Friday, June 25, 2010

Etran Finatawa: Tarkat Tajje / Let's Go!

Deanne Sole reviews Etran Finatawa's Tarkat Tajje / Let's Go!
This is the third album Etran Finatawa has released through World Music Network. I didn’t think they’d make it past the first one. That has nothing to do with the quality of their music, and everything to do with commonly held ideas about what people will like or, specifically, what an English-speaking audience will buy. The core idea is: this audience is not supposed to like music in foreign languages. If the music is in a foreign language, then they are supposed to prefer it if it sounds like a different, English-speaking genre with which they’re already familiar: Central Asian rock music rather than Central Asian folk recordings; Albert Kuvezin’s Re-Covers rather than Dust-to-Digital’s Melodii Tuvi. It helps if the frontman has a recognised name. Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra has an advantage over a plain Symmetric Orchestra. It should have a photogenic face to represent it. A woman’s is nice. Call her a diva. Else, it should come with an exciting story: bold joyous Gypsies, rebel Tuareg, a blind couple. These bits of wisdom are repeated so readily that you can start believing in them, cynically: ah, people won’t buy that, it’s too strange for them … ah, those bloody people! Forgetting that you are one of the bloody people.
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