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

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

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.

And of course Yasmin Brown picks up EPs in her column.

But we also go international . . . 

Gary Stroutsos: Songs for Leena (ARC Music/digital outlets)

Screen_Shot_2021_11_21_at_3.04.53_PMThe leena here is the long flute of the Hopi and Gary Stroutsos has appeared at Elsewhere a couple of times previously with his albums of Native American chants and music.

Stroutsos in no New Age/ambient dilettante, he has studied the culture and instruments of Native American peoples for decades and – although not Native American – has been accepted and is currently teaching Hopi tribal members in order the keep alive the traditions and instruments.

The long flute of the Hopi were – as with some taonga puoro in Aotearoa New Zealand – largely unknown and unheard until in 1931 a cache of half a dozen were discovered, perhaps not played in 1500 years.

Here playing a replica of one of them, Stroutsos improvises on 11 pieces based on the natural world and without resort to other (Western) instruments to support or “sell” the music.

Evocative of the natural world and the wide open spaces of the American Southwest yet also intimate, these pieces – while being improvisations – are as authentic in their sound of the original Hopi instruments as can be expected.

And as with all ARC Music releases this CD comes with an informative booklet.

Quiet, meditative and a kind of ancient aural balm in a world of noise and haste.

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Blue World
 

You can hear this album at Spotify here

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Khoomei Beat: Changys Baglaash (ARC Music/digital outlets)

Screen_Shot_2021_11_21_at_3.04.23_PMWhere worlds collide. Khoomei Beat from Tuva combine the distinctivee throat singing with contemporary and traditional instruments, the result of a 2017 encounter between singer Aikhan Oorzhak looking for a band and a band looking for a singer.

Elsewhere has profiled a few throat singing albums (this recent and rather more rocking and psychedelic album a particular favourite) but here Khoomei Beat hit a mid-ground between the traditional (although many of these are more recent originals from various writers) and economic folk-rock.

It's not all upbeat – the title Bitter Human Fate announces its melancholy mood – and, as we are often obliged to say, this is not for everyone.

Bt it is melodic and across the 10 tracks you get to be constantly amazed by the throat singing and the yearning sound of the traditional string instruments.

And again, liner notes with descriptions of the songs, instruments and with lyrics in translation are all helpful guides.

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Traditional Tuvan Khoomei
 

You can hear this album at Spotify here

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Little Universe: A Moving Sound (ARC Music/digital outlets)

Screen_Shot_2021_11_21_at_3.05.30_PMThis is more of a challenge, even to Elsewhere's very large ears: an ensemble of multi-culti players (US, Belgian, Brazilian and Taiwanese) who are based in Taiwan.

Much acclaimed by those in the know, it sounds to us like a melange which would undoubtably be popular with a Womad crowd – it puts the emphasis on dancing beats in many places – and Mia Hsieh would be a commanding frontwoman with her range.

But the pan-global approach – influences from the Middle East and African to China – as well as the short improvised duets between Hsieh and Scott Prairie which seem not to go anywhere, make for some distracting listening.

A band to see rather than an album to listen to?

Cabaret

You can hear this album at Spotify here.

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For these albums and more on the ARC Music label go here

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