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Interview: Anoushka Shankar

By Richard Gehr, Contributor

Pandit Ravi Shankar's death in December 2012, at age 92, didn't simply quiet Indian classical music's most internationally renowned musician and composer; it also marked the end of one of its longest-running artistic partnerships. For nearly two decades, Anoushka Shankar, born in 1981, had been performing alongside her father as the sitar master's favorite and most constant disciple. Beginning as an admittedly terrified teenager, Anoushka evolved into a remarkable player and composer in her own… more »

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Cumbia, My Lord!

By Richard Gehr, Contributor

Cumbia — or, as the supersized Mexican sound systems known as sonideras exalt it, CUUUUUUUMBIA!! — originated in Colombia's Caribbean coastal region and spread throughout Latin America like a benign virus. Arguably the most popular dance music in the world, the varieties of cumbia currently range from tepid by-the-numbers pop to psychedelic jungle music (Peru's cumbia amazonica); there's also the deliberately slowed-down cumbia rebajada from Mexico, the bass-heavy Buenos Aires dance party centered around the… more »

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Discover: Awesome Tapes From Africa

By Richard Gehr, Contributor

The humble and formerly ubiquitous cassette tape turned 50 years old in August 2013. But every day is Cassette Store Day for Brian Shimkovitz, whose Awesome Tapes From Africa blog and record label have been throwing open the aural windows to African music, scenes and subgenres the West would never have learned about otherwise. "My whole mission has been to show people what African music sounds like in Africa," says Los Angeles-based Shimkovitz, whose fascination with… more »

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eMusic Reviews View All

Dirtmusic, Lion City

2014 | Label: Glitterbeat Records / IDOL

A few lucky bands experience moments of true revelation. Dirtmusic’s came when the trio of Chris Eckman (the Walkabouts), Chris Brokaw (Come) and Hugo Race (ex-the Birthday Party) were invited to play at Festival in the Desert, the annual gathering held in the Sahara near Timbuktu. There, they met the Tuareg band Tamikrest; the two bands went on to release 2010′s BKO, a desert blues-influenced rock album, and last year’s acclaimed Troubles. For that, Eckman and Race (now a duo) decamped to a makeshift studio in Bamako, Mali, and brought… more »

Ibibio Sound Machine, Ibibio Sound Machine

2014 | Label: Soundway Records / Believe Digital

The brainwave of production trio Max Grunhard, Leon Brichard and Benji Bouton, the London-based collective Ibibio Sound Machine also includes Ghanaian guitarist Alfred “Kari” Bannerman and acclaimed Brazilian percussionist Anselmo Netto. It is the addition of British-Nigerian singer Eno Williams that gives this debut such an irresistibly authoritative voice, however, a distinctive focal point in a dizzying whirl of sound. Singing in a mixture of English and Ibibio, a language of Southern Nigeria, Williams alternately cajoles, seduces, enchants and upbraids, coolly in charge as the band’s afro-electro synthesis builds behind… more »

Tinariwen, Emmaar

2014 | Label: Anti/Epitaph

Currently displaced from their Northern Mali territory, where Tuareg insurgents battle radical Islamists, this band of exiles recorded its seventh album in the sketchy-sounding Maison de Fester and Gomez, a makeshift single-room studio located in another desert far, far away: Joshua Tree, California. And while Tamikrest may write more compelling songs these days, and Omara “Bombino” Moctar may play a badder guitar, Tinariwen’s three-guitar vamps, djembe drumming, call-and-response Tamashek vocals and insistent handclaps continue to exert a timeless tug on our attention.

“The ideals of the people have been sold off… more »

Various Artists, Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960-1978

2014 | Label: Strut / !K7 Records

Welcome to the Haitian compilation the outside world has been waiting for, one focusing on regional bands rather than more famous expats such as Tabou Combo. The chronology being somewhat flipped, I’d recommend listening to it backward. Start with disc two, which features Nemours Jean Baptiste — who invented the era’s dominant compas direct sound — and other fine brassy, percussive compas bands. Then return to disc one, which concentrates on the youthful, stripped-down mini-jazz groups of the ’70s. Folkier twoubadou stylists such as Ti Paris and Ensemble Etoile du… more »

eMusic Radio

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The Mixtape

By Wondering Sound Staff, Contributor

This Month: Mollusk Jamboree Festival The grandeur of California's Big Sur is legendary -- a breathtaking expanse of verdant green hills, roaring waterfalls and the deep blue beauty of the Pacific Ocean. At the end of this month, Big Sur gets a soundtrack befitting its vistas, when Mollusk Surf Shop and (((folkYEAH))) present the Mollusk Big Sur Jamboree. To help get you ready for this fantastic combination of scenery and sound, we've compiled this radio station… more »

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