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 — 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 »
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
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 »
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 »
2014 | Label: Asphalt Tango Records / Virtual
Gypsy jazz meets gypsy brass on this spirited collaboration between Canadian guitarist Adrian Raso, a stylistic descendent of Django Reinhardt, and the lauded Romanian horn troupe Fanfare Ciocărlia. The results are often unexpected: “Charlatan’s Waltz,” for example, evokes the post-war Vienna of The Third Man with its zither-like guitar, while “Quattro Cicci” is a prog-meets-rockabilly dash, in which strings and horns madly chase each other.
Indeed, this globetrotting Devil’s Tale is filled with twists and turns. The album opener, “Urn St. Tavern,” sees the ensemble taking a trip back to… more »
2013 | Label: Transgressive Records / The Orchard
Put a lot of musicians in a room over the course of a week, and you may end up with a whole lot of jamming and not much more. Maybe that happened during the seven days that a couple dozen stars — African, English, American — spent at a pop-up studio in Bamako, Mali, in October 2013, for sessions sponsored by the Damon Albarn-led Africa Express, a cultural-exchange project founded eight years earlier. But if anything they recorded that week was aimless, it didn’t make its way onto this sparkling… more »