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World Music CD Reviews, August 2005

THIS JUST IN! ... New World Music CD Releases

 

DECHEN SHAK-DAGSAY: DEWA CHE - UNIVERSAL HEALING POWER OF TIBETAN MANTRAS (New Earth Records)
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"Dewa Che" means "the great peace," and that's what Tibetan singer Dechen Sahk-Dagsay hopes to spread through this album of mantras. She says: "I have sung these mantras with the sincere wish that they may accompany all the people who listen to it on their path for inner peace. May they also be especially helpful to all the sick people and motivate them to activate their own powers of self-healing."


SERGE GAINSBOURG: LOVE AND THE BEAT VOLS. 1 AND 2 (Sunnyside)
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It may be more French pop than world music, but who can complain about such trivialities when icon Serge Gainsbourg is at the mic? Vol. 1 is something of a "Best Of Serge Gainsbourg," while Vol. 2 includes everything from early jazz pieces to collaborations with dub artists Sly and Robbie.


TIEMPO LIBRE: ARROZ CON MANGO (Shanachie)
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Caliente! Hot, hot timba from new group Tiempro Libre. Who knew that musicians under Castro would have the free time to create such buoyant, vibrant dance music?


AHMED MUKHTAR: THE ROAD TO BAGHDAD-NEW MAQAMS FROM IRAQ (ARC)
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This album by Ahmed Mukhtar is full of wonderful, sparse songs often, not surprisingly, about war. "After the War," "Dance of War," and "Motherly" concern the effects of war, while other songs talk of Iraq's rich history and geography.


ANTIBALAS: GOVENMENT MAGIC (Afrosound)
band site

Though more instrumental and less blistering than their previous album, Who Is This America?, this new EP is rich with smouldering polyrhythmic Afrobeat grooves. In truth, the other four songs are great, but they feel like padding for the 10-minute title track, which cuts loos with a horn barrage and subtle yet clear lyrical diatribe against government waste and lies: "Him make a monster from the sand / Make you see what is not there... / Keep you in his magic trance / Make you jump and shake with fear." Better that you jump and shake to this irresistible music, a great soundtrack for questioning authority.


JOANNE GRIFFITH: YOYE (YES)
artist site : buy CD/hear samples

Born in Montreal to West Indian parents, Joanne Griffith brings a multicultural perspective to her music. Incorporating African-American, Caribbean, and African styles - and French and English lyrics - she moves seamlessly through melodic tunes that highlight her soft, clear voice. On the gentler side of the world music continuum, Joanne Griffith's music will have particular appeal for fans of Izaline Calister, Maria de Barros, Lhasa, and the like.


CAPRICER MED OD: DEL 5. 1987-1990 (BIS Records)
artist site : buy CD/hear samples

Capricer Med Orphei Drängar is a Swedish men's chorus, and they're not afraid of non-traditional material. Recorded at various shows between 1987 and 1990, this live CD ranges from show tunes to Mozart, doo-wop to rap (to be honest, "Yuppie-Rap" isn't the strongest track). Some of the storytelling and humor are lost on non-Swedish speakers, but who could be unmoved by their versions of Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose" or "Teach Me Tiger"?


SWING AROUND THE WORLD (Putumayo)
label site : buy CD/hear samples

Got a broad view of what constitutes "swing"? Then you'll love this new Putumayo compilation, which bundles up a variety of upbeat string-led tracks from around the world. The album starts with the jump-blues sound of The Cool Crooners of Bulaway (Zimbabwe), then runs through tracks from Mauritius, Italy, France, and tunes of several flavors from the USA, including Seattle-based Children of the Revolution. Don't know if Oscar Peterson and Hawaii's Ka'au Crater Boys are really swing as in the noun, but they sure do the verb!


MARTIRES DEL COMPAS: NO PAPELES / NO PAPERS (World Village)
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Martires del Compas has pushed the boundaries of traditional flamenco for a decade, with their gritty version of flamenco rock. "For me, 'flamenco billy' is a description of the Martires sound," says singer and lyricist Chico Ocaña. "It describes flamenco that's on the border.... We come from Andalucia, where all that matters is that you respect the music and play it well.... So when we mix our music with blues or rock or something African, it's still coming from a base of flamenco. It's always flamenco first."


CADY FINLAYSON: HARP AND SHAMROCK (self-released)
artist site : buy CD/hear samples

The new CD from New York-based Irish fiddler Finlayson, who plays live on Spin the Globe 5 August 2005. Traditional music, though Finlayson comments on how "tradition" means different things to different people, and her version incorporates the music of Ireland, American folk tunes, and world music percussion.


TOTO BONA LOKUA: TOTO BONA LOKUA (Universal France / Sunnyside)
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The artists of the title are Gerard Toto (France/Caribbean), Richard Bona (Cameroon), and Lokua Kanza (Congo). The notes suggest that the project was initially a capella, but with an outstanding guitar/bass player like Bona in the mix, it's not surprising that instruments crept into the final mix. The result is rich vocal-led songs, full of harmony and sweetness, even if (due to the lack of printed lyrics) you have no idea what they're singing about.


all reviews ©2005 Scott Allan Stevens, Earball Media

YET MORE NEW WORLD MUSIC RELEASES:

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