Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Alash Ensemble: Buura

Alash Ensemble is made up by vocalist, byzaanchy, chadagan, igil and xomus player Nachyn Choodu; vocalist, igil, doshpuluur player and guitarist Bady-Dorzhu Ondar; vocalist, doshpuluur, igil player and guitarist Ayan-ool Sam; and vocalist, kengirge, shynggyrash, shoor, murgu and xomus player Ayan Shirizhik.


Tinariwen: Tassili

The kings of desert blues remain full of surprises. Their fifth album sidesteps the rolling, electric style that's made them world-conquerors for a return to acoustic campfire camaraderie. Simultaneously come collaborations with cutting-edge American rock.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tinariwen: Tassili

Anyone who has followed CD reviews for any length of time here at World Music Central knows that desert blues is always a big hit with us. As luck would have it one of the heavy weights in the desert blues business Tinariwen has just released their latest Tassili, available now on the Anti label, to soothe all your desert blues needs for the late summer doldrums.
With such previous recordings as Aman Iman, Amassakoul and Imidiwan to their credit, Tinariwen turns inward with Tassili, opting for acoustic guitars instead of their usual electric razzle dazzle. Teaming up for the first time with guest musicians like Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio fame, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Nels Cline from Wilco, Tinariwen plumbs the heart of their sound and finds a savage soulfulness.
Interestingly, Tassili has a more polished and more focused feel to it than some of their previous recordings, allowing a spare, intimate artistry to shine through. Steeped in an acoustic sound, Tassili sounds more like an American blues band than the guitar flash we've come to expect from a desert blues recording and the result is simply stunning.

Saltwater Band: Malk

The blind Aboriginal singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu released his debut solo album two years ago, and since then he has become successful far beyond Australia, selling more than half a million albums. His second album is released at the end of next month, but is preceded by this intriguing, if uneven reminder of what he was doing before he became an international celebrity. He was working with Saltwater Band, a group from Elcho Island, off north-east Arnhem Land, led by another singer-songwriter, Manuel Dhurrkay. This is their third album, a cheerful fusion of reggae, gospel, pop and occasional echoes of indigenous styles, with many lyrics in the language of the Gumatj people.

Tinariwen: Tassili

It's not always a good sign when a band (or their producer) invite special guests to join in on a recording or add overdubs later, and what we have here is a brave, mostly impressive no-nonsense acoustic set that includes a batch of unnecessary collaborations. Tinariwen are a brilliant live band who have deservedly built up an international following for their infectious, pounding fusion of desert blues and the styles of the nomadic Tuareg people of the Sahara. After their last album, the charming, surprisingly laid-back Imidiwan, I had been expecting a return to the electric guitars and energy of their live shows or their classic Aman Iman. Instead, they have produced their most sparse, gentle album to date.

Interview with Ea Sola

Vietnamese artist Ea Sola creates performance pieces featuring women farmers, aged 50-75. Alfred Hickling talks to her about her ever-evolving work, Drought and Rain
In a sweltering hot theatre in the centre of Naples, a group of Vietnamese peasant women stand on stage. They are not professional performers, but farmers aged between 50 and 75 who have never previously left their villages, let alone been transplanted to the garbage-strewn streets of Italy's most chaotic city. Gradually they begin to sway, as if the wind were stirring a rice field. Though their movements are simple, they have a stealthy, ritualistic quality that occasionally becomes quite surreal. When they bow their heads, the gently nodding crowns of conical straw hats resembles a strain of alien fungi.
It is not easy to say what this enigmatic performance is intended to be – it's difficult to call it drama because nobody speaks. It's hard to characterise it as dance, since the performers barely move.
The piece, called Drought and Rain, is the creation of the Vietnamese-French director, choreographer and performance artist Ea Sola.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ladino music

Interest in Ladino music -music that originated among the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain following the reconquista of 1492- is on the rise. Rightly so, since at its best it can be enchanting. Of Moroccan and Persian heritage and currently based in London, Mor Karbasi sings with the same reach and emotion as the finest flamenco and fado vocalists, and her music has similarities to both of those Iberian-rooted styles.

The Banjo's Roots, Reconsidered

Research by a Gambian musician has shed new light on the African origins of a quintessentially American instrument.


Latin alternative DJ collective Maracuyeah mixes vintage cumbia with Chilean electronica

Friday, August 19, 2011

Preachin’ the Blues: The Life and Times of Son House

If there wasn't a Son House, you might have to invent him. Born in Riverton, Mississippi in 1902, Son House (Eddie James House, Jr) was preaching the Christian gospel at age 15 in many Baptist churches around the Mississippi delta as his family wandered from one plantation to another, but he soon developed a love for the guitar and the blues, and joined playing partners Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, and Willie Brown performing in jook joints and nightclubs in the area.


Tareq Abboushi & Shusmo: Mumtastic

Palestinian pianist and buzuq player Tareq Abboushi along with his co-conspirators that make up Shusmo have turned Arabic music inside out with their release of Mumtastic. To clue listeners into the group's style "shusmo" means "whatchamacallit" in Arabic and "mumtaz" is Arabic for excellent. And indeed descriptive terms for the music on Mumtastic are hard to come by as this quintet's tears through the ground rules of genre, fusing Arabic music with jazz, funk and sassy Latin grooves.

In Lisbon, finding fado's blues on backstreets

It's after dark in Lisbon's ramshackle Alfama neighborhood. Old-timers gather in restaurants, which serve little more than grilled sardines, to hear and sing Portugal's mournful fado...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings: The Centennial Edition

The 100th birthday of Mississippi delta bluesman Robert Johnson was celebrated on May 8, 2011, and Sony/Legacy has decided to honor one of the greatest American blues legends and musicians of all time by issuing a newly-remastered two-CD set of 42 master and alternative takes from 1936-1937.

Mercedes Peón: SOS

SOS introduces various musical influences, ranging from wild Galician folk to Afro-Cuban, Balkan sounds, funk, jazz, rock, global electronica, experimental excursions and other elements. Some of her pieces are like musical collages, recombining music from various sources with surprising twists. Mercedes Peón is at ease using electronic and acoustic instruments simultaneously. In addition to a surprising wide range of vocals, Mercedes Peón plays keyboards, bass, samplers, guitar, clarinets, electronic bagpipe, Moroccan reeds, Galician and Berber frame drums, drum kit, various types of percussion (including a paprika can), water and field recordings.

Youssou N’Dour: Dakar-Kingston

Youssou N'Dour: Dakar-Kingston [Universal/Emarcy, 2011] Senegal's Youssou N'Dour, one of the greatest voices in African music (or any sort of music, for that matter), has made a reggae album. Read More

Trojan Release A Double 'Double Barrel'

Two versions on one of the biggest selling Reggae records of all time on limited edition 7" vinyl. Read More

Pequeña Orquesta de Trovadores

A folk-flavored indie band has a sweet, sad take on cumbia. Read More

Johnny Clegg On World Cafe

Hear an interview and live performance from the South African musician and activist. Read More

Naturalesa Salvatge

Spain's Naturalesa Salvatge makes us want to linger in darkness with their new EP. Read More