World Music

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Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective: Watina (Cumbancha/Elite)

24 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

If nothing else, Music From Elsewhere can send you to the atlas: this collection of warm, melodic and memorable songs comes from one of the most well-known singers of the Garifuna, a people who live along the Atlantic coast of Belize to Costa Rica. By all accounts they play reggae for the tourists and their own African-influenced music for themselves: this album errs toward the latter and... > Read more

Andy Palacio: Beiba

Various: Colombia! (Soundway/Southbound)

17 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read  |  1

Serious ethnomusicologists could analyse this and identify all the various musical styles on display, but that would rather miss the point. This collection -- pulled together oddly enough by the Brighton-based label Soundway -- is a sampling of tracks recorded between 1960 and '76 on the Disco Fuentes label, a Colombian record company which started recording local musicians in 1934. So... > Read more

Fruko y sus Tesos: A La Memoria Del Muerto

Benjamin Escoriza: Alevanta! (Riverboat/Elite)

17 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

This may be a tough call for most, unless you have heard and loved Radio Tarifa, a rocking Spanish band that brought together a happy marriage of North African music, Spanish flamenco, Latin and gypsy rhythms, and plenty of pop smarts. Their albums Rumba Argelina ('93) and Cruzando El Rio ('01) are well worth seeking out. Escoriza was one of the voices and songwriters in that now... > Read more

Benjamin Escoriza: El Raton

Various: The Rough Guide to the Music of Vietnam (Rough Guide/Elite)

15 Jun 2007  |  1 min read

Frankly my two periods travelling around Vietnam didn't involve much searching out of music -- although by my desk I keep a photo of a poor woman singer leading her blind guitar-playing brother through a market in the village of Hoi An. She sang songs of such ineffable sadness that tears flowed from her eyes and the market came to halt to listen. I took the photograph to constantly remind... > Read more

Kim Sinh: Li Giao Duyen

Various: The Rough Guide to North African Cafe (Rough Guide/Elite)

14 Jun 2007  |  <1 min read

About two decades ago in a parody of Jon Landau's famous comment about Bruce Springsteen I wrote a world music column which started, "I have seen rock and roll's future, and it is North African". By way of supporting evidence I noted rock people's love of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir and other such things, and firmly believed then -- as I do now -- that music from this region is... > Read more

Tarik: La Foule

Cheng Yu: Chinese Masterpieces of the Pipa and Qin (Arc/Elite)

19 May 2007  |  <1 min read

This young virtuoso on the traditional Chinese instruments of pipa and qin (the former like a lute, the latter an unfretted seven-string zither) has been hailed for her deep understanding of the instruments and for reviving the art by using a recreated five-string pipa which had not been heard since the 8th century. She also wrote a book about her historical research into this formerly... > Read more

Cheng Yu: Dragon Boat

Various: The Rough Guide to Africa Blues (Elite)

10 May 2007  |  <1 min read

Many decades ago now Paul Oliver wrote his then-definitive and still useful The Story of the Blues (Penguin, 1969). My recollection was that at the time there was also a tie-in double album which he compiled, and which I taped from a friend's copy. The startling opening track -- startling to me anyway -- was by the Fra Fra tribesmen from somewhere in West Africa and it sounded just like it... > Read more

Corey Harris and Ali Farka Toure: Special Rider Blues

Various: The Rough Guide to Bollywood Gold (Rough Guide/Elite)

29 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

More scholarly heads than mine would able to discuss whether this 15-track collection is a fair reflection of the Bollywood scene: but it certainly contains the big names like Asha Bhosle (two tracks) and Lata Mangeshkar (two also) who have probably recorded over 50,000 songs between them, Mukesh ("The Man With The Golden Voice") and Mohammed Rafi. So the name players are all... > Read more

Asha Bhosle: In Aankhon Ki Masti

Toufic Farroukh: Tootya (Ode)

29 Apr 2007  |  <1 min read

World music purists will moan that there is very little "authentic" about this album by Lebanese saxophonist Farroukh and they may well be right: the sessions in Paris doubtless account for the slightly synthetic and polished quality, and the clubland feel of some tracks. But . . . . With the core of the recordings seeming to have been done in Beirut that might account for the... > Read more

Toufic Farroukh: Cendres

Vieux Farka Toure; Vieux Farka Toure (World Village) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

22 Apr 2007  |  1 min read

In the Western world the offspring of famous musicians often have a hard time if they choose to follow in the footsteps of their parents: witness the case of Julian and Sean Lennon. But in other cultures, notably in India and parts of the African continent, there is not only an acceptance but an expectation that children will take up the same calling as their parent. Oddly enough this... > Read more

Vieux Farka Toure: Diabateli Farka Toure)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Ibrahim Ferrer: Mi Sueno (World Circuit)

15 Apr 2007  |  1 min read

Knowing that these were the final sessions by the late Buena Vista Social Club's star singer means that perhaps many will cast a more sympathetic ear over them than they might have otherwise. And let's be honest the other "final session" thing -- his duet with Omara Portuondo on As Time Goes By which appeared on the Rhythms Del Mundo album recently -- was dodgy if not downright... > Read more

Ibrahim Ferrer: Deuda

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Tinariwen: Aman Iman/Water is Life (Filter)

26 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

The previous album Amassakoul by these extraordinary musicians and desert tribesmen from the southern Sahara was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2006 and turned up in quite a few critics picks of last year. If anything, this album -- dense, driving, intense, poetic and shot through with mercurial, stinging guitar work -- is superior to Amassakoul. Those mesmerisingly repetitive rhythms are... > Read more

Tinariwen: Soixante Trois

Laura Riz: Gypsy Soul (Arc/Elite)

18 Mar 2007  |  <1 min read

Look, I have absoluely no doubt that singer Riz -- who was previously a fashion choreographer and director who sang light jazz and bossa nova -- makes music as authentically "Gypsy" as Enya makes authentically "Irish" music. And she doesn't help her case by the dreadfully cheap cover on this album, nor by liner notes in which she talks about her "research"... > Read more

Laura Riz: Yo me Quedo en Sevilla (I Will Stay in Sevilla)

Oliver Mtukudzi: Wonai (Elite)

24 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

Known as "Tuku" after the style of music he created, singer-guitarist Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe battles the usual problem that musicians from Africa face: if Peter Gabriel isn't behind you or you don't have a Womad slot then basically nobody gives a shit. Ah well, here he is for a discerning Elsewhere audience. Mtukudzi has recorded about 50 albums (which places him in the Bob... > Read more

Oliver Mtukudzi: Chara Chimwe

Yasmin Levy: La Juderia (Southbound)

4 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

Levy from Israel has one of those exceptional voices which could be as at home singing emotionally dramatic Spanish ballads or Middle Eastern songs: and to some extent she does both. Levy is an academic who has studied the Judeo-Spanish music: the Jews arrived in Spain around the same time as the peninsula was conquered by Muslims from North Africa -- and for seven centuries the music of... > Read more

Yasmin Levy: Intentalo encontrar

The Mamaku Project: Karekare (Mamaku)

4 Feb 2007  |  <1 min read

Part French chanson, part dub-influenced reggae pop, and fronted by the gorgeous vocals of Tui Mamaki, this one invents a genre of its own. It is jazzy but not jazz, there's not enough dub to make it chill-out music, and the lyrics which shuffle French and English effortless make it slightly exotic and mysterious. Oh, and there is a pleasant evocation of the Middle East (which harks back... > Read more

Mamaku Project: Colours

Various: The Rough Guide to Latin-Arabia (Elite)

26 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

To be honest, I never knew of this musical style which is a meltdown of belly dance, salsa and flamenco. But apparently . . . According to the liner notes on this exotic and upbeat collection the link between Arabic and Latin music didn't begin with pop chanteuse Shakira's big hit Ojos Asi but started back in the 9th century on the Iberian Peninsula (which makes sense). Then it made... > Read more

Ishtar and Los Ninos de Sara: Alabina

Various: Best of Algerian Rai (Arc/Elite)

14 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

Experts in rai -- traditional Algerian popular music which has latterly incorporated rock and other Western styles -- may quibble about the title here, but certainly some of rai's most famous names are represented on this excellent introduction to this hypnotic, warm, vibrant and impassioned music. Here are Khaled (the acknowledged "King of Rai"); Bellemou Messaoud (with Gana el... > Read more

Khaled: Ya Taleb

Boom Pam, Boom Pam (Flavour)

14 Jan 2007  |  <1 min read

I don't imagine Boom Pam have a lot of competition in their chosen genre. This four-piece from Tel Aviv -- two guitars, drums and tuba, and 70s moustaches -- have really cornered the Israeli surf rock market and this often hilarious and rather flashy outing tosses up dance floor disco-rock, wedding party songs, moody and exotic instrumentals, and a bit of snazzy jazzy sax. Oh, and... > Read more

Boom Pam: Ladji


31 Oct 2006  |  1 min read

The man often referred to as "the Golden Voice of Africa" (and that doesn't mean he's that continent's John Farnham) has had quite an extraordinary career. He was born in Mali and was a direct descendant of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the nation. Which meant that as one of royal lineage he was well above being a griot (a court singer/conscience-cum-town crier to the royal... > Read more