World Music

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Namgar: Nayan Navaa (Arc Music/digital outlets)

5 Jul 2021  |  1 min read

Because in the past Elsewhere has gone to the remote Pamir Mountains, Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Native American musics and elsewhere, we are quite comfortable with a venture to the territory of the nomadic Buryats, an ethnic minority in Southern Siberia and Mongolia. But here – rather than some ethnomusicologist's approach – we are welcomed by the Moscow-based Namgar group... > Read more

Khadin Kursa Nogoonda/Green Grass

Araki Kodo VI: Hankyo (bandcamp)

13 Feb 2021  |  <1 min read

The background here does sound like an Irish story told in a pub over the fourth Guinness but . . . Apparently Hanz Araki is an American who is highly regarded as a traditional Irish flute player. So far so simple. However as Araki Kodo VI he is a sixth generation master on the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) whose family have been players for centuries. And so the Hanz is an... > Read more

Utsav Lal: Visangati (digital outlets)

4 Feb 2021  |  1 min read

When we reviewed a previous album by this Indian pianist playing Indian classical music we did note the obvious limitations which the instrument imposes: no ability for melisma and microtones as can be found in classical Indian instrumental and vocal music. Yet we also concluded that the album would appeal to more people than many might first think. The slowly unfurling raga form is quite... > Read more

Keleketla!: Keleketla! (Ahead of Our Time/digital outlets)

22 Aug 2020  |  1 min read

Given the geographical and cultural diversity here – from the late Tony Allen and the Watts Prophets to South African artists from Soweto, West Papua highlands' singers Benny and Maria Wenda and kicked off by Johannesburg's Rangoato Hlasane and Malose Malahlela with UK electronica dance artists Coldcut – the surprise here isn't that it sounds like a Womad dance party in your lounge... > Read more

fra fra: Funeral Songs (Glitterbeat/digital outlets)

13 Jul 2020  |  <1 min read

If memory serves, when the late writer Paul Oliver (who died in 2017 at 90) released an album to coincide with his seminal book The Story of the Blues in the late Sixties, the first track was a song of praise by people known as the Frafra tribe from Northern Ghana. In it you could hear some of the elements more familiar from songs by Willie McTell, Leadbelly and other early bluesmen.... > Read more

Ssewa Ssewa: Nva K'la (ARC Music/Southbound/digital outlets)

28 Jun 2020  |  <1 min read

This smart 33-year old Ugandan multi-instrumentalist and singer has invented his own instrument, the 15-string harp-like Janzi which is non-metallic so he can pass through airport security without much hassle. That's just one reason he's smart. Another is the evidence on this multi-lingual album where his seductively low vocal rides across gently bubbling rhythms, mesmerising guitar... > Read more

RECOMMENDED RECORD: Tamikrest; Tamotait (Glitterbeat/digital outlets)

11 May 2020  |  1 min read

From time to time Elsewhere will single out a recent release we recommend on vinyl, like this one . . . .  Hard to believe that Elsewhere could miss this new album, released last month, by the extraordinary Tamikrest whose sub-Saharan blues we have championed right from their debut Adagh 10 years ago to their previous release Kidal (named for the town in Mali where they formed) in... > Read more

Awale Jant Band: Yewoulen/Wake Up (ARC Music)

27 Mar 2020  |  <1 min read

Another multi-culti band out of London, but this collective of Senegalese, British, French and other players stands apart from the meltdown of jazz by the likes of Shabaka and the Ancestors, Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming, Nerija and others. That's because this is more firmly grounded in West African music with elements from the juju guitars of King Sunny Ade, Orchestra Baobab,... > Read more

Domi Adama

FRESH FOLK FROM THE FAR NORTH (2020): Warm music coming in from the cold

23 Feb 2020  |  3 min read

As we should expect, traditional and contemporary folk music from a region which encompasses Scandinavia to Siberia is going to sound different, and often fresh, to ears more attuned to Anglo-folk or Americana. Because of Elsewhere's on-going engagement with world music, Christian Pliefke out of Germany got in touch because he has three labels which release music from Northern Europe and... > Read more

Pangaea: Pangaea (digital outlets)

20 Feb 2020  |  2 min read

Amidst the recent noise made at the suggestion Radio NZ's Concert programme would be shifted to AM and do away with presenters, we heard some curious accusations thrown at classical music: That it was elitist (we embrace “elite” in sports, right?), it was only for an older white audience (that was laughably easily to disprove) and that it was just boring music made by old dead... > Read more

THE DAY LINE-UP FOR WOMAD 2020: The world in your own backyard

3 Feb 2020  |  <1 min read

And here we go with the day to day schedule of artists coming to Womad Taranaki in March. . .  You should also have a look at our previous post which introduces the artists by way of words and video clips. That is here.  For more details on Womad (ticketing, site maps and such) check their website here. > Read more

Various Artists: Gambian Griot Kora Duets (Smithsonian Folkways)

31 Jan 2020  |  2 min read

The magical and mercurial sound of the kora – a 21-string instrument from West Africa has become familiar on the Womad circuit in the past few decades and names like Toumani Diabate, Seckou Keita would be familiar enough to readers on Elsewhere. In early 2019 we also introduced singer/kora player Sona Jobarteh, one of the few women players. In 1979 Folkways Records... > Read more

Various Artists: Tuareg Music of the Southern Sahara (Folkways)

31 Jan 2020  |  1 min read

Recently someone posted a link on Facebook to this You Tube piece entitled The Best Guitar Music Today is Coming From the Sahara Desert. Regular readers of Elsewhere would have known that a long time ago as we have frequently written about Etran Finatawa, Tinariwen, Tamikrest, Terakaft, Malouma and many others. But there was, of course, music by the Tuareg people of the sub-Sahara long... > Read more


Lord Invader and his Calypso Group: Calypso Travels (Smithsonian Folkways reissue)

31 Jan 2020  |  3 min read

Although Bob Marley is rightly described as the first Third World Superstar and was a triple threat (respectively, a religious, musical and political figurehead for Rastafarianism, reggae music and disenfranchised people everywhere), there were others who preceded him and brought attention to a musical genre beyond pop, rock and jazz. We need only think of Cuban jazz players like... > Read more

My Experience on the Reeperbahn

Simon Thacker's Ritmata: Taradh (Slap the Moon/digital outlets)

22 Nov 2019  |  1 min read

Scottish guitarist Simon Thacker has appeared a few times at Elsewhere and we have always been pleased to draw your attention to him, and proud too that we reviewed his last project with his Svara-Kanti group very soon after it came out . . . and it went on to win universal acclaim and not a few awards. Thacker is a cross-genre artist who has studied classical and flamenco guitar but his... > Read more


Tinariwen: Amajdar (Anti/digital outlets)

18 Nov 2019  |  1 min read

Elsewhere has written about Tinariwen so often that we will come at this new album from another angle. The title apparently means “the unknown visitor” in their Tamashek language, but the visitors on this, their eighth album, are probably quite well known to our readers: Warren Ellis of Dirty Three/Bad Seeds appears on fiddle on five of the 13 pieces here and guitarists... > Read more

TARANAKI WOMAD 2020: THE ARTISTS' LINE-UP in words, sound and vision

20 Oct 2019  |  8 min read

And here we come again, the music world arriving in Taranaki in March next year for three days of sound, vision, crafts, dance, food, words and so much more. As regular readers of these pages know, Elsewhere has always shone the spotlight on what we call "world music" (see here) so are pleased to bring you this rundown of the acts schedlued for New Plymouth's annual festival.... > Read more

Otava Yo: Do You Love (ARC Music)

27 Sep 2019  |  1 min read

This may well be a first for Elsewhere, an album of traditional Russian folk music . . . But wait, before you go . . . The clip below has had over 27 millions view on YouTube and the song topped the World Music Network chart so . . . Otava Yo are a six-piece collective from St Petersburg which includes film makers, so they know how to present an idea and a video (check their others... > Read more



26 Sep 2019  |  1 min read

In the past some of the first announcements of acts for the Womad in Taranaki have been a bit underwhelming. (Dragon?) But the two groups announced for next year's three day festival of music, dance, food and conversation with artists from around the world look like hitting the right note. First out of the gate are the Blind Boys of Alabama and Seckou Keita with Catrin Finch. The... > Read more

Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan: Times of Maharajas (ARC Music)

25 Sep 2019  |  <1 min read

As the liner notes to this album remind us, the time of the Maharajas was – for the elite of course – a world of opulent palaces and bejeweled kings and courtiers. Musicians would be there to sing praises, religious incantations, perform at ceremonial occasions and so on. This group of musical siblings led by tabla player Rahis Bharti come from seven generations of... > Read more