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

 |   |  1 min read

Sotho Sounds: He Kele Monateng
Various Artists The Rough Guide to the Best African Music You've Never Heard (Rough Guide/Southbound)

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 under their own names, notably Monoswezi who previously appeared at Elsewhere for their blend of a Norwegian jazz sensibility with Zimbabwean music on their recommended album of last year, The Village.

But there are equally good - if very different -- entries across this collection: Noumou Koradiolulou is a persuasive slice of Senegalese griot from Noumoucounda Cissoko where kora and acoustic guitar create a complex musical tapestry; electric guitarist Annansy Cisse and single-string violinist Zoumana Tereta are mesmerising with their moody Bala; Tereta comes back with ngoni player Djama Djigui (younger brother of the famous Baba Sissoko) on Djime Foly; and the Krar Collective trio out of Ethiopia digress from their customary rock gestures for a tight'n'minimal Ambassel.

As always -- and it is getting tiresome -- Fela Anikulapo Kuti's Afrobeat is invoked but largely just photocopied (Anergy Afrobeat with the mundane Fela Chief Priest) and Baniyorkoy by Morocco's Simo Lagwani was one to see rather than hear (drums don't translate that way) . . . but on a simple sampling you might beg for more from Giuliano Modarelli (guitar) and Sura Susso (kora) after their duet on th charming Cora – from his 2012 album Englobed.

Any such collection (especially one under such a title) is going to be a curate's egg -- good in parts -- but this one does comes out a notch up in the yeah/nah stakes.

The bonus disc -- which RG have taken to include on these comps -- is Junk Funk by Sotho Sounds from Lesotho in 2012 who play  . . . yep, junk. From that raw material they deliver enthusiastic if roughly-edged grooves on handmade guitars, fiddle and percussion. One of those interesting extras where a DVD rather than a CD might have made more sense.

But I can see the Kronos Quartet might be seduced by their layered sound and could translate it to string quartet settings.

If so, I'd welcome it. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic 2011 (Border)

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic 2011 (Border)

These annual double CD compilations of recent music from France -- from pop to, yes, chic, but not alt.rock etc -- are the unofficial soundtrack to the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival... > Read more

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Jama ko (Out Here/Southbound)

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Jama ko (Out Here/Southbound)

It has been five years since this superb ngoni player (a lute/banjo-like instrument) from Mali delivered his beautiful Segu Blue album. Formerly a member of the late Ali Farka Toure's inner circle,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER JAMES BLICK wonders what he will be when he grows up . . . in Spain

GUEST WRITER JAMES BLICK wonders what he will be when he grows up . . . in Spain

I left New Zealand just over a year ago. Probably permanently. And as I suspect is the case for many expats, moving overseas became an opportunity for personal reinvention. Flying out of... > Read more

Lucio's trenette al pesto (trenette with pesto sauce)

Lucio's trenette al pesto (trenette with pesto sauce)

What constitutes a great restaurant? Not just superb food . . . but the atmosphere, surely? Lucio's Italian in Sydney (see their website here) has won me every time on both counts (and... > Read more