Music Reviews

Kale, Karsh – "Realize" – [Six Degrees Records]

aarbor   5/5/2021   CD, International

Karsh Kale [pron. Kursh Kah-leh] was born in the UK and raised in the US. This is his very first solo album from 2001 (after he appeared in Laswell’s Tabla Beat Science lineup). Some call this style the “Asian Massve Movement”, a new breed of Indian-classical fusion, as opposed to Talvin Singh’s “Asian Underground”. The music is engaging and well worth a listen. AArbor

Ethiopiques 4: Ethio Jazz 1969-1974 [coll] – [Buda Musique]

aarbor   5/5/2021   CD, International

#4 of Francois Falceto’s Ethiopiques series which features Ethiopian Instrumental hits from 1969-1974. Mulatu Astatke plays keyboards here with two different ensembles tracks 1-6 are from one record and 7-14 are from another. Note that the revolution which brought down Emperor Haile Selassie began in February of 1974. Track 9 Yekatit (February) is Mulatu’s mandatory tribute to the burgeoning revolution. To Ethiopians, February stands for the end of the old regime. The last track Dewel was originally issued in the US in 1972. A very fine and tuneful collection! AArbor

Outlandish – "Walou (Rishi Rich Remix)" – [Outcaste Records]

aarbor   4/28/2021   12-inch, International

Outlandish is a Danish Hip-hop trio, established 1997. The three members come from various ethnic backgrounds, each bringing elements of his musical culture to the music to the trio, Isam Bachiri from Morocco, Lenny Martinez from Honduras and Cuba, and Waqas Qadri from Pakistan. Rishi Rich, the remixer is from England and produces R&B fused with Bhangra. AArbor

Badmarsh & Shri – "Bollywood EP, The" – [Outcaste Records]

aarbor   4/21/2021   12-inch, International

Badmarsh and Shri are an electronic/trip hop duo from London. Badmarsh is Yemen-born DJ Mohammed Akber Ali and Shri is Mumbai-born Indian bassist, Shrikanth Sriram. They actively recorded on the Outcaste label from 1997 until 2001 during the heyday of the Asian Underground music scene. This EP from 2001 contains 2 drum ‘n bass remixes of their popular track Signs – a cover of a Tenor Saw song “Lots of Sign”. Calibre is Dominick Martin, a multi genre electronic musician from Belfast in Northern Ireland, now living and working in Cologne, Germany. AArbor

Afro Yaqui Music Collective – "Maroon Futures" – [Neuma]

aarbor   4/14/2021   CD, International

The Afro Yaqui Music Collective describes themselves as “a postcolonial big band dedicated to activating the histories of resistance and collaboration between African diaspora and indigenous peoples..the voices of pan-Asian revoutionaries and working class allies have… added to this chorus which celebrates the radical legacies of Maroon Societies — multiethnic societies built by escaped slaves.” They sing in various languages, play instruments from East and West, and clearly articulate messages completely relevant to the world of 2021, while paying tribute to some musical forebears. Core messages: replace the current reality with one that is Ecosocialist and Matriarchal. Despite their unapologetic political agenda the music is excellent. AArbor

America Invertida [coll] – [Vampi Soul]

mickeyslim   3/2/2021   CD, International

This is one of those “something for everyone” records. Subtitled “Leftfield Pop & Experimental Folk from ’80s Uruguay,” which pretty much says it all. Haunting voices, guitar strumming, prog rock ballads, smokey jazz club numbers, funk and soul, all Latin-flavored from the plains of Uruguay.

“This compilation reveals a world where ethereal vocal arrangements and acoustic guitars cohabit with synthesizers and drum machines, where Candombe and Latin American music form a fellowship with new wave and dream pop”


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.                                                          

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