Vasarat: Maahan (WolfGang)
is the soundtrack to a continent that exists only in the
minds of the musicians. The band's name translates as "The
Hammers of the Underworld" and their music follows the
name's implications...sort of. Beats hammer at your head,
but these beats are as much of brass as of the usual heavy-music
tools of drums and guitars. I don't have much info to go
on; the CD's insert has no notes at all, just photos of
the musicians' ears. Seriously. From the frantic
pace of "Helmi Otsalla" to the cello-heavy langour
Ruumiit" and the brief classical finale "Elukka,"
this album is unremittingly odd and entertaining, whether
you consider it world music or ethnic punk or progressive
rock, or something else entirely.
Farka Toure Remixed: UFOs over Bamako (Modiba)
tend to frown upon remixes of music that's already perfectly
wonderful. And the electronic pulse that opens this album
didn't do much to change my mind. But as remixes go, this
isn't a bad bunch. Chris Annibell's remix of "Wosoubour,"
for example, brings out a funky soul element of the original
song and Captain Planet gives "Ana" a great Afrobeat treatment
(much more appealing than GOONDA's transformation of "Ana"
into a throbbing club piece). If you're on the fence, consider
that a portion of the proceeds of this album (and the original
album) are donated to Bee Sago to combat malaria in Niafunke,
Martini: Hey Eugene! (Heinz)
buy CD/hear samples
arrival of this album rekindled a debate about just where
to file the music of Pink Martini. Eclectic only hints
at the crazy stylistic schizophrenia of the Portland-based
group. The station's jazz director suggests creating a
new music library section labeled WTF.
But the music... it begins with "Everywhere," sounding
like something from a 1950s musical (upon hearing it, my
sweetie launched into a graceful spontaneous dance, only
Gene Kelly was missing). Then it's off to Latin lands
with "Tempo Perdido," a 90-degree
swerve to Japan for "Taya Tan." Get
the idea? There's even an Arabic tune, "Bukra Wba'do (Tomorrow
and the Day After)." No matter what language or style,
vocalist China Forbes shines, and the band does wonderful
things that are at once cool and loungey, hip and retro.
Uncategorizable, sure, but wonderful nonetheless.
Scott Allan Stevens, Earball Media