New Reviews: December 4, 2002

Reviews by Matthew J. Forss

Live In San Francisco At Stern Grove [2 CD]
Tabla Beat Science
Palm Pictures

Tabla Beat Science is a collaboration of several artists that meld their respective cultures and traditions into the compositions. On August 12, 2001, at Stern Grove in San Francisco, Tabla Beat Science recorded over two hours of music for this double-disc package. African, trance, dub-bass, Indian and electronic styles are present on these discs. Vocalists and instrumentalists on these discs include Ustan Sultan Khan, DJ Disk, Karsh Kale, Ejigayehu "Gigi" Shibabaw, Midival Punditz, Bill Laswell, and Fabian Alsultany. These acclaimed musicians create a truly beautiful musical journey that combines Western and Eastern influences. Fans of world fusion, trance and World Beat should not miss the music of Tabla Beat Science.

The Gift
Hassan Hakmoun

Hassan Hakmoun brings us African trance rhythms from Morocco. More specifically, Hassan performs traditional Gnawa trance music. Gnawa music revolves around the call-and-response chanting of Koranic scriptures steeped in Islamic mysticism. Spiritually, the Gnawi claim spiritual descent from Bilal al-Habashi, an Ethiopian who was the prophet Mohammedís first caller to prayer. Oftentimes, a sintir (lute), qarkaba (castanet) and the tbel/ganga (large drums) accompany the chant. The Gift presents contemporary Gnawa music that is accessible to listeners of North African and Arabic music. Furthermore, Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter, Paula Cole, even makes a guest appearance on one track.

Kabul Workshop

Kabul Workshop is the work of Francesco Russo, Khaled Arman, Massoud Raonaq and Shyamal Maitra. Their most recent work, Trigana, explores the electro-world music style that fuses Indian and Afghan elements into contemporary compositions of artistic creativity. Importantly, their Italian, Afghanistani and Indian ethnicities, along with their knowledge of the French electronic scene, should be appropriately attributed to the ultimate completion and success of Trigana. Fans of good electronic music with world elements should not be without Trigana.

Together For Christmas
The Ruffians
Intercultural Niche Strategies

Based in New York, The Ruffians perform modern Celtic music that is fairly characteristic of punk music. However, The Ruffians create pleasant tunes with humorous lyrics that draw upon traditional Celtic elements. Bodhran, guitar, bass, banjo, button accordion, Uilleann Pipes, fiddle and tin whistle are accompanied by male vocals. Unfortunately, Together For Christmas is a rather short album of only fifteen minutes. Fans of Celtic punk/rock reminiscent of Seven Nations will definitely relish The Ruffians.

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, titled: 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.