World Music

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Baloji: Kinshasa Succursale (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

14 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

Given how many producers, remixers and musicians are flocking to Kinshasa in search of Congolese musicians, it seems the former Belgian Congo is the new Jamaica. No bad thing, some of the music coming out of there (as heard on the Congotronics and Konono No 1 albums, and the Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers sound clash) is quite something. And something different. Then there is the home-coming... > Read more

Congo Eza Ya Biso

Various Artists: Rangarang; Pre-revolutionary Iranian Pop (Vampi Soul/Southbound)

7 Feb 2012  |  4 min read

In Elvis Presley's trophy room at Graceland in Memphis -- more a trophy annex, with gold discs, costumes, awards, police badges and posters -- there is, framed on the wall, a dramatic headline from a Nashville newspaper and a story sourced from Tehran. The headline reads "Rock'n'Roll Banned, Hate Elvis Drive Launched by Iran to Save Its Youth". The article is dated August 12,... > Read more

Hamid Shabkhiz

Sambasunda Quintet: Java (World Music Network)

1 Feb 2012  |  <1 min read

This group from West Java make a very different kind of music from that of the familiar gamelan orchestras on nearby Bali. This music is based around the zither-like kacapi which was originally used in court music but became a popular instrument over the centuries. With pitched drums, violins and the airy voice of singer Neng Dini Andriati, the quintet here offer a delightful and gentle... > Read more

Bulan Sapasi

LO'JO INTERVIEWED (2012): The maison where worlds collude

31 Jan 2012  |  5 min read

For a medium-sized town in France, Angers – pronounced An-jey, population about 240,000 – boasts a fascinating ancient and recent history. It was once a Roman town, numerous kings and queens had their courts here, and the main castle dates from the early 13th century. A cultural hub, Angers in the Loire valley has also played host in much more recent times to numerous... > Read more

Sur l'ocean

Various Artists: Gilles Peterson presents Havana Cultura, The Search Continues (Brownswood/Southbound)

24 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Although UK DJ Peterson has tripped lightly around the globe to unearth lost classics in bargain bins or to work with local musicians, he has developed an abiding love for Cuban musicians and this double disc follows his mostly excellent Havana Cultura collecton (see here) of 2010. This time out, things were rather more planned in the initial stages. In January 2011 he and Mala (of the... > Read more

No Me Da Mi Gana Americana

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

9 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

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... > Read more


La Chiva Gantiva: Pelao (Crammed Discs)

2 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read

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... > Read more


El Rego: El Rego (Daptone)

23 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

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:... > Read more


Bombino: Agadez (Cumbancha)

17 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

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... > Read more


Te Vaka: Havili (Spirit of Play/Triton)

7 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

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... > Read more

Taku uo pele

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

25 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

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... > Read more

Sa Preferee

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

29 Sep 2011  |  <1 min read

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... > Read more

La Vaca Nueva

Hossam Ramzy: Rock the Tabla (Arc Music)

22 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

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... > Read more

Cairo to India

Various Artists: High Life Time 2 (Vampi Soul)

11 Aug 2011  |  <1 min read

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... > Read more

Okwukwe Na Nichekwub (1974)

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

1 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

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... > Read more

Hai Rabba

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

27 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

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... > Read more

Mr Big Thief

Terakaft: Aratan N Azawad (World Village)

11 Jul 2011  |  1 min read

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... > Read more

Wer Essinen

Mamadou Diabate: Courage (World Village)

24 May 2011  |  <1 min read

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... > Read more

Mamadou Diabate: Macky

Le Trio Joubran: AsFar (World Village/Ode)

23 May 2011  |  1 min read

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... > Read more

Le Trio Joubran: Zawaj el Yamam

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

8 May 2011  |  <1 min read

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... > Read more

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