World Music

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WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2013): Some thoughts from the frontline

19 Mar 2013  |  5 min read

Although no one doubted the need for rain . . . but on the final day of Womad? And just two days after a drought has been declared? This rare occurrence – only the second in the festival's local history – hardly dampened Womad spirits although there was a small attrition of audience numbers. Few festivals – of whatever musical persuasion – could claim an... > Read more

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

14 Mar 2013  |  1 min read

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, Kouyate has continued to deliver beguiling albums in recent years, but few were made under circumstances as tough as those for this one. On their first day in the studio in Bamako, Mali's... > Read more

Poye 2

Salif Keita: Tale (Carte!l)

13 Mar 2013  |  <1 min read

The great Salif Keita  has explored just about every kind of musical association but this one seems an interesting, if not always succesful, swerve. Producer Philippe Cohen Solal of Gotan Project has matched him with Roots Manuva, Bobby McFerrin and Esperanza Spalding for an album which  is a high-tech production (with strings in a couple of places) aimed at dancefloors. Now,... > Read more


Nidi D'Arac: Taranta Container (Galileo/Southbound)

12 Mar 2013  |  <1 min read

The bio of this Italian group who appeared at Womad says they come from "the beautiful city of Lecce" in the far south. Well, as one who has been to Lecce I might debate some of its particular charms (the suburbs are awful, the churches without peer however) but let's leave that aside. What Nidi D'Arac do is an enjoyable implosion of traditional music and acoustic... > Read more

Ipocharia (DJ Click remix)

ELSEWHERE'S FAMOUS WOMAD QUESTIONNAIRE: Nicky Bomba of the Melbourne Ska Orcheatra (Aust)

10 Mar 2013  |  2 min read

The goodtime sound of ska got a whole lot stranger when the Melbourne Ska Orchestra formed after a one-off event in 2003. The idea was to get a world-record number of horn players together in St Kilda's Gershwin Room and from that event the MSO was formed by bandleader Nicky Bomba. "I’ve always thought ska was one of the most universal forms of music,” says Bomba,... > Read more

Goran Bregovic: Champagne for Gypsies (Cartel!)

5 Mar 2013  |  <1 min read

If everything on this album were as flat-tack as the boisterous opener with guests the Gypsy Kings, then you'd be breathless well before the midpoint. And, just a guess here, when Bregovic and His Wedding and Funeral Orchestra play at the Taranaki Womad later this month there will be that kind of furious energy on display. The well-known Bella Ciao here -- which will doubtless be in their... > Read more


POTTED PROFILE: Allo Alaev of the Alaev Family (Tajikastan/Israel)

4 Mar 2013  |  2 min read

The grand patriarch of the Aleav Family out of Tajikistan, Allo Alaev, here answers a fast 15 questions which gives a little insight into how world music artists coming to Womad later this month come from a very different musical background. No X-Factor or Idol competitions for these people, no glossy magazine photoshoot on the basis of one hit single. These are people for whom music is not... > Read more

NURU KANE PROFILED (2013): A colourful tapestry of sound

27 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

One of problems world music artists suffer is some preciousness in their audience which would preserve them in amber like an anthropological specimen. They want an artist to remain true to some perception of “authentic”. But musicians, being the troublesome creatures they are, largely ignore such constraints and move on, assimilating influences, and extending the boundaries... > Read more


WOMAD ARTIST 2013; ABIGAIL WASHBURN INTERVIEWED: From Middle America to Middle Kingdom

25 Feb 2013  |  12 min read  |  2

Abigail Washburn was always going to work in China, but along the way she changed the how and the why of it. She started out aiming to be lawyer working in Chinese-US relations and maybe even a career diplomat, but these days – having picked up banjo and immersing herself in old time Americana music – she travels to China as a musician. And one fluent in Chinese, who sings... > Read more

Various Artists: Womad; The World's Festival (Carte!l)

17 Feb 2013  |  1 min read  |  2

At a recent lecture-cum-talk to music-performance students about "world music" and what a sippery creature it is, I was asked what the common thread or identifying feature it might be. Aside from the obvious answer (none) I just said without much thought "rhythm . . . and beat" and then stumbled into the idea that much Western pop etc (outside of r'n'b) which they were... > Read more

Sugar Bee


11 Feb 2013  |  8 min read  |  1

They might have come thundering out of Williamsburg, a suburb on New York City, but the big ensemble Antibalas have a mainline connection to the sounds of Afrobeat (particular that of it's inventor Fela Anikulapo Kuti), James Brown-influenced funky soul grooves and driving criss-cross rhythms. Founded in a warehouse, the band drew its members from a bunch of Afrobeat and Latin music... > Read more

The Ratcatcher

Samuel Yirga; Guzo (Real World/Southbound)

4 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

With the Ethiopiques reissue series, the rediscovery of Mulatu Astatke, groups like Dub Colossus and Syriana, and singer Mahmoud Ahmed, the music of Ethipia has certainly garnered attention in recent years. This album by a gifted young and classically trained Ethiopian pianist/composer has more than enough rhythmic and melodic elements from his homeland to place in under world music,... > Read more

Abet Abet

Tim Maia: Nobody Can Live Forever; The Existential Soul of Tim Maia (Luaka Bop)

27 Jan 2013  |  <1 min read

Although obviously a hard guy to live with, Tim Maia – who died in '98 aged 55 – was a larger than life character in Brazilian music. He was a man of excesses and some of his song titles hint at his philosophy (Let's Have a Ball Tonight, I Don't Care, You Don't Know What I Know). There was a musical about his life and he certainly had stories to tell. At 17 he illegally... > Read more

O Caminho Do Bem


25 Jan 2013  |  4 min read

Interviewing world music artists is often interesting, sometimes fun and frequently frustrating. Speaking to Amin Alaev of the Alaev Family – who play the Taranaki Womad – is all three. First of all he's in a phone shop because his mobile is going to die on him any minute, and second he speaks little English beyond a few polite sentences so we go through the group's... > Read more

Imshab Shabi


21 Jan 2013  |  3 min read

With some slight variations on our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire to suit the world and worldly musicians playing at this year's Womad (details below), we now offer Elsewhere's Famous Womad Questionnaire . . . and I'm delighted the first to be posted is by a group from the country where I was born, Scotland. Lau are an award-winning three-piece who play a unique mixture of traditional (but... > Read more


Perunika Trio: A Bright Star Has Risen (ARC)

21 Jan 2013  |  <1 min read

While there can be a few problems with "file under rock" or "file under world music" on your album cover, having "Voices of Bulgaria" on your cover as a subtitle inevitably invites comparisons with the great ensemble Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares. Almost 30 years ago that group arrived with a remarkable album of unaccompanied vocals which were heart-stopping in... > Read more

Na horoto

Kristi Stassinopoulou and Stathis Kalyviotis: Greekadelia (Riverboat/Southbound)

7 Jan 2013  |  <1 min read  |  1

Adding the suffix -adelic to a style (folkadelic) or album title as in this case, isn't always quite as helpful or true as it seems.  This well-established traditional-into-today duo – who employ loops and electronica alongside harmonium and lauto (lute) – don't live up to the tripped-out suggestion of this album title, however this (like a previous outing) has topped... > Read more

Anamesa Nissirou

Ana Alcaide: La cantiga del fuego (ARC)

2 Jan 2013  |  <1 min read

Although perilously close to New Age music in places, this gently beguiling album should find wide favour because within it are familiar melodies and chord progressions found in Celtic folk (think Clannad) and Northern Europe, but she also brings North Africa sounds too which add exotic spice. Quite a seductive mixture by this Spanish singer, songwriter and practitioner of the nyckelharpe (a... > Read more

Khun caravan

Balkan Beat Box: Give (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

29 Dec 2012  |  <1 min read

The cover here -- megaphone as gun/gun as megaphone --gives you a clue to the BBB out of New York who mash up dance culture, dub, Balkan styles and much more into often bruising techno-rock . . . and throw in socio-political messages about how people are exploited, the evils of greed and Enemy in Economy. All this to club-shaking and block-rockin' beats. They can be superficial... > Read more

Urge to be Violent

RAVI SHANKAR (1920 - 2012): More Than One Lifetime

13 Dec 2012  |  18 min read  |  3

My collection of schoolboy poetry which I would agonise over late at night, laboriously using my Scripto fountain pen and Radiant Blue ink, has long since vanished. Thank God. I’m sure it was full of adolescent anxieties -- one “poem” was about Oedipus, about whom I knew nothing other than I liked the name. But one piece remains with me in the memory. It was called... > Read more