New Reviews: April 15, 2003

Reviews by Matthew J. Forss

Jonas Hellborg, Shawn Lane, V. Selvaganesh

Icon is the most recent release of experimental world music. Continuing in the experimental tradition, Hellborg/Lane and Selvaganesh incorporate more Indian percussion and perform ragga more frequently. Ragga is a type of coherent or incoherent vocal styling usually sung or spoken very quickly. Do not mistake the vocal styling of "ragga" with the instrumental music style of "raga" unique to India. V. Umamahesh and V. Umashankar join Hellborg, Lane and Selvaganesh on vocals and ghatam, respectively. However, Indian percussion, world jazz and experimental musical qualities on Icon continue in the traditional foundational elements formed on their last album: Good People In Times Of Evil.

First Through The Gate
Brian Conway
Smithsonian Folkways

Ireland-native, Brian Conway, brings us traditional Sligo-style fiddling, appropriately named from the county and town of Sligo in the province of Connaught. Other musicians accompany Brian on bodhran, guitar, piano, and cittern on most of the tunes. Various instrumental jigs, reels and tunes in Sligo style are performed. A 30-page booklet is included with extensive notes on the music of Sligo County, Brian's biography and other pertinent information.

Stand Your Ground
Richard Sirota/Mark Davis
R. Sirota/Vanity Press Music

A simple, yet solid independent release by singer/songwriter Richard Sirota on vocals, bass and guitar with Mark Davis on percussion. Stand Your Ground essentially features the simple music of a man with a guitar in hand. Richard incorporates clever songwriting about hope, love, philosophy, longing and wonderment. Stand Your Ground is a perfect album for lovers of laid back folk music.

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.