World Music

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.


5 Dec 2016  |  4 min read

Since Vietnam opened itself for Western tourism in the mid Nineties, thousands have travelled there to experience the wonderful food, cheap beer, beautiful beach and mountain villages and the hospitality of the people. These days however – with luxury hotels with infinity pools at places which were largely deserted in those early days of openness (when Elsewhere visited a... > Read more



21 Oct 2016  |  1 min read

As regular readers of Elsewhere will know, we have had a long tradition of writing about world music here. In fact we sometimes boast that we are the ony place which regularly gives coverage to music from other parts of the planet beyond the Western pop and rock axis, check out our world music reviews, interviews and so on here. So we always applaud the annual Womad festival in New... > Read more

ELSEWHERE WORLD SERVICE: A quick overview of recent world music releases

3 Oct 2016  |  2 min read

Here's a frequent flyer/transit lounge column for those at home who want to get their musical passport stamped. Elsewhere has so many CDs and downloads commanding and demanding attention that we run an occasional column which scoops up releases by international artists (IN BRIEF), in much the same way as our SHORT CUTS column picks out New Zealand artists. And of course Shani.O... > Read more

Mei Han and Red Chamber: Classical and Contemporary Chinese Music (ARC Music)

26 Sep 2016  |  1 min read

For Western ears, the sound of Chinese music falls into cliché (“Oh, Chinese music . . . riiight.”) or something so discordant (traditional opera) that it's easy to dismiss on a cursory listen. However – setting preconceptions aside if that is possible – this album by a child of the diaspora brings a bigger picture. Mei Han learned the plucked-string... > Read more

Peng Baban

Changui Majadero: El Changui Majadero (Changüí del Guaso Productions)

12 Sep 2016  |  <1 min read

As we've previously observed at Elsewhere, Cuban music has, since the Buena Vista Social Club more than two decades ago, been often reduced to the cliches of romantic old folk and supple rhythms with a horn section. It must come as a surprise to many to learn that there is hip-hop ansd rock on that island. And this hugely appealing debut  -- scuffed and perhaps... > Read more


Sarathy Korwar: Day to Day (Ninja Tune/Border)

18 Aug 2016  |  <1 min read

This intricate weave of styles stitched together by jazz, samples and percussion can sometimes come off as oddly stateless and shapeless, but over the full distance offers multiculti surprises and entrancemnts throughout. It isn't proscriptive “world music”, but it is most definitely music of this world. And sometimes well out of it too. Some background... > Read more


ELSEWHERE WORLD SERVICE: A quick overview of recent world music releases

25 Jul 2016  |  4 min read

Here's a frequent flyer/transit lounge column for those at home who want to get their musical passport stamped. Elsewhere has so many CDs and downloads commanding and demanding attention that we run an occasional column which scoops up releases by international artists (IN BRIEF), in much the same way as our SHORT CUTS column picks out New Zealand artists. And of course Shani.O picks... > Read more

Alma Afrobeat Ensemble: It's Time (Slow Walk)

26 Jun 2016  |  <1 min read

As the rugby people like to say, this was a game a two halves . . . and all the action happened in the second. Usually albums play their aces up first but this band -- mining the oh-so familiar tropes of Fela-styled Afrobeat -- doesn't offer anything you haven't already heard in the genre during the first half. But, persistence is a small reward. Formed in Chicago by... > Read more

DWB Breakdown (DJ Quiet Cool Down emix)

Konono No.1 and Batida; Konono No.1 Meets Batida (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

20 Jun 2016  |  <1 min read

Musical relationship where the partners share similar attitudes make for warm comfort but often not much creativity. So perhaps because Angola-born, Portugal-based producer and DJ Batida (Pedro Coquenao) works in similar lo-tech territory as Konono No.1 – the biggest thing to come out of the Congo since Papa Wemba many decades ago – that this pairing offers less excitement... > Read more

Yambadi Mama

Julia Vorontsova; Over (Privet)

17 Jun 2016  |  1 min read

In the manner of television game show hosts from the Sixties, Elsewhere is going to  . . .  "flip all the card" (to reveal the quiz question answer) and say . . . We've rarely been interested in music as therapy. Want help? Get thee to a physik. Of course, there is a long and rather exceptional tradition of soul-scouring albums by artists whose lives seem... > Read more


The Baboons: Spanglish (Global Gumbo)

13 Jun 2016  |  <1 min read

In a cover designed to catch attention, this Miami band fronted by husband and wife Mano and Majica Pila toss a stylistic salad together almost as if they hope something is to your taste. So in the first third of these 15 tracks you get Balkan beats (with a jazz flute solo and Santana-styled guitar), samba, rap-lite, Afro-Cuban sounds, hard rock, Miami pop and more. The final third... > Read more

Balkan Thang

Various Artists: Soul Sok Sega (Strut/Southbound)

23 May 2016  |  1 min read

A couple of weeks ago we pulled a track from this thoroughly enjoyable (and not a little confusing) compilation to post at From the Vaults.  But this double vinyl (with a CD disc and useful liner notes in the gatefold) is so good we just want to bring it to attention again. We could have dropped this into our catholic-taste Music From Elsewhere pages but it is kind of world... > Read more

Eliza by Georgie Joe

Zusha, Kavana (iTunes)

16 Apr 2016  |  <1 min read

This Jewish trio from New York (and a number of guests) explore and interesting, if sometimes familiar, thread within Jewish music. But in their hands this is where tradition meets Downtown. Think the Violent Femmes rockin' the kibbutz. Their twist is that deeply soulful singer Shlomo Gaisin explores a tradition of wordless vocals which suggests language, so this invokes and evokes... > Read more

East Shtetl

Rokia Traore, Ne So (Nonesuch)

7 Apr 2016  |  1 min read

As Elsewhere has previously noted, the nation of Mali which was a hotbed for talent two decades ago has fallen into harder, political times in recent years. There has been a military coup, the incursion of Islamic fundamentalists in the North (who destroy musical instruments and have killed musicians) and Tuareg rebels declaring an independent state . . . among other things. One... > Read more


Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle (Fuse/Southbound)

4 Apr 2016  |  1 min read

It has been a decade since Manchester-born Palestinian singer Reem Kelani announced herself with her exceptional debut album Sprinting Gazelle, which earlier this year Elsewhere entered into its Essential Elsewhere pages. Since then she has been exceptionally busy -- performing in jazz and orchestral contexts, recording for radio and touring -- but a new album seemed long overdue. This... > Read more


Arsen Petrosyan: Charentsavan; Music for Armenian Duduk

21 Mar 2016  |  1 min read

The acknowledged master of the Armenian duduk — a double-reed flute capable of deep emotional expression in the right hands — is Djivan Gasparian, but already the young Petrosyan is spoken of as being in the same league. He is already acknowledged as a prodigy in Armenia and this deep, resonant and moving album of traditional music is the soulful evidence. Somewhat oddly the... > Read more


Zedashe: Our Earth and Water (Living Roots)

4 Mar 2016  |  <1 min read

Okay, we're not gonna lie to you . . . this is highly demanding if authentic folk from this vocal ensemble out of the Georgian Caucasus. These 26 polyphonic secular and sacred songs -- which date back centuries and are here rendered as authentically as possible -- only come with minimal instrumental support (drums, lutes and the local bagpipes). So your enjoyment, not to... > Read more

Dzveli Abadelia

Various Artists: Womad, Australia and New Zealand 2016 (Cartell/Border)

3 Mar 2016  |  <1 min read

Just a quick heads-up on this 16-track compilation in advance of the Taranaki Womad which opens in a fortnight. This is one of those pleasurable homework assignments for the car if you are driving there. It kicks off in fine fashion (wait until you are out of city traffic to push play) with the vibrant and percussive sound of 47Soul from Palestine, Jordan and Syria who deliver an... > Read more

Golden Straws of Wheat (by Mahsa Vahdat)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Best Arabic Music You've Never Heard (Rough Guide/Southbound)

2 Mar 2016  |  <1 min read

Here at Elsewhere we are suckers for such Rough Guide compilations as this, because -- if nothing else -- the title doesn't lie. Although we've explored as much Arabic music (and that is a very broad definition) as comes our way, only three of the 12 artists featured here have been on our radar . . . and even then these -- Groupe Mazagan, Hijaz and Simo Lagnawi -- were faint blips. We... > Read more

Blessed for Making Me a Woman

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic 2016 (Cartell/Border)

2 Mar 2016  |  1 min read

For many decades the punchline was,"French pop" . . . because when it came to pop music it seemed the French -- stuck somewhere between cool chanson and fashion chic -- didn't quite "get" it. That changed some time back (the European Union perhaps?) and these days the polyglot of cultures in France has produced sterling and distinctive hip-hop, their own brand of... > Read more

Paradis Perdus (by Christine and the Queens)