New Reviews: March 29, 2004

Reviews by Matthew J. Forss

Tom Lewis/Tanglefoot
360°: All Points Of The Compass
Borealis Records

The Borealis Record company claims to offer the “best in Canadian folk music.” 360°: All Points Of The Compass reinforces the above statement. Tom Lewis and Tanglefoot collaborate to bring us folk music in a traditional context. Tom sings songs mostly about sailors and seafaring life and their experiences, while also including Irish influences. Various instrumentation is included, such as the button accordion, ukulele, bass, harmonica, electric guitar, whistles, percussion, and hand tools and kitchen implements (yes, hand tools and kitchen implements!) The songs are sung in English and include a booklet containing the lyrics and stories behind the music. 360°: All Points Of The Compass is mostly an original composition, however, some songs are borrowed from other musicians, including a country-style track from Lyle Lovett. Overall, 360°: All Points Of The Compass follows the great tradition of storytelling – the quintessential foundation of folk music.

Ramiro Musotto
Fast Horse Recordings

Argentinian-born and Brazilian based percussionist, producer and programmer, Ramiro Musotto, utilizes the traditional sounds of Brazilian life and modern programming technology to create a new form of fusion music. Sudaka is the brainchild that contains chants, voicings and folklore traditions that collide with an urban, contemporary beat of electronic music. Ramiro’s influences range from Afro-Brazilian trance induction music called candomble, to Brazilian pop, carnival samba, and folk music. Fans of experimental, Brazilian music that combines folklore traditions with contemporary arrangements will find Sudaka most satisfying.

Joji Hirota/Pete Lockett
Taiko To Tabla: Masters Of Percussion
Arc Music

Global percussionists Joji Hirota and Pete Lockett present their collaborative works on Taiko To Table: Masters Of Percussion. Both percussionists play a wide range of instruments including shakuhachi flute, tablas, shakers, taiko drums, dumbek, thumb piano (mbira), congas, bongos, udu, and various percussion and sound effects. Vocal stylings stem from Japanese folk tunes, while utilizing voice as a percussive instrument on some of the tracks. The combination of East Asian and Indian percussion arrangements and hints of African and Arabic melodies and percussion, make Taiko To Tabla . . . a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience of global proportions.

Various artists
Music Of The Silk Road
Arc Music

Traditional folk music from the Silk Road region is featured Arc Music’s latest venture into world music compilations. Folk music from Turkey, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Monglia and China are included on this impressive compilation. Male and female vocal samples, as well as, instrumental tunes, create musical continuity, without losing musical quality. Music Of The Silk Road is void of any technical electronic programming and modern instrumentation. Consequently, the sheer awe of authenticity conjures up images of nomads traveling across the steppes of Inner Mongolia or merchants exchanging spices at a Bukharan marketplace. Extensive liner notes detailing the Silk Road route, musician bios, instruments used and other info in English, German, French, and Spanish translations are included. A must-have for Central Asian music collections!

From Paris With Love
Harmoni Mundi

The Skatalites have been performing their characteristic “ska” music for the past forty-some years. Originating in Jamaica, they incorporated jazz, calypso, reggae, and blues musical styles into a unique instrumental-beat music called ska. From Paris With Love is a reunion album of sorts, for some of the band members. Female vocals are featured on a few of the tracks. However, the musical structure of each track is enthusiastic and upbeat, which is perfect for dancing in your home or at the beach under the palm tree of your choice. A great album of reggae-beat (ska) music!

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.