New Reviews: December 13, 2004

Reviews by Matthew Forss

Daara J
Wrasse Records

Daara J is a Senegalese hip hop music group that carries on the traditional form of rap music called tasso. Daara J, which means "school of life", presents poetic messages on the environment, government, traditional problems in society, and religion. The songs utilize several languages including, English, Spanish, Wolof, and French. Each track is backed by a good combination of bass, drums, Afro-Cuban percussion and jazzy, Latin-inspired rhythms. A strong emphasis on lyrical messages and instrumentation make Daara J an invaluable album for world hip hop/rap fans. Boomerang is what World hip hop should sound like!

Xavier Rudd
Salt X Records

Multi-instrumentalist, Xavier Rudd, brings us folk music from Australia. Xavier plays the 6 and 12 string acoustic/electric guitar, harmonica, slit drums, ankle bells, stomp box, and didgeridoo. The overall album sound draws upon simple folk songs characteristic in structure to American or Canadian folk music styles. Some tracks are instrumental; while others feature vocals in the vein of David Gray, Dave Matthews, or Sister Hazel. Solace is a truly talented work that expresses feelings of hope, peace and longing in a folksy context. One tune, originally by Bob Marley, is also included. Fans of scat folk, bluegrass, Americana, blues, Appalachian, slide guitar, folk, and "outback" folk music in English, should find enjoyment and solace in Xavier Rudd's latest work from Down Under.

Various Artists
Sweden: Traditional Music From The South (Blekinge Spelmansförbund)
Arc Music

The folk musical traditions of Blekinge county, Sweden, finally come to life on Blekinge Spelsmansförbund. A handful of musicians brought to light several traditional Swedish wedding, love, dance, waltz, and other celebratory songs with connections to Blekinge county within the past 200 years. The instrumentation includes violin, accordion, fiddle, and nyckelharpa (traditional Swedish, keyed fiddle). Though mostly an instrumental work, a few tracks feature female group vocals. An essential album that explores the folk music traditions of southern Sweden. Detailed liner notes in English, German, Spanish, and French are included.

Klapa Cambi & Klapa Jelsa
Songs Of Croatia: Klapa Singing From The Dalmatian Coast
Arc Music

Two a capella groups, Klapa Cambi & Klapa Jelsa, perform traditional poems in the style of Dalmatian klapa singing. The two groups feature all male vocals and an absence of instrumentation. The klapa vocal music tradition of Croatia is brilliantly showcased on Songs Of Croatia. Detailed liner notes in Croat, English, French, German, and Spanish are included.

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.