New Reviews: May 27, 2003
Reviews by Matthew J. Forss
Japanese native, Hiromitsu Agatsuma, showcases his exceptional talent
on the shamisen. The shamisen has three strings that are plucked
with a large pick, known as a bachi. Agatsuma’s shamisen is backed
with contemporary arrangements typical of smooth jazz music. Bluesy
drum and percussion beats complete Agatsuma’s unique sound. Beams
is an excellent album that highlights a traditional instrument
in a contemporary context.
Ark 21 Records
Najma Akhtar fuses Indian, Arabic, and Classical musical elements
with her haunting vocals. The songs are sung in Urdu and English.
However, she incorporates an array of musical elements and styles
from across the globe. Najma appropriately coined the term "Indian
Gothic" to describe her musical creations. Indian pop, gothic classical,
trip hop, trance, Arabic, dance, and experimental instrumental influences
comprise the backbone of Vivid. Vocally, Najma incorporates haunting
vocals that quiver with crystalline complexity. Other back-up vocals
accompany Najma in true Indian fashion. Overall, the musical complexities
and vocal acrobatics of Najma, should convince even the most discriminating
listener to pick up a copy of Vivid.
Cameroon’s Coco Mbassi, brings us jazzy, downtempo melodies and
vocals that encourage love and faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Traditional African choral pieces accompany some of the tracks. The
piano, saxophone, bass, percussion, strings, and keyboard arrangements
comprise the contemporary musical elements. Overall, Coco has embraced
her African roots, Christian faith and cool jazz musical style that
celebrates a very special musical journey.
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.