The Meters - Look-Ka Py Py (1970)

«The Meters defined New Orleans funk, not only on their own recordings, but also as the backing band for numerous artists, including many produced by Allen Toussaint. Where the funk of Sly Stone and James Brown was wild, careening, and determinedly urban, the Meters were down-home and earthy. Nearly all of their own recordings were instrumentals, putting the emphasis on the organic and complex rhythms. The syncopated, layered percussion intertwined with the gritty grooves of the guitar and organ, creating a distinctive sound that earned a small, devoted cult during the ‘70s, including musicians like Paul McCartney and Robert Palmer, both of whom used the group as a backing band for recording. Despite their reputation as an extraordinary live band, the Meters never broke into the mainstream, but their sound provided the basis for much of the funk and hip-hop of the ‘80s and ‘90s.» (AMG)

«Although the Meters had scored a pair of hits on the band’s self-titled debut ("Cissy Strut", "Sophisticated Cissy"), the instrumental quartet was still busy churning out sessions at the New Orleans studio of Allen Tousaint and Marshall Sehorn. Between backing such names as Lee Dorsey and Betty Harris, the band cranked out a follow-up that was even funkier than its debut. When these songs aren’t busy getting basted by Art Neville’s succulent-sounding organ ("Pungee") or spiced up by guitarist Leo Nocentelli’s licks ("9 ‘Til 5"), the rhythm section of bassist George Porter, Jr. and drummer Ziggy Modeliste keeps the stew cooking with plenty of bouncy grooves ("Funky Miracle".) The best example of the Meters’ ability to reside squarely in the pocket is the infectious title track, which is inspired by a misfiring auto engine and dominated by Modeliste’s whip-smart time keeping. […]» (Channel4)

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Salif Keita - Folon... The Past (1995)

An unforgettable masterpiece by the king of Malian pop. Enjoy!

«Folon è il frutto dell’incontro di Salif Keita con Wally Badarou, figlio di un diplomatico del Benin che viveva a Parigi.. Badarou era un tastierista d’avanguardia che, oltre alla sua carriera solista, aveva suonato in passato con Joe Cocker, Herbie Hancock, Grace Jones, Black Uhuru e Level 42. Dopo Rikyel, Breant e Zawinul, ecco di nuovo un progetto fondato sull’incontro con un tastierista. Folon però, come dice lo stesso titolo, è anche un ritorno al passato. Lo si vede dai musicisti che vi partecipano, dalle canzoni e dalla musica. […] Oltre ai soliti Ousmane Kouyate, Cheick Tediane Seck, Souleymane Doumbia e Sidney Thiam, Nayanka Bell e Djanka Diabate, collaborano al nuovo album altri musicisti africani di talento, come Djeli Moussa Kouyate alla chitarra, i grandi Lamine Kouyate al balafon e Moriba Koita allo n’goni, Mokthar Samba alla batteria e N’Doumbe Djengue al basso. Inoltre ritroviamo Jean-Philippe Rykiel, l’arrangiatore di Soro, alle tastiere, accanto allo stesso Wally Badarou. Infine la solita sezione di fiati. La schiera di djeli mandengue è aumentata considerevolmente rispetto al passato.

In Folon l’elettronica è ancora presente, ma stavolta in modo discreto ed equilibrato. Piuttosto, il sound è elettrico e piacevolmente antiquato, con richiami nostalgici fatti di organi hammond e chitarre distorte, come a ricordare le sonorità care agli Ambassadeurs degli anni ’70. Molti sono i pezzi da ricordare. Tekere è un brano dance in stile vecchia orchestra da ballo guineana, tra i più ballabili dell’intero repertorio di Keita. Nyanyama è una lenta ballata suggestiva dalla melodia e dai cori bellissimi, in cui la voce del grande cantante è particolarmente intensa e penetrante. Mandela è scritto in onore del presidente del Sud Africa, Dakan-fe è un reggae mandengue, mentre Folon è un pezzo d’atmosfera pieno di poesia. Naturalmente, una menzione particolare va alla nuova versione di Mandjou, il brano più celebre degli Ambassadeurs scritto in onore del primo presidente di Guinea Sekou Touré. Il brano è lungo oltre 10 minuti, è nostalgico ma nient’affatto anacronistico. I lunghi soli di sassofono e chitarra potrebbero comparire in una antologia di musica mandengue così come di rock psichedelico anni ‘70. Il coro è sempre splendido, e la voce di Salif è potente e cristallina. […] (MusicOnTnt)

French review: Over23

Spanish perfil: Estacion Tierra

English review: GeorgeGraham

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Boris Kovač & Ladaaba Orchest - Ballads at the End of Time (2003)

«At first sight, the band’s name looks a little bit like the Dadaist answer to Lambada. But in fact the orchestra is named after the driven fantasies of bandleader, composer and multimedia-artist Boris Kovač when confronted with the grim reality of living and working in the war-ridden territory of the Balkan states. Written out in full the orchestra’s name actually means La Danza Apocalyptica Balcanica, a perfect match to their music: an eccentric cycle of dances like tango, waltz, calypso or rumba, played in the style of a syphilitic salon-orchestra, switching rapidly between the atmosphere of a decadent café in 1920s Vienna and the Titanic half an hour after every drink came with ice. […] Brought up in what was once the cosmopolitan and multicultural society of Novi Sad, capital of the multiethnic region of Vojvodina, Boris Kovač feels as if he is, in many ways, locked behind bars. La Danza Apocalyptica Balcanica is Kovač’s artistic answer to the pressures from both the internal political situation and the fact that his country is only slowly recovering from international pariah status – and he’s on a furious ride across the musical languages of the Balkan with only one thought in mind: Dance! Right here and right now, for it could be your last!

Boris Kovač, born in 1955, is a composer, instrumentalist and multimedia artist. He writes music for chamber groups that he leads. Many of his projects are to some extent connected with theatre. Since 1989, he has been the leader of the Chamber Theatre of Music Ogledalo from Novi Sad. During the period from 1991-95, he mainly lived and worked in Italy, Slovenia, and Austria. In 1996, he moved back to Yugoslavia. By leading his Ritual Nova ensemble, LaDaABa orchest, Chamber Theatre of Music Ogledalo, Academy of Fine Skills, and working with students he is also trying to reestablish the contemporary music/theatre scene in his country. He has performed his works in around 30 festivals of new music and contemporary theater in many countries.

“Our advantage is, that people from 20 different nationalities lived together in the Pannonian plains,” Kovač explains. “So today no one can say from which folklore my music comes exactly. Anyway for us, living in an urban situation, having no contact to the little villages, it is not comprehensible where the music comes from. But I think that is not even necessary: decisive is, to use the sources as food for my own creativity.” The mixture of Boris’ music continues in the background of his band member’s lives: accordion, violin, bass and drums are played by Half-Serbians, Half-Hungarians and Half-Macedonians, the guitarist is Roma and the clarinetist a proper Serbian, but lived for several years in the Vojvodina and took over many musical techniques from the Hungarian and Romanian.» (RockPaperScissors)

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Choubi Choubi! Folk & Pop Sounds From Iraq (2005)

«The genius of the Sublime Frequencies anthologies — presenting pop music from a worldwide context without the stuffy museum attitude of "world music" snobbery — continues with Choubi Choubi!, a collection of Iraqi songs from 1970 forward. Mark Gergis' liner notes provide a fine anchor for a newcomer, briefly but effectively detailing the nature of Iraqi musical life, differing styles, and some important historical context. Gergis identifies a key instrument, a hand drum called a khishba or zanbour, which defines many Iraqi song styles much like the dhol does for bhangra. The fast-paced beats created, or sometimes replicated electronically, are instantly appealing, sometimes almost chaotic in their rush. Some of the selections have outstandingly rich blends of beats and orchestration — "Yumma, Al Hilou"'s strings create a series of memorable hooks, while the massive echo on "Choubi Choubi," a self-referential love song to a specific genre, adds both ominous and frenetic atmosphere to the percussion. Songs like the brilliantly titled "Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me," "Walla," and "Ala Honak" sometimes accelerate suddenly within the space of a second. The amazing instrumental breaks on Bawin's "Ya Binaya Goumi," with what sounds like violin, keyboard, and drums all chasing each other frenetically, have to be heard to be believed. On a different plane, three selections from early-'70s performer Ja'afar Hassan could easily have surfaced on a psych music comp by now, with a sharp Western pop/rock undercurrent mixing easily with the other styles highlighted on the disc. It's a vivid, stirring trio of songs, apparently meant to be anthems for a socialist party and all sounding like they could succeed at their goal. Credit also to the (seemingly backhanded) compliment of the title "Ashhad Biannak Hilou," aka "I Admit You Are Beautiful," which is also easily one of the best songs on a great collection overall.» (AMG)

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Richard Thompson - Grizzly Man OST (2005)

«Filmmaker Werner Herzog commissioned legendary guitarist Richard Thompson to compose and perform the musical score for his documentary Grizzly Man, about the life and death of Timothy Treadwell, a man who fled society to live among the grizzly bears in the Alaskan wilderness. In the manner of Thompson's previous film scores, the Grizzly Man album is longer on atmosphere than on songcraft; anyone expecting the British folk-derived melodies of Thompson's most familiar work will be disappointed, though if you love the expressive modalities of his electric guitar playing, there's plenty of them on display, and they conjure up the beautiful but dangerous surroundings of Treadwell's environment very well indeed. Along with some lovely but subdued guitar-based pieces from Thompson, his periodic collaborator Henry Kaiser and Sonic Youth/Wilco interloper Jim O'Rourke sit in for a handful of harsher, atonal pieces that represent the more discordant and unforgiving aspects of life among the bears; fans of Thompson the folkie will probably be turned off by "Big Racket," "Bear Fight," and "Corona for Mr. Chocolate," but those who embraced the expressive angularity of the French-Frith-Kaiser-Thompson recordings will certainly want to hear this. In short, this isn't an essential Thompson release, but his more discerning fans will find it firmly possessed of the great man's magic, and it offers a trip down a few paths he doesn't often visit.» (AMG)

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Mercan Dede - Nefes (Breath) (2006)

«Mercan Dede's summer 2005 visit to London found him packing The Forum in Kentish Town, his wild mix of electronica and Turkish Sufi music making the audience dance until they too became whirling dervishes – Mercan tours with his own whirling dervishes!

Dede's had a profile on the North American dance music scene for several years now, primarily DJing techno as Arkin Allen, but more recently he's been noticed by the world music market as a man who can help connect a Western audience with the ancient musical culture of Sufism. Dede's profile is rising with his appearances in the Channel 4 documentary on Sufi Soul: The Mystic Music Of Islam (director Simon Broughton) and the German-Turkish film Crossing The Bridge: The Sound Of Istanbul (director Fatih Akin).

What makes Dede unique is his pioneering attempts at building musical bridges between Turkish Sufism and contemporary Western electronic music. Sufism is Islam's most mystical and musical sect and one Dede believes can help create harmony in this time of violence and fear. Dede, born Akin Alical, is Turkish born and trained as a photographer but has resided for some time in Montreal. Dede is an accomplished musician, playing the ney (reed flute), bendir, frame drum, zarp and udu drum, and has produced several CDs. […]

Dede believes the traditional Sufi understanding of music as a means to uplift and harmonize the soul is reflected in the rave/nightclub scenes of Europe and North America. 'I don't like the separation,' says Dede. 'The Sufi poet Rumi has a very good saying: 'If you are everywhere, you are nowhere. If you are somewhere, you are everywhere.' My somewhere is my heart. I try to figure it out. The rest, the hype, the trends, they are not important. Instead of talking about war in Iraq, if you can make a sound of a small instrument from an Iraqi village, you can tell people more about what is going on there. For me, the future is electronic and folkloric.'» (Garth Cartwright, BBC Radio 3 Awards)

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Postcards from Italy (35) - Roero, Piedmont

Psicofásicos de Bolivia - Gogó a 4000 Metros 1966-69 (2003)

«Although '60s punk sides from a lot of different exotic countries have been reissued for the last 20 years, I believe this is the very first time as far as Bolivia is concerned. I could not find even one Bolivian song on any of those Latin America samplers issued since the '90s. It's probably because you have to be a real Indiana Jones to find records from this land way up in the Andes. […] So this effort deserves a lot of respect, especially when you know that, as I write this, while playing this compilation, its creator, with the maker of Delicuentes by his side, is back in that part of the world, where the cold winter has just begun, to bring back more sonic treasures.

The result was worth his sweat and my money. Fourteen songs, mucho fuzz, primitive-but-great productions; here lies what should satisfy most garageheads. As expected from this type of comp, most tracks are covers, but wait till you hear the Dhag Dhag's rendition of "One Track Mind" (Knickerbockers), Grupo 606's takes on "Break On Through" (Doors) and "Gotta Get Away" (Blues Magoos), Rufus Thomas's "Walk That Walk" by los Ecos, or the Stones' "Complicated" in the hands of the Loving Darks. And dig that ear-piercing fuzz on los Buros' treatment of the Rascals' "You Better Run." The original songs are often as impressive, like the punker "Pena" (Black Stones) or the somber "Tipo sicodélico" and the swinging "Bohemio" (both by the Dhag Dhag's). Don't miss this unique record.» (Laurent Bigot, originally published in Ugly Things #21, 2003)

«[…] The liners (in both Spanish and English) tell us that these toons all date from 1966-'69 "from incaic go-go to the psychophasic sound". Kick off track, Los Daltons' instro 'Alto Y Seco' has the trademark lack of sophistication that tells us it was recorded inside an empty baked-bean tin, but this hits where you want to feel it. In fact, the whole album has a very full and rich sound which implies a decent vinyl to vinyl transfer job has been done on it, despite the apologies for the surface sound (man, that's obligatory for atmosphere!). You wonder how records of any kind were made at all in a country where even in the big cities the power was regularly shut off at 11:00pm every night and where farm carts still outnumbered cars on the roads. Groups like Grupo 606 had to make their own instruments before they could get to play anything! In common with Warsaw Pact Europe of the time, Bolivian police in La Paz and other cities like Cochabamba especially looked out for local long-hairs to practice their shearing techniques on. In general, not a well-disposed environment to start a band, but plenty of reasons to want to!

This whole set is troglodyte magic. Los Ecos for instance featured an eleven year-old girl as their drummer, but she sounds like any demented howling teen and keeps a damned good 4/4 beat. Los Dhag Dhags' 'Tipo Sicodelico' is a psych creeper, but most of this stuff is primal (think Peru's Los Saicos, for instance). Groups like The Donkeys, Loving Darks, Los Tennyson and (I kid you not) Los Bunny Boy's Hots presumably grabbed any opportunity that presented itself to do their thang. Maybe it was the thinness of the air at 4000 metres above sea level, but something sure put the dementure into these cats! A must have comp and I insist there is a volume 2 soon! (Paul Martin, Sweet Jeanne Productions)

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The Rough Guide to the Music of Himalayas (2002)

«Rough Guide to the Music of the Himalayas gathers together a varied assortment of music from the high altitudes and plunging valleys of Tibet, Nepal, and Ladakh. Centuries of geographical and political isolation have preserved some traditions virtually intact, while others have been exported to the West via the perceptions of well-meaning and/or culturally rapacious musical tourists. The 13 tracks range from folklore and devotional styles to the sort of new age pastiches one imagines might cling to the inner ear of a frost-bitten, oxygen-deprived Sherpa somewhere on Mount Everest. Wisconsin-born guitarist Steve Tibbetts supplies a pair of the latter. He sits in with a husky sweet-voiced singing nun named Choying Drolma, and if the resulting collaboration has its cloying, aging-hippie moments, it is also rather charming in an aggressively mellow way. On the more authentic side, a field recording of the cloistered inhabitants of a Buddhist nunnery perform a looping a cappella chorale, exhibiting unexpected overtones and a cyclical, repetitive momentum that Philip Glass would certainly recognize. A nearly seven-minute sample of a bass-grounded, gradually ascending chant by monks from the Drete Dhargon at Drepong Monastery could, in the right hands, be one of the most effective lease-breakers of all time. Many music lovers would not expect to have much fun listening to a compilation from this part of the world, but should they decide to give it chance, they would be agreeably surprised.» (AMG)

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Black Uhuru - Reggae Greats (1985)

«Reggae Greats is a straight CD release of Black Uhuru's 1985 LP of the same title that collected the best tracks from the group's four early-'80s studio albums for Island Records. This was arguably the peak incarnation of the band, and certainly the most stable lineup, with Michael Rose handling the lead vocals, Duckie Simpson and Puma Jones taking care of the harmonies, and the world-class reggae rhythm section of Sly Dunbar on drums and Robbie Shakespeare on bass holding it all down and also providing production direction. The backing tracks are rhythmic, atmospheric delights, full of unexpected, chiming percussion touches that give everything a bright shine, even as the subject matter of the songs veers firmly into political and social territory. Included are "Happiness," "World Is Africa," and "Push Push" from 1980's Sinsemilla, "Youth of Eglington" and "Sponji Reggae" from 1981's Red, "Darkness" and "Right Stuff" from 1982's Chill Out, and "What Is Life," "Bull in the Pen," and "Elements" from 1983's Anthem. There are anthologies available that chart the complete history of Black Uhuru, but these are the key tracks from the albums that gave the group its international audience. Unfortunately, when the Island contract ended, so did this version of the band.» (AMG)

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Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Moçambique - Marrabenta Piquenique (1996)

«With its dance-inspiring fusion of lively marrabenta, Fena and Xingombela rhythms, Congolese guitar melodies, and the soulful vocals of female singer Mingas and male singer Wazimbo, Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Moçambique was one of Mozambique’s most exciting bands in the 1980s and early-’90s. Formed in 1979, Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Moçambique served as the house band for Mozambique’s national radio station. The group’s style of marrabenta, Mozambique’s urban dance music, featured two lead guitars set to the harmonic strains of a keyboard, a rhythm section that included bass, drums, and hand percussion, and a horn section featuring two trumpets and saxophone. Wazimbo, who had previously performed with Grupo Radio Mocambique, wrote most of the band’s material. His most successful tune, "Nwahulwana," was used for a global television advertising campaign by Microsoft. Since the disbanding of Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Mocambique, Wazimbo and Mingas have gone on to successful solo careers.» (AMG)

«Mozambique is a country blessed with a kaleidoscopic diversity of cultures, regional mannerisms and musical styles, none more immediate and exciting than marrabenta, the “city” sound of Maputo, the capital. Genuinely popular dance form, or decadent backdrop for an underworld of pimps, bars and prostitutes… define it as you will, the percussive rhythms, sensuous vocals and languid horns of marrabenta are thrilling and uplifting, earthier than Zairean soukous and subtler than South African jive.
Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Moçambique are one of the leading exponents of the genre and masters of all the essential ingredients that combine to make marrabenta such a tasty proposition: conscious lyrics, pulsating dance rhythms, hard-edged riffs and a wild sense of fun. Piquenique captures them in sizzling form, ready to mesmerise, energize, elevate and educate all comers in a magical marrabenta style!» (From the liner notes)

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Postcards from Paris - Souvenirs


Kolinda - Osz (1996)

Back in 1996 Kolinda (arguably Hungary’s finest avant-folk group) published this stunning comeback album, featuring a renewed line-up and updated sounds, but showing the same passion of old for experimentation and research. Another sparkling gem in their brilliant discography. (More on Kolinda in the Kolinda I post).

«1970, ils étaient hongrois. Comme un certain Bártok. Certains fouineurs de l’Ouest se sont intéressés. Un disque, puis deux, puis un troisième. L’Est atypique fascinait. On n’avait pas inventé le fourre-tout world, et le Rideau de Fer était tenace. Mais Kolinda, son univers bourré de micro-climats a frappé les esprits occidentaux, très chapelles. Fin Kolinda première époque. Iván, le concepteur, jette les amarres en France. Ágnes, la voix, goes west, jusqu’à l’Amérique, seul Péter rentre au bercail, les autres ne comptent plus. Pourtant, hongrois dans l’âme, ils restent. Le rideau rouille, se démantibule. Ça aide.

1995, les trois se donnent rendez-vous à Budapest, avec trois nouveaux complices. Pas question de revival. Ce qui était inédit pour nos oreilles de 76 l’est tout autant vingt ans plus tard. Plus qu’acoustique, Kolinda est et reste végétal. L’alchimie des instruments et des voix garde ses formules secrètes, avec ses tempos hybrides, ses voix d’outre terres. Car pendant que la planète tournait, les trois Kolinda ont cheminé. Ágnes Zsigmondi s’est acoquinée avec le jazz. Iván Lantos a bourlingué dans les sonorités incongrues. Et Péter Dabasi a gardé la maison. Les nouveaux Kolinda ont bricolé puis peaufiné leur constitution. Pierre Rigopoulos, côté percussion, Patrice Clémentin, dans les arcanes des sons électriques et Laslo Porteleki, sur le patrimoine instinctif.

Voilà Kolinda 96. Prêt à bouscouler les rockers, à halluciner les accros de jazz, à embringuer les voyagers de l’ethno-techno, à bouscouler les estampilles de la world, à désarçonner les bidouilleurs de mix improvisables.» (Rémy Kolpa Kopoul, from the liner notes)

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Kaleidoscope - Blues from Bagdhad. The very best of Kaleidoscope (1993)

«Kaleidoscope were arguably the most eclectic band of the psychedelic era, weaving together folk, blues, Middle Eastern, and acid more often and seamlessly than any other musicians. The California group were formed under the nucleus of multi-instrumentalists David Lindley and Chris Darrow in the mid-'60s. Adding fiddle, banjo, and various exotic string instruments such as the oud and saz to the traditional rock lineup, Kaleidoscope complemented their experimental sounds with taut and witty (if lyrically eccentric) songwriting. Other important members were Solomon Feldthouse, who specialized in the Turkish-style instruments, and Chester Crill, who, to make documentation just that much more difficult, sometimes used odd pseudonyms like Fenrus Epp.

This is a combination of Edsel's two previous Kaleidoscope compilations, A Beacon From Mars and Rampe Rampe (minus one track, the lengthy instrumental "Taxim"). At 78-plus minutes, it's the best and most extensive survey of Kaleidoscope's diverse work, encompassing traditional folk songs, folk-rock, country, acid-folk, blues-rock, psychedelic rock of several flavors, and Cajun and Middle Eastern music. Incredibly, the band did all of these things well, applying virtuosity on not only traditional rock band instruments, but also violin, banjo, harp guitar, oud, and others. A fascinating collection by a band that suffered in obscurity, but deserved much better. This was world music before the genre had a name.» (AMG)

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Postcards from Italy (34) - Feast Day in Barisciano (AQ)


La Fanfare du Belgistan - La Fanfare du Belgistan (2004)

«Le Belgistan, petit état autonome de la Belgique orientale (le seul pays qui se déplace à domicile) vous présente sa fanfare. Après avoir connu un triomphe national, cet orchestre de cinq cuivres et deux percussions veut vous faire découvrir la fabuleuse musique belgistanaise… Danses endiablées, rythmes sauvages et mystérieux, mélodies hypnotiques... le folklore du Belgistan ravira autant les amateurs de musique balkanique et arabe que les inconditionnels du jazz. Genre: moezik afro-boelgare. Ces sept musiciens, membres d'un collectif d'improvisation et d'un groupe de rock (Orange Kazoo), trouvent un centre d'intérêt commun autour des musiques cuivrées et rythmées. Leur pléthore d'instruments (sax soprano, alto, baryton, trompette, euphonium, derbouka, karkabas, guembri, tapan…) leur permet les évasions les plus excentriques: de morceaux traditionnels gitans en compositions ivres d'euphorie tzigane ou orientale, le ton est festif, virevoltant, la transe invite la danse dans ses pas effrénés… De la musique acrobatique à laquelle même Kusturica ne résisterait pas!» (http://www.myspace.com/belgistan)

«Il Belgistan, piccolo stato autonomo del Belgio orientale (l’unico paese che si sposta a domicilio) vi presenta la sua fanfara. Dopo aver conosciuto un trionfo nazionale, quest’orchestra di cinque ottoni e due percussioni vuole farvi scoprire la favolosa musica belgistanese… Balli frenetici, ritmi selvaggi e misteriosi, melodie ipnotiche…il folklore del belgistan piacerà sia agli amanti di musica balcanica e araba che agli incondizionali del jazz. Genere : moezik afro-boelgare. Formata nel 2001 La Fanfare du Belgistan suona principalmente nella strada, nelle feste e nei matrimoni del Belgio, della Francia e della Spagna e da due anni accompagna i concerti de Les Ogres de Barback, famosa band della scene alternative francese. Questi sette musicisti, membri di un collettivo d’improvvisazione e di un gruppo rock (Orange Kazoo), si trovano una passione in comune per le musiche ritmate con ottoni. I loro numerosi strumenti (sax soprano, sax alto e baritono, tromba, euphonium, derbouka, karkabas, guembri, tapan…) permettono le evasioni più eccentriche: dai pezzi tradizionali zigani alle composizioni euforiche orientali, il suono è festivo, la transe invita la musica nei suoi passi frenetici… Musica acrobatica alla quale neanche Kusturica resisterebbe!» (LucaniaBuskersFestival)

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Ne Zhdali (Не Ждали) - Hey Driver Cool Down the Horses !!!...Не Гони Лошадей ! (1994)

An old favourite of mine. Enjoy!

«Hailing from Tallin, Estonia, Ne Zhdali was one of the most exciting rock bands to rise from the soviet underground following the fall of the Communist regime. Blending punk energy with the complexity of true progressive rock (think Henry Cow), occasional funk rhythms and Balkanese folk melodies, the sextet displayed tremendous amounts of energy on stage. It released a handful of albums during its first decade and launched the career of its leader Leonid Soybelman, who went on to become an important figure in European avant-rock.

It took four years for Ne Zhdali to release a proper follow-up to its debut LP. While Rhinoceroses and Other Forms of Life introduced the group to audiences in and around its native Estonia, Hey, Driver, Cool Down the Horses!!! launched its international career (and that of its leader, Leonid Soybelman, later to form Kletka Red), thanks to the Swiss label Rec Rec, which signed it. The previous album gave only a slight idea of the group's potential. This one is gloriously wild, shamelessly blending elements of punk, Rock in Opposition, and traditional party music from Russian and Jewish extractions. Exit the mathematical instrumental compositions; these songs scream, shout, and laugh. They tap into the Ex's energy but pair it to the craziness of Palinckx and the Stick Men to cover up the sweet-and-sour feelings of a country freed from communist oppression but unable to fulfill aspirations. The horn section (Vadim Veeremaa and Oleg Davidovitch) plays intentionally out of tune; the rhythm section (Ilya Komarov and Vitaly Redchits) grooves through complex beats and sudden left turns, making them sound logical, almost inevitable. On top of it all, Soybelman sings his songs of surreal love in Russian and occasional Hebrew. "Hungarian Young Years," "Greek Maturity," and "Chrysanthemums" are all exhilarating highlights, already hinting at Kletka Red's first album, Hijacking, minus the harshness. The mixing job of Momo Rossel (Nimal, L'Ensemble Rayé) dampens the impact of the group's colorful sound, which will reach its full glory on Whatever Happens, Twist! The sound quality matters little, though, and this CD is a must for fans of wacky avant rock: hummable, danceable, challenging — and lots of fun.» (AMG)

All Ne Zhdali records are available for free at the band’s website: http://nz.tpt.edu.ee/

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UB40 - Signing Off (1980)

«So ubiquitous is UB40's grip on the pop-reggae market today, that it will be difficult for younger fans to comprehend just how their arrival shook up the British musical scene. They appeared just as Two Tone had peaked and was beginning its slide towards oblivion. Not that it mattered, few but the foolish would try to shoehorn the band into that suit. However, the group were no more comfortable within the UK reggae axis of Steel Pulse, Aswad and Matumbi, and not merely because you can't have four bands in an axis. Their rhythms may have been reggae based, their music Jamaican inspired, but UB40 had such an original take on the genre that all comparisons were moot. […] Both sides of their debut single – the roots rocking indictment of politicians refusal to relieve famine on "Food for Thought" and the dreamy tribute to Martin Luther "King" were included, as well as their phenomenal cover of Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" off their second single. The new material was equally strong. The moody roots fired "Tyler," which kicks off the set, is a potent condemnation of the US judicial system, while it's stellar dub "25%" appears later in the set. The smoky Far Eastern flavored "Burden" explores the dual tugs of national pride and shame over Britain's oppressive past (and present). If that was a thoughtful number, "Little by Little" was a blatant call for class warfare. Of course, Ali Campbell never raised his voice, he didn't need to, his words were his sword, and the creamier and sweeter his delivery, the deeper they cut. Today, the group have moved far from their radical past, but there's no mistaking their militancy here. The music was just as revolutionary, their sound unlike anything else on either island. From deep dubs shot through with jazzy sax, to the bright and breezy instrumental "12 Bar" with its splendid loose groove, that is transmuted later in the set to the jazzier and smokier "Adella," "Food" slams into the dance clubs, "King" floats to the heavens. It's hard to believe this is the same UB40 that topped the UK charts with the likes of "Red Red Wine" and "I've Got You Babe"." Their fire was dampened quickly, but on Signing Off it blazed high. Still accessible to the pop market, but so edgy, that even those that are sure there's nothing about the group to admire will change their tune instantly. A timeless masterpiece.» (AMG)

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Postcards from Italy (33) - Torino


Toumani Diabate with Ballake Sissoko - New Ancient Strings / Nouvelles Cordes Anciennes (1999)

«Back in the early 1970s, a recording by kora masters Sidiki Diabate and Djelimadi Sissoko called Cordes Anciennes first brought this rich acoustic music of Mali to the world. More than 20 years later, their sons, the now world-famous Toumani Diabate and the junior Ballake Sissoko, have come together to pay tribute to their fathers with 1999's New Ancient Strings. While many of the songs come from the original repertoire, the music is all modern Mali. Toumani Diabate has toured the world as a soloist, as a member of fusion groups like Songhai (with flamenco fusionist Ketama), and he has incorporated subtle changes into his music that makes it a living affirmation of the strength of the ancient harp of Africa. Together Diabate and Sissoko explore their fathers' roots while travelling their own new routes. This is the first all-acoustic kora recording Diabate has done since his stunning Kaira, released more than 10 years prior to New Ancient Strings, and it shows a mature and forward-looking artist that would make the elder Diabate proud.» (Louis Gibson, Amazon UK)

«The kora is one of Africa’s greatest musical instruments. With its 21 strings in two parallel rows, this harp-lute is unique to the Mande people of West Africa who once ruled the great Mali empire. The kora has been famous around the world as a world class solo instrument in its own right, as well as in collaborations in a wide range of musical styles including jazz, techno-rock and flamenco music.» (From the liner notes)

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Kala - Samun (กะลา ชุด สามัญ, 2005)

A very good example of Thai rock. Kala have studied very diligently the history of 60s and 70s rock, and they fully demonstrate it in this cd, that’s a good showcase for their talents: a bit of metal (the initial Nai Yah Hang), lots of Stones and arena-rock years Kinks influenced rocky ballads, some 70s hard blues here and there and even a touch of Beatles (listen to the brief guitar solo in Jeb Nee Mun Luek, which seems taken directly from Abbey Road) – all this mixed with their own sensibility and beautifully sung in their native language, that’s truly apt for rock music. Give’em a try, ‘cause these Bangkok guys really know how to rock.


1. Nai yah hang : นายอย่าแฮงค์
2. Jeb nee mun luek :
3. Pid ta :
4. Don tem tem :
5. Roo suek bang mai :
6. Suk tee her :
7. Tah ter lai jai :
8. Chewit kuer bod pleng :
9. Ai rao mun bah :
Kla tee ja ruk : กล้าที่จะรัก

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Postcards from Italy (32) - Sicily

Franco Battiato - Sulle corde di Aries (1973)

Sulle Corde Di Aries was Battiato's third release and showed his fascination for electronic, minimalist and systemic musics. As such, it is quite similar to Pollution except much more electronic based and with a more definitive style. There are also a lot of modern classical strains coming through here and a great spacey feel again reminding me of Sensations Fix or Gong at times. A simply fascinating album. […] Franco Battiato's solo output between 1972 and 1978 has been released as a "nice price" eight-CD box, which is a great way to get to know one of Italy' s more experimentally minded musicians/composers. The first four albums Fetus, Pollution, Sulle Corde di Aries, and Clic contain experimental rock with ambient, symphonic, minimalistic and musique concrete elements. These albums can compete with the best that Faust and other experimental krautrock bands had to offer. Various keyboards are the dominating instruments on all these albums. The use of guitar, saxophone, oboe and vocals among others, however, adds diversity to the songs. I think that the first four albums are all very much worth hearing if you like experimental music. All albums after Clic show Battiato venturing off in a much more minimalistic, avant-garde direction. (gnosis2000.net)

Although it's only a very small section inside our store, many of our most devout and curious shoppers have found gem after gem in our Italian Prog section. Franco Battiato is one of those gems for sure. One of those endlessly creative artists who completely defies categorization. Sweeping in scope and eccentric in all the right ways it's no surprise that Battiato has finally begun to get the attention he so rightly deserves, as folks like Jim O'Rourke have gone out of their way to champion these forward thinking sounds from decades ago. (Aquarius Records)

[…] Ricorda il chitarrista Gianni Mocchetti: “Un flusso organico di aria-suono vivo da respirare attraverso i tasti della terra: questo fu lo slogan pubblicitario per promuovere Sulle Corde di Aries. Fu un lp rivoluzionario per modi, tempi, suoni e dimensione universale. Una prova di grande coraggio, sperimentale e pionieristica in tutti i sensi”. […] “Sequenze e frequenze” è il portale del mondo di Aries che ricorda, nel suo incipit, alcuni dei complessi ambienti sonori cari a Berio; Battiato cura l’esposizione dei fiati sulle linee del soprano muovendosi al di fuori del sistema tonale. Il caos è modellato per evitarne gli effetti devastanti; la musica cambia e i tre sparuti oscillatori del VCS3, mitica valigetta sonora, manipolati con proprietà, annunciano il tema, basato su un accordo di settima di dominante, recante gli stessi elementi melodici che introducono “E ti vengo a cercare” – prima traccia di Fisiognomica (1988). […] Interessanti sono in Aries i battimenti ritmici, ottenuti dall’utilizzo pulsante delle linee melodiche iniziali, che istoriano i suoni di fondo come vero e proprio contrappunto; il tema si dilata e ci si avvicina così alla più tarda “Chanson egocentrique”, quindi alla musica leggera. Al sax Gianni Bedori ricama, senza mai cadere nella facondia, in parallelo al synth, quasi a garantire un continuum tra acustica ed elettronica. In “Aria di rivoluzione” emerge Battiato regista: i piani sonori sono distinti e la spazializzazione molto curata. Non dimentichiamo che un punto debole delle composizioni elettroacustiche dei ’70s fu proprio la mancanza di diversificazione dei piani di ascolto che diede spesso alla luce muri sonori desolatamente piatti. Battiato così mantiene fede al suo principio di continuità tra pop/rock e musica colta, scegliendo per il recitante una tra le più significative voci del panorama musicale di allora, Jutta Nienhaus. “Da Oriente a Occidente” incede tra ambienti molto diversi, ben legati fra loro da un vero filo conduttore. Il testo iniziale viene distribuito con un bel gioco di ritardi ed attese, per allinearsi sul finire delle frasi. I fiati, in primo piano rispetto all’elettronica, ci portano gradatamente in un ambiente sonoro che sa di danza rinascimentale e, dopo, balcanica; le percussioni legano gli ambienti come un passaggio del pollice sulla tastiera del pianoforte; sul finire, il tema originario torna su di un bordone elettronico che ricorda la ghironda. (Wonderoustories)

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Inti-Illimani - Viva Chile! (1973)

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Hidria Spacefolk - HDRSF-01 (2001)

Great ethnic-tinged psychedelic space rock from Finland. This is where it all began. And I bet you’ll ask for more…

«This group of five self-taught musicians will certainly capture the attention of Ozric Tentacles fans. Their music is loaded with textures and colours that leave most space rock bands sounding like a sample machine stuck in loop mode. It’s actually going somewhere: on all of their albums, the tracks evolve continuously, with the music occasionally returning to specific themes but with something new each time. Overall, their material sounds like a less guitar-dominated Ozric and without the heavy techno influence.
Their albums are pure instrumental excursions into psychedelia propelled by Tim Blake-like droning and burbling synths, Steve Hillage-like guitar arpeggios, pulsating bass lines, phasing sitars and precise drumming with the occasional Jethro Tull flute work (simultaneous flute blowing and vocalizing) and some infectious grooving rhythm lines that make you want to move around, bang your head and dance nonsensically. A fact worth mentioning: the acoustic elements on all of their albums are just as important as the synthesized ones, giving their sound a slightly Middle-Eastern or Far-East flavour.
Trippy, energetic, hypnotic space rock highly recommended to fans of Ozric Tentacles in particular, but will also appeal to those who don’t usually like the genre as the band knows how to diversify and never stays in one place.» (Progarchives)

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Rokia Traoré - Bowmboï (2004)

«Un volto d'Africa dai tratti delicati, una voce leggera, delle canzoni diafane e sognanti. Rokia Traoré è una giovane songwriter del Mali, che scrive canzoni secondo la più classica metodologia occidentale, ovvero articolando melodie sulla chitarra e muovendo le trame per assecondare musica e parole (in lingua madre), che vivono in profonda simbiosi con l'emotività del gesto musicale. Ma le canzoni di Rokia significano qualcosa di nuovo sia per il pubblico occidentale ancora molto legato al tipico modello "afro", più ritmico che lirico, sia per il pubblico del suo paese, per il quale la musica di Rokia suona come evidente rottura nei confronti della tradizione. Melodie modali molto semplici, intonate in modo cristallino, ma sorrette da un intenso quanto complesso tessuto poliritmico, soprattutto in quei brani in cui agiscono strumenti come balafon (Adama Diarra) e n'goni (Mamah Diabaté), liuto sub-sahariano dal sinuoso suono metallico. Tessiture trasparenti, mai sovraccaricate da una valente produzione che sa avvalersi di buone scelte timbriche, artefici della complessiva raffinatezza di Bowmboï.
Meno emozionante invece la partecipazione del Kronos Quartet, che svolge il suo compito con sospetta professionalità, mettendo in evidenza la freddezza di certe partecipazioni "a distanza", spesso null'altro che trovate di un marketing ansioso di accoppiare "parole chiave". Digiti "Kronos Quartet", ti appare "Rokia Traoré".» (Altremusiche)

«On paper Rokia Traore is a bit of a radical. She's one of Mali's leading new singers, although she's not a traditional griot musician. She tries new ideas, combining traditional instruments that aren't usually brought together, and on this album works with the classical musicians, the Kronos Quartet.To my untrained ear her experiments are entirely successful.
The daughter of a Malian' diplomat she built her career in France before returning to Mali and is only now becoming a star there.On this, her third album, she sounds right at the heart of the traditions of West African music.
Rokia's vocal style is very much her own. She doesn't have the high pitched, keening, attack of Oumou Sangare, or the rougher, deeper tang of Kandia Kouyate, both of them great female artists from Mali. Her voice is quavery and bird-like, soft, fragile and attractive. Curiously, it reminds me a little of Ethiopian and even Asian vocal styles. But it has an inner power, and on the faster paced songs shesings with impressive authority. "Mariama", is a passionate, intense duet with male griot singer Ousame Sacko, and one of the album's highlights.
The gentleness of Rokia's voice means this album is a reflective, subtle experience even on the faster songs like "Sara" or "Kote Don". And the two collaborations with The Kronos Quartet work extremely well. The strings lay down a pulsing layer of shifting tones and Rokia murmurs and declaims over them, and on the lovely "Manian" there's a little vocal part that sounds like Laurie Anderson's "O Superman". These tracks don't feel like experiments at all; they sound like something that could have been created in West Africa anytime in the last thousand years.
This is an album full of contemplative and meditative pleasures. If you love Malian music you will probably already have heard of Rokia. If you haven't Bowmboi is certainly worth adding to your collection.» (Nick Reynolds, BBC)

Official Website: http://www.rokiatraore.net/

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Al Stewart - Past, Present & Future (1974)

IMHO, the highest peak in Al Stewart’s career, far more fascinating than his subsequent lavish, luscious blockbuster, The Year of the Cat both in the epic, majestic tales such as “Roads to Moscow” and “Nostradamus”, and in the poppier efforts such the brilliant “Soho”.

«As good as portions of it were, Orange was essentially a transitional effort, the necessary bridge to Past, Present & Future, the record where Al Stewart truly begins to discover his voice. This is largely through his decision to indulge his fascination with history and construct a concept album that begins with "Old Admirals" and ends with "Nostradamus" and his predictions for the future. A concept like this undoubtedly will strike prog warning bells in the minds of most listeners but, ironically, he has stripped back most of the prog trappings from Orange, settling into a haunting folk bed for these long, winding tales. If anything, this results in an album that is a bit too subdued, but even so, it's apparent that Stewart has finally found his muse, focusing his songwriting and intent to a greater extent than ever before.» (amg)

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Postcards from Paris - Evening in Montmartre

Erkan Ogur & Djivan Gasparyan - Fuad (2001)

A wonderful collaboration between Turkish guitar master Erkan Ogur and Armenian duduk champion Djivan Gasparyan. (Follow the links for a brief biography of the two artists). If you want to discover how this cd came into being, read on…

«La Turquie de Hasan Saltik est plurielle. Elle est à la fois kurde, ottomane, arménienne. Depuis une dizaine d'années, ce producteur s'efforce de faire connaître, grâce à la société qu'il a créée, les musiques de l'Anatolie d'hier et d'aujourd'hui. Avec l'espoir qu'à travers elles la Turquie si jacobine accepte enfin ses différences. Fruit d'un minutieux travail d'archéologie musicale, son catalogue compte à présent 300 titres, qui vont des chants révolutionnaires à la musique classique ottomane. «Il y a, dit-il, en Anatolie une richesse formidable qui ne demande qu'à être découverte.»
Originaire de Tunceli, dans l'est de la Turquie, il a 11 ans lorsque ses parents s'installent à Istanbul. Il poursuit pendant un an des études au conservatoire. Mais la vie, pour toute la famille, se révèle difficile et l'enfant se retrouve rapidement dans la rue en train de vendre des simit, des petits pains ronds couverts de sésame que les istanbuliotes mangent à toute heure. Il sera aussi peintre ou maçon sur différents chantiers. Jusqu'à ce jour de 1991 où, grâce à un emprunt de 500 euros, il loue une boutique de 4 mètres carrés à Unkapani, le temple de la production musicale d'Istanbul, et crée la société Kalan. Ses premiers poulains sont un groupe de musiciens d'extrême gauche. L'affaire marche bien et, grâce aux bénéfices engrangés, il va enfin pouvoir réaliser son rêve: découvrir et faire découvrir les mélodies d'Anatolie dans leur diversité.
Sa première production, en 1992, est un disque de chants populaires arméniens. Le pari est risqué, mais l'album se vend bien. Les Turcs découvrent avec intérêt la proximité qui les lie à cette musique et à ce peuple.
Sur sa lancée, Saltik produit peu après la première cassette de chants kurdes. Puis, en 1998, le premier CD de musique laze, un peuple de la mer Noire originaire du Caucase. Il réédite aussi des morceaux composés par les musiciens occidentaux pour le sultan lors de la guerre de Crimée ou fait revivre les chants oubliés des juifs séfarades de Turquie.
Kalan est aujourd'hui une entreprise prospère qui s'autofinance. Son catalogue est un démenti au nivellement unitaire, encouragé par un Etat centralisateur à outrance. Il permet aussi aux Turcs, plus habitués aux sonorités des variétés anglo-saxonnes, de redécouvrir un véritable patrimoine culturel. Le siège de la société est au cœur d'un quartier qui compte de nombreuses maisons de production. On y croise, tout près des souvenirs de l'ancienne Byzance, des vedettes de la chanson et des adolescents rêvant d'enregistrer leur première cassette. Une proximité qui plaît à Saltik, dont le bureau donne sur la Corne d'Or. «L'âme de la vieille ville vit encore, dit-il. Les vieux bâtiments sont là, blessés et silencieux, mais ils ne se sont pas encore rendus.»
Saltik «tire les gens vers leurs racines». Fasciné par la diversité, le producteur voudrait recréer la fantastique interpénétration des traditions culturelles née de l'empire ottoman. Il a ainsi rassemblé dans un même disque baptisé Fuad le vieux joueur arménien de duduk - une flûte traditionnelle aux accents mystiques - Gasparyan et Erkan Ogur, un musicien turc virtuose de tous les instruments à cordes d'Anatolie. Pour Lari Dilmen, directeur de projets chez Kalan, Saltik est quelqu'un qui «tire les gens vers leurs racines». Dilmen, fils d'un juif d'Edirne et d'une Géorgienne, a proposé à Saltik de faire renaître la musique religieuse que jouaient ensemble, dans les synagogues, au XVIe siècle, des soufis et des juifs de Thrace. Saltik a financé pendant deux ans les recherches et les répétitions qui ont permis à ces partitions oubliées de revoir le jour. Le disque a été baptisé Maftirim. Ce sont des recherches similaires qui ont permis à Birol Topaloglu de faire renaître la musique laze. Topaloglu n'était pas, à l'origine, un professionnel de la musique. Mais, quand il a proposé son projet à Saltik, celui-ci s'est enthousiasmé et lui a donné les moyens de le réaliser. Aujourd'hui, il parcourt le monde pour donner des concerts (1). Et les diplomates turcs ont même appris à se servir du trésor de la maison de production de Saltik. L'ancien ministre des Affaires étrangères, Ismaïl Cem, avait ainsi pris l'habitude de distribuer des disques de Kalan à ses homologues européens pour leur prouver que la diversité culturelle de la Turquie n'était pas aussi mal vue que cela des autorités...» (Nükte V. Ortaq, L'Express, 07 août 2003 – MEDEA)

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