World Music

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23 Oct 2014  |  14 min read

Longtime Elsewhere readers will know that we here always keep our ears on what the rest of the planet is doing . . . hence our longstanding World Music pages where international albums are reviewed, artists are interviewed and introduced. And Womad always gets a very good showing. So here as a readers' service we present to you an introduction to the... > Read more

Various Artist: The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Cambodia (Rough Guide)

12 Oct 2014  |  1 min read

When the Khmer Rouge acted out John Lennon's Imagine ("no heaven, no possessions, no religion" etc) and undertook mass murder and driving the country back to primitive, agrarian times among the many millions killed were musicians. That their music survived at all during those purges of people and possessions is akin to a miracle. But somehow recordings of artists in the Sixties... > Read more

Jam 10 Kai Theit

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars: Libation (Cumbancha)

24 Aug 2014  |  <1 min read

The decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone (which ended in 2002) made many people refugees, among them the musicians who formed the Refugee All Stars in 2004. They had a wonderful documentary made about them in 2005 (see the clip below) and have recorded occasionally since their debut album Living Like a Refugee in 2006. This fourth album effortlessly pushes together Afro-shuffle... > Read more


Toumani Diabate and Sidiki Diabate: Toumani & Sidiki (World Circuit)

20 Aug 2014  |  1 min read

While many international music writers closer to the artists have been finding new hyperboles to acclaim the gifted young kora player Sidiki Diabate alongside his father Toumani (an accepted genius, the pre-eminent kora player of our time and a griot with about seven centuries behind him), there's a dissenting opinion which comes from a distance and just takes this CD as it finds it.... > Read more


Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Arabic Cafe (Rough Guide/Southbound)

17 Aug 2014  |  <1 min read  |  1

This catch-all compilation is thoroughly enjoyable if a little MOR but, especially for anyone who has traveled in the broad region covered, these pieces with their dramatic strings, pattering percussion, horns and soaring vocals will evoke exotically shabby backstreets and rowdy markets, and days and nights when distant music rolled across rooftops. Any such collection is a superficial... > Read more


Sousou and Maher Cissoko: Africa Moo Baalu (ARC)

16 Aug 2014  |  <1 min read

The kora player/singer Maher Cissoko is a Senegalese griot who ended up in The Gambia (after his father “threw him out of the house”, according the liner notes), then moved on to Germany and finally went on to Stockholm where he studied music.  His wife, multi-instrumentalist and singer Sousou – who grew up in unbelievable spacious southern Sweden – studied kora... > Read more


Ana Alcaide: Como la Luna y el Sol (ARC)

31 Jul 2014  |  <1 min read

Ana Alcaide from Spain certainly has an interesting story. She plays the Swedish nyckelharpa which she first encountered on a biology scholarship in Lund. She was so attracted to the instrument – it's like a very very large fretted viola – she later busked in Toledo playing it. Her previous album was the excellent La Cantiga del Fuego of 18 months ago and its... > Read more

Y Arrelumbre

Karim Baggili with Le Trio Joubran: Kali City (homerecords)

2 Jul 2014  |  <1 min read

This is very much a game of two halves for the self-taught guitarist Karim Baggili who is Belgian-born and of Jordanian background. And ironically it is the material with the superb Trio Joubran which comes up short as Baggili explores the oud music which has always been a part of his life. The five pieces with the oud-playing Trio Joubran are politely impressionistic... > Read more


KAL: Romology; Rock'n'Roma (Arc Music)

25 Jun 2014  |  <1 min read

Although this group from Belgrade led by singer-songwriter Dragan Ristic have been a very popular and energetic live act, and previous albums have topped world music charts, to casual listeners who had numerous skirmishes with this very popular style of gypsy dance music driven along by vigorous violin, busy accordion and punching horns, this album too often seems as obvious as its... > Read more

Play It Again

Sakina: Roye Mi; Songs from Kurdistan (Arc Music)

24 Jun 2014  |  <1 min read

As a people who have suffered appallingly at the hands of despots, repressive regimes and a wider world largely indifferent to their plight, the Kurds have plenty of raw material for songs of hardship and oppression. Singer-composer and former journalist Sakina – who currently resides between Vienna and Dusseldorf – experienced some of this when she belonged to various... > Read more


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

30 May 2014  |  1 min read

Smart people don't believe the hype . . . or album titles which overpromise. But surprisingly this one -- which attempts both -- actually delivers quite a number of lower-totem pole African names, but very few are in the also-ran category. These musicians were part of a World Music Network Battle of the Bands (Gee, do they still have those things?) and a small, select few went on to record... > Read more

He Kele Monateng

Tinariwen: Emmaar (Pop Noire)

24 Mar 2014  |  1 min read

The Sahara blues caravan rolls on, and now with this seminal Tuareg group from Mali it is relocated to another desert. Because of troubles from Islamic extremists in their homeland, Tinariwen recorded this in Joshua Tree, California which must have made them feel pretty much at home (except for the absence of camels, their food etc). Here with a little outside assistance -- notably guitarist... > Read more

Aghregh Medin

EMEL MATHLOUTHI INTERVIEWED (2014): You say you want a revolution

22 Mar 2014  |  8 min read

On December 17, 2010 a 26-year old street trader Mohammed Bouazizi, sick of police harassment and confiscation of his wares, set himself alight in the street outside the police station in Sidi Bouzid near the Tunisian capital of Tunis. His sacrifice touched a raw nerve in Tunisia, a country riven by corruption, and riots ensued. The revolution to overthrow the government had... > Read more

Kelmti Horra/My Word is Free

ASIF ALI KHAN INTERVIEWED, SORT OF (2014): The gang's all here

22 Mar 2014  |  3 min read

Interviewing Sufi qawwali singer Asif Ali Khan at the recent Womad Taranaki was an experience. Not only does he arrive in the small porta-cabin at the side of one of the stages but so does the whole eight-man ensemble and their voluble French manager, the wonderfully named Wowkonowicz Snafu. We crammed into the tiny space and as I tried to speak with Asif – all the while... > Read more

FEMI KUTI INTERVIEWED AT WOMAD (2014): A voice in the wilderness

19 Mar 2014  |  2 min read

Elsewhere has already published an in-depth interview with Femi Kuti but we also caught up with him at a press conference at the recent Womad where he performed. Politics was, understandably, higher on the agenda than music, and pleasingly he spoke out about the anti-gay culture in Africa (“religion has capitalised on this aspect”) but admitted his open-minded... > Read more

Nistha Raj: Exit 1 (

17 Mar 2014  |  1 min read

Those fresh from Womad will attest that some of the most interesting music is made at the interface of cultures, and this album is further evidence. Texas-raised Nistha Raj (now living in Washington DC) graduated with honours in her classical violin studies but was drawn back to the music of India and spent three years there exploring and learning the modes of Hindustani classical music.... > Read more

Ajde Jano

WOMAD TARANAKI 2014: Under starter's orders

12 Mar 2014  |  4 min read

Given what “world music” is – music from all over the world, duh! – you'd think it had been with us always. Not so. “World music” as we know it today only made itself known by that description after June 29, 1987, the day when some British record importers, promoters and like-minded people working with artists from all over the world got... > Read more

La Chiva Gantiva: Vivo (Crammed Discs)

5 Mar 2014  |  <1 min read

Further proof -- if any more were needed -- that "world music" is a very slippery and loose term. These Womad visitors deliver a heady brew of Afro-Colombian grooves, soul-funk, hip-hop and some nods to roiling Afrobeat. They, of course, come from Belgium. Recording in their own studio and getting this mixed in New York just compounds the "world music" issue and in... > Read more

Me Voy de mi Cabeza

FEMI KUTI INTERVIEWED (2014): The exciting sound of dissent

28 Feb 2014  |  4 min read

The call to Femi Kuti in Lagos – down a line which on rare occasions reaches something approaching functional – finds his country is in turmoil. Thee ministers in the Nigerian cabinet had just resigned, various factions and parties were in disarray and president Goodluck Jonathan was asking Nigerians to pray for peace. To outsiders this might seem chaotic,... > Read more

Sorry Sorry

Womad Artist 2014: James Lindsay of Braebach

27 Feb 2014  |  2 min read

Double bassist James Lindsay of Scotland's Breabach says what they will be delivering at the forthcoming Womad in Taranaki is quite simple: “Expect a varied and exciting showcase of Scottish music, song and dance. We have double pipes, Gaelic and English song, heavy grooves and traditional step dance. “We love to play for up-for-it crowds, so come along ready to have... > Read more