New Reviews: December 20, 2004

Reviews by Matthew Forss

Zein Al-Jundi
Traditional Songs From Syria
Arc Music

Hailing from Syria, Zein Al-Jundi, is a premiere vocalist in various Syrian musical styles. Zein is also a highly acclaimed teacher, choreographer, author, producer and lecturer on Syrian music. Zein is joined by Egypt's top percussionist, Hossam Ramzy, and others on violin, cello, qanun, oud, nay flute, keyboards, and double bass. Each song is presented without disregard for the historical significance and role of the songs throughout Syria's musical history. Great Middle-Eastern percussion, backing vocal accompaniment and Zein's outstanding, yet ethereal voice, make Traditional Songs From Syria a gem of an album that resonates with abundant musical talent.

Nicholas Gunn
Gemini Sun Records

The latest musical innovations by vocalist, composer, arranger, and producer Nicholas Gunn are featured on Breath. Vocals are sparse; but the instrumentation is breathless. Flutes, hand percussion, piano, violin, and guitar stylings create the perfect atmosphere of a South American chill-out club. Soaring, yet contemplative and relaxing rhythms reflect Nicholas Gunn's celebration of breath as a central life force in each one of us. The atmospheric rhythms and sporadic, ethnic voicings are somewhat reminiscent of global music sensation Enigma. The laid-back musical arrangements should instill a sense of intrigue; without leaving the listener bored or unfulfilled. Overall, the orchestral arrangements, flute work, ethnic voicings, delicate percussion and possible soundtrack-desirable qualities are melodiously infectious. Breath should be the central life force for all of us!

Mathew Joseph

Indian-born Matthew Joseph performs a variety of songs sung in English. Mathew incorporates diverse instruments including tabla, dumbek, Spanish guitar, steel guitar, bass, violin, cello, flutes, piano, harmonium, mrdang, and cymbals. However, the overall songs structures are not highly reminiscent of typical Indian folk music. Essentially, the music features Western structures, with influences of folk, Americana and roots, with hints of reggae, too. A great album that is devoid of elaborate electronic arrangements and music musical unoriginality. Firefly is a true charm for the distinguished world music listener.

Emeline Michel
Rasin Kreyol
Times Square Records

Haitian vocalist Emeline Michel brings us songs about life in Haiti in the Creole language. The Latin rhythms and instrumentation are quite similar to central African soukous music. The piano, bass, drums, congas, guitar, trumpet, sax, organ, and choral pieces complete the sound on Rasin Kreyol. Emeline's jaxxy vocalizations make Rasin Kreyol and enjoyable album of Caribbean music. Explore the sounds of Haiti today!

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.