Friday, August 03, 2007

Sound of the World 2007

Two reviews of Charlie Gillett's compilation.
As an introduction to the stars and new voices of world music, Charlie Gillett's Sound of the World compilations are hard to beat - a clear endorsement of an informed editorial line. Among the established artists are electro tango band Gotan Project, South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Touareg rockers Tinariwen and the fabulous Pakistani singer Abida Parveen, sadly doing Bollywood rather than her Sufi music. But there are notable new names, including Vieux Farka Touré, following in the footsteps of his late father, Ali Farka Touré, Cape Verdean singer Mayra Andrade, Andy Palacio from Belize and Mali's marvellous desert lute player Bassekou Kouyaté. The many raplike tracks get a little tiring, but that's indicative of the scene and not solely Gillett's fault.
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It may seem confusing that Charlie Gillett's latest annual compilation has exactly the same title as his 2005 set, but no matter. This is another highly entertaining guide to the best new music from around the world. As ever, some of the tracks are by established favourites, this time including desert blues exponents Tinariwen, the Gotan Project, Los de Abajo (with their wild Mexican treatment of The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum) and Andy Palacio, with a song from his intriguing Garifuna project. Then there's a reminder of the instrumental brilliance of Bassekou Kouyate, the African newcomer of the year.
Lesser-known artists include the cool and charming Mayra Andrade from Cape Verde, who can be heard both on a track from her forthcoming album and on a collaboration with local rap exponents LA-MC Malcriado (one of several reminders of the way that hip-hop is taking over the world). Then there are the oddities: the best this year is the Berlin-based collective 17 Hippies, with a gloriously unlikely, breathy burst of French chanson.
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