Akula Owu Onyeara

Amadou Diangne: Introducing Amadou Diagne (World Music Network)

28 May 2012

Singer/songwriter Diagne from Senegal comes from impeccable pedigree. He was born into a griot family, started on drums at age four, played in the Senegalese National Band and his song Senegal won a Battle of the Bands on the World Music Network's website. And there is no doubt Senegal is a moving piece with Diagne's quavering but strong vocal filled with emotion and is offset by gentle... > Read more


Cristina Branco: Live in Amsterdam (Arc)

16 May 2012

Cristina Branco was one of an emerging generation of Portuguese fado singers when, in 1997, she performed in Amsterdam where this, her debut album, was recorded. Her assured, crystalline singing which quivers with emotion is here showcased in the spare setting with just longtime accompanists Custodio Castelo on fado guitar (like a 12-string lute) and guitarist Alexandre Silva. In... > Read more

Canto e solidao

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to African Roots Revival (Rough Guide)

16 May 2012

Of the dozen tracks on this useful collection, at least three bands -- Staff Benda Bilili, Bedouin Jerry Can Band and Konono No 1 -- should be reasonably familiar to Elsewhere readers. So attention alights elsewhere: On the seven-piece Mbira Dzenharira which plays tuned mbira (and sound like an African gamelan); the ngoni playng of Bassekou Kouyate (bluesy, yearning); the strange sound of... > Read more


Various Artists: The Original Sound of Cumbia (Soundway)

8 Apr 2012    1

In one of the least inspiring covers in Christendom -- and with the big-breath subtitle "The History of Colombian Cumbia and Porro as told by the Phonograph 1948-79" -- this utterly beguiling and danceable 55-track double disc collection pulls out wonderfully romantic and earthy syncopated rhythms, dipsomanic horn sections behind rather more urgent vocals, and soft-shoe beats which... > Read more


Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Africa (Rough Guide)

26 Mar 2012

Because the word “psychedelic” has a fairly flexible definition these days (see here) it's almost no surprise that the short opener Let Yourself Go here by guitarist Victor Olaiya's All Stars Soul International band is on the axis of James Brown funk and any notions of tripped-out rock are immediately relegated. And while the liner notes claim this 10 track collection... > Read more

Kadia Blues

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2012): When the world comes calling

19 Mar 2012    3

While many came over green and Irish on Saturday (St Patrick's Day), the Womad crowd typically enjoyed the bigger picture of a rainbow-hued, multicultural music festival with over 400 performers from 21 nations entertaining (and educating) under a cloudless Taranaki sky. It was a day of sunscreen, silly hats, neo-hippie interpretive dance and music from almost every corner (and sometimes... > Read more


Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of Morocco (Rough Guide)

9 Mar 2012

This is not the first Rough Guide to Moroccan music but, given how diverse the sounds are coming from that place, another edition is certainly necessary. And when you hear the stuttering trip-hop of the dub-influenced El Aloua here (by Amiri Saqati, a side project of an earlier electronica outfit Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects) you know that this one is keeping abreast of the new sounds.... > Read more

El Aloua

SHIVKUMAR SHARMA INTERVIEWED (2012): Answering the master's call

27 Feb 2012

Very few musicians could claim to have not only changed the musical direction and possibilities of their chosen instrument, but of also of having played a key role in how that instrument was constructed and developed. In South Korea, the master musician Byungki Hwang (interviewed here) rescued the tradition of the gayageum from being lost, and in the West the great guitarist Les Paul... > Read more

Rag Piloo