New Reviews: January 31, 2003

Reviews by Matthew J. Forss

Kala Rupa: Explorations In Rhythm
Greg Ellis
Narada World

Kala Rupa: Explorations In Rhythm is a solo effort by Greg Ellis of Vas fame. However, Vas vocalist Azam Ali has vocals on a few of the tracks. However, the music is mainly rhythmic percussion. Kala Rupa means "time form" in Hindi. The "time form" is appropriately expressed in the rhythms of the compositions. The percussive elements can be found in a plethora of instruments including the bansuri, nagara, udu, cajon, karkaba, water glass, kamancheh, tombak, frame drums, bendir, tambourine, jaw harp, kanjira, tabla and other bowls, shakers and drums. Greg did not want the music to be defined and confined to one concept or point. Consequently, each track is simply titled by Form 1 through Form 10 without any defined titles. Percussion fans of the East and West will surely enjoy Explorations In Rhythm.

The Radio Tisdas Sessions
World Village Music

Tinariwen is a traditional music group that incorporates the bluesy-electric guitar stylings of Malian luminary Ali Farka Toure. Tinariwen was formed in Libya, but are now based in Mali after years of governmental turmoil between France, Libya and Mali. Culturally, the members of Tinariwen are Kel Tamasheks or Tuaregs, which were originally Sahara nomads that took up arms against France and Mali. Tinariwen literally means "empty places." Every original track on The Radio Tisdas Sessions is presented superbly. The African blues guitar stylings, assorted Saharan percussion and sporadic female back-up vocals make The Radio Tisdas Sessions an essential recording of North African guitar music.

1,001 Nights
Said Mrad
Ark 21 Records

1,001 Nights is a collection of Arabic tunes taken from many artists, most notably, Oum Khaltoum. However, the tunes are remixed by famed DJ, Said Mrad. The music retains itís Arabic percussion roots, while incorporating modern dance, trance and club beats. 1,001 Nights is mostly instrumental, but sporadic vocals can still be found. Overall, Said Mrad does an excellent job of mixing popular Arabic tunes with contemporary beats.

Salsa Creole: Afro-Cuban Salsa Music
Various Artists
Candela Records

Salsa Creole is an excellent compilation of Caribbean and African rhythms and sounds from Spanish, Dutch, French and British sources. Salsa Creole features several styles of music, including salsa, son, bolero, Latin jazz, cha cha cha, zouk, merengue and charanga, from Guyana, Haiti and Martinique. Some of the artists include Ralph Thamar, Soubou & Africando, Haitiando, Bago and Malavoi. Fans of Latin jazz in general, and French Caribbean music in particular, should find Salsa Creole an exciting and enjoyable follow-up album in Tinderís Salsa Series.

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.