New Reviews: January 2, 2001

Squonk Opera

Bigsmorgasbordwunderwerk is a rather remarkable album that combines classical and ethnic musical styles into a quirky theatrical product. Jana Losey's delicate and soothing vocalizations, albeit non-traditional operatic vocalizations, accompany excellent instrumentation produced by the piano, flute, whistle, keyboard, accordion, bass and drums. Ultimately, Bigsmorgasbordwunderwerk is a highly recommended album that appropriately expresses interesting and unique forms of contemporary classical music with contemporary ethnic sounds.


Terra Nova

Terra Nova is a collection of artists that have worked with Megadrums over the past 15 years. Glen Velez, Zakir Hussain and Megadrums founder Reinhard Flatischler, are just a few of the featured artists. Terra Nova is a percussionists' delight. The opening track features the unique and haunting sound of the berimbau and didgeridoo. The rest of the album utilizes drums, rattles, shakers, saxophones and sporadic vocals in a variety of different languages. The experimentation of musical rhythms is quite evident. World jazz and percussion styles appropriately define the music on Terra Nova. Likewise, percussion techniques from all over the world directly influence the musical structure and tone. Moreover, the rhythms of the instruments seem to fuse effortlessly together in a unique manner that results in an exceptional listening adventure. Terra Nova is a "must-have" for fans of world percussion, world jazz and world fusion.


Breathing Rhythms
Glen Velez

Breathing Rhythms combines various percussion instruments with a pan flute and cello to create an amazing hour of drumming meditation. Glen Velez performs sporadic rhythmic vocalization techniques, in conjunction with the subtle, yet noticeable drumming rhythms. A complete explanation on rhythmic vocalization is included in an informative booklet, along with the instruments that were used in the recording. An incredible amount of drumming skill is plainly displayed on the album's six tracks. A drumming master like Glen Velez has the ability to create an extraordinary degree of rhythmic complexity that other percussionists strive to achieve. Fans of Glen Velez, and percussion music in general, will definitely be pleased with Breathing Rhythms.


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.