KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

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.

Longing For The Past [coll] – [Dust-To-Digital]

Naysayer   4/16/2017   CD, International

Dust-To-Digital is a one of a kind label, focusing not only on quality collections but making sure packaging and information is as exquisite as the sounds. “Longing For the Past, The 78 RPM Era in Southeast Asia” continues this tradition. 78 recordings from the early 1900’s through the 1950’s, taken from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam cover all ranges of music and styles from these countries at these times. Court music, wedding songs, instrumental pieces both solo and groups in all configurations, folk songs, known and unknown performers, village music, leaders chanting and on and on. So many sounds caught on 78’s and still intact to preserve a selection for us to hear on 4 CD’s. Initially this music was recorded merely as a means to sell Victrolas to a new market. You won’t buy it if there is nothing there to hear. European salesmen went out and recorded just about anything that moved. The selection in incredible. The accompanying book is a comprehensive review of how this started, who did it, where they went, the types of music and their history, notes on instrumentation and history of instruments and artists. Each song has three to five paragraphs of thorough explanation. Dive in, learn and enjoy.

Eide, Khalifa Ould & Abba, Dimi Mint – “Moorish Music From Mauritania” – [World Circuit]

Hemroid The Leader   4/12/2017   CD, International

Dimi Mint Abba was born in 1958 to a low-caste Mauritanian family specializing in the griot tradition. She is accompanied here by her husband Khalifa Ould Eide and her two daughters. Moorish music is highly structured improvised music, with intricate vocal and rhythmic interplay. Handclaps, rattle, hand drums, hammer-ons. She died in June, 2011 in Casablanca, Morocco. Her fans included Youssou N’Dour and Ali Farka Toure.

Tracks 1-6 feature tidinit/lute, 7-11 feature electric guitar. Fans of Gnawa and Saharan blues music will find much to enjoy.

She began her career in 1976 when she won the Umm Kulthum Contest in Tunis. Her winning song “Sawt Elfan” (“Art’s Plume” – Track 7) has the refrain “Art’s Plume is a balsam, a weapon and a guide enlightening the spirit of men”, which can be interpreted to mean that artists play a more important role than warriors in society.

Zopoula, Hermas – “Espoir” – [Asthmatic Kitty Records]

humana   4/2/2017   CD, International

The story of this double CD is as happy and heartwarming as the music on each CD. Disc 1 was recorded in a West African studio, and Disc 2 has the more homey and true experience of guitarist and singer Zopoula’s magic, recorded live in and around his home in Burkina Faso. Jonathan and Heather Dueck visited Western Africa and had the great fortune to meet Hermas Zopoula, who acted as guide and friend to them during their stay. It was almost by accident that they discovered he was a musician as well as an incredible person. Some of his songs have heartbreaking lyrics, but the upbeat nature of his music attests to his faith and big heart. Enjoy.

Vakoka – “Introducing Vakoka” – [World Music Network]

Hemroid The Leader   3/29/2017   CD, International

Vakoka means “something precious given from the ancestors”. Madagascar is an island off of the SE coast of Africa settled 1500 years ago by Polynesians. Wood flutes, violin, accordion, snaredrum, call and response, hand drums. Diverse ensembles give contrasting sounds from track-to-track, deeper tracks reward. Mississippi Records’ “Fanajana” & “Fanafody” Madagascar comps provide contrast.

Collezione [coll] – [Edizioni Mondo]

Naysayer   1/1/2017   CD, International

Italian music is strange. From giallo soundtracks, to Italdisco, and mondo soundtracks, things are always just a bit off center. “Collezione” from the label Edizioni Mondo is a collection of four artists/groups who are playing a 21st century type or style of electronic experimentalish cocktail lounge music, some with the sounds of animals howling and birds chirping as well as ocean waves gently crashing. Electronic beats guide each piece while background sounds fill out the lounge quality. It’s very chill, but Italian chill. It reminds of this Italian disco I went to in Firenze in the mid 1980’s. The Italdisco beats were pounding, fog machine was on, VERY chic well dressed Italians sat around sipping cocktails until it was time to dance: a very controlled, stylish sweatless dance. So amazing to watch. Like this. Great to listen to. Great for beds or just kicking back. Sweatless kicing back.

“They Will Kill You, If You Cry” [coll] – [Glitter Beat]

Hemroid The Leader   12/14/2016   CD, International

Khmer Rouge killed almost 1/4 of Cambodia in five years 1975-9. If you dug the “Hanoi Masters …” comp, this time Glitter Beat goes Cambodian. Machete-wound shrapnel blues singers, produced by Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, TV On The Radio). They play the two string long-necked Cambodian lute in a minor pentatonic scale like blues and Saharan desert music. Hand claps, women singing in hypnotic unison. Drums. Cambodian is a musical language, the same word can have a dozen meanings, depending on inflection.

Nonyana Tsepe & Ribaneng – “Leseli La Ka” – [Tlaile Music]

mouthbreather   10/4/2016   Cassette, International

South African duo offering up and energetic mix of accordion, beats, and spitting fast Sesotho dictation. no information for this release, and its quirky…
I feel like I’m being lectured for being a peep, while a pirate party goes on in the peripheral. tk 3 and 8 have less of this feeling.
good for some energy in a lethargic set

Ivers, Eileen – “Beyond The Bog Road” – [Www.eonemusic.com]

humana   9/7/2016   CD, International

This entire CD is a delight from beginning to end. Ivers entrances with her fiddle, octave violin, banjo, and mandolin, taking us on a musical journey from the bog road and Celtic traditions of her native Ireland to the root music found in America–bluegrass, French Canadian, Cajun, and Appalachian. Her talents in writing, arranging, and playing the tunes here are remarkably enjoyable. Read the liner notes to get the full experience and story behind each song.

Duran, Manuel – “Golden Treasury” – [Spoken Arts, Inc.]

Naysayer   9/7/2016   12-inch, International

Ahh, the joy of spoken word, especially in another language that you may or may not understand fully or even partially. These 12 selections of Spanish prose, selected and read by the professor of Romance Languages, Manuel Duran, give a brief overview of some of the best pieces of Spanish writing from the last few centuries. Some of the authors may be familiar, others not as much. The beauty is in the lyrical quality of the words, the phrasing. Let them stand on their own or mix them in with other sounds. Enjoy.

Abatzi, Rita – “I’m Burning, I’m Burning” – [Mississippi Records]

Thurston Hunger   8/10/2016   12-inch, International

The Greek Urban Experience with Turkish delights by way of
the town of Izmir, just prior to WWII. Rita singing the
rough and tumble rebetiko scorchers. Her voice lights your
cigarette, fiddle follows her striking sparks alongside.
Slow and smoldering at its best, but not without fits of
flancy check the “Blond Jewish Girl” for a nice romp, or the
syrto “Little Calliope” which gives this collection its
title. All lyrics translated in a nice booklet (the
Mississippi way!) allowed me to wonder about Paradosiako’s
words for “The Doe.” Specifically the lines
“Generous wife of the priest 2X
The tough guys you don’t talk to “2X
Most of the songs skirt the anguish of amor, The harm (or
is it haram) of the harem, girls from the other village
called out by name, even twice Rita sings of herself.
And I think I heard the backing musicians shout her name
in encouragement (or perhaps a tricky love triangle).
I prefer the scrapier numbers, where a slithering fiddle
reminds me of the film Latcho Drom, but other numbers
bounce in balaika or flutter in clarinet (“Girl from
Aigio”). The recordings are well-preserved, Rita less
so (RIP 1969). At least we revive Rita’s varied voice
and her name, the talented musicians (check out the
interplay on “Mercy Little Anna”) wander nameless
and amorphous, vanishing like the smoke from those
long ago underground dens.
-Thurston Hunger

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