Relatively little new alternative rock and pop from Russia has made it over the collapsed Iron Curtain. Here’s a collection whose intention is to introduce us (in the West) to the up and coming musicians and music from all over the former Soviet Union. In fact the Eastblok does this for music and musicians all over the “New East”. Think of what’s here as a “vodka-fueled, polka-driven Russian Sound”. Check out these bands, read about them in the CD booklet, check out their websites. The lyrics are mostly in Russian, the styles vary from rock, to electro punk, to rap, to social criticism, soulful ballads to electronic. There’s plenty of talent that we don’t know about in the New East! AArbor
Carlos Montoya was already one of the world’s foremost flamenco guitarists in 1958 when he stepped into a New York studio to record this album with some of the top studio jazz sidemen. It is an album of two distinctions as the name of the album ‘From St. Louis to Seville’ simply states. Side one (Jazz ) highlighted by Handy’s ‘St. Lous Blues‘ is quite remarkable, as Montoya puts his unique interpretation on a classic. However, don’t sleep on Montoya’s original ‘Improvisation’ where he truly immerses himself in the fusion of jazz and flamenco.
Side two (Flamenco) – While the underlying foundation is traditional flamenco on these tracks featuring several of Montoya originals. What is fascinating as you listen closely is how he shares the limelight with his rhythm section, a collection of some excellent musicians steeped in jazz. Collectively they bring an element of freshness to the traditional framework.
Carlos Montoya– guitar
Osie Johnson– drums
Milt Hinton– bass
Barry Galbraith– rhythm guitar
Trio Da Kali are from Mali in West Africa. They come from illustrious musical ‘griot‘ families which makes them “hereditary musicians” – very clear from their excellent playing and musicianship. Da Kali means ‘to give a pledge’. In this case the pledge is to a musical heritage that dates back to the early 13th century. The line up of balafon (a xylophone) bass ngoni (a lute) and female singer is also based on ancient tradition, although these days it’s an endangered tradition. This is their first recording from 2015. Their subsequent recordings were all done in collaboration with the Kronos Quartet. These 3 are arguably the best of the up-and-coming generation of musicians in this tradition. The first track is unaccompanied vocal and the rest have instrumental accompaniment. AArbor
Poetry is very important in Iran. Between the 10th and 15th centuries a succession of important poets from Iran made poetry the national art of Iran. The most frequently sung lyrics come from Iranian poetry. Here we have poems by Rumi and Hafez, who were strongly influenced by the Sufi tradition of Islamic mysticism, set to music. It is a poetry which is both religious and sensual. Passionate love for God and longing for union with God is represented metaphorically by the desperate passion of a man for a woman of incomparable beauty. There are 4 long-ish tracks, each from a different composer. AArbor
Manitas de Plata was born in 1921 as Ricardo Baliardo in southern France to a traditional Gypsy community. His name bestowed upon him by his community means ‘Little Silver Hands’. His uncle taught him the guitar as a boy and ultimately evolving into a virtuoso. He exclusively played for his Gypsy community most of his life until he was recorded in 1963 in Arles France and his subsequent albums helped to popularize Flamenco music all over the world. He became somewhat of a cultural icon from that point, as his friends included Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Charlie Chaplin, and even Brigette Bardot.
He was French rather than Spanish, and his unpredictable improvisations depart from the formal structures of the compás, the metric conventions that enable Flamenco singers, dancers, and musicians to perform together. De Plata achieved prominence as a unique individual who made his own rules.
Several of his sons Toninio, Paco, and Diego Baillardo, as well as nephews, went on to form the Gipsy Kings in the early 1980s that continued to popularize this music for future generations.
Manitas de Plata died in 2014 at age 93, in France, he continued to tour the world and record extensively, until his death in 2014 having never lost his gypsy ways and outlook on life, pursuing his joint passions of music and women and utterly careless of money and the trappings of wealth.
He wears his emotions on his sleeve, there is no posturing, only the authenticity in his exquisite playing.
Track 1 – Fandangos -. Dark and introspective, raw and intimate. sweet subtle expression. It is as if he is playing just for you. Taking delight in the transference of his spirit to us the listener.
Track 2 – Tarantas y Bulerias – combines two forms. The Bulerias originally a slow dance, considered the most festive of Flamenco dance along with Tarantas, expressing a feeling of melancholy.
Track 3 – Gypsy Rhumba – Impromptu, an example of chico flamenco (light-hearted). An after-hours party with singing, clapping, stomping, and some percussion elements such as scraping corrugated cardboard. Singing alongside Jose Reyes and his son Manero Baillardo.
Side 2 – Moritas Moras -(Little Moorish Girls) Delves into the heart of flamenco. Jose Reyes and Manero Baillardo take turns sharing the raw unrefined Gypsy Blues. This song digs deep into the heart of the Gypsy experience.
A compilation of 1960s Italian pop songs and pop divas you’ve never heard of backed up by swingin’ bands. What’s not to like? Light weight? Sure. But fun! The Italian press gave animal nicknames to the country’s female pop stars: Mina was La Tigre (tiger) di Cremona, Milva – la Pantera (panther) di Goro, Patty Pravo – la Civetta (Owl) di Venezia, Rita Pavone – la Zanzara (Mosquito) di Torino, Marisa Sannia – la Gazella (gazelle) di Cagliari, Orietta Berti – l’Usignolo (nightingale) di Cavriago and Iva Zanicchi – la Aquila (eagle) de Ligonichio. [Some tracks I liked: 2,5,8,9,13-17] AArbor
Yo por mi parte abrazo a nuestros señores robots. As long as Eblis Alvarez is involved in the not-so-artificial intel-y-gente. His crafty processed guitar feels like a Martian tickle to the ear. Weird enough for feet at the disco and in the mosh pit, splendid one-man mad scientist work, on several songs Eblis’ breaks into maniacal laughter in his Isaac Newton studio laboratory (a full band assembles for live gigs).
I like to pretend the first song is a reference to legendary SF band “The Residents” – it’s not, but both projects share a recognizable base masked behind strange sonic costumes. I think it’s his guitar mimicking a clarinet, but I don’t know. It’s all so lovingly tweaked. All songs have swift percolation, and party of percussion, while here Mr. Roboto es de Bogota, his tunes would put some carne on the skeleton bones in a Brazilian Carneval. The drums aren’t digital, but there are plenty of other synthetic waves at play. There’s more dancing arpeggios over staircases of sound than in an old Fred Astaire movie. There should be a full album cartoon video with Daffy Duck dance steps. Kinda wonder if Eblis’ Mom listened to
Raymond Scott during her pregnancy.
Enough reverb applied to make a surf fan weep, in Spanish. But they are tears of joy, this is one festive album and project. All tracks are fabuloso but “Un Príncipe Miserable y Malvado” wears the crown for me. Eblis is a master guitarist via computer wrangler, really look forward to seeing him play, maybe in KFJC’s pit in the future.
Old Anatolian Psych has certainly charged KFJC’s airwaves in the past, this is a modern Grup coming out of Germany, also channelling Turkish melodies and scales, but with more of a pop charm. I can see Slowdive fans enraptured by much of this. Derya Yildirim is at the forefront with her baglama, and her arresting voice. Somewhat husky and brimming with a triumphant frailty that reminded me of Selda Bagcan. She soars on re-interpretations of classic folk songs, there are nice translations and brief backgrounds in the included booklet – “Dom Dom Kursunu” has a piercing story behind it. The older songs have more political sting to them, while Derya’s compositions cover a more emotional heartbreak. The album does have an ache to it, although the number that drew me to it was the closer “Oy Oy Emine” – a playful pining folk tune, number one with a bullet for your belly dancing class. “Hekimoglu” is another unique track, a stately percussion procession, Derya’s voice wavering a top it. Most of the album though masterfully mixes her saz riffs with swelling organ, some gritty fuzz guitar and absolutely suave basslines. Drummer Greta Eacott holds it all down (and has her own label too). Great hypnotic pop with a petite powerhouse lead vocalist (nice that her Dad Mustafa thunderously recites poetry on “Cockular II”). Old tunes, young Turks, new rewards!
Flight/release #30 for commander Samy Ben Redjeb and the Analog Africa airlines destination Columbia and the late 1970’s. Gleaning craziness from an old label run by Dr. Machuca (check the fine liners for details), who dumped his day job for the love of discos and an Afro-Columbian groove best captured raw in a take or two at most. Apparently “Tucutru” was a bit of a hit sort of a tone poem that takes three steps up and three steps down. Like that song, this album never stops moving. Some instros, like “El Campenero” and “Wabali” which cooks like a happy day outside at the barbecue. Female singers saunter in “Caracol” which gets pretty tropicalia, on “Te Clavo La…Mano” there’s a siren whispering sweet nadas and on “A Otro Perro” a woman sorta yodels ole. Otherwise there’s plenty of men and geetars, thin and gritty. Some double-lead lines, check out the opener which has a kinda Tom Ze itch to scratch. The other Samba Negra track, “Long Live Africa” may be a nod to Ikenga Super Stars but it’s in its own funky universe. My favorite, cheap synth never sounded so good. That “band” and many others here may just be made up friends and studio musicians from the good Doctor to recreate/Columbian-ize African tunes. Definite DIY vibe throughout. “Juipiti” whistles as it did Analog Africa #12
Killer label! -Thurston Hunger
Natacha Atlas spent her childhood in a Moroccan suburb of Brussels. Her father is of Sephardic Jewish ancestry, and her mother is of Muslim and Christian ancestry. She’s kind of Moroccan by way of Egypt and Palestine. She moved to Britain as a teenager, and went back to Brussels after school to belly-dance and sing in the Arab quarter, then returned to England where she became part of the pan-poly-everything dance-and-world-music bohemia. She started out with Transglobal Underground and then went out on her own. Gedida is from 1998. The range of styles is fundamentally a reflection of Atlas’ musical instincts—she likes color in her music, and so she’ll use any color she has, from anywhere. The music is held together by her singing, which is Arab to its core: Arab melodies, Arab pitch, Arab ways of connecting notes, Arab feeling. AArbor
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
#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 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 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
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
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”
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
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
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
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).
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