World Music

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Rango: Bride of the Zar (30IPS/Southbound)

1 Jun 2010  |  <1 min read

Just as pop and rock suddenly throws up new cover stars, so too in world music -- and Rango out of Egypt by way of the Sudan with their spiritual trance sound, odd-looking and strangely tuned wooden xylophone (the rango), driving percussion and music which rises to states of ecstasy are the latest off the block. There is no denying the danceable quality of this exciting music and the... > Read more

Rango: Henna Night

Paban Das Baul: Music of the Honey Gatherers (World Music Network/Southbound)

24 May 2010  |  <1 min read

The music of the itinerant Bauls of Bengal has only made a brief appearance at Elsewhere previously (the album by Bapi Das Baul here) but its uplifting spiritual quality in pop-sized bites (it is often improvised, but on CD nothing stretches much longer than Hey Jude or Stairway to Heaven) which makes it appealing on a number of fronts. Paban Das Baul has been quite the ambassador for this... > Read more

Paban Das Baul: Prem Katha Ti Shunte Bhalo

Various Artists: Rumba Blues (Rhythm and Blues Records/Southbound)

20 May 2010  |  <1 min read

From the same label which has brought the superb 4-CD sets of rhythm and blues (here) comes this equally excellent 26-song collection of post-war material which had soaked in a Latin rumba-shuffle influence. And when you look at who is here, that influence was considerable and across a wide range of artists: T-Bone Walker; the Johnny Otis Orchestra; Lowell Fulson; r'n'b legend Big Mama... > Read more

Fats Domino: Mardi Gras in New Orleans (1949)

Francoise Hardy: La Pluie Sans Parapluie (Virgin)

10 May 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

At first glance this might just seem to be one for those who knew the title meant "Rain Without an Umbrella" or just want a bit of that breathy chanteuse mood music for dinner parties. But if you are in the latter camp you will be a little surprised: although this certainly has reflective ballads over piano and soft strings, Hardy's vocals are more prominent than mere background... > Read more

Francoise Hardy: Noir sur blanc

YUNGCHEN LHAMO INTERVIEWED (1999): The singer as national emblem

10 May 2010  |  7 min read

When this interview appeared in 1999 I was subject to some interesting passive-aggressive communications from people purporting to be sympathisers with the Free Tibet cause who suggested that what I had written about Tibet before the Chinese was "unhelpful". I pointed out it was however, the truth . . . In the thorough and informative Rough Guide to World Music, Tibetan... > Read more

Yungchen Lhamo: Om Mani Padme Hunge Hung

Gotan Project: Tango 3.0 (XL)

9 May 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

After their double live of 18 months ago some might have thought this slippery trio (and guests) who have made tango-cool albums a life-style accessories would have exhausted their self-invented genre. And while this album is no huge re-invention for those who are ho-hum about them (this writer), the dub elements, more pronounced tango-noir and slippery horn parts discreetly elevate... > Read more

Tamikrest: Adagh (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

3 May 2010  |  <1 min read

As we know, for every breakthrough band there are a dozen or more who can successfully coattail. Tamikrest come from the same area -- geographical and musical -- as the great Tinariwan and Etra Finatawa so create a kind of hypnotic desert blues . But where their two predecessors have established a genre and staked out territory within it, the younger Tamikrest expand the parameters by... > Read more

Tamikrest: Alhoriya

Dirt Music: BKO (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

3 May 2010  |  1 min read

In a way this album was inevitable -- although has come from an unexpected source. The whole "Sahara Blues" style of Etran Finatawa, Tinariwen and more recently Tamikrest has always lent itself to being brought to wider attention by collaborations with European musicians. The co-joining of Anglo-alt.folkers Tuung with Tinariwen was unusual -- and so is this: BKO is the... > Read more

Dirt Music: All Tomorrow's Parties

Jah Wobble and the Nippon Dub Ensemble (30 Hertz/Southbound)

3 May 2010  |  <1 min read

Because Japanese folk tends to be elegantly austere and melodically understated you could think there's not a lot to flute, koto and percussion that could be done by way of dub. But that would be to underestimate world music explorer Jah Wobble who previously delivered an exceptional -- and unexpected -- album of Chinese dub. Here with a small ensemble of Japanese and Western musicians on... > Read more

Jah Wobble/Nippon Dub Ensemble: Cherry Blossom of my Youth

Pacific Curls: Te Kore (Ode)

2 May 2010  |  <1 min read

The previous album, Pacifi Celta, by this increasingly interesting trio of singer, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Kim Halliday, singer/percussionist Ora Barlow and fiddle player Sarah Beattie lifted them right out of that special corner of te reo-cum-folk/women's music where they could have languished away from more mainstream attention. Pacifi Celtic merged Pasifika music with Celtic folk... > Read more

Pacific Curls: Kalimba Trance 2

Alex Malheiros and Banda Utopia: The Wave (Far Out/Southbound)

2 May 2010  |  <1 min read

The exciting reissue/remake of Sabrina Malheiros' album New Morning recently should set many listeners up for this one by her father Alex and his jazzy band, and which features Sabrina on five tracks -- and, as with her album, comes here with some remix and dub versions, which show again how flexible and malleable this suple bossa-groove sound can be. AS mentioned about Sabrina's album --... > Read more

Alex and Sabrina Malheiros: Sem Presse

Sabrina Malheiros: New Morning; Deluxe Edition (Far Out/Southbound)

26 Apr 2010  |  <1 min read  |  1

Regular readers of Elsewhere will know that not too much of that self-satisfied, cooler-than-you, breathy bossa gets a look in. It bores me witless. But here is an exception: this is cool for sure, but it also swings, Malheiros has a voice of depth and flexibility, and the backing musicians are superb jazz players who come at the music from interesting angles. This is a rejigged and... > Read more

Sabrina Malheiros: Connexao

The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder: San Patricio (Universal)

18 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

Here's something we don't hear as often as we used to: a concept album with guest stars and telling a historical story – in this case the Irish Catholics migrant soldiers who deserted from the predominantly Protestant US army during the Mexican-American war and sided with the Mexicans. The San Patricio Battalion actually contained a multi-cultural crew but Paddy Moloney of... > Read more

The Chieftains with Ry Cooder: A La Orilla de un Palmar (with Linda Ronstadt)

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars:Rise and Shine (Cumbancha/Ode)

12 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

These guys certainly have a great back-story: in six years they went from languishing in a refugee camp, through being the subject of a doco (see clip below) to Oprah. They appeared on the Blood Diamond soundtrack, their self-titled debut album won widespread praise and for this one they went to New Orleans and recorded with producer Steve Berlin (of Los Lobos) as well as some local horn... > Read more

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars: Dununya

Kamel El Harrachi: Ghana Fenou (Mosaic/Ode)

11 Apr 2010  |  <1 min read

By coincidence Elsewhere here acknowledges the son of another music master in the same week as we pick up the album by Jakob Dylan. Kamel El Harrachi is the Paris-based son of the late oud player/singer Dahmane El Harrachi from Algeria and this is his tribute on the 30th anniversary of his father's death. Singer/oud player Kamel has a powerful and gutteral voice but on the lighter... > Read more

Kamel El Harrachi: Hyati Maak

Mahala Rai Banda: Ghetto Blasters (Asphalt Tango/Southbound)

2 Apr 2010  |  <1 min read

Okay, definitely not for every taste but here is clubland, rocked up Gypsy music from Bucharest driven by a brassy horn section and hefty backbeats, and fronted by singer/composer/violinist Ionita Aurel. At times it sounds as much mad Mexican as Balkan and when guest voclaists Jony Iliev and Tato Garcia come in on Solo Part Ti there is an almost dangerous passion brought to bear. So... > Read more

Mahala Rai Banda: Balada

Sa Dingding: Harmony (Go East)

29 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

The debut album Alive of two years ago by this photogenic Chinese singer was a mish-mash of electro-pop, slightly twee vocals, Chinese folk, new age blandness and deadening over-production. This new album however -- while still mining electro-pop and again putting traditional instruments alongside synths -- is a much more interesting item. The opener -- a crunching Ha Ha Li Li with odd... > Read more

Sa Dingding: Lucky Day

Various: Masters of Indian Classical Music Vol II (Arc)

28 Mar 2010  |  <1 min read

With the recent appearance of Ravi Shankar (with his daughter Anoushka) at the arts festival in Wellington, there may be some interest in an album such as this: a well annotated double disc which includes the greatest names in Indian classical music, among them sitar player Shankar, the master of the shehnai (a brusque oboe-like instrument) Bismillah Khan, tabla genius Zakir Hussain, sarangi (a... > Read more

Ravi Shankar: Mishra Ghara Dhun

Various: Next Stop . . . Soweto (Strut/Border)

21 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

Subtitled "Township Sounds from the Golden Age of Mbaqanga" this lively, groove-oriented and guitar jangle collection of 20 songs comes from Strut, the same label which has brought you various Nigerian and Ethiopiques collections -- as well as the terrific Mulatu Astatke album and the Inspiration Information series. This is the first volume of a promised three in which they scoop... > Read more

The Big Four: Wenzani Umoya


21 Mar 2010  |  3 min read

As the century closes it's interesting to look back on how the West has briefly adopted music from other cultures - Indian musics, for example. Where once these long traditions were confined to ethnomusicology departments of universities, they crept into Western consciousness through jazz musicians such as Jamaica-born British saxophonist Joe Harriott and American saxophonist John... > Read more

Trilok Gurtu: Manani (with Joe Zawinul, Pat Metheny and others, 1993)