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Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

World Music

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Various Artists; So Frenchy So Chic 2012 (Cartell/Border)

Various Artists; So Frenchy So Chic 2012 (Cartell/Border)

The annual double discs under the banner So Frenchy So Chic -- "the unofficial soundtrack" to the Alliance Francaise French Film Festivals in Australia -- allow the casual listener to tune in to the state of French pop (as opposed to rock and hip-hop) and are something of a mixed assortment. Some in previous years have seemed very lightweight, as if being a pop singer in France... more >>

Cascadeur

La Chiva Gantiva: Pelao (Crammed Discs)

La Chiva Gantiva: Pelao (Crammed Discs)

With horns and electric guitars, this outfit which was formed in Brussels by expat Colombian percussion players bring as much funk and Fela Afrobeat as they do rocked-up South American sounds which must physically threaten any fragile Womad stage. And with other members from Vietnam, France and Belgium they certainly embody the Womad spirit. But as with most such vigorous albums you... more >>

Cosmeticos

El Rego: El Rego (Daptone)

El Rego: El Rego (Daptone)

DJs like nothing more than unearthing obscurities – makes them hipper than thou – but UK archivist/platter-spinner and all round good guy Frank Goesser does us a favour with this collection of a dozen late Sixties/early Seventies sides by Afro-soul singer Theophile Do Rego (aka El Rego) from Benin. In the brief but excellent liner notes, El Rego tells his fascinating story:... more >>

Achuta

Bombino: Agadez (Cumbancha)

Bombino: Agadez (Cumbancha)

The biggest growth industry in world music in the past decade seems to have come out of the sub-Sahara where electric and electrifying bands have emerged, many of them with rather remarkable backstories of nomadic lifestyles, and of being being freedom fighters and boy soldiers.  As more and more albums of Sahara blues emerge from great bands like Tinariwen and Etran Finatawa and the... more >>

Adounia/Life

Te Vaka: Havili (Spirit of Play/Triton)

Te Vaka: Havili (Spirit of Play/Triton)

Te Vaka have refined and defined a particular kind of pan-Pacific pop with its roots in tradition but driven by ringing folk-rock guitars as much as percussion, and on this melody-stacked album writer-singer Opetaia Foa'i and band seem to have hit a new peak. It is almost as if their relocation from New Zealand to Australia has pulled them back to what they did best, but also that they have... more >>

Taku uo pele

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Best Music You've Never Heard (Rough Guide)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Best Music You've Never Heard (Rough Guide)

Perhaps because I flatter mysef and the smarts of Elsewhere visitors, I'd like to believe the title of this 30-track download-only album (available here) through the Rough Guide imprint is just a little misleading. Scanning the names here (if not the specific tracks from important albums) I see the likes of longtime favourites Etran Finatawa, Bob Brozman (interviewed in depth here), Nuru... more >>

Sa Preferee

 Michi Sarmiento: Los Bravos!/The Best of Michi Sarmiento (Sound Way)

Michi Sarmiento: Los Bravos!/The Best of Michi Sarmiento (Sound Way)

Time to push back the furniture and clear some dance space, or at least hit the Google search for the background to this Colombian band leader. Apparently the young Sarmiento pulled together local styles with Nuyorican boogaloo and kicked things up a few levels when playing in the red light district of the coastal town of Cartagena. This sweat-inducing 16 track collection of... more >>

La Vaca Nueva

Hossam Ramzy: Rock the Tabla (Arc Music)

Hossam Ramzy: Rock the Tabla (Arc Music)

With the kind of diverse guests only this acclaimed Egyptian percussion player could call on -- jazz drummers Billy Cobham and Manu Katche, A.R. Rahman (aka "the Mozart of Madras", of Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack fame), guitarist Phil Thornton, taiko drummer Joji Hirota, Indian and Egyptian ensembles -- the great Ramzy once again redfines the meaning of world music... more >>

Cairo to India

Various Artists: High Life Time 2 (Vampi Soul)

Various Artists: High Life Time 2 (Vampi Soul)

The enjoyable reissues of West African music by the Strut, Sound Way and Vampi Soul labels (Funky Lagos, Ghana Special, High Life and others) have brought back music from the Sixties and Seventies on well annotated double-discs. This Vampi Soul sequel wraps up more legendary artists/bands from Ghana and Nigeria (E.T. Mensah and the Tempos, The Ramblers Dance Band etc) alongside lesser... more >>

Okwukwe Na Nichekwub (1974)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Sufi Music (World Music Network/Southbound)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Sufi Music (World Music Network/Southbound)

When a musical genre loses its figurehead -- as reggae did with the passing of Bob Marley and Sufi music did with the death of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, both of whom had taken their music to a global audience -- it can have two results. At one level the music's profile can drop for a more general audience (as happened post-Marley), but that it can also allow other artists to come through... more >>

Hai Rabba

Seun Anikulapo Kuti and Egypt 80: From Africa with Fury; Rise (Border)

Seun Anikulapo Kuti and Egypt 80: From Africa with Fury; Rise (Border)

The musical offspring of the great founder of Afrobeat Fela Anikulapo Kuti have an unenviable career path to follow, especially Seun and Femi who choose Afrobeat as their chosen vehicle. Femi has embraced remixes and on his recent Africa for Africa outing edged more towards a pop version of the boiling and urgent style, and Seun delivered an exciting, if instantly familiar, debut Many... more >>

Mr Big Thief

Terakaft: Aratan N Azawad (World Village)

Terakaft: Aratan N Azawad (World Village)

Just as John Mayall's bands spawned others when players left the ranks, so it seems the desert blues out of the sub-Sahara is an ever-flowering plant: this group -- which formed in 2001 -- contains two former members of Tinariwen and inevitably work in a not dissimilar musical territory. This is their third album so they are dogging very close to the quite prolific Tinariwen and Etran... more >>

Wer Essinen

Mamadou Diabate: Courage (World Village)

Mamadou Diabate: Courage (World Village)

As the son of kora player N'fa Diabate who was a founder of the Instrumental Ensemble of Mali and with the great Toumani Diabate as a cousin, Mamadou was born to play the kora. For this, his fifth album -- it follows his previous Douga Mansa which won the '09 Grammy for Best Traditional World Music album and his second album Behmanka which was Grammy-nominated in '05 -- he again delivers... more >>

Mamadou Diabate: Macky

Le Trio Joubran: AsFar (World Village/Ode)

Le Trio Joubran: AsFar (World Village/Ode)

A previous album Majaz by these oud-playing Palestinian brothers was a Best of Elsewhere 2008 selection, so this one seems long overdue -- although I have just learned there was a live album in '09 which was aimed at the local market. They are the fourth generation in their family of players and oud makers but, to these ears at least, do not sound so steeped in tradition as to be unable to... more >>

Le Trio Joubran: Zawaj el Yamam

Taraf de Haidouks and Kocani Orkestar: Band of Gypsies 2 (Crammed Discs)

Taraf de Haidouks and Kocani Orkestar: Band of Gypsies 2 (Crammed Discs)

The rather mouthful of an album title tells you that this is forced marriage of two Romany groups teaming up to celebrate the Taraf's 20th anniversary. This album comes a decade on from the first Taraf Band of Gypsies album (which had the Orkestar playing on three pieces) and with both bands by sharing a Belgian musical director Stephane Karo they are here on equal footing and share... more >>

Taraf de Haidouks and Kocani Orkestar: Talk to Me, Duso

Dub Colossus: Addis Through the Looking Glass (Real World)

Dub Colossus: Addis Through the Looking Glass (Real World)

With recent interest in the music of Ethiopia (the Ethiopiques compilations, albums by Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics), the ground has been well prepared for this by Nick Page (aka Dubulah who was behind London's innovative TransGlobal Underground and Temple of Sound). Dubulah has already been in the region for A Town Called Addis (and off on a tangent with his Syriana project... more >>

Dub Colossus: Yigermel

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Bellydance (Rough Guide/Southbound)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Bellydance (Rough Guide/Southbound)

As has been noted previously at Elsewhere, anyone interested in world music learns quickly to never judge an album by its cover. In many countries the cover is just the thing you wrap around the sound and not much thought is given to it. Often an “exotic” landscape photo or unflattering image of the artist (snapped at the recording session or in the street outside the studio)... more >>

Hamouda Ali: El Samer

The Rhythmagic Orchestra: The Rhythmagic Orchestra (Unfold)

The Rhythmagic Orchestra: The Rhythmagic Orchestra (Unfold)

The Rhythmagic Orchestra which plays Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz wouldn't perhaps qualify as world music for purists. They are mostly Londoners with an affection for the music of the greats of the style and come from bands like the Heliocentrics (who recently recorded with Ethiopian composer Mulatu Astake) and Jazz Jamaica. But they bring so much talent, respect and enthusiasm to the... more >>

The Rhythmagic Orchestra: Afrodisia

Various Artists; Bossa Nova and the Story of Elenco Records, Brazil (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

Various Artists; Bossa Nova and the Story of Elenco Records, Brazil (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

The Elenco bossa nova label -- founded in Rio de Janeiro in '63 -- gets this well-annotated Gilles Peterson-complied 23 track disc (and a booklet with an essay) of great tracks by guitarist Baden Powell, the cool Quarteto Em Cy and others. With the credibility and an in-house art style something akin to Blue Note in jazz, Elenco pulled together the finest bossa acts of the Sixties and... more >>

Baden Powell: Candomble

Carolina Moon: Mother Tongue (Moon)

Carolina Moon: Mother Tongue (Moon)

Although this enchanting album -- songs of the Sephardic Jews of Spain -- might seem a departure for Wellington-based jazz singer Carolina Moon, she has previously explored what we might call world music, although never with this depth and resonance. These glorious songs -- intimate, yearning, emotional -- come from centuries ago but are here arranged for delicate piano (Kevin Field),... more >>

Carolina Moon: Yad Anauga