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Tisziji Muñoz: The Guitarist Who Quit Music and Became a Yogi

By Richard Gehr, Contributor

For it is music that seduces/ and rapes the worldly/ just as it is materialism which rapes/ the moderately creative of their greatest powers/ Such music cannot touch the spiritual/ For to touch the spiritual is to be burned by its Fire! — Tisziji Muñoz, The Diamond of Heart-Fire-Sound On January 1, 1972, Tisziji Muñoz turned his back on music as a profession. By that time, the greatest electric jazz guitarist you've never heard had already been… more »


Hafez Nazeri Bridges Cultures and Galaxies on Untold

By Richard Gehr, Contributor

Iranian composer Hafez Nazeri's Untold symphony opens with a bang — the Big Bang, to be precise. The first "cycle" of his ongoing Rumi Symphony Project, Untold is an attempt to represent the splendor of all creation. Nazeri, who was born in Tehran in 1979, claims to have invested upward of 5,000 studio hours in recording the work, which premiered in 2009. And Untold's opening moments — an all-encompassing cloud of percussive bass tones that… more »


Prince Fatty's Roots-Reggae Revival

By Andrew Harrison, Contributor

For generations schooled in the sublime sounds of roots, ska, lovers' rock and dub, aggressive dancehall-dominated reggae has been hard to love in the past couple of decades. But in Jamaica, new acts like Kabaka Pyramid, Tarrus Riley and Protoje are resurrecting the island's mellower musical traditions. And in reggae's second home, the UK, a revival of vintage, vibe-heavy reggae is being led by the unlikely figure of Mike Pelanconi, a bearded white producer from… more »

New + Noteworthy

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Orlando Julius with the Heliocentrics, Jaiyede Afro

2014 | Label: Strut / !K7 Records

As Nigerian musicians go, Orlando Julius might not be as recognizable a name as Fela Kuti, but that has less to do with the quality of his output than the scarcity of it. He had an important hand in shaping the emerging fusion of Nigerian highlife and American R&B in the mid ’60s, followed by an unofficial status as an ambassador of that sound — now called Afrobeat — during an extended American tenure in ’70s. But the sax maestro and bandleader put out only a handful of albums that… more »

Kasai Allstars, Beware the Fetish

2014 | Label: Crammed Discs / A Train

The fifth release in Crammed Discs’ Congotronics series challenges listeners to expand their boundaries and get down with the brutal sound of multiple electric likembés, the overdriven and distorted thumb pianos first recorded in 1978 by Konono No. 1. Where Konono consisted of members of the Kinshasa-based Bazombo tribe, the Kasai Allstars, who made their 2008 debut on Crammed’s In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned Into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of His Enemy by Magic, consist of 15 musicians from five different bands and as many… more »

Meridian Brothers, Salvadora Robot

2014 | Label: Soundway Records / Believe Digital

Every song on Salvadora Robot, the new album from the spirited Colombian band Meridian Brothers, abounds with what sounds like dozens of musical parts fighting for space. Though “fighting” is too harsh a word for it — every sound seems to be wiggling, shaking and shimmying at once. The result is densely kinetic music that glows with effervescence and ease.

“Somos Los Residentas” tumbles through flurries of horns, acres of percussion and vocals that emerge in frantic blurts. It’s as if Talking Heads were sped up two or three times… more »