Archive for septembre, 2010

septembre 30, 2010

Avalon Blues – A Tribute To The Music Of Mississippi John Hurt

Origine du Groupe : V.A

Style : Blues , Folk , Country , Alternative Rock

Sortie : 2001

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Avalon Blues est un album hommage à la musique de Mississippi John Hurt, le célèbre bluesman.

Ben Harper y interprète Sliding Delta à la guitare. Pour lui, sans Mississippi John Hurt, il n’aura jamais fait de musique, son influence est très importante chez Ben Harper.

Dans cet album on peut retrouver également Taj Mahal ou encore Beck.

par Les collaborations


Tracklist :

1. Frankie &  Albert – Chirs Smither

2. Avalon, My Home Town – Bruce Cockburn

3. Angels Laid Him Away – Lucinda Williams

4. Here Am I, Oh Lord, Send Me – Alvin Youngblood Hart

5. Candy Man – Steve & Justin Earle

6. Monday Morning Blues – Peter Case & Dave Alvin

7. Sliding Delta – Ben Harper

8. Chicken – Geoff Muldaur (with Jenni & Claire Muldaur)

9. Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor – Mark Selby

10. Stagolee – Beck

11. Since I’ve Laid My Burden Down – Victoria Williams

12. Pay Day – Bill Morrissey

13. My Creole Belle – Taj Mahal

14. Beulah Land – Gillian Welch

15. I’m Satisfied – John Hiatt



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septembre 30, 2010

Open Mike Eagle – Unapologetic Art Rap

Origine du Groupe : North America

Style : Abstract Hip Hop , Hip Hop

Sortie : 2010

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Mention underground rap to a person, and all you’ll hear is the same thing.  “Oh, that’s like artsy rap, right?”  In all essence, maybe looking into taking deeper delves inside
consciousness and making curiosities personality finding missions, was a form of art rap. But regardless of that fact, you have Open Mike Eagle who decides to brazenly let his freak flag fly and
release “Unapologetic Art Rap,” a 15-track tirade which runs the usual gamut of topics, while providing a sonically interesting palette, of funk-inspired drums, synths and samples to keep the ear
entertained.  Make no mistake, art rap can be fun when you listen to a project like this.

Right when you open with with the rich bass provided on “Art Rap Party,” you hear Open Mike Eagle, who has a similar voice and a strange kinship with another fellow west coast favorite, Abstract
Rude, but Mike comes by way of Chicago, like another fellow west coaster, Chali 2na. And he’s part of Project Blowed. You can hear it in his voice, a curious person who is wondering if Barack
Obama is part of the Freemasonist agenda, or wondering what Tupac is up to.  Once he lets you know an art rap party is so smart, he lets you know, “we play taboo.”  “Freak Flag”, shows
Eagle at his proudest, rapping for the weird, the bums, tuberculosis victims, the meek, and the herbs.  His vocals throughout this record are reduced down to almost a monotone state, as if
rarely showing emotion, except when you hear “I Rock”, which is the shining moment of this disc which talks about trading in his ordinary, run of the mill job for the constant moments of making
tracks and rocking the mic at a show.  “Rap Protection Prayer,” rocks a very funky production, and his disgust that he won’t release a mainstream rap record, and regardless of what the young
immersed in it think, the older generation (yes, you) will agree.

Before we start on Eagle, let’s talk about the production.  The production is definitely a highlight; Alwayz Prolific, Maestroe, and Exile all assist on production, which definitely is a
wonderful choice.  Each of the thumping, creeping kicks and slaps of the snare with interesting sample choices proves to be wonderful, exhuberant, and head-nodding, something some rap
records tend to fail at.  You can hear it in “Unapologetic” with its everywhere traveled aquatic synths and rolling drum breakbeat, and the Busdriver assisted “Original Butterscotch
Confection” which will pretty much create whiplash upon listening, while Busdriver and Mike trade lines to keep the listener entertained.

Mike’s performance is definitely noteworthy as well.  While some of the beats occasionally don’t match with his delivery and vocal tone, when a majority of it hits, he definitely is able to
hold his own and keep it consistent, which is never a bad thing.  Unapologetic Art Rap is an excellent debut, and proves that this is the only beginning for Mike.  After hearing 
all 45 minutes of it, it definitely dives deep, and lets out random thoughts at a mile a minute at you.  Question it all you want, but Art is definitely what Mike is delivering.

by Ali Elabbady


Tracklist :

1. Art Rap Party

2. Freak Flag

3. I Rock

4. Rap Protection Prayer

5. Helicopter

6. Mistakes (feat. Alpha MC)

7. WTF Is Art Rap

8. Unapologetic (feat. Nocando)

9. Pissy Transmission

10. Original Butterscotch Confection (feat. Busdriver)

11. Partly Cloudy

12. Easter Surgery (feat. Serengeti & Jefferson Dejesus)

13. Garbage Man

14. Mole In Your Ministry

15. Go Home (feat. Swim Team)



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septembre 30, 2010

Kronos Quartet – Floodplain

Origine du Groupe : North America

Style : Experimental , Alternative , Nu-Classic

Sortie : 2009

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It feels like a bit of a cheat to kick off a review by quoting someone else, but this particular quote is rather apt. David Harrington, the Kronos’ artistic director and founder, once said,
 »I’ve always wanted the string quartet to be vital, and energetic, and alive, and cool, and not afraid to kick ass… But it has to be expressive of life. To tell the story with grace and humour
and depth ». With Floodplain, the Kronos Quartet has done all the above. Once again, they’ve pushed boundaries to produce a disc that stretches, excites and inspires the senses.

The album title refers to the fertile, flood-prone strips of land bordering rivers. The idea is that floodplains experience new life after the catastrophe of flooding, just as cultures that
undergo great difficulty will experience creative fertility. Certainly, the countries represented here, from the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, have all endured more than
their fair share of hardship, and the music frequently reflects this. Emotion is at its most raw; one senses anger, sorrow and wounds not yet healed, and this is certainly true for the disc’s two
newly commissioned works. The first of these, the edgy, unsettled Tashweesh, is by the Palestinian hip hop group, Ramallah Underground, who David Harrington discovered through myspaceIran. The
second, Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalovs  »…hold me, neighbor, in this storm…  », is a dignified, contemplative hymn that whips itself up into an angry, whirling climactic frenzy. There are
also traditional arrangements of works from Lebanon, Turkey and Iran, contemporary interpretations of classical music from Azerbaijan and India, and popular music from 1940s Egypt and 1970s Iraq.
The quartet are joined in a hauntingly beautiful performance of the Azerbaijani folkloric love song, Getme, Getme, by one of Azerbaijan’s most celebrated performers of the country’s
improvisational mugham singing, Alim Qasimov, and his ensemble.

Full marks to the Kronos Quartet for championing countries more known in the West for their instability than for their rich musical cultures. It’s the vibrant musical performances though,
saturated with humanity, pathos and soul, which give this disc its edge.

by Charlotte Gardner


Tracklist :

1.     « Ya Habibi Ta’ala (My Love, Come Quickly) » (Egypt; Midhat Assem, arr. Osvaldo Golijov & Kronos Quartet)     2:57

2.     « Tashweesh (Interference) » (Palestine; Ramallah Underground, arr. Kronos Quartet & Jacob Garchik)     3:22

3.     « Wa Habibi (Beloved) » (Lebanon; Traditional, arr. Stephen Prutsman)     3:11

4.     « Getme, Getme (Don’t Leave, Don’t Leave) » (Azerbaijan; Said Rustamov, arr. Alim Quasimov, string arr. Jacob Garchik)     12:05

5.     « Raga Mishra Bhairavi: Alap » (India; Ram Narayan, arr. Kronos Quartet, transc. Ljova)     7:13

6.     « Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me » (Iraq; Unknown, arr. Ljova & Kronos Quartet)     3:01

7.     « Mugam Beyati Shiraz » (Azerbaijan; Rahman Asadollahi, arr. Kronos Quartet, transc. Ljova)     9:23

8.     « Lullaby » (Iran; Traditional, arr. Kronos Quartet & Jacob Garchik)     4:09

9.     « Nihavent Sirto » (Turkey; Tanburi Cemil Bey, arr. Stephen Prutsman)     3:17

10.     « Kara Kemir » (Kazakhstan; Kuat Shildebaev, arr. Kronos Quartet)     4:24

11.     « Tèw semagn hagèré (Listen to Me, My Fellow Countrymen) » (Ethiopia; Alèmu Aga, arr. Jacob Garchik)     4:03

12.     « …hold me, neighbor, in this storm… » (Serbia; Aleksandra Vrebalov)     21:46



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septembre 30, 2010

The Super Guitar Trio and Friends (Full Live Concert)

Origine du Groupe : North America , France

Style : Folk , Jazz Manouche , Guitar

Sortie : 2005

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This concert was recorded May 24, 1990 at Nightstage in Cambridge, Massachusetts for an evening of extraordinary acoustic music. Special guest guitarist featured is Chris Carrington.

Songs include: P.S.P., Mediterranean Sundance, Tango Suite For Two Guitars and more.

Al Dimeola, Larry Coryell and Bireli Lagrene perform many selections including « P.S.P., » « Mediterranean Sundance, » and « Tango Suite for Two Guitars. »


I love these types of DVDs. A few years back I saw a concert that was similar to this: « Friday Night In San Francisco » It was amazing live. This DVD brought back memories of the show and CD I
bought. Of course this was a different line up, I saw Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola, and John McLaughin oh and a little known axe player at the time Steve Morse I guess it was more than a few years
ago. Anyway I digress back to this lineup, great sound, all acoustic mic,and furiously fast. This frentic trio had me hypnotized from the opening salvo of guitar splendor. This lineup included Al
Di Meola, Larry Coryell, and Bireli Lagrene. If you love Guitar fireworks at blazing speed, but always in key and in time you will love this accoustic masterpiece. They cover Coryell, Return to
Forever, Chick Corea, and Astor Piazzolla tunes and a few Di Meola classics. Its short, sweet, blazing, hypnotic and totally worth the price. If you have any interest in classical guitar, or
acoustic speedstering this the DVD for you. I wish more stuff like this were available.

by GLENN LEVY « DVD collector » 



Line up :

Al Di Meola

Larry Coryell

Bereli Lagrene

hd dvd rw

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septembre 30, 2010

I.K. Dairo (M.B.E) – And his Blue Spots

Origine du Groupe : Nigeria

Style : World Music

Sortie : 1968


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Whereas the last twenty years have seen a colossal amount of research carried out into all forms of black American traditional and popular music, the equivalent developments in Africa, often
reflecting and drawing from these cultures, has largely been overlooked.  The music of Africa is as diverse and as complex as the continent itself.  In addition to the countless forms
of native tribal music, many fascinating musicals hybrids have developed as a result of foreign influence – American, British, Latin, Arabic and Cuban amongst these.

The two most popular forms of West African popular music are currently High Life and Juju.  Broadly speaking, and I must stress this, High Life is essentially Ghanaian in origin, favouring
driving brass sections while Nigerian Juju music is more reflective and heavily features the guitar.  An easy, though not entirely satisfactory, comparison would be between R&B/Soul
(High Life) and Blues (Juju).

The development of Juju as a recognisable form also closely resembles that of the Blues from a rural background (the field holler and country dance tune) to a modern brash popular form (the music
to be heard in a South Chicago bar).  Juju is based on the centuries old traditional music of the Yoruba – choral singing and complex percussion – and was brought from the Nigerian
countryside to the towns of Lagos and Ibadan by migrant workers in the Twenties and Thirties.  Here the guitar lead was assimilated, often Western influenced, and, as cheap imports became
available, progressively amplified.  As with the Blues, Juju is essentially dance music however the vocals are far less radical or rebellious, normally extolling the virtues of traditional
Yoruba values and achievements.

Although not the founder of Juju, I K Dairo MBE was an important and influential exponent of the music and a top selling African recording artist of the sixties.  This article is a portion
of a slim volume ‘Songs of I K Dairo MBE’ delightfully written by Benson Corporo Okagbare, printed by the Nigerian National Press and published in 1969.

Isaiah Kehinde Dairo, a humble, gentle and a very polite man who today is and who forever may be holding the hegemony of the Juju empire was born in 1930 at Offa in Northern Nigeria. 
ikdairo1.jpg – 15.5 KThis genius who brought Yoruba’s indigenous Juju to nation-wide recognition attended the CMS School at Offa for only two years after which financial strains forced him
out.  In company of his retiring father who served the Nigerian Railway Corporation as a carpenter for many years, he left Offa for Ijebu-Ijesha – his hometown.  The year was 1937.

Shortly before they were to leave Offa something remarkable happened: the father drawing on his carpentry skill made a drum for young Dairo.  Little could it be guessed that such a gift
summarised his whole mission on earth.  Isaiah was so fond of this drum that he would not part with it – early in the morning, at meal time, going to fetch water or doing any other thing his
drum was beside him.

At Ijebu-Ijesha, he became a barber after some months of training.  When he was not busy at barbing, he was on his drum so much that his father was alarmed.  At evenings he would go and
watch his predecessors of Juju music at play.  These were Orioke, Oladele Oro and Mike – all of whom were then based at Ijebu-Ijesha.  From the knowledge I K gained from his father as a
carpenter, he made drum after drum for himself.  Not long after, he succeeded in gathering some boys to make up a band.  One Taiye Igese was the captain.  This was in 1942. 
The band soon broke up .

Dairo who afterwards was to become the most popular of Nigerian musicians, went to Ede as an Osomalo – a pedestrian cloth seller from one locality to the other.  He did this for four years
after which he became a road worker for six months.  When he saw that pays were not regular, he became a labourer clearing cocoa farms at Oko Apara near Oshogbo.  At Oshogbo I K heard
rumours about the construction of the Queen’s College, Ede and of the Ede Water Supply Scheme.  Soon after, he was at Ede working in these undertakings under Cappa and D’alberto.  Wages
then ranged from l/9d to 2s daily.  Kehinde made a little of savings at Ede and with this he came to Ibadan.  At Ibadan, he again worked with Cappa and D’alberto who were then busy on
the University of Ibadan.  This was the place where I K experienced the greatest hardship.  He carried blocks upon blocks on his bare head so much that these shove a ring on this
head.  He was, however, relieved of this heavy labour when he was made a carpenter.  Pays there were within the range of l/9d and 2/3d daily.  I K indeed did much of labourer work
to earn a living: to free himself from the fetters of inherited poverty.  What an encouragement to some of us!  If Isaiah had not inherited wealth, and if he had none thrown to him, he
was bent on achieving one.  And this he has done.

Kehinde did not at any time leave his drum behind.  At day, he did his manual labour; at night he played with Ojoge Daniel – a Juju musician based at Ibadan.  Ojoge soon stopped him and
I K sought fresh avenues.  Jobless he roamed for some time until advised by one Enoch to work with Hausa labourers in producing gravels for road.  In those days labourer work was much
valued and before one was taken he must have, at least, seen the foreman – to offer some sort of bribe.  This was probably the only certificate required for entry.

Having wandered so long, I K felt homesick.  Twelve years had elapsed since he left home and he had yet nothing.  So with only a sixpence a guitar and carpentry tools, he reached his
place of birth.  With nothing but confidence, he formed his first band.  The year: 1957.  They were all ten.  The band went by the name Morning Star Orchestra.  They were
invited to marriage ceremonies, burials, etc.  to play.  Fame attended this group and in 1961 they were to compete with some other Juju bands at the WNBS/TV.  I K won of the 16
artistes invited.  The new name of Blue Spot is also traceable to this time.  Of the many that I K could remember connected with this name are one European ‘Black Lench’, MacGregor,
Adebo, Olu Falomo and Kunle Olasope.  I K thanks all of them.

I K has played in various foreign countries.  He has played in England and he represented Nigeria at the Negro Arts Festival held in Dakar in 1965.

I K Dairo was the first African Musician to be honoured with the title of Member of the British Empire (MBE).  He has won this owing to his originality and the improvement he gave to the
Juju Music – an improvement, an innovation, which can hardly be forestalled by any living artiste.  ikdairo3.jpg – 17.0 KHe introduced the talking drum into Juju, he introduced the accordion
and made the guitar an essential part in Juju music.  The father of Juju is as old as the Yoruba race but the father of modern juju is I K Dairo.  This is particularly seen in the
number of Juju musicians that have sprung up following closely the footprints of I K Dairo.  Some, which are also admirable, have been striving to reach I K Dairo’s record.  In this bid
they have not only imitated I K’s brand of music, they have gone the whole length to copying his exact words and ideas.  They add slight changes to effect disguise.

The ship of the Blue Spot hit a huge cataract on the 23rd day of February, 1968 after a long laborious journey for eleven years.  The nine people with whom I K Dairo started in 1957 left on
this date.  The nine could not advance any reason why they decided to leave.  On their departure, I K gave to them the van they were formerly using, and also placed at their disposal
all the playing instruments which he bought for them.  The nine have long formed a band that operates here in Lagos.  I K has since made up a new Band which is indeed superior to the
former.  His later songs Ekun Rere and Baba Nigbati nba sako lo state this vividly.

The Yorubas are famous for their enjoyment of life.  They therefore have a variety of music: they have the Juju, the Sakara, Bembe, Were, Pankeke, the Apala and many others.  Each of
these has its origin from one or a combination of the dialects.  Juju comes from Ondo Province, Ijebu is very much associated with Apala and Sakara Pankeke is famous in and around Ilorin,
etc.  The Juju through I K Dairo has been the only one which has won not only national attention, but also international recognition.  Haruna Ishola has put the Apala on a line of fame
too.  It is currently attracting audience from non-Yorubas.  He is particularly famous in Dahomey where the Ajase people prefer his records in their radio request programmes .

I K has a character trait which is peculiar to him; he does not like to be interrupted when he talks and if you interrupt he will go on talking without a break in the line of thought .  This
peculiar character trait is much to his advantage.  In any hotel, whenever he is playing and Bacchus is at work, people go very close to him. Some even go to the extent of entering on the
stage to talk to him. All these do not disturb I K.  In certain cases when the crowd – particularly girls, in miniskirts crowd on him while playing, he will close his eyes to avoid
distraction; he prefers the audience far from the playing stage.  I K is one of the greatest admirers of beauty; he has a great likeness for girls but he loves them and admires them as he
would his sisters.  This is another candle placed on a candlestick.  I believe others will see light.

« The girls I sing of are not my girlfriends or lovers.  In certain cases I pick up certain names and sing of them.  Most of the characters are fictitious I am currently composing a song
on Sunbo – I know nobody of such a name.  I sing of girls and of ‘love’ because these are, in face essential factors in our lives.  They are necessary compliments to whatever we are
‘Love’ is indeed one of the essential ingredients of music and love songs are most appealing to all and sundry.  I therefore sing them merely to give satisfaction to the people whom I am
happy to see satisfied.  I have carefully avoided flooding the market with such songs as they are most likely to encourage immorality ».  I K then concluded that if a musician was to
retain his glory long he must abstain.

I K is a Christian and he belongs to the Aladura sect (Seraphim and Cherubim).  He and his family have chosen to serve the Lord.  All along with his music, I K Dairo observes his
religious duties.  ikdairo2.jpg – 14.0 KSome of his songs are religious some are taken from song books and are adapted to the rhythm of the juju music.  The tone and the language of the
psalmist are detectable in some of his songs.  He is a preacher and a reformer through the medium of record.

One of the reasons why I K s records sell like hot cakes is that they are full of prayer and good counsel.  Any sane man will prefer good statements of prayer and advice to those of
meaningless collection of sound – or less so, of curse, abuse, sorrow or regrets.

It is necessary at this point to state that most of I K’s 80 songs are in two or three parts.  Sometimes these parts are related sometimes they are not.  Any listener to a record of I K
will note that beats change after certain intervals.  When these happen it is usually another song within the same record.  This is a good device for eliminating monotony from his
songs.  This system is being employed by all musicians irrespective of brand.  It is the same thing outside the Yoruba World.  English songs are not like this.  For a record
there is only a theme.  Monotony is broken by instrumental interludes and the song resumed – it is never another song as in the case of Nigerian songs.

I K is no factionist.  He is not politically inclined.  He sings of people in different parties.  He sings of Kola Balogun, of Chief Awolow, of Late Major-General Ironsi and of
Major General Gowon.  He is more of an objective commentator on current Nigerian Affairs.  He is no tribalist nor a stooge of any power.  His songs in Urhobo, Hausa, Edo, Akan and
in some other languages are living witnesses to this.  I K sticks tenaciously to conviction.

He is a true embodiment of public opinion.

by Benson Corporo Okagbare


Tracklist :

1 Taxi driver

2 Iku ye lori mi

3 Baba dami lare

4 Allau mo soli

5 Ijo olomo

6 Okan mi yo ninu oluwa

7 Bebe yi ga

8 Eri moha iye mi

9 Oluwa a da

10 Okan mi yin oba orun

11 Oju momi si pere ode

12 Baba mi gba nba sako


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septembre 29, 2010

Hola A Todo El Mundo – Hola A Todo El Mundo

Origine du Groupe : Spain

Style : Alternative Folk , Experimental

Sortie : 2010

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From Official Myspace :

Tomando prestado el titulo de un poema de Walt Whitman como nombre de la banda, Hola a todo el mundo nace en la primavera del año 2006. Ensayando en casa, rodeados de instrumentos, dan forma a
sus primeras composiciones. Canciones largas, llenas de diferentes pasajes, que como un viaje progresan de forma cambiante para nunca volver atrás. « Un luz que nos guía para encontrar la única
verdad del espíritu », como ellos mismos explican en sus letras, un tanto proféticas, mezcla de fabulas o cuentos agoreros. En el año 2007 graban su primera maqueta en los estudios Heatroom de
Madrid. Y un año mas tarde debutan en la Sala Sol como teloneros del grupo sueco Club 8. Comienza así su andadura en directo, tocando, con tal solo un puñado de canciones en myspace, en el
Festival de Otoño de la Comunidad de Madrid, en el Wintercase 2008, o en el Primavera Sound 2009, entre otros. En abril de 2009 fueron elegidos por la revista Mondo Sonoro como una de las tres
mejores bandas madrileñas debutantes. Ese mismo año fueron galardonados por los premios Pop-Eye 2009 como mejor grupo Folk del año. Desde Noviembre 2009, Hola a todo el mundo cuentan con oficina
propia, Producciones Disonantes, con quien han cerrado acuerdos de representación, contratación, y producción de conciertos. El 8 de Marzo de este año saldrá a la venta su esperado primer disco,
producido por Luca Petricca en Reno Studios (Madrid). Autoeditado en su propio sello, HATEM Prayer Team, y distribuido por Popstock.

Tracklist :

01 – Choose your own Adventure Part 1

02 – A movement between these two

03 – Hatem prayer team

04 – Making your num your best friend

05 – Choose your own Adventure Part 2

06 – Amor fati

07 – Current road

08 – Inuit

09 – The past and the son

10 – Golden sound



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septembre 29, 2010

V.A – Indestructible Beat of Soweto Vol.2 : Thunder Before Dawn

Origine du Groupe : V.A South Africa

Style : World Music

Sortie : 1987

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Perhaps the easiest way to understand the differences between the Real World and Earthworks labels is to understand the differences between socialism and populism.

The Real World label, as formed and popularized by Peter Gabriel, features recordings from assorted artists around the world. Listening to most such recordings, the phrase which might most easily
enter the mind of the listener is « cultural displays ». That is to say, the « art » frequently seems quite deliberate — and, if not quite Westernized, nevertheless somewhat removed from
street-level scene in the musician’s place of origin. Some exceptions obviously exist, but the albums released in this series tend to have the same ethos about them as do government-funded art
projects in North America.

From my perspective — admittedly somewhat removed from the cultures in question — the Earthworks label is a bit different. One frequently gets the impression, listening to these records, that
the music would not be out of place in the casual venues of such cultures. In cruder terms, this might be more in line with the sort of music that profit-based corporations use for their
day-to-day business (though, given the economies of scale in many Third World nations, the practical impact of this assessment is probably rather limited).

This reviewer will not take a side my favouring one side over another — both have their place in the greater musical economy, and both promote forms of musical expression which the other is not
likely to touch upon. Nevertheless, this distinction may be of some importance in understanding the impetus behind works on these labels.

One frequent characteristic of populism is a misleading « front » or « cover » for the substance of the entire thing. This is certainly the case with Thunder Before Dawn (a.k.a. The Indestructible
Beat Of Soweto Vol. 2). The front cover of this release shows a group of South African tribesmen in a ritual dance, with one prominent figure in mid-air and possibly about to jab two spears into
the ground before him. This cover suggests that the music on the release will be traditional tribal fare. As per the above description, this is not quite the case — rather, the music seems more
appropriate for a tavern or club atmosphere … or perhaps even a specialized radio format.

That aside, this album does yield some interesting discoveries about black South African music in the dying days of apartheid (for the uninitiated, that is). Perhaps my greatest surprise,
listening to the work, was the predominance of Hammond organ chops in the musical setting — the vocal harmonies, rhythmic guitar lines and non-standard beats were all somewhat predictable; the
Hammonds were extremely less so. I’m quite curious as to whether this was typical of most South African music at the time, or whether this sample is simply misleading. One way or the other,
though, this certainly won’t interfere with a progressive fan’s take on the entire affair.

(Of course, given the ethnic distinctions within black South Africa, it may be inappropriate to make any blanket statements about the music of the area as based solely on this release. Although
the musicians featured herein are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, all songs except one are sung in Zulu.)

In terms of song « form », the first track — by vocal trio Amaswazi Emvelo and singer Simon « Mahlathini » Nkabinde — is fairly typical of what one might expect of pop music of this sort.
Thankfully, though, it’s quite good in terms of content (not to mention rather catchy). The Hammond lick at the beginning gets this off on a fairly strong note, and there’s nothing to fault the
musicians for on this number — the bass solo, in particular, is pretty good. The focal element of the song, however, would be the vocal harmonies; not too aggressive in their melodic style, they
fit the tone of the quite well. In short, this is good pop music (and it grows on the listener with successive hearings as well).

Mahlathini Nezintombi Zomgqashiyo (hereafter « MNZ ») is described in the liner notes as a mbaqanga (ie. « township ») supergroup, featuring the aforementioned Mahlathini, the original Mahotella
Queens, the Makgona Tsohle Band, and guitar/composer Marks Mankwane. « Thuto Ke Senotlolo » (the only song on the album sung in Sotho), features extremely deep lead vocals (presumably by
Mahlathini) which are impressive enough to grant the song a fairly high rating on their own — and, on top of that, we also have more Hammond organ coolness throughout the number. About the only
problem with this track is the ill-considered « call and answer » vocal form — the Mahotella Queens wear on the nerves somewhat, after a while (those familiar with Pink Floyd’s backing vocalists
should get the idea).

Dilika are cited as a Zulu-guitar group led by David Mtshali, and the introductory Tomorrow-esque guitar line would seem to verify his dominance in the group. This is a nice, infectious number
which isn’t terribly hindered by the fact that the drums sound somewhat canned. The guitar is the high point of this song, of course; the vocals, though good enough, aren’t really superhuman.
Still, we’re easily three for three, so far.

Abafakasi (featuring Osiaz Ntsele on vocals) then follow with « Wakwami », perhaps the most immediately memorable vocal line on the album. The Hammond chops which begin the track seem quite proggy
in this particular instance (believe it or not), and the bass line throughout the verse is quite nice as well. This group is apparently known for its saxophone performances, one of which makes a
good enough appearance in mid-song. This track might seriously confuse some progressive fans, but it shouldn’t disappoint them.

Johnson Mkhalali, according to Trevor Herman’s liner notes, is a « prominent accordian jive specialist » (one wonders if accordion fans in this part of the world engage in Mkhalali/Rossy debates).
« Sunshine Boots », the track featured here, some JM’s skills in the foreground, with some nice guitar flavouring as well. This is clearly good stuff, though a tad repetitive.

Jozi, another zulu-guitar group led by Moses Mchunu, provide the first true masterwork of the album with « Phumani Endlini ». The drums sound rather canned here as well, but that’s hardly the point
— the acoustic guitar and amazingly urgent vocal delivery are strong, strong points in this song’s favour. The harmonious bass sound is pretty damned good as well, as are the vocal harmonies (I
have no idea what the spoken word bit is actually communicating, but it sounds fairly impressive nonetheless … actually, the lack of information about the actual songs is another distinction
between this label and Real World).

From here, we go back to MNZ, and their « Kwa Volondiya ». The airy guitar lines and heavy bass performances go well with Mahlathini’s deep voice (but where’s the Hammond?). This is probably a more
developed number than the previous MNZ track, though the unfortunate problem of the backing vocalists is common to both. The guitar soloing between the verses is rather impressive.

As this stage, the Makgona Tsohle Band step out on their own with « Vula Bops », a shuffle-driven number that’s probably about as good as « good-time » music can be. 😉 The prominent horn delivery
over this danceable number might draw a few similarities to Louis Armstrong in terms of « musicality which prevails in spite of restraint », though the content of the track is something rather
different. One way or the other, though, this is a thoroughly enjoyable number.

And, following this, it’s time for Amaswazi Emvelo to step out of their own. « Jabula Mfana » features some good electric soloing at the beginning, and a drum line which is fairly interesting in
spite of its apparently canned nature (some sudden shifts make it worthwhile). The vocals are, obviously, the lead element once again, and are notable for a strong element of chaos therein (the
complexity of the arrangement is fairly impressive in its own terms). A guitar solo follows afterwards; the entire track seems somewhat longish.

How ironic is it that « Siwuhambile Umhlaba », by Amaswazi Emvelo & Mahlathini, sounds quite similar to the Talking Heads? This is a somewhat more poppish number than some other tracks here,
with the deep vocals and guitar lines appearing as expected. The vocal arrangement, once again, is quite impressive here; moreover, this track actually improves by virtue of its length and use of

The third and final MNZ track is, unfortunately, the least impressive number here. This is something of a ballad, and not completely removed from the stigma which is normally associated with that
term; the fact that this is also the only track sung by a female lead vocalist may be proof that some demographic arranging is cross-cultural. The instrumental elements of the song are proficient
enough, and the vocals themselves aren’t terribly obnoxious … but, really, this just isn’t that great of a song. Rather, this is one of the few occasions in which Thunder Before Dawn seems
rather … well … ordinary.

Thankfully, the next song is something completely different, and easily the most bizarre thing on this album. If there is a such thing as « mbaqanga psychedelia », I would suggest that Malombo
should probably be regarded as the godheads of the movement. A rather minimal guitar presence (vaguely akin to « Sweet Jane ») sets the musical tension, and a rather odd (and somewhat undermixed)
vocal line might easily make the listener wonder if this wasn’t improvised … late one night … at the tail-end of a lengthy festivity. The sheer sonic arrangement of the entire thing dominates
over any single element of musical performance (which isn’t a bad thing, of course). This track alone might be enough to recommend the album for fans of bizarre musics.

Thankfully, though, there are other tracks to impress listeners with adventurous tastes. There may be better albums of this sort of there, but this one shouldn’t disappoint.

The Christopher Currie

(review originally posted to on 30 Jun 1998)


Tracklist :

1 Amaswazi Emvelo and Mahlathini – Utshwala begazati

2 Mahlathini Nezintombi Zomgqashiyo – Thuto ke senotlolo

3 Dilika – Amazimuzimu

4 Abafakasi – Wakwami

5 Johnson Mkhalali – Sunsine boots

6 Jozi – Phumani endlini

7 Mahlathini Nezintombi Zomgqashiyo – Kwa volondiya

8 Makgona Tshole Band – Vula bops

9 Amaswazi Emvelo – Jabula mfana

10 Amaswazi Emvelo and Mahlathini – Siwuhambile umhlaba

11 Mahlathini Nezintombi Zomgqashiyo – Ngasebenza ngedwa

12 Malombo – Motshile


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septembre 29, 2010

Human Spirit – No pasaran

Origine du Groupe : France

Style : Reggae , Funk , Ska , Alternative

Sortie : 1992

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From Wikipedia :

Human Spirit est un groupe français ayant vu le jour en 1986 à Paris XIVe. Leur musique est une fusion entre le reggae, le funk, le jazz et un brin de rock, résolument engagé et toujours soutenu
par une sérieuse section de cuivres, qualifiée de « urban reggae ». Le groupe connut ses heures de gloire essentiellement sur scène au cours des années 1990 ou encore avec des morceaux tels que
« RMI », « Police », « Rien à péter » fortement soutenus par Radio Nova. Souvent associés à « l’Hôpital Ephémère » ils firent partie, au côté de FFF, Vercoquin,Juan Rozoff, Malka Family de ce qui fut
alors qualifié de « nouvelle scène groove parisienne ».

Discographie: No pasaran, 1992 / L’esprit humain, 1993 / Partisan, 1997. Apparaît également sur: It’s a frenchie reggae party, 1997 / Let’s skank, 1999 / Collectif reggae ragga, 2000

Le flûtiste Magic Malik qui fit partie du groupe pendant dix ans est aujourd’hui une figure importante de la scène française du jazz, en compagnie d’un autre ancien membre, le saxophoniste Denis

Le 1er bassiste, Gaby Amireille, a continué avec Pakal King. Le 2nd bassiste, Thierry Negro, a poursuivi avec Faya Dub et Villa St Michel. Le chanteur Jam a poursuivi dans un style hybride RPR
(Reggae Pop’n’Roll), entre autres avec les Pigments Libres. Le dernier batteur, Hubert Motto, travaille avec Marc Lavoine.


Tracklist :

1. African beat (4:01)

2. Rien à péter (5:01)

3. W.A.S (3:35)

4. Sar’Hamouli (1:41)

5. Prends le reggae (5:19)

6. Soula djengo (0:42)

7. Apocalypse (4:24)

8. Come on and dance (4:53)

9. Zig folies (1:18)

10. Police (4:35)

11. Sur la piste du Boul’hana (9:46)

12. Système à fric (6:41)

13. Le roi Berger (1:34)


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septembre 29, 2010

Mulatu Astatke – Mulatu Steps Ahead

Origine du Groupe : Ethiopia

Style : World Music , Ethio-Jazz , Alternative

Sortie : 2010

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Depuis sa fructueuse association discographique avec The Heliocentrics pour un Inspiration Information Vol. 3 (Strut) qui lui a valu le prix du meilleur album aux trophées Afro-Caribéens en 2009,
plus rien n’arrête Mulatu Astatke. Embrayant sur une tournée de salles combles et un best-of, New York-Addis-London, simple mise en bouche destinée à replacer son œuvre, il revient pour un album
sous son seul et unique nom. Enfin. Ouvert par la somptueuse inspiration mystico-méditative  » Radcliffe « , Mulatu Steps Ahead n’est que le reflet de l’idylle que Mulatu Astatke vit depuis
quarante ans. Une histoire d’amour entre un génial compositeur éthiopien et sa création, complexe assemblage musical qu’il nomme éthio-jazz, un édifice bâti à la force de ses maillets de
vibraphone. Quatre décennies durant lesquelles le démiurge d’Addis-Abeba n’aura eu de cesse de parcourir le monde à la recherche des nouvelles inspirations qui enrichiront et embelliront sa
musique, fusionnant des courants qu’on aurait juré incompatibles, développant une incomparable science de l’arrangement. Des plaines verdoyantes au Danakil, des rues brûlantes aux salles
obscures, des clubs de jazz new-yorkais aux bouges latinos enfumés, la musique de Mulatu est un passeport où toutes les pages sont martelées de tampons et de visas. Aussi à l’aise pour tresser
des cordes que dompter un groove radical afin qu’une kora s’y ébatte en toute quiétude (écoutez donc  » Mulatu’s Mood ! « ), capable d’ordonner un cortège de cuivres comme d’hypnotiser un piano,
Mulatu multiplie les clins d’œil à ses propres œuvres tout en allant de l’avant, laissant dans son sillon des mélodies envoûtantes. Efficace en électrique comme en acoustique, le Négus nous
confie neuf titres multidirectionnels promis à des écoutes répétées et prolongées.

par Franck Cochon


Tracklist :

01 – Radcliffe

02 – Green Africa

03 – The Way To Nice

04 – Assosa

05 – I Faram Gami I Faram

06 – Mulatu’s Mood

07 – Ethio Blues

08 – Boogaloo

09 – Motherland



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septembre 29, 2010

Aqua Velvets – Nomad

Origine du Groupe : North America

Style : Rock , Folk , Instrumental

Sortie : 1996

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Despite their watery name, the Aqua Velvets don’t spend the bulk of this album riding the waves. In fact, the title and desert cover art seem to point in the opposite direction. And although they
still obviously love reverb and twang, the band, led by guitarist Miles Corbin, proves it is more diverse than previous albums might indicate. Sure, there’s plenty of Duane Eddy/Ventures licks,
but the Aqua Velvets introduce them to a world music palette. This is surf-influenced music that transcends its previous limitations. To emphasize that, the disc kicks off with the spaghetti
Western atmospherics of the title track before the group gets its collective feet wet in « Surf Nouveau »‘s more straightforward, Shadows-style approach. But they really wander off the beach on the
bongo-infused slow burn of « Snorkle Mask Replica, » where backwards tapes provide an eerie backing for the multiple, overdubbed guitar solos. Ennio Morricone is referenced often here, especially
in the dusty « Return to Paia, » a high, lonesome mood piece. « In a Spanish Mood » is just that, with a vague flamenco groove that snakes through drum-less percussion with Corbin’s echo-heavy solo.
With one foot on an American surfboard and the other on foreign soil, the Aqua Velvets show they are ready to push the envelope of their often constricting field without abandoning it. The
closing tracks tread water, swimming in calm seas, yet not really going anywhere, although the reggae rhythm of « Shrunken Head » is a calm coda. But Nomad is an eye-opening, if not quite
groundbreaking album in a genre that has far too few of them.

by Hal Horowitz


Tracklist :

1 Nomad

2 Surf Nouveau

3 Smoking Panatelas on the Blue Mediterranean Sea

4 Holly Tiki

5 Snorkel Mask Replica

6 Return to Paia

7 Ho’okipa

8 In a Spanish Mood

9 Nervous on Neptune

10 Summer at Dreampoint

11 Shakahoochie

12 Shrunken Head


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