The Journey Goes (self-released)
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favorite Canadian-Indian-fusion group returns with a third
album following their delightful Four
Higher in 2004. This one opens with the title
track, in which a rippling, funky bass line from Rich Brown
soon followed by Suba
voice. She sings "I'm looking at the people / Who stare
back at me / About to start the journey / of self-discovery."
Listening to this album is indeed to witness the group's
self-discovery and evolution, from the strong
title track right through to "Nalina Kanthi," a piece
commissioned from the singer's father, percussionist Trichy
with original tunes, the album includes adaptations of
Bengali and Tamil folk tunes, an effective
Cohen's "Bird on
Wire," and a Bollywood offering penned by the legendary
the album is something of an improvisation and
experiment. A variety of guest artists were given "guide
vocals," bass, and drums, and asked to play along. Sankaran
and Ed hanley then spent a week weaving together the 64
raw tracks into the track "Heavy Traffic."
a comparison to the recent work of Susheela Raman seems
the music of Autorickshaw maintains more Indian roots
and makes fewer forays toward pop and rock idioms. So
the Journey Goes takes the listener to a bustling
global train station,
can guide you through the jostling mayhem.
Reader: Peacetime (Rough Trade)
off her foray into the music of Robert Burns (maybe she
Malcolm should get together, eh?), Scottish chanteuse
Eddi Reader pulls out a CD of 15 songs that straddle the
rickety fence separating the green fields of folk and Celtic
music. After discovering her voice on the luscious Lullabies
from the Axis of Evil disc, we're delighted to hear more
of her in these spacious musical pleas for peace.
Artists: Gypsy Groove (Putumayo)
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and violin meet sampler and synth on this latest offering
from world compilation masters Putumayo. The 11 energetic
tracks include offerings from the USA (Balkan Beat Box,
Luminescent Orchestrii), the Czech Republic, Germany, the
Netherlands, Uzbekistan, Hungary, and Slovenia. Germany's
Shantel contributes both an original track, and a trippy
remix of Amsterdam Klezmer Band's "Sadagora Hot Dub" -
one of our favorite songs on an overall strong album.
Iman / Water Is Life (World Village)
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favorite Tuareg desert rock/blues band is at it again.
The songs on Aman Iman tell
of the Tuaregs' struggle and exile, and the fierce resistance
for which they've become known. Their
raw guitar-led sound has earned them the admiration of
some musical greats, including Carlos Santana, who last
year invited Tinariwen to play at the Montreaux Jazz Festival
and jammed with them onstage. With such crossover appeal,
they're sure to earn new fans with this album, even if
those fans are drawn more to the fantastic circular grooves
more than the deep-rooted social commentary of the lyrics.
Avitabile: Sacro Sud (label)
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wowing us with his star-studded Save The World album, Italy's
Enzo Avitabile returns with a far different album, this
time highlighting what the label calls "an imaginary
travel from Nazareth to Naples, to lay emphasis on the
evils and the pain of our cities, of the many 'souths'
of the world and of the suffering peoples." The listener's
linguistic skills will determine how much you can glean
from the lyrics and Italian-only liner notes, but even
flying blind one will appreciate the depth and gorgeousness
of the music.
Kidjo: Djin Djin (Razor & Tie / Starbucks)
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Angelique Kidjo's first recording in 1980
was an inauspicious beginning to what would become a stellar
She recorded Pretty for release in Africa, but the co-producer
absconded with the master tapes, claimed authorship of the
songs, and never paid Kidjo a penny.
forward to 2004's Oyaya (Joy), which found Kidjo at the
top of her game as the third in a series of
the diaspora of African music. Following Oremi's focus
on African music in the USA, and Black Ivory
flavor, Oyaya explored the roots and branches of Caribbean
Kidjo returns with an album of sparkling Afropop. "Senamou"
features the blind Malian blues duo Amadou and Mariam,
and while it's pretty clear that Kidjo could sing circles
around Mariam, the deft arrangement puts their voices
nice balance along with Amadou's guitar work. The CD
features a host of other guest musicians, including
and Branford Marsalis on the title track, Joss Stone
Shelter" (yes, the Stones song), Carlos Santana
and Josh Groban on the poignant ballad "Pearls," and
Ziggy Marley on "Sedjedo."
of Groban, Kidjo is currently on tour opening for him (right
now they're on their way to North Carolina).
though labeled by the New York Times as "Oprah
pet balladeer," is no stranger to African music,
having also recorded with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
can Kidjo find new fans in the legious of Grobanites? Who
knows. What I can say for certain is that Djin
Djin does not disappoint, providing not only Kidjo's
vocals, but also a fair amount of probing into new
territory. You've got the guest artists, the Stones
cover, and the
album's bold final track: a Kidjo-arranged version
of Ravel's Bolero,
if you're feeling
interactive, you can download and remix the track "Salala" (featuring
Peter Gabriel) at realworldremixed.com
de Brujo: Techari (Six Degrees)
top dogs of the increasingly popular neo-flamenco genre
do it again with a hoppin' album of percussive guitar,
rapid vocals, and a particularly killer horn section. The
fuller sound still has roots firmly embedded in the musical
roots of Spain, even as the addition of tabla (on "Todo
Tiende") and Indian drum-language vocals (on "Feedback")
make it clear that the band digs deep into the roots of
the Roma for inspiration. Certainly one of the best modern
global releases of this young year.
Scott Allan Stevens, Earball Media