New Reviews: January 14, 2004

Reviews by Matthew J. Forss

A Collection From Boris Grebenshikov
Naxos World

Russian folk guitarist, Boris Grebenshikov, showcases a sample of songs spanning nearly three decades. A Collection . . . features mostly original, and a few traditional compositions of Russian folk music. Boris Grebenshikov performs vocals and guitar work. Additional instruments include various horns, string arrangements and percussion. However, the foundational Russian folk music elements are clearly evident on each track. Boris Grebenshikov is wholly committed to maintaining Russiaís musical identity through folk music. Boris Grebenshikov became well known after his formation of the popular folk/rock group, Aquarium. A Collection . . . is an excellent solo excursion that successfully and thoroughly explores the world of Russian folk music. Liner notes include Russian, English, French and German translations.

Lisa Joy
Persian Carnival
Porrima Records

Persian Carnival captures the essence of the instrumental and vocal stylings of the Middle East. Lisa Joy is an evocative and sincere vocalist that lends her vocals on a few ten-plus minute tracks. The majority of Persian Carnival is a mostly instrumental musical effort, which conjures up images and sounds of a carnival scene set in a Middle Eastern country. Moreover, a single track, appropriately explores the sounds of a carnival. Also, the last track features a sandstorm that transports the listener to a desert environment somewhere in the Middle East. The few sound effects on Persian Carnival do not sound excessively electronic or artificial in any way. Overall, the entire album presents a musical view of love and passion. Additionally, the longer songs feature string arrangements, Middle Eastern percussion, horns, tambourines, flutes, harps and a Middle Eastern lute called an oud. Persian Carnival is certainly a unique album for fans with a slight fascination with carnivals, Middle Eastern percussion and Sufi vocal music.

Besh o Drom
Nekemtenemmutogatol! (Canít Make Me!)
Asphalt-Tango Records

Hailing from Hungary, Besh o Drom performs traditional brass folk music. Various musical regions including Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Afghanistan, Armenia, Romania and Moldova, influence the many tracks. Amid the brass techniques, Latin jams, lounge jazz stylings, one can hear Hungarian vocals and a bit of Balkan rap. Instruments used include, darbuka, water can, percussion, alto saxophone, ney flute, guitar, cimbalom, trumpet, clarinet and bass guitar. However, Nekemtenemmutogatol! is an excellent album for fans of contemporary Hungarian and Balkan group folk music. Musical purists may cringe, but Besh o Drom successfully combines and adopts East European, North African and Middle Eastern folk music styles into a truly one-of-a-kind musical innovation that still possesses a basic foundation that is distinctly Hungarian.

Matthew J. Forss is currently a full-time student at Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is majoring in Biology and German Language/Culture. Since 1998, he has collected numerous musical instruments and CDs from around the world. Also in 1998, he wrote a paper on Mongolian Ethnomusicology, entitled: How Does Music Play An Important Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia? Currently, he has collected over 100 CDs that represent dozens of different countries. His general interests include ethnomusicology journalism and researching the traditional/contemporary ethnic music of various cultures from around the world. His specific, geographic areas of study include the traditional and popular music from Central Eurasia (especially Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.) In November of 2000, he accepted the position of writing world music CD reviews for this site.