World Music

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Africa (Rough Guide)

26 Mar 2012  |  1 min read

Because the word “psychedelic” has a fairly flexible definition these days (see here) it's almost no surprise that the short opener Let Yourself Go here by guitarist Victor Olaiya's All Stars Soul International band is on the axis of James Brown funk and any notions of tripped-out rock are immediately relegated. And while the liner notes claim this 10 track collection... > Read more

Kadia Blues

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2012): When the world comes calling

19 Mar 2012  |  3 min read  |  3

While many came over green and Irish on Saturday (St Patrick's Day), the Womad crowd typically enjoyed the bigger picture of a rainbow-hued, multicultural music festival with over 400 performers from 21 nations entertaining (and educating) under a cloudless Taranaki sky. It was a day of sunscreen, silly hats, neo-hippie interpretive dance and music from almost every corner (and sometimes... > Read more


Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of Morocco (Rough Guide)

9 Mar 2012  |  1 min read

This is not the first Rough Guide to Moroccan music but, given how diverse the sounds are coming from that place, another edition is certainly necessary. And when you hear the stuttering trip-hop of the dub-influenced El Aloua here (by Amiri Saqati, a side project of an earlier electronica outfit Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects) you know that this one is keeping abreast of the new sounds.... > Read more

El Aloua

SHIVKUMAR SHARMA INTERVIEWED (2012): Answering the master's call

27 Feb 2012  |  7 min read

Very few musicians could claim to have not only changed the musical direction and possibilities of their chosen instrument, but of also of having played a key role in how that instrument was constructed and developed. In South Korea, the master musician Byungki Hwang (interviewed here) rescued the tradition of the gayageum from being lost, and in the West the great guitarist Les Paul... > Read more

Rag Piloo

Manu Dibango: Afro-Soul Machine (Metro Select)

27 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

In the rush to embrace new artists out of various parts of Africa or distill the history down to reissues of little known acts and the cult of Fela, it probably isn't a surprise the great Manu Dibango hasn't had his dues. His jazzy sound on sax and sensually low voice once enjoyed considerable international recognition -- notably with the single Soul Makossa in '72 which subsequently... > Read more

Soul Fiesta (remix)

STAFF BENDA BILILI INTERVIEWED (2012): Takin' it from the street

20 Feb 2012  |  2 min read

The connection to Renate, wherever she is, seems to be fine. But between her and Kinshasa in the Congo where Ricky Likabu, our target, is . . . that's another matter. Then of course there is the translation thing between my English through Renate into French for Likabu and back again. And, to my amusement and frustration, lengthy questions I ask which can take as much time in... > Read more


The Lijadu Sisters: Afro-Beat Soul Sisters (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

20 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

The story of the twins Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu out of Nigeria could have come from a very familiar template with that bell curve of a career: The excitement of being young and in hot bands (among them with Ginger Baker of Cream who had moved to Lagos), the fiery politics of the era fueling their music at a time when the great Fela was setting the agenda; being influenced by psychedelic music;... > Read more


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