New Reviews: June 2006
Reviews by Matthew Forss
Gigi Gold & Wax Palm Pictures www.palmpictures.com Gigi is an Ethiopian songstress that mixes African, Indian and Western melodies and instrumentation on Gold & Wax. Produced by Bill Laswell, Gold & Wax features the talents of Ustad Sultan Khan on sarangi, Karsh Kale on tabla and others on keyboard and avant-garde instrumentation. The entire album contains an electronic backbone with Gigi’s supple, yet clear vocals with engaging instrumentation and melodies. The vocalizations and electronic instrumentation of UK’s Beth Orton and Italy’s Nuklearte come to mind. Gold & Wax is an excellent contemporary release out of Ethiopia. The jazzy, electronic downbeat rhythms and somewhat meditative and mildly energetic vocals are very easy to listen to. Gold & Wax is definitely gold to my ears! Maurice el Medioni & Roberto Rodriguez Descarga Oriental: New York Sessions Piranha www.piranha.de Algeria’s Maurice el Medioni and Cuba’s Roberto Rodriguez, showcase the jazzy elegance of a trendy lounge club. New York Sessions incorporates Latin Jazz with North African rhythms with some American instrumentation. The piano, darbuka, organ, bass, trumpet and other percussion instruments are utilized. Some vocals are also present. New York Sessions is a magnificent recording for dance and relaxation. Wa-Zimba Mande Wazy Tinder www.tinderrecords.com www.wazimba.com A number of Afro-Pop string bands, including Tarika, Rajery and others, have come out of Madagascar in recent times. Now, you can add Wa-Zimba to the list of popular bands. Mande Wazy includes guitar rhythms with Malagasy flute and string percussion and unmistakable vocals. Each track is richly textured with instrumentation and traditional Malagasy rhythms. Mande Wazy should not be passed up. This is essential for African music fans and Madagascar music fans in particular. Various Artists Merengue World Music Network www.worldmusic.net The Latin sounds of the Dominican Republic are numerous, but the latest Rough Guide release focuses on the merengue style of music. The merengue style of music rose to prominence in the Dominican Republic in the 1930’s. The music went through some instrumental changes, including an almost complete removal of the accordion in the 1960’s. Today, meringue music is mixed with hip hop, rock and jazz elements. Merengue showcases several notable groups that convey the meringue spirit. Each track has lively vocals and instrumentation. The beats will give your feet and ears a workout! Kal Kal Asphalt Tango Records www.asphalt-tango.de Kal hails from Belgrade, Serbia. Kal can be translated to mean ‘black’. Kal is a Gypsy band that incorporates blues, jazz, tangos, horas, waltzes and urban compositions. The music utilizes a big band sound and evocative vocals. Fans of Balkan jazz, Klezmer and Gypsy music should pick up Kal without hesitation! This is Balkan music at its best! Boban Markovic Orkestar feat. Marko Markovic The Promise Piranha www.piranha.de Serbia’s Boban and Marko Markovic, have transcended the musical attributes of ages past to bring us an incredible selection of brass band compositions from the Balkans. The tracks are almost entirely instrumental, except for one track sung in Macedonian. Great Brass band sounds, Klezmer-like melodies, Gypsy rhythms and European hora arrangements lay the foundation for The Promise. You will not be disappointed with any recording by the Markovic family! Romica Puceanu & The Gore Brothers Sounds From A Bygone Age: Vol. 2 Asphalt Tango Records www.asphalt-tango.de The Lautari music of Romania was an old-time music that included the violin, double bass, cymbalom, accordion, cobza and vocals. Romica Puceanu & The Gore Brothers were pioneers in Lautari music. Sounds From A Bygone Age: Vol. 2 was recorded in the 1960’s. However, all the tracks are clear and in excellent condition. Romica’s vocals are heartfelt and expressive. Fans of Balkan brass, jazz, classical, Klezmer, hora and other similar genres should acquire the music of a bygone age. Superb!