New Reviews: April/May 2006
Reviews by Matthew Forss
Nuru Kane Sigil World Music Network www.worldmusic.net www.nurukane.com Sigil captures a unique blend of North African gnawa music with Southern European infusions. Nuruís vocals are somewhat bluesy and always passionate. Simple instrumentation including the guimbri, guitar, bass, oud, sanza, nígoni, violin, accordion, Welsh flute, djembe and other percussion. Essentially, Nuru takes the listener on a musical journey across Northwest Africa. Elements of blues and nomadic folk instrumentation are nicely accompanied by Nuruís vocalizations; which are very similar to Maliís Ali Farka Toure. Overall, the Nuru explores the life and culture of gnawa in West Africa; while remaining relatively distinct musically. Sigil is a musical journey that will surely please Saharan, African, blues, folk and acoustic music fans. Includes liner notes in French and English. Tengir-Too Music of Central Asia Vol. 1: Mountain Music of Kyrgyzstan Smithsonian Folkways www.folkways.si.edu The seemingly elusive music of Central Asia has become more accessible to Western audiences in recent years. Any music from Kyrgyzstan is especially hard to find for Western listeners. Fortunately, the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia and the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage have showcased the folk music of Kyrgyzstan to listeners worldwide with the release of Music of Central Asia Vol. 1: Mountain Music of Kyrgyzstan. You will hear various musicians in the Tengir-Too ensemble playing traditional instruments including the choor (end blown flute), chopo choor (clay ocarina), jygach ooz komuz (wooden Jewís harp), temir komuz (metal Jewís harp), kyl kayak (bow fiddle), komuz (3-string lute) and sybyzgy (side blown flute). Male and female vocals are also featured. Mountain Music of Kyrgyzstan should be the album of choice for all Central Asian music listeners. Simple folk tunes and spacious melodies transport the listener to the foothills of the Tien Shan Mountains on a warm, Spring day! The album is also accompanied by a DVD with English subtitles featuring special map features, a musical documentary, live performances and some of the instrument making processes. Moreover, you will receive an attractive 46 page booklet with Kyrgyz music history, English/Kyrgyz lyrics and instrument history/organology. This is one epic album from the steppes that should be in your collection! Asha Bhosle Love Supreme Time Square Records www.timessquarerecords.net Multi-award winning songstress, Asha Bhosle, has recorded thousands of Hindi songs since the 1950ís. Love Supreme features a 2 CD set: Ghazals and Romantic Duets. There are also 2 bonus music videos included on Romantic Duets. The music is distinctly Hindi-pop with a mature sensibility and a progressive tone. However, the instrumentation includes Western instruments and musical styles on some of the tracks. There are definite lounge jazz infusions, classical arrangements and some African elements. The unmistakable vocals of Asha Bhosle make Love Supreme a necessary album for Hindi-pop fans young and old! Various Urban Latino World Music Network www.worldmusic.net Urban Latino is the latest pulse to come out of Latin America. Contemporary Tex-Mex beats, dance beats, fast wordplay, rap prose, ska, electronic and lounge jazz music styles are represented. All of the tracks are in Spanish. The music originates from Cuba, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico. Urban Latino is a very energetic and eclectic musical masterpiece. Various Artists Tanzania World Music Network www.worldmusic.net Tanzania is a rare compilation of contemporary music from Tanzania. The music styles and vocals are varied. The album contains songs that draw upon acoustic, jazz, string band, dance, Latin, Arabic, classical and rap rhythms. Tanzania is a strong release that seemingly defies contemporary characterization; but it is nonetheless a very high quality recording that features the best bands and vocalists from Tanzania. Various Artists Flamenco Nuevo World Music Network www.worldmusic.net The unmistakable flamenco style of music is showcased on Flamenco Nuevo. Several artists from Europe, Africa, Middle East and South America display the diverse flamenco origins and artistic influences. Flamenco is traditionally a Spanish and North African music style. Flamenco Nuevo presents us with a contemporary fusion of a little rock and some progressive electronic elements. Nevertheless, the original flamenco spirit is alive and well, as evidenced by the fiery vocals and danceable arrangements. There are a bit of classical, folk and jazz infusions, as well. There is also an interview included with the music project compiler, Chris Moss. Another great rough guide to the smooth sounds of Flamenco! Samite Embalasasa Triloka Records www.triloka.com www.samite.com The thumb piano, also known as the kalimba or mbira, is an instrument with amazingly simple intonations that form the sole foundation for Samiteís music. The thumb piano is accompanied with xylophone, flute, piano, guitar and Samiteís emotive vocalizations. Those familiar with the thumb piano from Southern Africa will find Embalasasa enthralling. Embalasasa is one of the few releases to come out of Uganda. Overall, the instrumentation is superb, pleasant and contemplative; but there are a few energetic moments, as well. Very refreshing! Various Artists Bhangra Dance World Music Network www.worldmusic.net Bhangra, which means Ďhempí, is a type of dance music originally from Northern India. Bhangra Dance celebrates British musicians that perform bhangra music. Energetic beats, hand-clapping, drum beats, woodwinds and other instrumentation backed by female and male vocals, make Bhangra Dance a delightful listening experience. Those familiar with Bollywood, Hindi, or South Asian pop music should pick up Bhangra Dance. Zemog El Gallo Bueno Cama de la Conga (The Bed of the Conga) Aagoo Records www.aagoo.com The role of the conga in Latin music is a very pervasive and passionate element. The bandsí composer, Abraham Gomez-Delgado, makes an effort to convey his music in a different light that cannot be described by previously held, commercialized, Latin music vernacular. The music incorporates elements from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Caribbean, Europe and Africa. The music is folksy, energetic and jazzy. The vocals are certainly emotional and full of life. The Bed of the Congas should be on the minds of every Latin music fan! Various Artists Israel World Music Network www.worldmusic.net The music of Israel incorporates a variety of musical influences from Southern Europe and North Africa. Israel features the contemporary folk, pop and band music from various artists with ties to Israel. There are also rap elements, classical, jazz, Gypsy and Arabic rhythms. The vocals are varied; but always entertaining. Some artists that may already be familiar to international music fans include Chava Alberstein, Yasmin Levy and the late-Ofra Haza. You donít want to miss this one!