World Music

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Sousou and Maher Cissoko: Africa Moo Baalu (ARC)

16 Aug 2014  |  <1 min read

The kora player/singer Maher Cissoko is a Senegalese griot who ended up in The Gambia (after his father “threw him out of the house”, according the liner notes), then moved on to Germany and finally went on to Stockholm where he studied music.  His wife, multi-instrumentalist and singer Sousou – who grew up in unbelievable spacious southern Sweden – studied kora... > Read more


Ana Alcaide: Como la Luna y el Sol (ARC)

31 Jul 2014  |  <1 min read

Ana Alcaide from Spain certainly has an interesting story. She plays the Swedish nyckelharpa which she first encountered on a biology scholarship in Lund. She was so attracted to the instrument – it's like a very very large fretted viola – she later busked in Toledo playing it. Her previous album was the excellent La Cantiga del Fuego of 18 months ago and its... > Read more

Y Arrelumbre

Karim Baggili with Le Trio Joubran: Kali City (homerecords)

2 Jul 2014  |  <1 min read

This is very much a game of two halves for the self-taught guitarist Karim Baggili who is Belgian-born and of Jordanian background. And ironically it is the material with the superb Trio Joubran which comes up short as Baggili explores the oud music which has always been a part of his life. The five pieces with the oud-playing Trio Joubran are politely impressionistic... > Read more


KAL: Romology; Rock'n'Roma (Arc Music)

25 Jun 2014  |  <1 min read

Although this group from Belgrade led by singer-songwriter Dragan Ristic have been a very popular and energetic live act, and previous albums have topped world music charts, to casual listeners who had numerous skirmishes with this very popular style of gypsy dance music driven along by vigorous violin, busy accordion and punching horns, this album too often seems as obvious as its... > Read more

Play It Again

Sakina: Roye Mi; Songs from Kurdistan (Arc Music)

24 Jun 2014  |  <1 min read

As a people who have suffered appallingly at the hands of despots, repressive regimes and a wider world largely indifferent to their plight, the Kurds have plenty of raw material for songs of hardship and oppression. Singer-composer and former journalist Sakina – who currently resides between Vienna and Dusseldorf – experienced some of this when she belonged to various... > Read more


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

30 May 2014  |  1 min read

Smart people don't believe the hype . . . or album titles which overpromise. But surprisingly this one -- which attempts both -- actually delivers quite a number of lower-totem pole African names, but very few are in the also-ran category. These musicians were part of a World Music Network Battle of the Bands (Gee, do they still have those things?) and a small, select few went on to record... > Read more

He Kele Monateng

Tinariwen: Emmaar (Pop Noire)

24 Mar 2014  |  1 min read

The Sahara blues caravan rolls on, and now with this seminal Tuareg group from Mali it is relocated to another desert. Because of troubles from Islamic extremists in their homeland, Tinariwen recorded this in Joshua Tree, California which must have made them feel pretty much at home (except for the absence of camels, their food etc). Here with a little outside assistance -- notably guitarist... > Read more

Aghregh Medin

EMEL MATHLOUTHI INTERVIEWED (2014): You say you want a revolution

22 Mar 2014  |  8 min read

On December 17, 2010 a 26-year old street trader Mohammed Bouazizi, sick of police harassment and confiscation of his wares, set himself alight in the street outside the police station in Sidi Bouzid near the Tunisian capital of Tunis. His sacrifice touched a raw nerve in Tunisia, a country riven by corruption, and riots ensued. The revolution to overthrow the government had... > Read more

Kelmti Horra/My Word is Free

ASIF ALI KHAN INTERVIEWED, SORT OF (2014): The gang's all here

22 Mar 2014  |  3 min read

Interviewing Sufi qawwali singer Asif Ali Khan at the recent Womad Taranaki was an experience. Not only does he arrive in the small porta-cabin at the side of one of the stages but so does the whole eight-man ensemble and their voluble French manager, the wonderfully named Wowkonowicz Snafu. We crammed into the tiny space and as I tried to speak with Asif – all the while... > Read more

FEMI KUTI INTERVIEWED AT WOMAD (2014): A voice in the wilderness

19 Mar 2014  |  2 min read

Elsewhere has already published an in-depth interview with Femi Kuti but we also caught up with him at a press conference at the recent Womad where he performed. Politics was, understandably, higher on the agenda than music, and pleasingly he spoke out about the anti-gay culture in Africa (“religion has capitalised on this aspect”) but admitted his open-minded... > Read more

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2014): Three days of love, peace and percussion

18 Mar 2014  |  4 min read  |  4

The glee-cum-concern with which weather forecasters last week announced the impending tropical cyclone doubtless accounted for “calm before the storm” being heard as often on Friday, Womad's opening night, as frontman Ryo Nakata of Japan's enjoyably bizarre soul-funk band Osaka Monaurail shouting, “Are you ready?” The large crowd had been ready since the... > Read more


Nistha Raj: Exit 1 (

17 Mar 2014  |  1 min read

Those fresh from Womad will attest that some of the most interesting music is made at the interface of cultures, and this album is further evidence. Texas-raised Nistha Raj (now living in Washington DC) graduated with honours in her classical violin studies but was drawn back to the music of India and spent three years there exploring and learning the modes of Hindustani classical music.... > Read more

Ajde Jano

WOMAD TARANAKI 2014: Under starter's orders

12 Mar 2014  |  4 min read

Given what “world music” is – music from all over the world, duh! – you'd think it had been with us always. Not so. “World music” as we know it today only made itself known by that description after June 29, 1987, the day when some British record importers, promoters and like-minded people working with artists from all over the world got... > Read more

La Chiva Gantiva: Vivo (Crammed Discs)

5 Mar 2014  |  <1 min read

Further proof -- if any more were needed -- that "world music" is a very slippery and loose term. These Womad visitors deliver a heady brew of Afro-Colombian grooves, soul-funk, hip-hop and some nods to roiling Afrobeat. They, of course, come from Belgium. Recording in their own studio and getting this mixed in New York just compounds the "world music" issue and in... > Read more

Me Voy de mi Cabeza

FEMI KUTI INTERVIEWED (2014): The exciting sound of dissent

28 Feb 2014  |  4 min read

The call to Femi Kuti in Lagos – down a line which on rare occasions reaches something approaching functional – finds his country is in turmoil. Thee ministers in the Nigerian cabinet had just resigned, various factions and parties were in disarray and president Goodluck Jonathan was asking Nigerians to pray for peace. To outsiders this might seem chaotic,... > Read more

Sorry Sorry

Womad Artist 2014: James Lindsay of Braebach

27 Feb 2014  |  2 min read

Double bassist James Lindsay of Scotland's Breabach says what they will be delivering at the forthcoming Womad in Taranaki is quite simple: “Expect a varied and exciting showcase of Scottish music, song and dance. We have double pipes, Gaelic and English song, heavy grooves and traditional step dance. “We love to play for up-for-it crowds, so come along ready to have... > Read more


Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Bollywood Disco (Rough Guide/Southbound)

27 Feb 2014  |  <1 min read

There is no sane or relevant reason for posting anything about this oddball digital-only compilation other than that it is silly fun, has some terrific (if borrowed) disco-dance groove which come with thick lacquer of Bollywood madness, that it sometimes sounds like absurd Bond soundtracks and . . . Jeeez, isn't that enough? As with the excellent and equally bizarre Rough Guide to... > Read more

Sansien Bekhi

Various Artists: Australia and New Zealand Womad 2014 Compilation (Cartell)

17 Feb 2014  |  <1 min read

And here, over 16 diverse tracks, is your useful backgrounder to just some of the artists appearing at the forthcoming Womad festivals across Ausralia and New Zealand. Needless to say, like the festivals themselves, this is an eclectic mix: it kicks off the driving Cuban piano of Roberto Fonesca (which comes with brittle electric guitars, swooping bass, horns and more), moves on to the... > Read more

Ya Tounes Ya Meskina/Poor Tunis

WOMAD ARTIST 2014: Ryo Nakata of Osaka Monaurail

8 Feb 2014  |  2 min read

Keyboard player and singer Ryo Nakata lives in the Tokyo suburb of Yokohama but grew up in Osaka. He has visited New Zealand previously when the band played a festival in Queenstown in 2012, but this year will be their first Womad in this country. At 41 and fluent in Japanese and English, you might find him at Conch record shop on Auckland's Ponsonby Rd where stopped by last time and... > Read more

Shanren: Left Foot Dance of the Yi (Rough Guide/Southbound)

2 Feb 2014  |  1 min read

I've always wanted to say this -- because it sound so archaically "Times of London" or like New Zealand Herald editorials in the Sixties -- so here goes . . . "As regular readers of this column will no doubt know . . ." And yes, such regular readers of Elsewhere as there are would know I recently spent some time in China's almost-remote Yunnan province (available by... > Read more

Song of the Wa