Getting deep in Corsica

This book is an ethnomusicological investigation into traditional and contemporary music in Corsica, with a critical analysis of associated theoretical and ideological issues, focusing particularly on the evolution of musical activity and discourse since 1970.

In other words, this book is a deep exploration of culture and music on an Island steeped in tradition and told through song. Fantastic!

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Getting Spiritual with Acoustic World

The Ragas and Talas have, over the centuries in India, dominated the lives of musicians that have decided to commit them to memory with spiritual devotion. There is no standardized method of notation and it’s “out-there” sounds has largely to do with the fact that the notes cannot be found on the western Piano. The CD presents two geographically divided sounds, that of Hindustani and Carnatic, and is played by some of the most revered gurus of today. As we find so often, age has no boundaries in World music. One of the artists featured, Girija Devi celebrates her 80th birthday this year and is one of India’s most celebrated singers in this discipline. This album plugs you into a world that is aurally alien to western style harmonies and is a real journey of the senses.

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Sevdali Dunya’s shares her moments of Love

Sevda’s first album success came with ‘A Flower in Bloom” and it was a masterpiece. She’s from Azerbaijan on the banks of the Caspian sea, and her voice effortlessly fills the broad range between mugam and jazz.  Expect to find husky, blues-like tones, caress some earth stopping lamentations of traditional mugam music.  Full, expressive direct and beautiful emotion transmitted at virtuoso level at you the listener. This is an album that will escape the radar of Fado music fans, but will surely be loved in the same way.

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Arabo-Muslim…the Great River tradition

afelbocoum

If something sounds familiar about Afel Bocoum’s sound, you only have to look at who tutored him for clues. A member of Ali Farka Touré’s “ASCO” group from the age of 13, provides all the evidence one would need to pin the artist to the groove, but he’s grown beyond that and gone on to become a star in his own right.

Afel’s first album, Alkibar, was released ten years ago and it remains one of my favourite of all time. He describes his playing style as “Arabo-Muslim…in the Great River tradition” and this was certainly a sentiment captured on first album which meandered through the daily activities of life on the Niger river.

In the ten year period since the first release, Afel has collaborated on a number of music projects, most notably Ali Farka Touré’s last album, Savanne.

In Tabital Pulaaku, Afel takes us on a much broader musical journey. He still remains firmly within the African blues genre, but listeners of Tinariwen, Ba Cissoko and Viex Farka Touré are going to enjoy this album, as it’s much more accessible to the new African blues converts, when seen alongside the earlier work.

Melodies and harmonies across the instruments are much more defined in Tabital Pulaaku, and the album transmits a warm energy and timelessness that is, for me, a fundamental component of a successful African blues album.

One of the best tracks on the album is not surprisingly the title track, Tapital Pulaaku. In this we hear Afel’s distinctive voice pushed front stage, and then around the one and a half minute mark, a shift in tempo that reveals a head-bobbing groove, delivering all the expression and relief that African music provides to its fans.

This is an album to be savoured and enjoyed like a fine wine.

Take some African blues now

Asa Started a Fire on the Mountain

asaBorn in Paris but with Lagos, Nigeria, called home since the age of two, comes Asa (pronounced Asha), an artist with an album so refined, you’d think it was her greatest hits, but it’s not, it’s in fact her first! She’s been given a huge amount of profile on the World music circuit, but that alone is not deserving of the attention this artist should be receiving, as she’s a talent of subliminal quality.

A voice that harks back to the days of Tracey Chapman, but combines this with the dryness and subtlety of Tanita Tikaram is just the opening images this artist conjures on a first listen to her album. The first track ‘Jailer’ has the bassline and uproaring goodness of a track by the late Bob Marley. With Reggae, souful and acapella grooves, this is album that lifts the soul and takes you to better place.

Tracks such as ‘360degrees’ offer more by the way of reflection for listener, while the acapella on ‘Subway’ will just make you stop whatever you’re doing to enjoy it. The most airplay has been laid on the track ‘Fire on the mountain’, but it’s not a representative sample of this artists calibre and dynamism.

You need to go and buy this album!

Let the women reign, Garifuna style!!

umalali

The Garifuna people are descendants of shipwrecked African slaves that intermarried with Carib and Arawak Indians of the Caribbean. The people can be found in small villages along the Caribbean in the countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

In the face of globalization the Garifuna are trying to maintain their culture and traditions in the face of this change. Because this is an album featuring a collective there are a superb range of voices covering different tones and transmitting different emotions.

This female collective uses electric guitar as well as percussion typical to the Caribbean islands. The results are a sound with a softness and quality, and the fusion of African and Caribbean styles makes the album stand out from the crowd. The album’ best track “Hattie” recounts the story of Hurrican Hattie in 1961. It’s complete and utter spine-tingling material, Sarita providing the vocals and a backing featuring a rolling guitar riff and which then leads into Pulp Fiction style basslines.

Check it out here