31/03/2007

Wall of Voodoo - Call of the West (1982)

One of the greatest American Records from the 80s. Middle-class disillusions and vexated ambitions + Mexican radios + barbecued iguanas + Spaghetti Western-era Morricone + desert landscapes… Sour and dark, but simply irresistible. Heed the call of the West!

«Call of the West is a concept album exploring the trials and tribulations of life of the common man in the south-western United States, particularly in the desert towns east of Los Angeles which stretch along the interstate highways into Nevada and Arizona. Most of the songs are downbeat mood pieces expounding upon the dashed hopes, withered aspirations, economic disenfranchisement, and existential malaise afflicting many of those who come to the southwest in search of wealth, fame and personal fulfilment.
The bleak, haunting atmosphere of the album evokes the romantic western frontier myth transfigured by the urban fatalism of L.A.
crime fiction and Hollywood film noir as well as the mournful, elegiac spirit of classic and revisionist movie westerns. In many songs, the themes of self-deceiving ambition and bitter disillusionment set against the sunbaked frenzy and desolation of southern California owe a great deal to the allegorical grotesquerie of Nathanael West.» (Full review here)

«Cosa c'è oltre il muro del voodoo: le masserizie di un medicine show… la bottega di un rigattiere… il simulacro del bisonte… il mito della frontiera ormai in svendita… e polvere… tanta polvere. Ma, accanto a ciò, c'è anche l'elettricità… l'impronta fantascientifica della modernità… l'(im)possibile domani. Passato, presente e futuro. Realtà e fantasia. Nessuno ha saputo dare all'interpretazione della tradizione una adeguatezza al presente pari a quella data dai Wall Of Voodoo. Una ricetta incredibile fatta di radici “country & western”, con una spruzzata di Kraftwerk, tanto Morricone e una subdola inclinazione dark. I tre elementi che, come altrettante pennellate di colore, disegnano la loro musica sono l'intreccio ritmico creato da Joe Nanini, le calde tonalità chitarristiche di Marc Moreland e l'incredibile voce di Stan Ridgway. Una miscela che, una volta scombinata, non sarà mai più in grado di toccare queste vette. Se i brani più conosciuti sono gli hit Mexican Radio e Tomorrow, invero eccelsi, è però altrove che il gruppo riesce a esprimersi con tutto il suo potere inquietante, soprattutto in quelle ballate sornione, Lost Weekend, Factory, Look At Their Way e Hands Of Love, che concentrano in pochi minuti la tensione del grande thriller con crescendo impercettibili che, quando sei ormai preparato alla deflagrazione, si placano inaspettatamente. Poi ci sono i momenti più epici e propriamente morriconiani di Call Of The West e del breve interludio On Interstate 15, e infine la travolgente Spy World. Ecco: un mondo di spie, è questo il trait d'union fra polvere e fantascienza, fra blitz nel futuro e devozione a un epoca che non c'è più.» (Kathodik)

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30/03/2007

Untitled



Iva Bittová - Cikori (2001)

Another gem from Iva Bittová, here in a group effort.

«Iva Bittová does not release albums very often, making each one something to treasure. Cikori is her first major project since her critically acclaimed duet with Vladimír Václavek, the 1997 Bilé Inferno, and her first group effort since she left Dunaj. Cikori is actually both the title of the album and the name of this quintet, which is also comprised of Václavek (acoustic guitar), Frantisek Kucera (trumpet), Jaromír Honzák (double bass), and Milos Dvorácek (drums and percussion). The three new players already appeared as guests on selected tracks from Bilé Inferno. Basically, this opus develops more elaborate arrangements around the sound of the previous album. Václavek remains an essential part of the atmosphere, but the added instruments provide a wider palette for the singer. Songs like "Krídla" and "Zapísej" show the same attention to melodies, sparse arrangements, delicate build-ups, and charm. In "Jungle" and "První," the group adopts a quasi-Latin mood, which gives Bittová's very personal scats a new color. And who could resist her mischievous child tone when she meows in "Kocha"? Cikori may not be as gripping as Bilé Inferno, but it still represents a strong effort. It's full of beautiful, light, playful pop with an avant-garde twist. Recommended.» (AMG)

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29/03/2007

Popol Vuh - Einsjäger & Siebenjäger (1974)

One of my favourite Popol Vuh albums. This can be krautrock, but is (still now) lighter and fresher than water… (2 bonus tracks)

«Released in 1974, Einsjäger & Siebenjäger is a further rock entrenchment for Popol Vuh. Florian Fricke's piano is more percussively present with its runs and large chord voicings rippling throughout each composition. In addition, Daniel Fichelscher's electric guitar picks up where Conny Veit's left off, taking the bluesy space rock solo style into new territory by incorporating Eastern scales into the main body of his blues phrasing. There are five short compositions on the first side, which merely prepare the listener for the mind-blowing title cut, which takes up the entirety of side two. Here, in addition to the swirling organic percussion and pianism of Fricke and the loping, often singing guitar lines that repeat hypnotically with rock & roll tension, the vocals of the amazing Djong Yun become the catalyst for the other musicians to spiral off into extended improvisations. This is certainly one of the most beautiful albums Popol Vuh issued in the 1970s, and remains a watermark for their trademark of melding beauty and free-flowing composition.» (AMG)

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28/03/2007

Gnawa Wallpaper



Gnawa Diffusion - Algeria (1997)

If there’s a group that I could choose as a symbol of what I’m trying to promote here in Babe(b)logue, well, this is Gnawa Diffusion. The success of their politically engaged cultural métissage testifies that music, as a form of art able to speak directly to the heart of the people, can still contribute to the betterment of our tiny, bellicose world. The album posted here is their wonderful 1997 debut, which sports the first version of one of the best pop songs of the last ten years, the gorgeous «Ombre-elle» (listen to it in the «Tapas» box). Ah! Je voudrais être un fauteuil dans un salon de coiffure pour dames pour que le fesses des belles âmes s’écrasent contre mon orgueil…

«The members of Gnawa Diffusion, who are based in Grenoble in the South East of France, come from a rich mix of musical and cultural backgrounds. Fusing their individual influences into a collective sound, Gnawa Diffusion have woven elements of rap, ragga, jazz, reggae and rai into a vibrant musical patchwork. The group's name is a reference to the Gnawa, a tribe from Western Sudan who were deported to North Africa in the 16th century by the rulers of Fes and Algiers. While the Gnawa were officially converted to Islam by their new masters, they continued to worship their own African gods in private. The way Gnawa Diffusion see it, this historic tale of people uprooted from their homeland and forced to begin a new life in a foreign land, is remarkably similar to the lives of modern-day immigrants growing up in France. Indeed, the group's lead singer, Amezigh, son of the famous Algerian writer Kateb Yacine, considers himself to be a 20th century version of the Gnawa. Amezigh, who arrived in France in 1988 at the tender age of 16, has been closely involved with the struggle to defend immigrants' rights and abolish racial prejudice. When Amezigh formed Gnawa Diffusion in 1992 he saw the group as an alternative means of getting his political message across. Amezigh, Gnawa Diffusion's lead singer and songwriter, writes his lyrics in three languages, Arabic, French and English.» (rifimusique)

«Originaire de Grenoble, né en 1992 d’un métissage franco-algérien, Gnawa Diffusion est un groupe incontournable et l’un des rares représentants sur la scène française d’une fusion au sens large. La formation emmenée par Amazigh Kateb (fils de Kateb Yacine, fondateur de la littérature algérienne moderne) est parvenue à imbriquer des éléments empruntés au raï, au rap, au reggae, voire au jazz. Gnawa fait de sa musique un chant de lutte, un combat scandé en français, en arabe et en anglais. Capables de tirer de leur sac des créations originales alliant parfaitement leurs influences autant que de remettre au goût du jour quelques titres traditionnels des contrées reculées du Soudan, ils mèlent habilement instruments traditionnels et électriques ou electroniques. Le ton des Gnawas a fait des émules des deux côtés de la Méditerranée, mais en gène certains au point que plusieurs de leurs prestations seront interdites en Algérie pour cause d’irrévérence envers le pouvoir en place. Mélange de tradition et de modernisme, entre chaâbi, raï, rap, reggae et musique orientale, la musique de Gnawa Diffusion est authentique et sans concessions.» (lefoyer.free.fr)

Gnawa Diffusion’s Official Website: http://www.gnawa-diffusion.com/

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Postcards from Italy (22) - Mozia Island, Sicily

27/03/2007

Horslips - Happy To Meet, Sorry To Part (1972)

An Irish folk-rock classic.

«Get ready for the ride of your life through Irish folk-rock styles. The opening track of the group's debut album, with its pipes, button accordion, and percussion, could pass for any Chieftains record, but then the electricity kicks in on "Hall of Mirrors," and the rest is melodic rock, not so much folk-rock as folkish rock, recalling early Genesis. John Fean sounds like he's playing folk melodies even as he plays runs on his electric guitar on "The Clergy's Lamentation," and the group follows this with an anthem-like piece of Gaelic rock ("An Bratach Ban") with a dance-like instrumental break. "Bon Istgh Ag Ol" is probably the best track on the album, and "Hall of Mirrors" and "Furniture" remained in their stage act for years, the latter, with its superb middle section – favourably recalling Steve Howe's playing with Yes on their early albums – transformed into a 15-minute epic. And just when you think you've got them pegged as a progressive folk-rock outfit, they deliver the exquisitely languid, almost impressionistic "The Shamrock Shore" and the playful "Dance for Yer Daddy," which sounds like the Chieftains with vocals until Fean's electric guitar kicks in. And Fean's playing on "The Musical Priest," by itself, is worth the price of the album.» (AMG)

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Ethno Trio Troitsa - Zhuravy (2001)

Troitsa appeared in 1996 in Belarus, a small Eastern European country situated between Poland and Russia and also sharing borders with Ukraine and Lithuania. The founder of the group and its creative "guiding spirit" was Ivan Ivanovich Kirtchuk, a senior lecturer of the university in Minsk, the Belorussian capital. The name of the band, "Troitsa", which in translation means the numeral three, or the religious term "Trinity", was meant to underline the connection with national traditions. The idea to form such a group came to Ivan's mind in 1986, when he was collecting ethnographic material in Belorussian villages. His main motive for taking this step was the desire to popularize national songs, to connect them with musical traditions of the world. In fact, Belorussian music is quite universal, as it was shaped by various cultural influences mixing up in the country's history. The group is known mainly outside their native land.

In 1997 the band became popular in Russia, and in 1998 they made a big tour across the Netherlands, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany and Portugal. The uniqueness of their compositions, the variety of instruments they play, and also their professionalism – Ivan's strong voice and the technical abilities of other musicians – gave them great success with the audience, especially in Holland. "Troitsa" from the beginning used not only national instruments, but also those from other countries of the world, all the same retaining old Belorussian as the language of their songs. Critics described their style as "folk-fusion with the influence of world-music".

In 1998 the group was noticed by a Dutch recording company Pan Records, which offered them a contract for the release of their debut album "Troitsa". After this release and some concerts in Belarus and Holland the group broke up for some time. […] In 2000 Ivan released a solo record, "Heritage Of The Lost Villages". […] which In the autumn of the same year a new line-up, called "Ethno Trio Troitsa", gave their first concert in Minsk. New members of the band were Jury Dmitriev, a guitarist and a pupil of Ivan Kirtchuk, and drummer Jury Pavlovskij, ex-musician of "Kniaz Myshkin". Zhuravy, the first release of the new formation, appeared in Holland in 2001. (gadki.lublin.pl)

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If you like Troitsa, look for their Sem album in L'Arbre de les 1000 musiques.

Postcards from Italy (21) - Venaria (To), Piedmont


26/03/2007

Manu Dibango - Countdown at Kusini OST (1975)

A fantastic and ultra-unknown (to me, at least) Manu Dibango soundtrack to the equally obscure independent mid-70s movie «Countdown at Kusini» (a drama financed by DST Communications, a subsidiary of Delta Sigma Theta, the world's largest black sorority, and centered around the revolutionary leader of a fictionalized African nation, Fahari, who is being hunted by a mercenary hired by a big corporation disgruntled by the rebel's policies because they are cutting into the company's profits) that I discovered recently at Matsuli Music. Thank you, Matt, for letting me re-post this long-forgotten gem!

«Manu Dibango is one of the original fathers of the Afro-funk scene. His huge worldwide hit 'Soul Makossa' paved the way for artists such as Fela Kuti and Hugh Masekela. This rare soundtrack was produced in tiny quantities for the premiere of the obscure Ossie Davis movie in Seattle in August 1975. Each album is individually numbered, and signed by the cast. It's a superb blend of African rhythms, jazz, and a heavy dose of space jazz and funk. There are too many good tracks to mention, from uptempo dancefloor cuts to slower mellow numbers, all featuring Manu's superb sax playing.» (Blaxploitation.com)

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24/03/2007

Putumayo Presents Colombia (2001)

Hola, Noel! Como ves, enfin llegué a poner en linea el disco que me pediste. Y que discazo! Pues, que lo disfrutes!... Un abrazo, Radu.

P.S.: Still waiting for your first "official" contribution...:)

«The beleaguered nation of Colombia, fraught as it is with poverty and drug wars, is the source of some of the most joyous music in the hemisphere. Almost as if in defiance of external hardships, Colombian musicians produce an upbeat, festive sound that draws on African, European, and native influences. This release features a dozen examples of Cumbia, porro, vallenato, and salsa. The artists range from heartthrobs los 50 de Joselito, whose traditional Andean sound belies their youth, to veterans such as the late Lucho Bermúdez, whose soaring clarinet drives the churning "Fiesta de Negritos." What all of these artists have in common is a reverence for the traditional forms combined with a talent for colorful, danceable arrangements. Percussion is crisp, and earthy, brass arrangements are sharp and tight, and the vocals convey a warm sense of fun. A particular highlight is Tulio Zuloaga's "El Temporal," a Puerto Rican plena. It cooks along with rich background harmonies and agile accordion riffs. La Sonora Dinamita throws a lot of brash humor into the irreverent Cumbia "El Ciclón." Contrast this with the smooth, warm "Delia la Cumbiambera" by the Latin Brothers, with its creamy brass and salsa counter rhythm on the piano. By no means a complete overview of Colombian music, this release gives a good sampling of a handful of styles, whetting the appetite for more.» (AMG)

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Myllarit - A Voi Voi! Karelian Fever (2000)

Another fine group from Russia, thanx again to Valery. Myllarit define themselves as a «new wave Karelian folk» band. Their sound is rockier and livelier compared to that of the other Russian groups I’ve posted recently, but nevertheless engaging and enjoyable. A Voi Voi! Karelian Fever is their fourth album.

«Myllarit (The Millers) are a dynamic brisk vocal and instrumental folk band from Russian Karelia. The group came together in 1992, an outgrowth of the pairing of accordionist Zobnev with Alexander Bykadorov, who had travelled Europe together playing Karelian and Russian folk music in the streets. The unique sound of Myllarit combines traditional music and poetry of Karelia, the White Sea, Olonets and Ladoga regions, and also Russian songs of the Trans-Onega region, with elements of rock, jazz and world music. Thus, fitting them to suit their more modern style. Besides, the group performs songs of the Ingria (St.-Petersburg region) in the local Ingric dialect of the Finnish language. “Karelia represents a rich mixture of so many different cultures,” said Zobnev. “Our rather severe climatic conditions help to hone this musical style. It is the music of the Russian pomors (White Sea coast natives) and Finnish and Karelian songs. It all mixes together and provides food for Myllarit.” Myllarit achieve their main impact on stage with great talent and humour. They are outstanding live performers. Their discography includes six albums. Myllarit is also very active locally in their hometown Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Republic of Karelia, where they support and promote local bands through the Myllarit Center of Musical Initiatives and the organisation of musical events, such as the annual Petrozavodsk Folk Marathon.» (From Myllarit’s MySpace page)

All you would like to know about Myllarit here.

Link in comments (always appreciated… I’ve seen very few of them, recently – and lots of downloads, instead…)

23/03/2007

Postcards from Italy (20) - "Trulli", Apulia

Pino di Modugno - Bedouin (2004)

«Now this is Jazz. One might be tempted to classify this music as World Music and could do so with justification. But, in my estimation, damn little World Music swings this hard. Pino di Modugno is an accordionist, a Jazz accordionist. He shares a rarified company with Belgian Jean Baptiste “Toots” Thielemans as the master of an odd instrument in the jazz vernacular. He is no Lawrence Welk and for that we should be grateful (not that there is anything wrong with Lawrence Welk). No, pater familias Pino di Modugno (father of organist Vito di Modugno, who appears here) is an authentic jazz accordionist. He is so in a much more traditional way than Guy Klucevsek or Pete Selvaggio.

This traditional jazz bent is illustrated in the elder di Modugno’s repertoire for Bedouin. His palette spans Be Bop (Bud Powell’s “Down With It”) to Latin Jazz (Michel Camilo’s “One More Once”) to Soul Jazz (Nat Adderley’s “Work Song”) to the blues (Milt Jackson's “Bags Groove”). Never does this di Modugno’s instrument mock the music he is playing. It provides these jazz pieces with an old work charm not unlike sepia photography. Vito di Modugno provides the grease to the mix and guitarist Gibellini the butter. Cue up “Here’s that Rainy Day” and enjoy an Italian aural pastry and strong coffee.» (AllAboutJazz)

Non è cosa di tutti i giorni, e in particolare nel piccolo e un po' inacidito mondo del jazz, trovarsi davanti a una situazione come quella rappresentata in questo disco. Pensateci: un signore di una certa età – anche se ben celata da giovanile aspetto e baldanza – considerato, dopo decenni di onorata carriera nell'ambito della musica da ballo, uno dei massimi virtuosi mondiali di uno strumento tanto affascinante quanto impegnativo, che all'improvviso decide di lanciarsi in un'avventura “senza rete” e cimentarsi in un disco di jazz. E che, per aggiungere pepe all'intera faccenda, si fa affiancare da una delle migliori sezioni ritmiche disponibili in Italia […] e affronta, senza starci tanto a rimuginare sopra, un repertorio clamorosamente impegnativo. […]

E fin dal principio Di Modugno riesce a spiazzare le attese e le previsioni dell'ascoltatore. Si prenda, ad esempio, il brano d'apertura, una ardua e forse per questo poco frequentata composizione di Bud Powell, Down with It. […] Quel che affascina, in Down with It e nel resto del disco, è che il solismo di Pino Di Modugno non è di derivazione bop e non ne fa mistero, sviluppandosi invece nel solco di una cantabilità tutta mediterranea, anche e soprattutto sui giri armonici più frastagliati. [..] Questo disco, ruspante ma allo stesso tempo sofisticato, provinciale (nel senso, beninteso, che è nato in provincia) ma allo stesso tempo glocalizzato, è un potente antidoto al conformismo e all'anonimato che serpeggiano da un pezzo nei lettori CD di mezzo mondo. È la dimostrazione pulsante e vitale di come sia ancora possibile, in un periodo storico in cui tutto sembra già stato detto scritto e suonato, realizzare della musica orgogliosamente non convenzionale utilizzando linguaggi e procedure assolutamente convenzionali. […] (Luca Conti, Jazzitalia. Cliccate qui per la recensione completa)

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22/03/2007

Tito Puente - Puente in Percussion (1956)

After having provided those of you who still have to stand winter’s harshness with the icy (yet heart-warming) textures of Bjornstad & Darling’s The River, I’m gonna celebrate yet another sunny day here in my hometown with this happy burst of hot energy and joie de vivre. In this almost fifty years old masterpiece, Spanish Harlem-born Latin Jazz pioneer Tito Puente, accompanied by talented musicians like Willie Bobo and Cuban stars Mongo Santamaria and Carlos «Patato» Valdez, gives us a showcase of his ability and creativity as a percussionist. A must have, I think, for all Latin music enthusiasts. Enjoy!

«Back in the late 60’s while in college and learning street rumba in San Juan, PR, I came in contact with this, then, LP. Basically if you, still in the 21 first century, want to apply for Congas, Bongos or Timbales 101, enroll in this short course. Although it should be intended for post graduated it won't hurt anyone trying to understand the Salsa phenomenom or Buena Vista Social Club grammy or just plain “Ritmo Latino”. Even if you just like to set up for Classic Latin percussion at it's best, simply turn this classic on and enjoy the magic.» (reader review, Amazon)

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21/03/2007

The River


Ketil Bjornstad & David Darling - The River (1997)

«There are few collaborations in the fields of improvised and neo-classical music that have created works so richly evocative as that of the Norwegian pianist Ketil Bjornstad and the American cellist David Darling. The River, the first of these collaborations, is arguably the finest, drawing upon influences as diverse as the music of the Renaissance and twentieth-century minimalism. The results are sublime; Bjornstad's introspective piano themes are delicately counterposed by Darling's meditative cello passages which haunt the listener with their searing poignancy. This is achieved both structurally and atmospherically through the use of chord progressions and performance techniques which explore the full range of both instruments in a way which emphasizes harmonic texture over virtuosity.

More abstractly, the transcendent beauty of The River is derived from the sensitivity with which the overwhelming mood of sorrow is depicted. The musical ideas are introduced through a contemplative reserve which never once lapses into sentimentality. Bjornstad and Darling are clearly two deeply thoughtful men; in this work, they epitomize the rare talent of being able to express the profundity of grief through music. A contemporary masterpiece.» (10goldstars)

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Springtime

Kapela Ze Wsi Warszawa / Warsaw Village Band - Wiosna Ludu / People’s Spring (2001)

Thanx to Celta Gnome, I can post you today this very interesting young band from Warsaw, Poland. Kapela Ze Wsi Warszawa (Warsaw Village Band)’s 2001 Wiosna Ludu (People’s Spring) is a very nice mix of tradition and modernity. Read the following review to learn more about this really promising band:

«The Warsaw Village Band, one of Poland’s outstanding new bands, was founded in 1997 by six young musicians wishing to preserve traditional Polish music without producing ‘plastic folk’ for a mass culture. Performing in a style described as “hardcore folk” or “bio techno”, they treasure the memories of their ethnic roots, and keeping them alive, they connect tradition to new modern aesthetics. They want to offer a new cultural proposition young people, far from narrow-mindedness and mass culture. While travelling the Polish countryside, they learnt traditional music that had been nearly forgotten.

Inspired by this music, they play folk dances, ballads, and rural traditionals, but it is very important for them not to simply adapt the old music, but to create their very own style. They use traditional instruments handed down through the generations, such as the ‘white voice’, a special singing style, close to screaming, used by the shepherds of old. They also discovered the ‘suka’, an ancient Polish fiddle, played by fingernails. They create rhythm with two drummers each playing a single drum, which is a rather unusual combination for any kind of folk music.

The Warsaw Village Band wanted to have fun making music in a spontaneous way, and when they first started performing, they just beat their drums in any traditional rhythm occurring to them until they met on common ground, creating a wholly unique and fascinating sound. You can hear stringed instruments sounding like French horns, furious drums, trance, improvisation, and elements of roots music. Above all, you can hear the enthusiasm and passion of six young musicians aged between 16 and 25 years.

Their music brings back long forgotten traditional musical elements of trance, connecting ancient religious culture from all over the world, such as Sufi, Dervish, and Chassidim.To the Warsaw Village Band, music is the soul’s best drug, an inspiration and trance meditation; it is the rhythm and it is fun – let’s dance!» (Adastra-music)

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20/03/2007

Third Ear Band - Third Ear Band (1970)

Although they were loosely affiliated with the British progressive rock scene of the late '60s and early '70s, Third Ear Band was in some ways more of an experimental ensemble performing contemporary compositional work. For one thing, they didn't use electric instruments, or even guitars, instead employing violin, viola, oboe, cello, and hand percussion. More important, they didn't play conventional rock "songs." They featured extended instrumental pieces that often built up from a drone, or hypnotic pattern, to a dense, raga-like crescendo, somewhat in the manner of some of Terry Riley's work. Their "progressive rock" tag probably arose because they recorded for Harvest Records, Britain's leading art rock label, which was home to Pink Floyd, Kevin Ayers, Pete Brown, Edgar Broughton, and many other progressive acts.

The group was founded by drummer Glen Sweeney, who had roots in Britain's free jazz scene, and had played with an avant-garde ensemble, the Sun Trolley. Sweeney described Third Ear's music as "electric acid raga," although the electricity was shut off shortly after they formed, when their electronic equipment was stolen. Sweeney simply molded Third Ear into an acoustic ensemble, with the addition of oboe, violin/viola, and cello. The personnel (with the exception of Sweeney) would rotate over the next few years; their early albums were produced by Andrew King, who had helped manage Pink Floyd in their early days. […] The original incarnation of Third Ear Band disbanded in the early '70s. Surprisingly, they re-formed in the late '80s, and released a few albums that boasted sounds and ambitions that were similar to those found in their early work. (AMG)

More info here.

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19/03/2007

Postcards from Italy (19) - Milan

Inna Zhelannaya - Vodorosl (1995)

This one – thanx again to Valery! – is for my friend Alonsii at L’arbre de les 1000 musiques, who’s another big fan of Inna Zhelannaya's old band, The Farlanders. This 1995 fine solo effort can well be considered the final rehearsal for that (now sadly disbanded) group’s future releases. Here’s a brief profile of the artist, taken from the Moscow Times:

Folk Songs With a Twist

Inna Zhelannaya, one of the few Russian artists to achieve fame in the international world-music scene, makes a comeback with a new band.

Over the years, Inna Zhelannaya has garnered appreciation both in Russia and abroad for her unique mix of Russian folk, rock, world music and electronica. But she hasn't been as visible since her former band, Inna Zhelannaya and Farlanders, disbanded in 2004. Now, the 42-year-old Moscow native is set for a comeback […] with a new five-piece band to premiere a set based on folk songs from several Russian regions.

Zhelannaya began her musical career in 1989 working with the cult Russian rock band Alyans. When the Soviet Union opened up to the West in the early 1990s, Alyans participated in many international music festivals and toured Sweden and France. In 1994, she put together Inna Zhelannaya and Farlanders, with a line-up that included some former members of Alyans – bassist Sergei Kalachyov and woodwind instrumentalist Sergei Starostin. Two years later, she released an album called Seaweed (Vodorosl). One of her songs from that album, «Dalshe», was included on the One World compilation CD on the Putumayo World Music label, along with tracks by such performers as Peter Gabriel and the Gipsy Kings. Following that release, Zhelannaya and Farlanders played a number of times in the United States, including an appearance at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. But the band gained more of a following in Europe, where they toured extensively in the late 1990s and had a number of album releases.

In 2004, […] after Zhelannaya and Farlanders split, the singer pursued other projects. In 2005, she recorded an album called 77RUS with the Moscow-based band Malerija. Then she assembled a new group of musicians. […] Zhelannaya met two of her new bandmates – keyboardist Arkady Marto and percussionist Andrei Romanika – when she played with them onstage in their band Safety Magic, which produces meditative, ethnically influenced music, some of which has a passing resemblance to King Crimson. She enlisted violinist Artyom Yakushenko after seeing him play with the world-music band Bely Ostrog. The singer said her new band was all tooled up with electronics, with even the violin being electronically processed. But the band's percussion is purely acoustic, with no electronic elements. «Nearly everything has changed,» Zhelannaya said. «The only thing that hasn't is that we still base our new material on Russian folk songs. But by and large, there are very few elements of their original, orthodox versions left. These songs are totally remade and are in a radically different form.» (Kirill Galetski, Moscow Times, February 22, 2007)

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Tarika - Soul Makassar (2001)

"Radu, here's Tarika's 4th album: Soul Makassar (2001), Sakay (SAKD 7037). Recorded 1999-2000 in London (UK), Bandung and Jakarta (Indonesia) with Indonesian and London musicians guesting. Info and cover in the file. More info at http://www.tarika.nu/" Lucky.
Many thanx, Lucky!

English Review: http://www.frootsmag.com/tarika/soul_makassar/
French Review: http://www.frootsmag.com/tarika/soul_makassar/francais/

For more info about Tarika and another mesmerizing record, click here: Tarika - Son Egal (1997)

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Black Sugar - Viajecito (Complete recordings 1970-72)

Black Sugar, the brainchild of Victor “Coco” Salazar and Miguel “Chino” Figueroa, was formed in 1969 under the name Los Far Fen, mainly because the group had a Farfisa and a Fender amplifiers as their only electronic amplification equipment. Los Far Fen recorded three 45 rpm records with six tunes: original compositions, pop tunes and ballads. […] In 1970 the group was given the name of Black Sugar by Jaime Delgado Aparicio, a jazz piano player and arranger that at the time was the artistic director of Sono Radio, a Peruvian label. Delgado Aparicio, recognizing the talent of the young musicians, gave the group an opportunity to record a long playing in 1971. Original compositions like “Too Late”, “Viajecito” and “The Looser” made this LP an immediate best seller. Black Sugar “Black Sugar” was sold in all South America and there was a release of the LP in USA by a Miami based label. The success of Black Sugar was not due to luck or marketing. Its members were some of the finest, if not the best, young musician from Peru. The arranger, “Coco” Salazar was also a fantastic guitar player; Miguel “Chino” Figueroa was the composer of almost all the original songs by Black Sugar, besides playing keyboards, he was also an inspired organ player; Jose Cruz was one of the most promising young jazz drummers. […]

Black Sugar recorded a second LP in 1972 [which] features more original composition than the first one; also the playing and the soloing show a bigger musical maturity. Tracks like “Fuego”, “Kathy”, “Checan”, “All your Love”, the beautiful arrangement to Stevie Wonder’s “Don’ t You Worry About a Thing”, etc... make this LP a jewel.

Definitely their style is unique, with influences from groups like Tower of Power, Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago mixed with a latin funk flavor. In the end […] Black Sugar was a world class latin funk band.» (George Bonilla, Incarock)

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18/03/2007

Madagascar: Pays Mérina (2001)

Thanx to Martin aka Ravalomanana, I can post you this wonderful and joyous anthology devoted to the rich musical traditions of the Merina County, around Tananarive, in the heart of Madagascar island. Many thanx, Martin!

Le cinquième album d’une série consacrée à l’exploration de différentes régions de Madagascar (dans la même collection, des enregistrements des pays Antandroy, Bara, Mikea et Masikoro) est dédié aux traditions musicales de l’ethnie Merina, province de Tananarive. Ce survol donne une idée très vivante de la diversité de la musique malgache. Admirablement pensée, cette sélection présente les principaux instruments de l’île sous plusieurs angles, seuls ou en groupes, au travers de situations variées. Tout en découvrant la richesse de la palette offerte, on ne peut s’empêcher d’apprécier l’unité profonde qui se dégage de l’ensemble. De récentes productions Buda […] faisaient entendre la valiha – l’instrument symbole de Madagascar – en ses variantes marovany ou bien encore plus modernes, diatoniques ou chromatiques, mais non sous son aspect originel idiocorde (les "cordes" de la toritenany sont des lanières levées à même l’écorce du tronçon de bambou qui lui sert de caisse). Alors que l’on entend la première en duo avec une "mandoline" au son cristallin (kabôsy), abandonnées à la fantaisie d’une mélodie enjouée typique du répertoire de la valiha, la sonorité claire et boisée de l’ancêtre la situe presque dans le voisinage sonore de la sanza africaine pour évoquer la danse d’un oiseau avec une finesse éloignée de toute imitation servile. Une pièce pour violon seul lui fait écho, qui adopte la même distance d’un art conscient de soi à l’égard du thème naturel du vent.

La flûte sodina, une autre merveille de l’île, est ici jouée par quelques-uns de ses maîtres actuels, dont le fameux Rakotofrah. En duo, elle se livre à des chassés-croisés sautillants et asymétriques, mais on la retrouve aussi au sein d’ensembles encadrés de percussions où les mélodies s’imbriquent, savamment tuilées en un kaléidoscope fascinant qui peut évoquer les chants Pygmées. Seule ou accompagnée, la sodina ressemble au ney arabe à qui elle emprunte à la fois douceur et âpreté. Ce mélange étonnant d’influences asiatiques, arabes et africaines est tout le charme des musiques malgaches que de fréquentes cadences harmoniques occidentales rendent étonnamment proches de nous. La belle richesse ornementale du solo de Nicolas Rakotovao témoigne d’une grande maturité stylistique. Tout de grâce et de gaîté, ces pièces ne s’attachent pourtant pas qu’aux moments les plus heureux de l’existence; la musique semble avoir pris le parti de n’être pas l’esclave des passions tristes pour, au contraire, apporter la joie qui manque au réel. Un mouvement continu de danse les anime et les relie de son frisson vital. La nostalgie, le mal du pays, la souffrance des jours, les suppliques et les cérémonies funèbres comme le "retournement des morts", s’accommodent de mélodies entraînantes, d’allures légères. La danse embrasse sans les opposer la vie et la mort en son éternel mouvement.

L’autre dimension essentielle de la pratique musicale, vocale cette fois, est celle d’une sagesse qui se fait volontiers sentencieuse (ainsi procède la poésie des hains-tenys). Le grand genre de Madagascar, c’est le hiragasy, une sorte de théâtre populaire qui inclut la danse et la musique en un spectacle total donné sur les places de villages où chacun tient un rôle costumé. Il livre un message social et religieux compris de tous. Tout s’y est incorporé, des fanfares européennes aux instruments autochtones. Essentiellement homophonique, il scelle le sentiment communautaire en le donnant en représentation; un extrait raisonnable donne une idée de ce qui peut durer des heures. Mais ce survol ne serait pas complet sans quelques jeux d’enfants dont l’un s’accompagne du tambour de terre, surprenant dispositif dans lequel un trou creusé dans le sol sert de caisse de résonance. Prises ainsi entre la rumeur de la terre et la lumière du chant du coq, ces voix d’enfants acquièrent une portée symbolique d’autant plus belle qu’elle est captée au cœur même de la réalité. De cette réalité qui maltraite terriblement, on ne le dit pas assez, cette terre qui a trouvé ainsi, dans son art, le moyen de dédaigner son mal. Dans la joie. (P.-L. Renou, chronicart)

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Tracklist: http://rapidshare.com/files/21594585/PMT.rar.html

Your contribution is always welcome!!

17/03/2007

Faramarz Payvar - Iran: Persian Classical Music (1974, 1991*)

A nice introduction to the enchanting world of Persian classical music.

«From the old Nonesuch Explorer series comes this album of classical Persian music, originally released in 1974 and re-released on CD in 1991. The album contains a number of nice virtuoso performances on the various instruments of the Persian classical repertoire. The ensemble leader Faramarz Payvar provides some outstanding work on the santur in most of the dastgah performances. Also, the zarb player Mohammad Eimai'li performs an amazing solo on his drum, nearly incorporating melody into the work with a single percussion instrument. The tar playing also stands out exceptionally in “Dastgah Chahargah”, as Houshang Zarif pumps out an outstanding run on his lute. For a basic overview of Persian classical, this album does a pretty good job of showing off the major instruments and vocals, all with the dastgah framework.» (AMG)

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Postcards from Italy (18) - Castellammare sul Golfo, Sicily

Reel - Strannie Ludi (2002) ******************* Va-Ta-Ga - Live (2006)

Thanx again to Valery, today I can post you two more gems from Russia. Reel/Va-Ta-Ga is, alongside the Farlanders, the best new Russian folk band I’ve heard so far. Highly recommended.

Va-Ta-Ga are Alexandre Leonov (vocal, winds, strings, saw), Olga Gaidamak (vocals, violin), Alexey Derevlyov (acoustic guitar), Arkady Sokolov (percussion), Sergey Shelyapin (double bass). The band was formed in 2000 in the city of Petrozavodsk (Karelia) and until 2004 has been known under the name of Reel. Among its members the group counts four graduates from the Petrozavodsk’ State Music Conservatory while their leader Alexander Leonov, besides being a main vocalist and a multi-instrument performer, has been for years collecting folk songs as well as designing and making traditional music instruments.

The musicians themselves call the Va-Ta-Ga style an «art-folk based on the Northern folk songs». The musical journalists refer to their music as either «ethno-ambient» or «folk jazz». Having roots in the karelian and north-russian culture, Va-Ta-Ga’s members also draw inspiration from other parts of the world, including Tuva in the east and the global World Music scene. Va-Ta-Ga players use acoustic instruments as well as modern digital and analogue sound treatment. Besides a classical guitar and a double bass the band has a great variety of traditional wind, strings and percussion instruments. (From the band's site)


« […] Strannie ludi starts with one of the highlights of the cd, “Vutitsa”. A mystic song with throat-singing and airy female vocals. The song (and many others) remind me of the Farlanders, one of the few Russian folk-rock groups who made it outside the country. The way the songs are build up and the vocals have a lot in common with this group. Reel, however mixes more with other cultures than the Farlanders. On “Obriadovaja” the band creates a fusion between an Irish flute tune and steaming Russian male vocals. The same on “Zarja”, where bagpipe, violin and jazzy flute combine into a catchy piece of crossover music. The song “Pomorskaja” goes all around the world. With male vocals that sounds like the Joiking of the Sami people with a flute that reminds me more of South America, percussion that is often heard in India and all of this mixed with fine subtle electronics this song is another highlight on the cd. Strannie ludi is another strong product from the Russian Sketis label and I just cant wait until I’m allowed to review more of this experimental record company. (Eelco Schilder, folkworld.de)

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16/03/2007

Djal - Extra Bal (2003)

Here’s another fine example of French folk-jazz, courtesy of an Italian reader (grazie, Marco!). Less experimental and more dance-oriented than labelmates and fellow-citizens Dédale, Djal produce nevertheless an exciting mix of French folk, jazz and world music. This is their second album, recorded live like their debut release. The CD should still be available from www.mustradem.com and ADA distribution.

«They’re French, they’re fresh, and they’re fun. They’re also fabulous musicians. Based in Grenoble, Djal combine influences from jazz and Arab music (ubiquitous in France just now) with traditional material from the Savoie region and beyond. Their instrumentation includes fiddle, flute, hurdy-gurdy, button box, bouzouki, recorder, bass, bombarde, dulcimer, guitar, and various drums. The overall sound is rich and varied, with plenty of punch and the added depth of a seven-piece band.
This is a live recording, made at a home gig with an atmosphere halfway between a barn dance and a rave. There’s a primal energy on tracks like Hollwenn and the opening set of three bourés. Michel Bordeleau’S great Québecois Reel des 4 Fers en l’Air is given an inspired treatment, and it’s followed by a trio of jigs with more than a touch of Irish about them. Gavottes, rondeaus and other Breton dances are mixed in among the standard French forms. With the exception of Michel’ reel and a couple of polkas, all the tunes are by band members. Most of the tracks here are up-tempo dance music, but there are some gorgeous slow numbers. Ivoirine is a stately air, and the waltz Masque Rouge is one I intend to learn.
Improvisation is one of Djal’s strengths. Several of its members have one foot in jazz, and their extended solos are a joy to hear. Yann Gourdon’s demonic hurdy-gurdy is awesome on Hollwenn and elsewhere. Christophe Sacchettini’s flutes are pure magic, and Daniel Gourdon’s fiddle brings an eerie swirling quality to several tracks. The rhythm section is also worth a mention: imaginative, incisive and irresistibly intoxicating. All in all, this is an excellent CD and a wonderful example of the best French music.» (Alex Monaghan, folkworld.de)

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15/03/2007

Many thanx...

... to all of you who uploaded files for Babe(b)logue! And very interesting music, too. Let me say that I do appreciate your contribution, and I'll post them all in the next week-end.

To all Babe(b)logue readers: If you want to send me works by your favourite artists, you can post links and eventual infos in the comments section, or write me an e-mail to the following address: babeblogue@tiscali.it
I will listen to them all, and post all the materials that fit in the spirit of this blog.
Thank you for your attention, enjoy your stay in Babe(b)logue!

Radu

Gal Costa - Gal Costa (Cinema Olympia) (1969)

Just for a moment, forget about samba beats and bossa nova, ’cause this album, released at the height of Tropicalia movement, is a real masterpiece of Brazilian (but world-class) psychedelic rock. Ultra-highly recommended!!

«After Caetano Veloso broke out with his solo debut, the self-titled 1968 release recognized as the building block for the now infamous Brazilian Tropicalia movement, his friends and musical peers released similar albums, always upping the ante in terms of outrageousness and inventiveness. This release, the second of two self-titled albums released by Gal Costa in 1969, set the high watermark in terms of overall insanity and complete experimental freedom for the entire lot; not Veloso nor Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, or even the rambunctious Os Mutantes stepped this far out into psychedelia, and even though Costa had hinted at the noisier aspects she was interested in exploring with her previous release, this album must have shocked listeners when it arrived on the shelves. In fact, 35 years of MPB – or music from anywhere else in the world for that matter – hasn’t heard another sonic assault quite like this. Costa is a ball of contradictions here: overtly wild but in control; sweet and accessible, yet brash; and, at times, almost violent as she screams and moans her way through the album while spindly, whiny guitars mix with soulful bass grooves, bombastic drums, exotic horns, woodwinds, and strings. The sonic textures are taken completely over the top with judicious use of delays, reverbs, and various production techniques new and exciting at the time. When taken all together, the listener may not at first notice the high quality of the songwriting for the unreal, emotional freak-outs laced throughout the performances. Costa’s crazy improvisations over Caetano Veloso’s tune "The Empty Boat" serve as evidence of this delightful impulsiveness when placed side by side with Veloso’s own rather forward-thinking recording of the song, which sounds positively conservative by comparison. All in all, Gal Costa is an indescribable, unpredictable, ambitious, and fun record preserving a slice of time when Brazil was at its most controversial state musically and politically and is a must-have for any psychedelic collection.» (AMG)

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14/03/2007

Postcards from Italy (17) - Limone Piemonte, Piedmont

The Incredible String Band - The Incredible String Band (1966)

One of my all-time favourites, The Incredible String Band were one of the most haunting avant-folk groups to emerge from the fertile ground of the late 60s UK scene. In retrospect, it can be said that they were amongst the pioneers of world music, since, especially from their second album (the famous The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion) on they began to incorporate Middle Eastern and Asian instruments and melodies in their basically hippy-Celtic sound (they were from Scotland). But let’s start from the beginning. The album I chose to post here is their 1966 debut, probably the most “orthodox” album in their career. Nevertheless, it’s a unique and highly rewarding record in its own right. Highly recommended!

«The debut release from the original Incredible String Band trio – Robin Williamson (violin/whistle/mandolin/guitar/vocals), Clive Palmer (banjo/guitar/vocals), and Mike Heron (guitar/vocals) – was also their most simple. It is this minimalism that allowed the natural radiance of the band's (mostly) original material to be evident in the purist sense, and likewise without many of the somewhat intricate distractions and musical tangents that their future work would incorporate. Immediately striking is the group's remarkable and collective prowess on seemingly all things stringed – hence, their apropos moniker. With an unmistakable blend of distinct instrumentation and harmony vocals, the Incredible String Band take inspiration from traditional music on both sides of the Atlantic. Their impish charm and tongue-in-cheek fairytale mythology also add to their folkie mystique. This first long-player – originally issued in 1966 – contains a bevy of songs that, while steeped in conventional folk music, are completely unique. This likewise holds true for the three traditional pieces, "Schaeffer's Jig," "Whistle Tune," and the rare Clive Palmer instrumental solo, "Niggertown." Palmer, formerly of the highly underrated Famous Jug Band, would exit the Incredible String Band after this record, and thus the perpetually rotating personnel that would guide the group for the remainder of its existence began, perhaps aptly, at the beginning. The original songs range from light and airy love ballads – such as the Williamson solo "Womankind" or the understated mischief of "Dandelion Blues" – to the high and lonesome sound of Mike Heron's mandolin-driven "How Happy I Am." There are likewise darker – yet no less poignant – tunes such as "Empty Pocket Blues" and the haunting "Good As Gone."» (AMG)

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13/03/2007

Dédale - No Past (1995)

Musique traditionelle de demain, traditional music of tomorrow. It was true yesterday, it will be true in the future, and for a very long time. A simply amazing record by one of the best French avant-folk bands of the last twenty years. Highly recommended.

Enfants des musiques et danses traditionnelles, les membres de Dedale ont souhaité dès 1988 capter d’autres traces : celles du jazz ou des musiques orientales qui inspirent leurs compositions, leurs improvisations et leurs solos; ou encore une forme inventée de rock ethnique instrumental dans lequel ils puisent leur son et leur énergie.
Tout en goûtant un éclectisme musical revendiqué par le groupe - influences pluriculturelles, instruments traditionnels employés dans un style contemporain, rigueur de l’écriture et improvisation - le public que Dédalea croisé en Rhône-Alpes, en France et en Europe a pu replacer ces musiques et danses dans leur réel devenir : celui d’une renaissance. (MusTraDem)

[…] This is an entirely instrumental recording, with the main instrumentation being the button box of Norbert Pignol, the whistles and recorders of Christophe Sacchettini, and the hurdy-gurdy of Isabelle Pignol. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention - Dedale are French. Actually, it's easy to forget their nationality because this does not sound like French music is supposed to. It has similarities to La Bamboche at their best, and to Ti Jaz, but Dedale go further and faster. In fifteen years of listening to French trad folk, I've never heard the degree of energy and innovation which Dedale bring to their music. And can they play! The musicianship is awesome. The woodwind struck me particularly, soaring over the other instruments with a life of its own, and not a finger or breath out of place. The first time I heard it, I was just so jealous! The box-player's no slouch either, playing the kind of stuff which usually only the Irish play on a two-row box, and also writing half the tunes on the album. Hurdy-gurdies are sometimes a matter of taste, but this one is so tasteful that I'd be amazed if anyone was put off by it. If you don't know much about hurdy-gurdy players, then this is a good place to start: if you're a connoisseur, then this lady will knock you out. She wrote the other half of the tunes, and can turn her wheel to Balkan, Berrichon or Blues as required.
The tunes are nicely varied, with tracks from under a minute to nearly ten, some quite close to traditional French dance music, others more experimental. There's a touch of bagpipe, a touch of dulcimer, a touch of clarinet, some nice slap bass, and just the right amount of keyboards and percussion. (Alex Monaghan, folkmusic.net)

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Postcards from Italy (16) - Bari, Apulia

12/03/2007

Raznotravie - Katorga (2001)

Another fine offering from Valery. This time, he presents us a good example of contemporanean acoustic Russian folk, Raznotravie’s 2001 effort Katorga. Thank you very much, Valery!

«Raznotravie blends Russian folk music with influences of world music, ancient music, avantgarde and much more. The group was founded in 1997; almost all members have remained in the band since then. In 2000 multi-instrumentalist and folk musician Mitya Kouznetsov joined them. Together they found a new sound which is presented on this album.
Raznotravie come from Rybinsk in theYaroslavl region in Russia. The group consists of seven members: Mikhail Posadsky (vocal, jaw harp, folk-whistle), main composer; Vyacheslav Kamenkov (acoustic guitar, domra, backing vocal) main arranger and also composer; Anna Kouznetsova (Kholodyakova) (hurdy-gurdy, backing vocal, folk winds, percussion); Mitya Kouznetsov (vocal, svirel [russian whistle], jaleika [russian reedpipe], flute, gusli [russian psaltery], mandolin, jaw harp, folk percussion) is the producer, composer and sound engineer; Alexandra Nikitina (chello); Valery Ershov (acoustic bass-guitar, backing vocal) and finally Pavel Davydovich on drums and percussion.» (kuznya.ru)

«[Raznotravie] is one of a few musical projects, which brightly represent Russia in the direction of world music. […] The poetic and musical style speaks about the uniqueness of the project, which is characteristic precisely for the Rybinsk Volga river Region and Poshekhonia, whence almost all musicians of group are from. Poshekhonia is a big part of land to the north from central region of Russia with wild woods, fields of various herbs and lost villages. […] The name “Raznotravie” takes it roots in nature of this land, which stores memories from an ancient time in every wood, in every herb. That is why the name could be translated as “manifold herbs”. But in russian it brings together very bright, wild, and ancient images in one word.» (From the net)

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11/03/2007

The Shin - Many Timer (2004)

A very nice album by a noteworthy ethno-jazz band from Georgia, courtesy of a Russian reader. Many thanx for this great discovery, Valery!

The Shin are Zaza Miminoshvili (guitars, panduri), Zurab J. Gagnidze (electric and acoustic bass, vocals) and Mamuka Gaganidze (vocals, percussion). In their Georgian homeland [now they are based in Germany], these musicians belong to the artistic elite of the country and are well known as leading composers and musicians. They have scripted pieces for productions at the Tbilisi State Theatre, numerous film, TV, and radio projects in Georgia and around the world, have taken part in several international projects, working together with great composers, directors and artists such as Gia Kancheli, Robert Sturua, Giora Feidman, Chaka Khan, Randy Brecker, Okay Temiz, Fuat Saka and many others. Musicians have lead several workshops on Georgian polyphony polyrhythmic and improvisation-theory. The Shin has participated in various festivals and won several prizes in recognition of their work.

In Georgian Shin means «the road home». Even though each of us has our own personal road home and our own personal home, the music of The Shin has the amazing ability of leading everyone «home». The music leads you to somewhere you know you've been before, where the windows are fogged over from the rain and it smells of kitchen smells, where you hear voices and, even though you might not understand what they are saying, you understand everything anyway. This music leads you home, no matter how far away it is. (From the band's own website)

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10/03/2007

Oregon - Music of Another Present Era (1973)

After Violin (look for this post in the archive section), another of my Oregon's favourite albums. Here's a sample review from All Music Guide:

Music of Another Present Era remains Oregon's most enduring masterwork. Achieving a perfect balance of musical traditions from the East and West, ancient to future, they set the stage not only for a new transculturalism in jazz, but also created a lasting template for the fusion of musics from world traditions that would flower over a decade later. The four participants in Oregon, oboist and pianist Paul McCandless, guitarist and pianist Ralph Towner, upright bassist and pianist Glen Moore, and the late multi-instrumentalist Collin Walcott, operated on the premise that melodic ideas and expansive harmonies all contributed to a music that didn't bridge cultures, but erased them and eradicated them. This is a place where the astute dynamics of classical music meet the freedom of post-bop jazz in an inquiry of world rhythms and harmonics. Standout tracks include "North Star," with its celebration of rural music and rhythmic invention; the up-tempo "Sail" that offers a killer trio of Walcott's sprinting tablas; Towner's frenetic 12-string playing and Moore's inquiring bass; the intensely improvisatory "Shard/Spring Is Really Coming," and the lilting, "The Swan." This is fusion music to be sure, but it's the kind of fusion musicians have been trying unsuccessfully to emulate for decades. Music of Another Present Era is one of the most poetic and groundbreaking records to be released in the 1970s. (AMG)

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