World Music

Music and musicians from around the global village; interviews, overviews and profiles.

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Mdou Moctar: Funeral for Justice (digital outlets)

18 May 2024  |  1 min read

In a recent talk about reviewing, the role of the critic and being curious about music, I said something to the effect that music is a great passport into places and worlds hitherto unknown.  I said when I heard the Beatles as a newly-minted teenager I found out as much as I could about Liverpool, when reggae arrived I immersed myself in Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Jamaica,... > Read more


Kiran Ahluwalia: Comfort Food (digital outlets)

21 Apr 2024  |  1 min read

Anyone with even just a passing interest in world news would be aware of what is happening in India under current prime minister Modi: a relentless shift to the right encouraging Hindu nationalism which is seeing the steady marginalisation of the Muslim communities and neighbours. In this country – so remote from the subcontinent and with news services which rarely look beyond a local... > Read more

Har Khayal

Various Artists: Caribbean Celebration (Putumayo/digital outlets)

25 Mar 2024  |  <1 min read

With Womad in the rear-view mirror and reggae the easy default position for many local artists, we point to this collection of Caribbean music beyond Jamaica. Quite far from there in fact, with a number of the Haitian artists here based in Canada, they must feel lucky to be distant from their homeland right now but distressed by what is happening there. But here are musicians from... > Read more

Kon Oun Lotomat, by Chris Combette

Sheherazaad: Qasr (Erased Tapes/digital outlets)

2 Mar 2024  |  1 min read

With a variation on the name of the tale-teller in the famous folk-tale The One Thousand And One Nights (and which in Hindi and Urdu translates to “free city”), this San Franciscan singer/composer -- now based in Brooklyn -- arrives with at least one impeccable recommendation: her album is produced by Arooj Aftab who'd heard some of her home recordings and offered assistance.... > Read more


Various Artists: Tropical Party (Putamayo/digital outlets)

14 Jan 2024  |  <1 min read

Most people would be selective about albums on the Putamayo label – children's songs aren't high on our list – but every now and again a compilation just catches a mood. And this breezy collection of tracks from hitherto unfamiliar or little known artists from around the world – Brazil, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Cameroon, Haiti and PNG among them – seems so right on the hot... > Read more

Tout Pitit by RAM (Haiti)

Yungchen Lhamo: One Drop of Kindness (digital outlets)

17 Sep 2023  |  <1 min read

It's been too long since this Tibetan artist appeared at Elsewhere and, although we've heard a few albums along the way, we haven't actually reviewed any since our interview in 1999. (Which as I noted drew some adverse comment from those who like to believe that Tibet in the pre-China era wasn't feudal or divided between religious factions). Once again we hear her sublime voice in... > Read more

African Head Charge: A Trip to Bolgatanga (On U-Sound/digital outlets)

7 Jul 2023  |  <1 min read  |  1

The great Jamaican-born and raised musician Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah was schooled in Nyabinghi music and traditional healing before leaving for London where he became a roadie then touring musician bringing his unique spiritual and trance-like percussion and production sound to the attention of Adrian Sherwood and others at On U-Sound. Over a score of funked-up dubadelic albums shot through... > Read more


Bazurka: Novi Grad All Stars (digital outlets)

19 Jun 2023  |  1 min read

As Womad attendees would attest, bands that get people up dancing – Afrobeat, reggae, “jump-jump” hip-hop, madcap Hispanic and gypsy-jazz sounds – are always popular. On the day. I'm sure however many dancers – like me – have enthusiastically bought the albums and rarely played them afterwards. In fact I don't think I've played the excellent... > Read more

Mdou Moctar: Niger EPs Vol I and 2 (digital outlets)

11 Mar 2023  |  1 min read

One of the more casually insulting things you can say to musicians – especially Black African and Black American – is that their talent is somehow “natural”. Aside from its implicit if unintentional racism, what that attitude denies is that many of these artists are highly sophisticated and spent years studying and learning their craft. The guitarist Mdou Moctar... > Read more

THE WOMAD WORLD RETURNS TO TARANAKI (2022): Here comes a Hendrix from the desert

6 Nov 2022  |  2 min read

From Sweetwaters and the Big Day Out through Auckland's Laneway and summer concerts like Splore, often the event's atmosphere is as much the attraction as who's on the bill. That's especially true of the WOMAD festival (World of Music, Arts and Dance) in New Plymouth. Some book tickets without knowing much about the line-up. And even when it is revealed, many artists from all corners of the... > Read more

Dogo Du Togo: Dogo (digital outlets)

31 Oct 2022  |  <1 min read

One of the many pleasures of “world music” is that it sometimes has you going to an atlas or Google just to find out “where . . .”? Togo is a small but crowded country of about nine million between Ghana, Benin and Burkina Fasa. In colonial times it was part of what was loosely referred to as “French West Africa” and French is still the national language... > Read more

Nye Dzi

Khruangbin/Vieux Farka Toure: Ali (digital outlets)

26 Sep 2022  |  <1 min read

Somehow it was inevitable that the dreamy psychedelic music of the Khruangbin trio out of Texas would end up in Mali, the breeding ground of great guitarists and kora players. Here with guitarist Vieux Farka Toure, son of the late and legendary Ali Farka Toure, the band were thrown by Vieux into improvisations on material by Ali which they were largely unfamiliar with. The band didn't... > Read more

Minyeshu: Netsa (ARC Music/digital outlets)

5 Sep 2022  |  <1 min read  |  1

Born in the Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa, raised in Addis Ababa and studying at the Ethiopian National Theatre, this expressive singer was inspired by the sound of Mulatu Astatke and now lives in the Netherlands where this was recorded with African and local musicians on traditional instruments and horns. There is a gently boiling Afro-jazz quality at work here when Minyeshu isn't engaging... > Read more


Sehgal/Bangash/Bangash: Sand and Foam ( digital outlets)

20 Aug 2022  |  1 min read

In the excellent liner essay accompanying the current Joseph Petric album Seen, Nick Storring writes about how in the past two decades (this writer would argue longer) the paradigms of genre division have been reframed and old principles have been eroded as artists work with cross-pollinations of musical ideas from a broad spectrum. So it is here where young, award-winning sarod masters... > Read more

Catrin Finch/Seckou Keita: Echo (ARC Music/digital outlets)

27 Jun 2022  |  <1 min read

This pairing of Welsh harp player Catrin Finch and the Senegalese master of the 21-string kora Seckou Keita (with a string section) might seem a little to sweet for those who prefer Keita's solo work or other cross-cultural collaborations, but this follows their enormously popular and award-winning Soar of 2019. And if anyone was lucky enough to be at that last Taranaki Womad before Covid... > Read more

Dual Rising

Imarhan: Aboogi (City Slang/digital outlets)

5 Jun 2022  |  <1 min read

Part of the new (third?) generation of Sahara blues/desert blues artists out of the sub-Sahara region, Imarhan might here just be the most immediately appealing of the many bands which have emerged in the past two decades. Where others are electrifying and electric (and the second generation influenced by Western rock), Imarhan – while still having the same mesmerising quality,... > Read more

Iberi: Supra (Naxos/digital outlets)

8 May 2022  |  1 min read

The opening piece here Kutaisi Mravalzhamieri/Blessings From Kutaisi will doubtless confirm exactly preconceptions about what an all-male choir from Georgia – led by former rugby player Buba Murgulia – would sound like: layered lines of baritone and tenor voices. But there is also a whimsical quality in the second half which hints at a bit of humour and that should carry you... > Read more

Utsinares/We Praised Him the Most

ELSEWHERE WORLD SERVICE: A quick overview of recent world music releases

21 Nov 2021  |  3 min read

Here's a frequent flyer/transit lounge/vicarious listening music column for those at home who want to get their musical passport stamped. Elsewhere has so many CDs and downloads commanding and demanding attention that we run occasional columns which scoop up releases by international artists (IN BRIEF), in much the same way as our SHORT CUTS column picks out New Zealand artists.... > Read more

Omar Sosa/Seckou Keita: Suba (Bendigedig/digital outlets)

25 Oct 2021  |  <1 min read

Regular visitors to Elsewhere will know of our affection for the multi-stringed kora out of West Africa, and the player here Seckou Keita. On their second album together Keita and Cuban keyboard/marimba player Omar Sosa (with Cuban percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, others on flutes and modular effects) bridge the Atlantic with a series of mostly reflective and understated songs with lean left... > Read more

2020 Visions

Kadialy Kouyate: Aado (Naxos/digital outlets)

11 Oct 2021  |  <1 min read

The west Africa string instrument the kora has a deliciously warm, trickling sound as heard on albums by its greatest practitioners like Seckou Keita and Toumani Diabate, and the new generation of Sekou Kouyate who plays electric kora), Sona Jobarteh (one of the few women practitioners) and Kadialy Kouyate. As you can tell by the names, many of these artists are from griot families for... > Read more