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Music Reviews

Na Leo Hawai’i Kahiko [coll] – [Bernice P. Bishop Museum]

Hemroid The Leader   2/20/2018   CD, International

Excellent resource for understanding the evolution of Hawaiian music, produced by the Bernice Pauahi Museum, the Hawai’i State Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Founded in 1889, it is the largest museum in Hawai’i and has the world’s largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts and natural history specimens.

Tracks 1-34 are mele (chants), sometimes with drumming, nose flute, or body slapping. The chanters were born in the middle of the 19th c. Recorded on wax cylinder sessions from 1923 and 1935. Sparse, ritualistic. Fans of Yage Pinta and Lost Shadows will find much to enjoy.

Tracks 35-48 are early 20th c. recordings & 78s foregrounding how Hawaiian music absorbed the influences of hymns and ragtime and with the addition of guitars and ukeleles, evolved into Hawaiian folk music we know today.

Ethiopian Urban and Tribal Music Mindanoo Mistiru Gold From [coll] – [Sub Rosa]

Hemroid The Leader   2/19/2018   CD, International

5 STARS ** FAR OUT SOUNDS
Ethiopian music recorded by Ragnar Johnson and Ralph Harrison in July and August 1971, released by Sub Rosa in 2017. The urban musicians are recorded in Addis Ababa and the tribal musicians in the country. The booklet tells who is playing what for each track. I became entranced while listening to the three note phrase at the heart of the Fila Flute Dance (CD2#10). Upon repeated listens the otherworldly Bagana (CD2#4) lute and the Two Afar Flutes (CD1#5) wrapped around my head and popped my brain out the top, my eyeballs from the front and my tongue lolled forth like a necktie.

Funky Chimes [coll] – [Sdban Records]

Naysayer   2/6/2018   CD, International

I live for this type of collection: “Funky Chimes”, a collection of 27 Belgian session musicians and sort of stars from the 1970’s, experimenting with “funk, jazz, latin and other groovy genres.” Did you get that it’s from Belgium, a place most people don’t initially think of for it’s music (which is wrong, of course)? It’s library music. It’s songs for commercials. It’s music your 1970’s Belgian parents would play to relax and feel cool with. The overwhelming notes with photos of each album cover should be more than enough to convince you of the outright grooviness of this stuff. Just look at some of those covers. And the names of the groups and songs: The Indian Sound of… Black Foot, Selectasound ’88 & The Bob Boon Singers, The Free Pop Electronic Concept and on and on. Of course, the stunner among stunners is Hearts of Soul and Shampoo performing “We Love the Policeman”. This is the more challenging second release in the series, the first being “Funky Chicken”. Looking for it as I type.

Les Amazones De Guinee – “Wamato” – [Sterns Music]

Hemroid The Leader   2/1/2018   CD, International

Les Amazones De Guinee are an all-woman band who also members of the Guinean army. This is their first record in 25 years and 2nd overall. Typical of Guinean music, many rhythms intermesh to make this music. Hectoring lead vocals, smooth backing vocals, intricate guitar lines, powerful saxophones, and percussion overlap.

Sekou Batourou Kouyate – “Et Sa Cora” – [Tembo]

billiejoe   1/20/2018   CD, International

This artist is from Mali and is a master of the kora, a 21 stringed lute bridge harp. The album is solo kora. You can hear its depth and variance. This is remastered recordings from 1976. To someone with little to no knowledge of African music such as myself, one can hear the influence that it has had in American music here.
– Billie Joe Tolliver

Kazakhstan Musique D’Almati/Music From Almati [coll] – [Disques VDE-Gallo]

Hemroid The Leader   1/4/2018   CD, International

Almati/Almaty is the largest city/population center in Kazakhstan. 1.7m live there, 9% of Kazakhstan’s total population.?? Elevation 2500 feet.?? These recordings date from May 1994.
Kazakh bards bow sacred lutes, sing microtonally, strum the two or three-stringed long-necked dombra, simple-structure songs with alien timbre and mesmerizing vocal technique.

Mbaye, Jimi – “Dakar Heart” – [Shanachie Entertainment]

Hemroid The Leader   12/19/2017   CD, International

Mamadou “Jimi” Mbaye (em-BY) is a Senegalese guitarist who makes his guitar sound like traditional african string instruments xalam/khalam and kora. 11 rocking tunes, this is his 1st album released in ’97. Guitarist for Youssou N’dour’s Super Etoile band. songs in wolof, french, & english. The polished sound of Senegalese mbalax pop is not for everyone but if you can get past it, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Track 3, 11.

Powwow Songs – Music of The Plains Indians [coll] – [Musical Heritage Society]

humana   12/5/2017   CD, International

These songs were written and performed for the great yearly celebrations, called powwows, of the Great Plains Indians of North America. The liner notes describe the particulars of each dance, and the meanings are felt in the hearty vocalizations and drumbeat of both the Northern and Southern Plains Indians. A true slice of social and ceremonial native music.

Fairuz – “Legendary Fairuz, The: Lebanon” – [EMI Hemisphere]

Hemroid The Leader   11/14/2017   CD, International

Live recordings. Oum Kalthoum and Fairouz are the two most beloved female singers in the Arab world. Fairouz is considered more accessible to Western ears. If you ask the taxi driver in Amman which is greater, he will tell you it is an unfair question that is impossible to answer.

In the words of Amazon reviewer K.S.A.: “I love it; it contains all famous songs for Fairoz. Also, packaging method is representing an expert person. Generally, I’m satisfied 100% from this deal. I suggest increasing your library for Fairoz.
Thank you”

Don Chuito – “El Maestro” – [P.R. Records]

Hemroid The Leader   11/4/2017   CD, International

Originally issued in 1977, a jewel of the national discography! Jibaro are the mountain-dwelling inland people of Puerto Rico. Don Chuito’s voice is wonderful. Nieves Quintero on the Cuatro, the 10-string national instrument of P.R. Enjoy this like the dog on the cover.

Los Siquicos Litoralenos – “Sonido Chipadelico” – [Sham Palace]

milo   10/25/2017   12-inch, International

Los Siquicos Litoralenos (The Psychics of the Literal) present homegrown rural psychedelia from Argentina on “Sonido Chipadelico”. This collection was pulled from various releases and recordings made between 2005 and 2010; all cuts are relatively short, enjoyable, and would serve as an adequate bridge between multiple styles of music. Sounds range from rock-opera-ish to dubby, experimental, and lo-fi.

SharkiRoma – “Vayu Sharki” – [Self Released]

Hemroid The Leader   10/25/2017   CD, International

SharkiRoma is a band of Japanese gypsies from Tokyo. This “original Gypsy style unit” is anchored by Violin, oud, and hand percussion and supported by guest musicians on accordion harmonica vocals and violin. These guys play belly dance shows in Tokyo Live rooms. Track 10 is a take on Wagner’s Walk??re.

Tahiti – The Gauguin Years: Songs and Dances [coll] – [Nonesuch Records]

Hemroid The Leader   10/25/2017   CD, International

Before westerners brought their diseases to the island, Tahiti’s main problem was overcrowding. An extremely rigid caste system kept everybody in place. Supernatural tabus hovered overhead. No mistakes were made, existence was predetermined. Genealogies, war stories, talisman chant, percussion, and dance reinforce the social structure and warded off bad vibes. Some hula and beautiful and then some very primal.

Ilaiyaraaja, Isaignani – “Ilectro!” – [Finders Keepers Records]

humana   9/10/2017   CD, International

When I first listened to this CD, I thought, “Bollywood!” But it’s Kollywood with a K! Which refers to Tamil cinema. But this is so much more. Ilaiyaraaja is an incredibly prolific score-master of cinema, creator of “euphoric electronics and robotic funk,” and all you have to do is pick any track to hear the creative energy behind all that this Southern Indian pens. Though the songs have known popularity mostly in Tamil speaking territories, I know this will get a fair airing in Ann Arbor’s show, among others.

Ferrat, Jean – “Les Annees Barclay” – [JBarclay]

humana   9/10/2017   CD, International

These two CDs take you back in time to the late 60s cabaret scene in France, where singer-songwriter Ferrat specialized in setting poetry to music. This very polished sound is easy on the ears, mellow and romantic, and, as the liner notes say, pop in the best sense of the word. Track 3 made the 2013 BBC list of 20 songs that most changed the world. Each song will transport you to the environs of France and all its boutique glory.

Tinariwen – “Radio Tisdas Sessions, The” – [World Village]

Hemroid The Leader   8/9/2017   CD, International

West African mono chordal desert trance music. Psychedelic droning guitars. Tamasheq (Touareg) are a Saharan nomadic people who were in conflict with the government of Mali in the 80s, armed by Qaddafi. Tinariwen was formed in a Libyan camp for Tomashek rebels. This was Tinariwen’s first western release after a series of regional tapes. Track one sung by a guy who’d been shot 17 times.

Walker, Florence / Phil Walker (Recorded By) – “Sounds From The Archipelago Vol. 1” – [Shiok! Records]

Hemroid The Leader   6/27/2017   12-inch, International

Son of the German Diplomat to Moscow at the outbreak of the first World War, Walter Spies was a primativist painter who drifted eastward into Bali in the 1920s. He brought Balinese culture to the west and had a great influence on modern Balinese art and music.
In the 30s Spies and the Indonesian dancer Wayan Limbak adopted ketchak, a Balinese trance ritual, into a drama and dance intended for performance before Western tourist audiences. The syncopated Ketchak chant can be heard in Satyricon, Akira, and Blood Simple.
This is an example of what James Clifford describes as the “modern art-culture system” in which, “the West or the central power adopts, transforms, and consumes non-Western or peripheral cultural elements, while making ‘art,’ which was once embedded in the culture as a whole, into a separate entity.”
The Ketchak chant can be heard on Side A, Band 6.
This record is an uncredited reissue of 1961’s music of Indonesia produced by Henry Cowell and released on Smithsonian Folkways. The Shiok! label is based in Singapore.
Regardless, these recordings are great quality and very compelling, gamelan and wood flute. Indonesian lutes, vocal and violin. A ceremonial tone pervades throughout.