New Reviews: November 19, 2000

Authentic Bulgarian Folk Songs
The Bistritsa Grannies and their Grand-Daughters
Gega New Records 2000

Authentic Bulgarian Folk Songs is an excellent recording of antiphonal singing at its best. With the absence of musical instruments, eight grandmas and their ten grand-daughters perform many different vocal harmonies, sounds and techniques, throughout the album. Hailing from Sofia, Bulgaria, these ladies have been performing since 1939, utilizing amazing and complex harmonies that almost defy description. This album is excellent for anyone interested in polyphonic, tuva or choral singing.


Nande Reko Arandu
Memoria Viva Guarani

Memoria Viva Guarani features amazing vocal singing by a dozen or so children from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A variety of drums, rattles, shakers, violins and guitars accompany the children's voices to produce a rather astonishing ethnic sound. Ethnic/tribal elements are clearly evident throughout the album. For the most part, very little variation exists between the songs. However, the voices and instruments manage to succeed in creating an awe-inspiring journey that transports the listener to the heart of the Brazilian rainforest. In addition to the basket-weaved album artwork, a 22 page booklet (non-English) is included. It contains information regarding the instruments and culture of the people, as well as lyrics to all of the songs.


Ethnic Music of the Mayas

Ethnic Music of the Mayas is an excellent recording of authentic pre-Columbian Mayan music. A large variety of traditional instruments include, sea shells, guiros, wooden flutes, log drums, water drums and timbals. Amidst the ethnic instrumentation, interspersed vocals accompany some of the songs, creating a fulfilling listening experience. Rather relaxing musical tones and textures move along fluently from song to song. The striking album artwork may be an incentive in itself to interest even the slightly curious listener. The cd case is entirely dark blue with glittered specks. The word "Yazkin" and the head of a god is in a silver/gold color. A detailed 24 page booklet (English) explains the history of the Mayan culture, and the instruments that were used in the recording. In the end, this album gives us a good idea of the pre-Columbian musical style of the Mayan culture. Ethnic Music of the Mayas is a definite "must have" for anyone interested in traditional Mayan music.


Matthew J. Forss is currently a full-time student at Concordia University-Mequon, Wisconsin, in the process of transferring to Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is going to major in Biology and minor in Ethnic & Gender Studies. In 1998, He began collecting musical instruments and CDs from around the World. His main area of study is in traditional and contemporary ethnomusicology of various cultures from around the world. In November 2000, he accepted the position of writing world music CD reviews for this site.