Friday, December 19, 2008

CD Review: Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Company

Paco Pena
A Compas! [2 CD]

One of the newest releases from Nimbus, Paco Pena and Company brings us an engaging 2-CD set of flamenco music recorded at a live show. From the inserts, you quickly learn of the musicians and dancers. Yet, it is unfortunate you do not get to watch these talented dancers in action. Though, it allows for the listener to be carried off to their own flamenco paradise. It is not difficult to find yourself dancing a bit when listening to any of Paco Pena's music. Flamenco music is such an emotive and passion-infused form of music that Paco Pena certainly explores with such genuine talent and aesthetic sensibilities. Check out his other recordings from Nimbus. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Don't Say 'Nay' For The Ney

Hossein Omoumi
The Song of the Ney [2 CD]

This 2-CD set of Iranian flute music also features vocals, daf, doumbak, and tar. The repertoire explores the dastgah and avaz modal systems. Though, the ney is the wind instrument most commonly heard throughout the Middle East and it is also one of the oldest instruments in the world. Hossein's mastery of the ney showcases the various levels of skill required to perform classical music in a traditional context. The talented expertise of Hossein and his accompaniment on disc two, solidifies the incredible breadth of intensive study in Iranian classical music. Consequently, listeners of classical music, Middle East/Central Asian music, and North African specialists will relish the hauntingly beautiful sounds of the ney. ~ Matthew Forss

Thursday, December 18, 2008

CD Review: Zia Mohiuddin Dagar [2 CD]

Zia Mohiuddin Dagar
Zia Mohiuddin Dagar [2 CD]

The late-Zia Mohiuddin Dagar was one of the very few specialists in the rudra vina (Indian chordophone). Anyone who is familiar with Indian ragas will be enthralled by Zia's amazing playing skills. On disc one, Zia plays an alap from the Yaman raga. Disc two features the raga Shuddha Todi. Thankfully, the music is well-documented in the liner notes. This set is highly recommended for the ethnomusicology student of classical Hindustani music, as well as the casual listener of South Asian classical music. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Flamenco Pena

Paco Pena
The Art of Paco Pena

The flamenco guitar serves as the driving force for creative and enlightening pieces of music. The classical leanings between the flamenco style of Spain, South America, and the classical underpinnings from Europe, allows for an engaging 65 minutes of music. Paco's style is indicative of flamenco greats of the past, including Nino Ricardo (1904-1972) and Ramon Montoya (1880-1949). A few vocal tracks convey a deeper sense of religious fervor amid the frenzied, but precise guitar-playing. Paco is accompanied by a few flamenco guitarists, a conductor, singers, and percussionists. Though, the sound of the recording never sounds busy or overly-produced. This is a perfect one for the flamenco or even Gypsy music fan. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Orquesta Cuba [2 CD]

Orquesta Cuba
Orquesta Cuba [2 CD]

The Rotterdam Conservatory Orquesta Tipica and Charanga Orchestra are featured on disc one and two, respectively. This is classical, Cuban music without the incorporation of typical Latin instrumentation and rhythms so commonplace in today's popular music. Disc one focuses on the contradanzas (country dance) rhythms, while disc two focuses on charanga music. Charanga music is closely related to country dances, but related to offshoots of mambo and chachacha. Of course, Nimbus prides itself in providing and sharing great pieces of musical history with the rest of the world by succinct and informative liner booklets. This recording is no different. Nearly 2 hours of music is featured on both CD's combined. This is an ideal collection for fans of classic orchestral music from Cuba or New York. Vocals are nonexistent on these two albums. So, chachacha on down to your local music store and pick up this incredible package of music history. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: China's Wu Man [2 CD]

Wu Man
Wu Man [2 CD]

Wu Man is a popular pipa player from China. This exciting 2-CD set of traditional pipa music is a must-have for lute lovers and folk music collectors. The first CD features Wu Man's skilled pipa mastery on 7 tracks running a total length of 71 minutes. There are no vocals on both CD's. The second CD runs over 63 minutes in length and includes 9 tracks. While Wu's pipa is mostly unaccompanied on the first CD, she is joined by an ensemble on the second CD. The ensemble consists of erhu, gaohu, zheng, dizi, xiao, and suona. This adds some color to the musical repertoire, as well as textural tones that brighten the compositions. A 16-page booklet details the music of the pipa, as well as notes on the songs and performers. A pleasant listening experience for sure. ~ Matthew Forss

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CD Review: Poland Dance Tunes

Trebunia Family Band
Music of the Tatra Mountains

An album named for the tallest mountains in Poland (Tatra Mountains), is a fitting backdrop to the majestic music of the Trebunia Family. They perform a special hybrid music indigenous to the Carpathian Range in Poland and bordering countries. The music is called Gorale, which is a folk dance music of two-to-four fiddles, three-string bass, and flute. Vocal accompaniment from men, women, and children, and may be performed a cappella, solo, or polyphonic. Notably, the short varied tunes and melodies resemble the often wide-ranging vocal interjections that frequently occur out of tune with the rest of the specific tune. The overall feel of Gorale music is one of waltz, polka, or Nordic fiddling traditions. This is a rare album of traditional folk music from Poland that should be cherished for years to come. An extensive 16-page booklet details the origins of the music, notes on the dances, and bios of the family. If you are interested in Celtic, fiddle, Nordic, Gypsy, folk, or bluegrass music, this should be a part of your 'repertoire'. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Hooray for Mali's Traore

Rokia Traore

To be released January 13th, 2009, Tchamantche is Rokia Traore's stellar album of Afro-pop that is uniquely 'Traore'. In order to shed the familiar pop sound, Rokia creates the music from a personal point-of-view that doesn't follow mainstream pop expectations. Some tracks are laid-back, while others are upbeat and percussive. I could also picture some of these songs as part of a soundtrack of an African film. Instrumentally, the n'goni, guitar, bass, harp, drums, and 'human beat box', complete the ensemble. However, Rokia's voice floats effortlessly through the tracks at just the right consistency, tone, and energy level. Tchamantche will be climbing the world music charts, so get your hands on it before it is too late! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Music From Southern Laos

Molam Lao
Music From Southern Laos

The Molam Lao is a group of singers and instrumentalists practicing the unique singing style of lam music, which involves alternate singing of verses among men and women 'duels'. These vocal 'duels' are accompanied by khen (mouth organ), xylophone, drums, cymbals, lute, and stick. Some tracks are devoted to solo xylophone or khen to showcase individual musicianship and style. Often, the context of the vocal pieces tends to focus on geography, politics or relationships. There are strong assimilations from neighboring Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. Anyone interested in traditional music or court music from Southeast Asia will enjoy Music From Southern Laos. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Desert Blues - Terakaft

Akh Issudar
World Village

The album title is adapted from the popular Tuareg saying, "Aman iman, akh issudar", which means, "Water is life, milk is survival". Akh Issudar is the follow-up album to Terakaft's 2007 debut (and hard-to-find) album, Bismilla: The BKO Sessions. Terakaft plays Saharan blues guitar music like their fellow countrymen, Tartit, Tinariwen, and others. In fact, Tinariwen's co-founder, Inteyeden Ag Ablil lends support on a few tracks. This album is perhaps more structured and focused than their debut release. Though, their iconic guitar riffs, percussion claps, and vocal melodies bring life to the Saharan desert. After hearing a few tracks, it is easy to find out how the melodies somewhat mimic lilting winds blowing across a sand dune, or by the plods of a camel caravan through a village. Lyrics are provided in the local Tamasheq dialect. If you want to listen to music as beautiful as the brilliantly colored metal and beadwork of Tuareg culture, then buy Akh Issudar (and Bismilla: The BKO Sessions) today! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Iran's Dastan Ensemble

Dastan Ensemble
The Endless Ocean
Network Medien

Iran's Dastan Ensemble explores the mystic poetry of Hafiz, Rumi, Attar, and Sayeh. Singer Salar Aghili brings these historic poems to life. He is back by tar, kamanche, barbat, daf, damam, dumbek, and dayereh. This is a classic ensemble of traditional Persian music. It's title, The Endless Ocean, is indicative of the flowing melodies and cascading vocal calisthenics of the singer and instrumental repertoire. For all those interested in Central Asian music, and Persian classical music in particular, this is a high-quality recording for your collection. An attractive booklet includes the story behind the music, musician bios, and song info in German, French, and English translations. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Melvin Gibbs' Elevated Entity

Melvin Gibbs' Elevated Entity
Ancients Speak
Live Wired Music

Bassist Melvin Gibbs explores the transnational connections between the heart of New York City, Brazil, Cuba, Caribbean, and West Africa in song and rhythm. Scheduled for release on March 17, 2009, Ancients Speak is a title that inspires a close association with today and the past. In fact, Melvin covers modern trance and trip-hop beats with sporadic rap verses. At any rate, this album is deeply cross-cultural and echoes the beginnings of humankind as a unified collective. That is the main thrust of this album. Additionally, some of the electronic elements resemble music by the group, The Dining Rooms, even though Ancients Speak contains more diverse percussion and faster rhythms. Overall, the nature of the music should strike a chord with the urban aficionado and others with an affinity for dance, techno, hip-hop, and Afro-funk. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Hungarian Folk Singer

Beata Palya
Adieu Les Complexes
Sony BMG

Hungary's Beata Palya brings us gorgeous vocal songs from the land of the Gypsies. Of course, the familiar cymbalom, sax, violin, flute, and piano are present, but there is a unique blend of folk and jazz music on this recording. Her vocals soar into new territory - spanning the Balkans, Mediterranean, Silk Road, and Scandinavia. She sings in Hungarian and English. However, song lyrics are provided in English, French, and Hungarian in the liner notes. Each song reveals something new and exciting. In other words, there isn't one dull moment on Adieu Les Complexes. The seemingly plaintive intros evoke an entrancing mixture of despair, optimism, and reflection. However, do not 'fret', because Beata Palya will fill your heart with joy. If you like soft jazz, Transylvania music, and Scandinavian-like instrumental and vocal arrangements, then Beata is for you! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Uganda's Rachel Magoola

Rachel Magoola
R. Magoola & MHK

The Afro-pop renderings of Ugandan, Rachel Magoola, brings a fresh perspective on the popular music scene. After her involvement with the Afrigo Band from 1989-2001, she embarked on a solo career. Eisadha is a lively mix of soukous and tropical rhythms inherent in the folk music of the region. Vocally, she is reminiscent of Benin's Angelique Kidjo, or the late-South African singer, Miriam Makeba. The classic melodies, instrumentation, and catchy tunes of good Afro-pop music is what Rachel does best. One of these highlights can easily be found on Track 4 "Endagaano". If you love African music and supporting independent musicians, then Eisadha should be high on your list. A fun, infectious delight best enjoyed with your favorite drink and a pair of stylish shades! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Bite Down On Chopteeth

Grigri Discs

The Afro-funk stylings of the 14-member super group, Chopteeth, performs a mix of Yoruba rhythms, Central African big jazz, and Fela Kuti-inspired musical ingenuity. In one word, this album can be described as "danceable". The incredible experience and knowledge behind the performers brings a good level of musical creativity to the project. The group's name comes from a Yoruba word meaning "crazy fool". The only thing crazy about this album is its infectious jazz grooves and high-degree of funkability. Though mostly instrumental, some vocals find their way into the mix. Chopteeth is comprised of musicians from across America, and one hailing from Kenya and Romania. They've proven you do not have to be of African descent to play Afro-funk. I'm sure fans will agree, Chopteeth is a gritty, dance-infused, Afro-funk ensemble that is sure to get everyone's feet moving for hours...and hours...and hours! ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CD Review: Surrender to Teslim (tes-LEEM)

Next Village Music

The cross-cultural mergings of Scandinavian strings, Arabic tunings, Mediterranean sounds, and Sephardic influences find themselves in harmonious array on Teslim's self-titled release. Teslim, which means, "surrender" or "commit" in Turkish, is a fitting album title, as it pleasantly ensnares all who come within earshot of its sounds. The violin and viola playing is under the direction of Kaila Flexer. She is accompanied by Gari Hegedus on an assortment of instruments, including the penny whistle, frame drum, tarhu, lavta, lauota, baglama, bulgari, divan, cura, and oud. Special guests include Sweden's Olov Johansson (of Vasen fame), on nyckelharpa, Shira Kammen and Julian Smedley on fiddles, and Liza Wallace on harp. 12 tracks and one hour of music covers a wide range of musical (and geographic) territory with multiple ethnographic leanings and styles. This is a great album for chordophone fans. Though, anyone with an interest in instrumental music from the Mediterranean, Middle East, North Africa, or portions of Europe and Central Asia, will especially enjoy Teslim. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Choros From Brazil

Os Ingenuos
Choros From Brazil
Nimbus Records

Hailing from Salvador, Bahia (Brazil), Os Ingenuos brings to life the legendary instrumental music of the choro. Os Ingenuos took their name from "Ingenuo", from the popularly-known composition of the same name from the famous choro maestro, Pixinguinha. The choro is a type of instrumental music identified in the 1920's. Usually played and enjoyed by the lower-to-middle classes, it became a recognizable style in Brazilian popular music. On the whole, the music incoporates Latin rhythms of samba, waltz, polka, and melodies from Portugal or Spain. The heart and soul of choro tends to be the seven-string guitar, which, on this album, is accompanied by sax, trombone, trumpet, cavaquinho, bandolim, and pandeiro. An informative booklet is included in English and French. 17 tracks and slightly over one hour of music makes Choros From Brazil a pleasant recording no matter where you are. ~ Matthew Forss

Thursday, December 11, 2008

R.I.P. Global Rhythm

Global Rhythm was one of the best print World Music magazines around. Each issue featured artists on the cutting edge of different musical styles from different countries and had a free CD of much of the music covered between the covers. Alas, Global Rhythm published its last issue earlier this autumn, with the intentions of going Web-only. However, those plans have changed and the site is no longer going to be updated. This is a real blow to the World Music community, but makes sites like Inside World Music all the more important. As a side note, subscribers to Global Rhythm are now being serviced by Relix, its sister publication and a fine magazine unto itself. ~ Paula E. Kirman

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

CD Review: Eja - A Swedish Quartet

Footprint Records

Eja is a Swedish quartet consisting of percussionist, celloist, Arabian lutist, and vocalist. They play traditional psalms and hymns of Nordic origin. Eva Rune provides the Swedish vocals. Her clear vocals are reminiscent of other Nordic folk music groups, such as, Gjallarhorn, Garmarna, and Triakel. The Arabic lute, played by Robert Folsch, adds a transglobal element to the group with high applause all around. The content of the songs contains elements of Biblical faith, joy and happiness, and the emotions of daily living. Liner notes include Swedish titles and lyrics. On the whole, Alruna transcends the Nordic spirit and brings forth long-standing traditions for a new generation. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Go With 'Tjo'

Footprint Records

Orust, named after the island of the same name off Sweden's west coast, brings us friendly folk music with innovative pizzazz from the traditions of island life. The music is wholly instrumental and includes the diatonic accordion, mandola, and fiddle. The fifteen tracks consist of mealtime tunes, waltzes, dances, reels, and medleys. The music resembles the instrumental folk music of England, Finland, and Scotland. Though, Orust's award-wining accordion player, Johann Kullberg, provides special accompaniment to the folksy rhythms. A toe-tapping release of epic proportions! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: 'Frost'y Music To Warm The Soul

Footprint Records

The Swedish folk group, Groupa, transcends definability and assumes a more progressive or avant-garde exploration of instrumental folk music. The instrumental repertoire consists of flutes, a clarinet, drums, mouth harp, melodeon, fiddle, and viola. The music on Frost is anything but cold; in fact, it is an album that is sure to heat up any celebration or occasion. The songs beckon a classical era of renaissance fairs, Nordic bards, and minstrel songs. All in all, the sprightly melodies and contemplative moods of the music should enthrall any listener with an ear for Scandinavian or even new age music. Two 'frost'y thumbs up! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: From The Woman That Sang The National Lampoon "Christmas Vacation Song"

Mavis Staples
Live: Hope At The Hideout

Mavis Staples' singing career spans over 50 years. Her background in blues/gospel and roots music is legendary. In fact, she sang the theme song, "Christmas Vacation", on the 1989 hit film, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. On her twelfth album, Live: Hope At The Hideout, takes place at a small roots club in Chicago, USA. It features thirteen popular songs including, "For What It's Worth", "Eyes On The Prize", "Down In Mississippi", "Freedom Highway", and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken". Fans of gospel, soul, roots, and blues music probably already know about Mavis. Now is the time to spread the word about the music of Mavis Staples to the world community. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Sweden Meets Latin America on 'Nubes del Alma'

Cerro Esperanza Band
Nubes del Alma
Footprint Records

If any album can bridge the musical cultures of Sweden and Latin America, then Nubes del Alma is in serious contention. Jorge Alcaide lends his Spanish and Swedish vocals. The Cerro Esperanza Band combines Spanish and Swedish lyrics with Cuban/South American rhythms and Balkan/Klezmer brass to make an unlikely concoction shine brighter than light glinting off a brass horn. At times, the melodies would be ideal for slow dancing, lounging at a smoke-filled bar in Rio de Janeiro, or for listening in the comfort of your home - wherever that may be. At any rate, they are versatile. Their music incorporates the accordion, guitar, bouzouki, clarinet, trombone, cimbalom, thumb piano, bass, and assorted percussion. Lyrics are provided in the liner notes in Spanish, English, and Swedish. As a bonus, the insert unfolds into a striking poster of instrument silhouettes. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Francesco Banchini - Italy

Francesco Banchini

Italy's Francesco Banchini plays the clarinet, but is joined by several percussion and string instruments on his latest release, Baqshish. In fact, you will hear the guitar, darabouka, accordion, frame drum, riq, nay, flute, bass drum, udu, cumbus, piano, and others. Of course, Italian elements pervade the songs, yet a distinct Balkan presence is also quite strong. The lilting melodies, effervescent instrumentation, and emotionality of the music have something for everyone. The songs incorporate Mediterranean elements, Balkan tunes, Central Asian arrangements, and Trans-European modalities. Moreover, the title, "Baqshish", is a word that is not precisely defined in the liner notes, yet it is mentioned as something that seems to connote 'spirit' or 'gratuity'. Likewise, we are thankful for discovering Francesco Banchini. If you enjoyed the Sicilian group, Milagro Acustico, then you should not pass this one up. Liner notes in Italian and English. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Soothing Sounds of Suarasama

Fajar Di Atas Awan
Drag City

Suarasama is a group based in Medan City, North Sumatra, Indonesia that is composed mostly of ethnomusicologists. Fajar Di Atas Awan ("Dawn Over The Clouds") was recorded by ethnomusicologist, Philip Yampolsky, in 1997. Notably, this is a re-issue of the 1998 recording. The group incorporates instrumentation from the Indian subcontinent and surrounding Southeast Asian regions. Overall, the recording includes a lighter collection of music that is good for contemplative listening, yoga, reflection, or immediate transport to a far-off land. Instruments used include the sruti box, framed drum, guitar, Persian duf, tabla, Sundanese kendang, and varied percussion. A mix of sporadic vocals, various instrumentation, and informative liner notes complete the ensemble. This release is also available on LP. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Choral Sounds of Norway and Nicaragua

Skruk & Katia Cardenal
Messe for Kari og Ola/Misa Campesina
Kirkelig Kulturverksted

Skruk, a Norwegian vocal ensemble, is joined by soloist Katia Cardenal and a Nicaraguan band of musicians to create some beautiful choral melodies and instrumental pieces. This is not your typical Orthodox church choir. The music combines the music of European liturgical traditions with the melodies and rhythms of South America. Though, the music if for everybody, as the first part of the album title can be translated from Norwegian to, "Mass for the Man in the Street", while the second part, a Nicaraguan mass in Spanish means, "Mass for Farmers". Vocals are sung in Norwegian and liner notes are included. Instrumentation is provided by guitar, marimba, bass, assorted percussion and drums. Some of the musical rhythms are reminiscent of Latin pop music from the 1960's or 70's. Overall, the music is perfect for Christmas celebrations, choral fans, and anyone interested in learning about this rarely heard musical collaboration. Rejoice with Skruk this holiday season! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Sweet Sounds of 'Nectar'

Natalia Clavier

Argentina's Natalia Clavier, grants us with a wonderful set of modern compositions. Her vocals carry every song in a heart-felt way; much like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower collecting 'nectar' for nourishment. In a way, listeners of Natalia will feel musically 'nourished' soon after hearing her pleasant vocals. The songs are catchy and feature a modern jazzy lounge beat. Instruments include piano, keyboard, guitar, bass, cello, violin, charango, organ, computer programming, congas, and cabaquinho. Lyrics are included in Argentinian Spanish. Track highlights include: "El Arbol", "Dormida", "Azul", "No Volvera", "La Mitad", "Simple", "Nectar", and "Tiempo". Nectar is excellent served with iced tea or your favorite mixed drink! This is easily one of the best releases of the year from South America. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Get Tipsy with 'Tipsy'

Ipecac Recordings

Fans of world music tend to be drawn toward the seemingly exotic or the unusual. In this case, Tipsy (USA) brings us something not only exotic or unusual, but 'otherworldly'. Welcome to the world of atmospheric downtempo music. The closest genre style represented here would be jazz. However, the spacey and electronic nature of the compositions provides the listener with a perfect backdrop for transcendence to another world. Buzzz contains echoing vibraphones, sporadic trumpets and sax, drums, flutes, and keyboard wizardry. A mostly instrumental effort, a Japanese singer, Coppe', lends vocals on a track. This album could very well be the soundtrack for an intergalactic experience, though it is equally well-suited for Earthlings. Fans of downtempo bands like Air, Zero 7, Everything But The Girl, or Action Figure Party should check out the psychedelic-electronica of Tipsy. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Issa Bagayogo - Malian Master

Issa Bagayogo
Mali Koura
Six Degrees

Mali's Issa Bagayogo produces yet another high quality album of adventurous tracks from Africa's sahel. His instrument of choice, the kamale ngoni (three-stringed lute), provides a perfect link of the rustic and earthy sounds of traditional music with more modern musical elements. For instance, his kamala ngoni is joined by guitar, bass, djembe drum, calabash, flute, violin, kora, sax, accordion, piano, synthesizer, and electronic programming. These instruments and styles meld succinctly with European arrangements and North African sensibilities. His voice catapults the tracks into new dimensions as the songs quickly enrapture the listener's attention. His vocal and musical style is similar to Zimbabwe's Oliver Mtukudzi, while distinctly different from the late-Ali Farka Toure. The music of Mali Koura is somewhat danceable, highly addictive, and refreshing. Track highlights on this recording are: "Sebero", "Poye", "Dibi", and "Ahe Sira Bila". Issa brings the world of Timbuktu closer to home for everyone! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review - Hal Ketchum

Hal Ketchum
Father Time
Curb Records

Hal Ketchum made his name in the early 1990s with catchy songs that bordered between mainstream country and adult contemporary. “Past the Point of Rescue,” “I Know Where Love Lives” and “Small Town Saturday Night” were mainstays on country radio and music video channels. Although his work has not been in the limelight as much since then, Ketchum has continued recording with Curb Records, maintained a loyal fan case, and achieved critical success. Father Time balances between the deep, introspective musings always apparent in many of his songs, with a sometimes bluesy feel. He is still true to his country and folk roots, although Americana would be a better genre to classify Father Time rather than country, which in today’s musical world implies a lot of commercial claptrap as opposed to a more intelligent singer/songwriter milieu. Most of the songs are written by Ketchum himself (with the exception of “Jersey Girl”, a Tom Waits cover), with some older material he decided to finally record. He writes about love, every day life, and also has a knack for telling stories through songs, like Richard Shindell. Father Time is a very appealing album for into singer/songwriters who go off the beaten path. ~ Paula E. Kirman

CD Review: Sona - India's Pop Princess

Sony BMG (India)

The angelic vocals of India's Sona touches the heart of every listener. This is a contemporary album of Hindi songs. Of course, the Bollywood sound is not too far from some of the songs on this album. Her vocals are backed with contemporary arrangements, Latin-like rhythms, and Indian roots. Some of the songs are Western-tinged ballads and Indian dance hits all sung in the Hindi language. A favorite dance hit, "Aaja Ve", stands out. A Central Asian-like tune, "Ishq Nachaya", incorporates classical arrangements, earthy percussion, electronic elements, and flowing vocalizations. Other favorites include: "Aise Jaagi Re", "Sapne", and two remixes of "Bolo Na" and "Ishq Nachaya". The meanings of the songs are included in the liner notes. A fun album not to be missed! ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CD Review: Music From Niger

Malam Maman Barka
Guidan Haya
Beauty Saloon Music

The traditional music of Niger is brought to life by the gurumi strumming and earthy vocals of Malam Maman Barka. He is the master of the gurumi, a two-stringed instrument with a gourd-resonating body. He is accompanied by Oumarou Adamou on traditional drums (douma and kalongu). This recording features Malam's vocals, his gurumi, and percussion without the use of fancy electronic wizardry or modern rock arrangements. The music is so genuine and mesmerizing that it does not need any embellishments. This is a high quality recording that is intriguing and inviting, despite it's stripped down nature. In essence, this is Nigerien music at its finest. Overall, Guidan Haya is a perfect recording for listeners of West and North African music, including the late Ali Farka Toure, Mamar Kassey, Tartit, and others. Thanks to producer Nathaniel Berndt, the music of Niger is now one step closer to everyone's ear. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Music From Myanmar

Various Artists
Music of Myanmar: Buddhist Chant in the Pali Tradition [2 CD]
Celestial Harmonies

The two-CD boxed set of Buddhist religious chant includes a detailed 90-page booklet of colored photos, chant translations from Burmese to English, and other information in an attractive collection from Celestial Harmonies. Most Burmese Buddhists are Theravada Buddhists, which follow the Pali tradition originating from the Pali canon of ancient Indian Buddhism from the Sthaviras who followed in the tradition of the first Buddhist sangha (assembly). The first CD includes a short musical introduction of conch trumpet, percussion plaque, and gong. The second track features Buddhist chant without instrument accompaniment. Track three is a long 63-minute chant proclaiming protection from evil and danger. The entire CD runs around 73 minutes in length. The second CD contains a track signifying universal causation and calls for protection. It is a chant entirely devoid of instrumentation. Track two, "Te Bhumma", is a song about Buddhist doctrines (Dhamma Gita) and is sung by a female. She is accompanied by harp and assorted percussion instruments. The song was written by the incomparable U Pyone Cho (1878-1927), a Burmese polyhistorian, artist, and avid naturalist. The final track, "Wizaya Hawsa", is a religious story sung in verse with varied vocal changes and dramatic story-telling gestures. The single, male vocalist is accompanied by the Hsaing Waing Ensemble. Overall, this set is ideal for fans looking for Buddhist chant and music. That being said, it's an amazing collection running well over two hours in length. ~ Matthew Forss

First Post, New Place

Hello fellow lovers of World Music. This is the new place for reviews, news, and views about World Music. Like in the past, we will feature artist profiles, CD reviews, concert reviews, and news from the World of music.

Why a new site? Well, we were at our former address for a number of years, and things were starting to build up to the point where a lot of our legacy material was getting dated, links had moved, and the design just wasn't suiting the content any longer. One of our choices was to do a complete redesign, which would have taken time sand resources we simply do not have. Inside World Music is run completely by volunteers, and we wanted to keep things as fun and simple as possible.

So, thanks to the wonderful world of blogs and social networking, the best way to keep up with the times and continue to publish is through a blog like the one you are reading now! Stay tuned - we have only just begun.