KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Armenie – "Armenie: Musique De Tradition Populaire Et Des Achough" – [Ocora | Radio France]

aarbor   2/24/2021   CD, International

This is a compilation of 26 tracks of Armenian folk music. The first 16 teacks are love songs, work songs, legends, laments, historical songs, songs of emigrants, marriage, funerals, lullabies… Tracks 17-26 are “Music of the Ashugh“. An Ashugh is a combination musician, poet, song writer and story teller (like an itinerant bard). This music dates back to the 17th century. Sometimes these songs relate historical events or extol the merits of particular people. Their principal theme is usually love. These songs are accompanied by the kamantcha (a 3-stringed viol), the kanun (a zither), the tar ( a lute) and/or the doudouk (an oboe-like instrument). AArbor

Puerto Plata – "Casita De Campo" – [Iaso Records]

aarbor   2/17/2021   CD, International

Jose Cobles (1923-2020) whose nickname was Puerto Plata, came of age musically during the political reign of Rafael Trujillo, a dictator who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930-1960. Trujillo imposed severe restriction on musicians. Nonetheless Cobles formed El Trio Primavera which was later known as Conjunto Puerto Plata. Since they couldn’t perform in prestigious venues or even on the radio, they performed at the cabret dance halls of Santiago’s red light districts. Their music was popular and very romantic, lyrical and playful. The performances here fuse the older style with newer touches. AArbor

Music of The Andes [coll] – [Aymuray]

aarbor   2/10/2021   CD, International

A beautiful collection of instrumental music from the Andes. You’ll hear the zampona or siku, a traditional Andean panpipe, other flutes like the quena and stringed instruments like the charango a kind of lute and guitars. Most of these tracks are dances: the cueca, huayno, trote and morenada. AArbor

Ensemble Morkos – "Cedre Arabo-andalusian Muwashshah" – [Harmonia Mundi France]

Hemroid The Leader   2/3/2021   CD, International

Released 1999, Morkos Ensemble is a small group feat. vocalist, zither, violin, tambourine, and oud. The instrumentalists often double as chanters, following the vocalist. 17 tunes in all, 14 <3min.
Tracing roots in the music of the Arabo-Andalusian empire, Muwashshah (MYU-wuh-shuh ) refers to both a classical Arabic poetic form, and the music which takes it for lyrics.
Incipient sounds- after the Moors were expelled from Spain, their musical influence dispersed across the Greater Mahgreb region (western part of the Arab world, or northwest Africa- Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco).

Fortress City Armenian Songs From Nagorno Karabagh [coll] – [Pomegranate Music]

Hemroid The Leader   2/3/2021   CD, International

Armenian Choral Works, recorded in Shushi, Aug-Sep 2004. Armenian Chant is one of the oldest branches of Christian culture, introduced after the Christianization of Armenia in 301 AD. The music goes back further, composed in an indigenous notation called khaz. Recorded in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, these were composed between the 10th and 20th century. Mostly short: 20 of 27 don’t crack 3:00.

De André, Fabrizio – “Crueza De Ma” – [BMG Italy]

aarbor   12/2/2020   CD, International

Fabrizio De Andre was an Italian singer-songwriter. He was known for his sympathies towards anarchism, left-libertarianism and pacifism, his songs often featured marginalized and rebellious people (e.g. gypsies, prostitutes and knaves). He is considered one of the most influential and important Italian songwriters. He is best known for the quality of his lyrics, which are considered to be poetry by many. This album from 1984 is one of his most celebrated (it was awarded several prizes and considered “The best Italian album of the 1980s”). The title means: Path to the Sea. The songs are a tribute to the traditional music from the Mediterranean basin and are in his native Genoese dialect. Mauro Pagani wrote the music and De Andre wrote the lyrics. The accolades are well deserved check out these songs they are powerful, even if you don’t understand the words. AArbor 

Aza – "Tamghra Wushen" – [Aza Music]

aarbor   12/2/2020   CD, International

Tamghra Wushen means “Wedding of the Wolf” in the Berber language – it describes simultaneous sun and rain. A rainbow or Taslit Ounzar follows. This recording (from 2007, made in Sta Cruz) is Tamazight (North African – think Morocco) traditional music and Western style. Guitars, banjo, a Western drum kit and saxophones are what you see in Youtube videos  of their performances. Their recordings include more North African/Middle Eastern instruments (oud, ribab, bendir…) as well as African drums and percussion. These songs sit easily in Western ears .  AArbor 

Lunca, Gabi – “Sounds From a Bygone Age, Vol. 5” – [Asphalt Tango Records]

aarbor   11/18/2020   CD, International

Gabi Luncă (born in 1938) is a Roma (or “gypsy”) Lăutari singer from Romania. She was a very charming performer and became a favorite of Romania’s communist ruler Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife Elena. She is also known to be a committed Christian, in a place and a time where this was a difficult position to take. In the Bucharest of the 1980s there were two different worlds: Official state folklore with songs of the golden era proclaimed by Ceausescu, and lively suburban music (muzica de mahala), which at that time was played at private parties. Gabi’s voice is remembered in Romania. Her songs are the quiet, melancholic songs of passion and yearning for one’s home, mother, or sweetheart; songs to lift the weight from one’s soul. Included among Gabi Luncă’s greatest hits are: “Omul Bun n-are noroc” (The good have no luck)  track 1, and “Superata sint pe lume” (I am sad in this world) track 7. Her silvery, lightly strained singing was often copied, but never equaled, although as the accordion player Victor Gore remembers, she “always sang slightly out of time”. AArbor

Ade, King Sunny – "Mo Dupe (Gratitude)" – [Sunny Alade Recordings]

aarbor   11/18/2020   12-inch, International

Recorded and mixed in Lagos this album is from 1985. The record has no delineated tracks. Sunny Ade’s style is very traditional for Nigerian juju. He was adamant that Island Records which released 2 earlier, Grammy winning records, not “over Europeanise and Americanise” his music. Ade and Island parted ways – to his detriment IMHO. AArbor 

Moctar, Mdou – "Ilana The Creator" – [Sahelsounds]

aarbor   11/4/2020   CD, International

The first time we (at KFJC) ever heard of Mdou Moctar was on the 2nd volume of Music from Saharan Cellphones – which was how his music went viral in the first place. In fact he also has a track on the 1st volume and on the remix album. Moctar (b. Mahamadou Souleymane) is a Tuareg songwriter and musician from Agadez, Niger. He plays a left-handed Fender Stratocaster. This is his 5th album, recorded with a full band which increases its psychedelicness. [We also own a new 7” released this year.] If you like the other Sahel Sounds releases you’ll like this one too. Moctar also starred in the world’s 1st feature film in a Tuareg language (the English name is) The Color of Blue with a Little Red in it. It’s about a struggling Tuareg musician who rides around the desert on a purple motorcycle. AArbor 

Adnan Othman/Bershukor

carsonstreet   10/15/2020   CD, International

The legendary Adnan Othman has long been a driving force in the Malaysian rock scene. As early as the 1960s his groundbreaking songs in the style known as Pop Yeh Yeh (rock and roll sung in Malay) attracted fans from across Southeast Asia. Recently, he has gained many new fans around the globe due to a renewed interest in rock music from this region. Adnan first rose to fame during the groovy Pop Yeh Yeh era (1964-1970) in Malaysia and Singapore and he continued to evolve as a musician and composer throughout his exciting career. He made his first recordings in Singapore in the early 1960s, when he was invited to record with a highly popular backing band, The Rythmn Boys. He produced innovative material well into the 1970s, but always stayed true to his Rock-and-Roll roots, even when many other artists were turning towards more predictable disco influences. This album draws from all eight of his solo EPs.                                                          

Parra, Violeta – “Las Ultimas Composiciones De Violeta Parra” – [A.R.C.I. Music Chile]

mickeyslim   9/30/2020   CD, International

If, like me, you’ve never heard of Violeta Parra before, you, my friend, are in for a real treat.

Violeta Parra was a Chilean singer-songwriter, folklorist, and ethnomusicologist. She traveled across Chile, collecting over 3,000 traditional folk songs of her country which she was able to share with the world. Her enthusiasm for her country’s folk music evolved into her pioneering a roots revival they called “New Chilean Song,” effectively traditional chilean folk music with strong political themes of the time.

She traveled through Europe between 1955 and 1957, sharing some of the music she collected as well as her own songs. She later lived around Europe from 1963-1965, this time with two of her children and her granddaughter. for a few years with her children in the 1960s. During this time she became the first Latin American artist to independently exhibit their artwork at the Louvre.

Surprisingly, since she is basically a household name in Chile, this is the first Violeta Parra release for KFJC. 

Although these songs were the last she recorded, they are among her most well-known, “Gracias a la Vida” being the absolute gem here. The songs are very much in the Chilean folks music vein, with strong percussion and use of multiple types of guitars, including the charango, a tiny-bodied, 10-stringed guitar. Parra’s vocals are absolutely stunning. Her voice is hauntingly full, echoic, and strong, yet sweet and smooth. This was recorded and released in late 1966, a few short month before Parra committed suicide in 1967.

Unquestionably unparalleled. Do not miss this.

Alizadeh, Saba – "Scattered Memories" – [Karlrecords]

aarbor   9/30/2020   12-inch, International

Saba Alizadeh is  an Iranian composer of electronic and experimental sounds. He curates a website called Noise Works and a concert series called Aural events. On this record Saba plays  kamancheh ( Persian bowed luted related to the rebab), kalimba (thumb piano) and laptop. This is not traditional Persian music – it almost reminiscent  of  Muslimgauze – Bryn Jones – definitely worth a spin! 

AArbor 

Pillaiyaar [coll] – [EMI (India)]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2020   7-inch, International

1982 soundtrack single from the Tamil film “Pillaiyaar” Call it Kollywood? I ain’t no expert but definitely a fan! Anyways this has four beautiful pop numbers.
A1 – Super bouncy tabla guides this track, flute flying like a crazy bird while Rajalakshmi Sulamangalam soars ever higher above that.
A2- Male and female voices coasting and cavorting, shenai (?) slithers in and tries to stir up some trouble, but the joy-love vibe is too pure. Prominent violins rise in a closing bridge. P. Susheela hits notes like a shining sun in the sky.
B1- Killer vocal trills to start, male and female trading off while stark guitar adds a little tension, that soon launches into galloping tabla with great wandering vocals.
B2- I should learn the name of this style, it feels related to the Qawwali kind of devotional singing, irrepressible beat and T.K. Kala’s voice circles around it, like sliding a magnet through your brain. A lot of charge and pull.

This little 33 rpm record is a gem and amazing, as is the internet where I could find the actual film (some sort of Ganapathi origin story verily). Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzrZ8mE_wtk
songs are at A1-6:30 A2-56:30 B1-78:50 B2-37.40

Let this clear all obstacles from your path. Enjoy!
-Thurston Hunger

Alatas, Muchsin – "Pilehan Muchsin" – [MRC (Malaysian Record Company)]

Thurston Hunger   9/23/2020   12-inch, International

Sometimes you got to go out and find your own sublime frequencies. A 2019 trip to Singapore opened a portal to the past via Red Point Record Warehouse and sends us back spinning Indonesia in the 70’s. This choice “Selection” (Pilehan) of pop beauties showcases Muchsin’s velvet crooning over amazing orchestrations, percussion is at the driving heart, but swirling about it are flutes, melodica/harmonium, fuzzed out guitars, penting (like a mandolin). Extremely catchy, and the duets are superb. The two with Titiek Sandhora are a harmonious union that produced more than music, but a family as well. The album starts with a playful cat and bird duet with Anna Bahfen, “Jangar Gusar” (“Don’t Be Upset” – the album has plenty of “Cinta” (“Love”) and “Bahagia” (“Happy”) but it does flit thought the sweet and the sour on tracks like on this track and “Ku Berdosa” (“I Sinned.”) The guitar on both “Jangan Gusar” and “Magdalena” adds a “nice funky feeling” (as Mr Ong from Red Point said), and both songs have these little tantalizing trills that zip between the steady swing of the drums. Muchsin’s voice should not be overlooked, listen to his gentle wavering on the verses to “Semoga Bahagia” and then he soars on the choruses. I’m limited to google translating, but the conflict of desire comes through loud and clear.

-Thurston Hunger

PS : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVENdMtc3t8 Mr Ong interview

Calle 13 – "Los De Atras Vienen Conmigo" – [Norte]

aarbor   9/23/2020   CD, International

[Cah-Yay Treh-seh] is a Puerto Rican band and this is their 2nd release from 2010. The band consists of 2 half brothers and their step sister. The lyric style is sarcastic  and satiric. Poverty is a topic discussed in the lyrics here. The sounds include cumbia and Eastern European stylings. This was a very popular album and won a Latin Grammy. AArbor  

Siti Muharam – "Siti of Unguja (Romance Revolution On Zanzibar)" – [On The Corner Records]

aarbor   9/23/2020   CD, International

Siti Muharam is the granddaughter of Siti Binti Saad, an early 20th century singer who pioneered a new style of taarab featuring female singers. Taarab had been formal court music that combined Arabic and Swahili lyrics paving the way for a new generation of female taarab singers. In this her debut album, Muharam further reimagines the taarab tradition into a style very comfortable to modern Western ears.                                                           Zanzibar is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean just east of Tanzania and South of Kenya. Unguja is the large island just north of the Zanzibar archipelago. Historically these islands have been meetings place of cultures: the Indian spice trade/the African slave trade… Muharam’s music, which includes Western instruments along with traditional ones (oud and tablas), it reflects the Eastern Indian and African influences resulting in a smokey, delicious sound.  AArbor

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