World Music

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama El Hendy: Ruby (ARC Music)

6 Sep 2009  |  <1 min read

Said it before but will say it again: you should never judge a bellydance album by its cover.  You should look for a name like Hossam Ramzy and consider that a hallmark of quality. The man is genius and also astonishingly prolific as a writer and performer. This time out the percussionist pairs up with multi-instrumentalist El Hendy (keyboards, accordion, bass) to lead the small and... > Read more

Hossam Ramzy and Ossama El Hendy: Ruby

Federico Aubele: Amatoria (Border)

6 Sep 2009  |  <1 min read  |  1

This New York-based Argentinean singer-songwriter goes straight for the heart with barely sung ballads which ride gentle electronica soundbeds and acoustic guitars, with soft vocals (and some lady guests). It sounds lightweight to the point of vapid to my ears, and I dislike this as much as I did his Panamericana album of a couple of years back which I never even bothered with at Elsewhere.... > Read more

Federico Aubele: Este Amor

Titi Robin: Kali Sultana (Filter/Shock)

30 Aug 2009  |  <1 min read

Surprisingly, this French multi-instrumentalist (oud, guitar, anything with strings) hasn't previously appeared at Elsewhere, largely because his albums are in woefully short supply in New Zealand. Pity, he's huge in Europe for his inclusive approach which means he brings together North African styles with gypsy music, flamenco with Middle Eastern, Breton folk with  . . . You get the... > Read more

Titi Robin: Un rubis du Yemen

Vayo: Tango (Pantaleon)

30 Aug 2009  |  1 min read  |  1

Every journalist-cum-travel writer who goes to Argentina writes about the seduction of tango, the sensual poetry of the dance and so on. To be honest, having been there, it's hard not to. Like Venice and gondolas, Buenos Aires and tango just go together and invite words. But fewer people write about the music of tango (as opposed to the dance), and for me who had dance beaten out of him... > Read more

Vayo: Nunca me Amo (She Never Loved Me)

Various: Panama! 2 (Sound Way)

3 Aug 2009  |  <1 min read

The geographical location of Panama is probably clue enough to second guess the sounds on this collection of late Sixties to late Seventies material: Panama has as its neighbours the Caribbean and Latin America, and each of those vast and musically diverse regions felt the influence of Spanish, Portuguese and African musics. And of course Panama could hardly be immune to the pop, soul and... > Read more

Sir Jablonsky: Juck Juck Part 1

SERGIO MENDES INTERVIEWED (2006): The return of the cool and the kitsch

12 Jul 2009  |  4 min read

If you need further proof that you should go through your parents‘ and grandparents‘ old records it’s the current revival of Sixties hitmaker Sergio Mendes. The pop career of Brazilian-born Mendes, now 65, effectively ended in the mid Seventies. Yes, he kept touring and scored a rare revival with his Grammy-winning Brasileiro album in ‘92, but the man who epitomised... > Read more

Sergio Mendes:Let Me (with Jill Scott and

The Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band: Polkapocalypse (Monkey)

15 May 2009  |  1 min read

The problem with playing certain kinds of folk music -- Jewish klezmer, polka and gypsy music come to mind -- is that it can too easily fall into the area of parody and ridicule, albeit unintentionally, if that isn't your culture. Roots Americana is internationally transferable because musicians can put in their own concerns in the lyrics. But polka, gypsy music etc if not your culture... > Read more

The Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band: Dark Eyes

Rokia Traore: Tchamantche (Lateral Note/Southbound)

15 May 2009  |  1 min read

You don't have to have spent too long with world music to come across the deep well of talent out of Mali, much of which has appeared at Elsewhere: the late Ali Farka Toure and his son Vieux, Toumani Diabate, Salif Keita, the very popular Amadou and Miriam and many more. And if you didn't already know this remarkable singer you can add her to that long list. Born in Mali, educated in... > Read more

Rokia Traore: Aimer

Pacific Curls: Pacifi Celta (Pacific Curls)

14 May 2009  |  <1 min read

The trio at the core of Pacific Curls made two "interesting" albums, but "interesting" is a word which suspends judgment. They didn't win me much, but most of this one certainly does and I'm starting to think that maybe only now I "get" what they are doing. With the departure of Kaui, the remaining duo (Ora Barlow and Kim Halliday who are on the Pacific Voyage... > Read more

Pacific Curls: Islands Are Sinking

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Emperor (Nascente/Triton)

13 May 2009  |  <1 min read

For many people the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan (who died in 1997) was and remains the greatest ever qawwali singer. He certainly reached Western audiences in a way that few had ever done and among his fans and advocates were Peter Gabriel, Jeff Buckley, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Joan Osborne. He extended the qawwali style (a form of Sufi devotional singing), incorporated... > Read more

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Man kun to maula

Uxia: Eterno Navegar (Harmonia Mundi)

11 May 2009  |  <1 min read

Uxia is a Portuguese singer and songwriter whose reach goes way beyond the now-familiar fado and into slinky Latin-flavoured material, some European folk of the kind which includes the tradition which links Galacia, the Middle East and the Celtic worlds, and here she allows for soft piano ballads as much as hip-shimmy arrangements. In the beautifully packaged booklet which comes with this... > Read more

Uxia: Morna Sentida

Various: Nigeria 70; The Definitive Story of 1970's Funky Lagos (Southbound)

12 Apr 2009  |  1 min read

Elsewhere has already drawn attention to excellent West African compilations such as Heavy Heavy Heavy which scooped up the pre-Afrobeat of Geraldo Pino from Sierra Leone, and the double-disc collections High Life Time (Nigerian and Ghanaian music of the Sixties and early Seventies)  and Lagos Baby (a wrap-up of Fela Anikulapo Kuti's early years, 1963-69). Now comes this welcome... > Read more

Sunny Ade and His African Beats: Ja Fun Mi

Dub Colossus: A Town Called Addis (Real World/Southbound)

12 Apr 2009  |  <1 min read  |  1

Bridging dub, world music, an ethnomusicology project and with a smattering of jazz, this project by UK musician/producer/remixer Nick Page who is Dubulah, aka Dub Colossus (and co-founder of the groundbreaking Trans-Global Underground then Temple of Sound) brings to attention the wonderful music of Ethiopia, but in a very different light. Internationally there has been an on-going reissue... > Read more

Dub Colossus: Yeka Sub City Rockers

Indio: El Tesoro de los Inocentes [Bingo Fuel]

29 Mar 2009  |  1 min read

Might as well 'fess up straight away: I bought this album in Buenos Aires recently on the strength of its elaborate cover and knowing only it was a rock band that seemed to involve the highly regarded singer-songwriter Carlos Indio Solari (aka Indio) who seems to be able to fill the Rio del Plata Stadium (where U2 filmed U23D)! Well, I've bought albums for lesser reasons, so . . . The... > Read more

Indio/El Tesoro de los Inocentes: Mi caramel machiato

Amadou and Miriam: Welcome to Mali (Warners)

29 Mar 2009  |  1 min read  |  1

Just by the sheer number of artists it produces, you'd have to say Mali seems to have -- like Jamaica -- an almost unnatural number of gifted, inventive musicians, many of whom have appeared at Elsewhere: the late Ali Farka Toure and his son Vieux Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Djelimady Tounkara, Habib Koite, Toumani Diabate . . . Amadou and Miriam have long been popular favourites outside... > Read more

Amadou and Miriam: Masiteladi

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic 2009 (Border)

7 Mar 2009  |  <1 min read

Billed as "the unofficial soundtrack to the French Film festival 2009" (and actually an Australian compilation so may bear absolutely no relation whatsoever to the French Film Festival we might have in New Zealand), this double disc scoops up such a wide swathe of breathy French pop, trip-hop, cool-kitsch and more that you can't help but like it. The fact it opens with the... > Read more

Vicelow: Mister Pom-Pom

1 Giant Leap: What About Me? (Border)

2 Mar 2009  |  <1 min read

Last year Elsewhere presented a lengthy interview with Duncan Bridgman who is half of this multi-media world music project with Jamie Catto. In that free-ranging conversation he outlined the background to this music-cum-philosophy project which took the pair across the planet to perform with and record people in small and often remote villages, or getting alongside big name players such as kd... > Read more

1 Giant Leap: Each Step Moves Us On (with Zap Mama and Speech)

Chen Dacan Chinese Ensemble: Classical Chinese Folk Music (Arc/Elite)

17 Jan 2009  |  <1 min read

Elsewhere has frequently posted Chinese music, notably albums by the Silk and Bamboo Ensemble, the Silk String Quartet and the pipa/qin soloist Cheng Yu. These are all lovely albums -- restful but also full of interesting melodic twists, so this ensemble which features the flute soloist Li He was bound to command attention. The leader of the group, Chen Dacan, is a member of the Silk and... > Read more

Chen Dacan Chinese Ensemble: Mu min xin ge

Various: Marabi Africa 2 (Marabi)

10 Jan 2009  |  <1 min read

The first compilation Marabi Africa won plaudits at Elsewhere because, if nothing else, Marabi was the label which brough the great Malouma to world attention -- and so this sequel commands attention immediately. Once more there is an impressively broad but coherent cross-section of artists represented, some of whom have appeared at Elsewhere (Malouma again, El Hadj N'Diaye, the late... > Read more

DuOuD: Missy Nouakchott (with Malouma)

Speed Caravan: Kalashnik Love (Adami)

9 Jan 2009  |  <1 min read  |  9

The sound of the oud, a Middle Eastern lute, has frequently found favour at Elsewhere, notably with Le Trio Joubran and Anouar Brahem, and albums like Cairo Nights. But as the title of this album suggests, this is a very different kind of oud music: this is electric oud turned up loud and sounding abrasive, angry, politicised in the context . . . and closer to the Hendrix/Stevie Ray... > Read more

Speed Caravan: Galvanize