New Reviews: March 25, 2004

Reviews by Matthew J. Forss

Boris Karlov
Legend Of The Bulgarian Accordion
BMA Productions

Boris Karlov (1924-1964) was an accomplished and well-respected accordionist in Bulgaria. Boris was “instrumental” in establishing the accordion as a popular folk instrument in Bulgarian folk music. Legend Of The Bulgarian Accordion is a 2 CD collection of 40 tunes spanning Boris’s musical career from 1940 to 1964. Yves Moreau revived and compiled the songs from the archives of the Bulgarian National Radio, Balkanton, records and old 78’s. This collection showcases Boris’s abilities and commitment to traditional folk instrumental styles popular in Bulgaria. Fans of accordion music should acquire Legend Of The Bulgarian Accordion from one of the most “legendary” accordionists of the 20th century.

Shafqat Ali Khan
Sufi Songs
Arc Music

Sufi Songs continues in the tradition of Sham Chaurasi – a style of singing from East Punjab and one of the most respected and influential traditions in India and Pakistan. Shafqat Ali Khan is a prestigious singer that has earned him numerous awards in Pakistan and India. Shafqat plays the surmandal (zither) for vocal accompaniment; however Kashif Ali Khan, Shahid Kamal, Sabir and Arfan Nabi Buksh join Shafqat on tabla, harmonium, tanpura and sarangi, respectively. Summarily, Sufi Songs feature contemporary Sufi music running over 70 minutes in length! Extensive liner notes in English, German, French and Spanish translations detail each song and Shafqat’s bio.

Optina Pustyn Male Choir of St. Petersburg
Orthodox Chants From Russia
Arc Music

Established in 1996, the male choir of the Optina Pustyn Monastery, consists of several men that graduated from the St. Petersburg conservatoire. The choir maintains early Russian church singing styles and traditions, while also representing choral music as a secular art form. Consequently, the choir brings us music from liturgical and Byzantine-influenced chants celebrating the Russian Orthodox Christian tradition. Fans of religious chants will thoroughly enjoy Orthodox Chants From Russia.

The Best Of Clannad: In A Lifetime

The Brennan family, hailing from Donegal, Ireland, brings us their best work to date, with a collection of their acclaimed hits over the past 25 years. Some tracks feature well-known guest musicians including Bono, Bruce Hornsby, and Paul Young. Most of the tracks feature the angelic voice of Moya Brennan and atmospheric nuances with Gaelic infusions. Overall, a very accessible, peaceful, and meditative album, albeit in English, that should interest fans of “new age and Celtic music. Of course, long time fans should also acquire Best Of . . . for their listening pleasures and reflections on a band's incredible musical career.

Fast Horse Recordings

Mylene incorporates contemporary South American arrangements with electronic programming and jazz-tinged percussion that signify Mylene’s unique musical style. Mylene’s pleasant and supple voice, conveys a serene atmosphere of a Rio de Janeiro jazz lounge late at night. Catchy and upbeat tracks utilize instrumentation from sax, flute, synth, bass, berimbau, Rhodes, keyboards, guitar, drums and various South American percussion. Overall, Mylene shines through on her debut album of South American musical ingenuity. Fans of female vocal South American music, jazz, tango, rumba, samba, and Latin pop/folk will openly accept and revel in Mylene’s beautiful musical intonations.

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.