Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Powerspot Playlist 01-02-06

Kiran Ahluwalia-

The ghazal, Kiran's specialty, is a song form that comes from the Indian subcontinent. It exists somewhere between the classical and popular tradition. Ghazals begin life as poems and with the addition of music, become songs. They have an unbroken 700 year tradition and that tradition is alive and well in the South Asian literary diaspora across North America. These new original poems written in Urdu and Punjabi by a variety of Indian poets, combined with Kiran's music, make an original contribution to the ghazal tradition, perhaps the first recorded ghazals to be entirely created in North America.

Kiran Ahluwalia is a performer of vocal music. More precisely she is a performer of two distinct styles of vocal music from the Indian subcontinent, now India and Pakistan. Kiran sings ghazals and Punjabi folk songs. The word ghazal is an Arabic word that means "to talk to women". Given that men have traditionally spoken to women a great deal about love; the name attached itself to a form of poetic sung verse that originated in Persia about 1000 years ago and reached India around 400 years later. This happened about 600 years before Kiran Ahluwalia was born but was to have a profound effect on her life.

Kiran Ahluwalia is not only an interpreter of ghazals she is also a creator. As a composer Kiran is forging a new repertoire, putting words of Indo and Pakistani Canadian poets to her own musical compositions; music that is firmly rooted in the tradition, while taking a contemporary turn. She has become an organic part of the long line of singers who have preserved and reinvented the ghazal form over the last thousand years.

Smadj-Take It and Drive

Smadj is the moniker adopted by musician and composer Jean-Pierre Smadja.
Smadj was born in Tunisia, but raised in Paris from an early age. His work is the product of a musical upbringing that has embraced influences from all over the world.

Smadj took up the guitar as a teenager, and he soon began to develop his own style of playing. By his early twenties he was featuring regularly at jazz clubs in and around the city, whilst gaining a reputation as a sound engineer through the mobile studio he had set up.
As the sound of electronic music spread throughout Paris during the early 90's Smadj began to feel constrained by his chosen genre. His first reaction was to start to fuse jazz with the North African sound of his birthplace. The name he gave to the project was Tatoom, which combined a number of musicians. Their world-groove sound caught the attention of label Moby Dick, which released Tatoom presents Tatoom in 1996. The group split up shortly, due to the departure of the singer.

During the mid-nineties Smadj had also collaborated as a session guitarist with a number of high-profile musicians, such as Tony Allen (Fela's drummer). At the same time Smadj met Sofi Hellborg, a Swedish saxophonist, who had experience of playing with African artists such as the Afro-Jazz musician Manu Dibango. Together they began to improvise live over DJ sets, fusing jazz and breakbeats. Smadj started to sample and program beats himself, as an accompaniment for his guitar, and the pair released their first EP, Bon Voyage, in 1997 with label Freerange UK.
One of the many people who Smadj had been impressing with his music was Robert Trunz, owner of MELT2000. In 1998 Robert signed him to do a full album, Equilibriste. The title means 'tight-rope walker', which is a reference to the boundary he treads on the album between nu-beats and jazz. He spent much of '99 gigging around France and England to promote it.

As Smadj's musical horizons broadened he had also been developing his mastery of a new instrument, the oud - an Arabic incarnation of the Lute comprising six pairs of strings. His second album for MELT2000, New Deal, was the first work to feature him on the instrument, and it marked a departure into more experimental and diverse territory. The album represented the sound many African, Arabic and Indian cultures, set against the environmental noise of Paris and New York.
Soon after the release of New Deal, Smadj was introduced to Mehdi Haddab, the famous oud player. Smadj found in Mehdi a tutor and partner. The two began jamming together, soon performing in front of close friends. It was not long, though, before Smadj was drawn by his fascination with technology towards combining the sound of the oud with his beloved Apple Mac. The idea of processing the oud with effects more closely associated with dance music was truly unique and the high level of musicianship shared by the two artists was bound to yield similarly original results. Soon the pair formed DuOud. The act was quickly picked up by Label Bleu, responsible for releasing their album Wild Serenade to critical acclaim. DuOud have toured the world, performing at prestigious locations such as London's ICA. In 2003 they were nominated for Best Newcomer at the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music.

Smadj's latest work, Take It And Drive is a collection of new music, featuring a number of artists with whom he has recently collaborated. Amongst those featured on the album are vocalist Rokia Traore, Mercury Award winner Talvin Singh and Mehdi Haddab himself.

Pat Metheny - Offramp

This 1982 recording by the Pat Metheny Group represented a crossroads for the guitarist, a creative expansion from his original concept in terms of acoustic and electric instrumentation, folksy roots material and modern jazz influences, American and third world sources. Having thus marked out the territory for a decade's worth of experimentation and growth, the Metheny Group cemented its standing on the cutting edge of contemporary jazz with Offramp. Lyle Mays' harmonica-like synth theme, Metheny's soaring, vocalized synth-guitar lead, some rich orchestral touches, and an easygoing blend of backbeat and chord changes made "Are You Going with Me?" one of Metheny's most enduring arrangements. Still, for every gentle, alluring set piece, such as the tangolike "Au Lait" or the rural vistas of "James," there was a visceral, emotive free-for-all like the title track, where Metheny unleashed wild, wailing synth guitar elisions over a loose, abstract pulse--anticipating the energy of the guitarist's collaboration with free jazz guru Ornette Coleman some four years hence on Song X.


Mariza began singing Fado as a child, before she could read. Her father sketched out little cartoon stories to help her remember the lyrics. At the age of five, she would join in the spontaneous singing in her parentsâ?? restaurant in Mouraria, one of Lisbonâ??s most traditional neighborhoods.

Mariza was born in Mozambique, but her family moved to Portugal when she was a baby, giving her plenty of time to get immersed directly in the â??Fado Housesâ?? where singing is part of everyday life.

She tells of a fifteen-year old boy learning to play the classical guitar that would call her over to sing. â??This little girl can sing!â?? he would exclaim to his friends. Now this boy is a grown man and forms the instrumental backbone of Marizaâ??s band along with an acoustic bass and Portuguese guitar, unique because of its shape, 12 strings, and distinctive tuning.

At the age of twenty-six, Mariza released her first CD, 'Fado em Mim', in the United States in April 2002 on Times Square Records/World Connection. The recording presents six classic Fados and six original compositions, all of them tugging listeners at the heart and soul.

Fado is Portugalâ??s Blues or Rebetika or Tango or Flamenco. â??They all stand on emotions,â?? says Mariza. â??Fado is an emotional kind of music full of passion, sorrow, jealousy, grief, and often satire.â?? Yet Fado differs from its musical cousins in its poetic mystery and its ability to fuse dichotomous traits: impossible pain and fervent joy, lifeâ??s cruelty with loveâ??s intensity.

At the very outset of her career, Mariza was being compared to one of the biggest icons of Fado: Amᬩa Rodrigues. In the words of Nuno Nazareth Fernandes, one of the greatest Portuguese composers: â??Mariza is an adorable extra-terrestrial being, someone sent by the Great Creator to reinvent the Fado.â??

Mariza had her first major national exposure in 1999 as one of the guest performers in Tribute Concerts for Amᬩa Rodrigues in the Coliseums of Lisbon and Oporto. Both performances were broadcast live on one of Portugalâ??s Network TV channels. Marizaâ??s performances immediately sparked interest in the public and in the national media. In 2000, she received the award, â??Voice of Fado,â?? presented by Central FM (Portugalâ??s national radio station). She was invited to â??introduceâ?? Fado to rock icon Sting by a highly rated national television show Hermansic.

Mariza walks the fine line necessary to both genuinely carry the tradition and bring it freshness for today. Her performance style captures the raw emotion that characterizes the genre, but with her own personal twist.

Egberto Gismonti

Editorial Reviews
The Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti drew his inspiration for this music from time he spent with the Xingu Indians in the Amazon, and it's intended to invoke both their spirit and the experience of the jungle. Gismonti assembled some remarkable musicians for this 1977 recording--guitarist Ralph Towner, percussionists Nana Vasconcelos and Collin Walcott, and saxophonist Jan Garbarek--but he uses them sparingly. The opening "Palacio de Pinturas" is a gorgeous duet between Gismonti's 8-string and Towner's 12-string guitars, a music so tonally rich that it suggests multiple geographic sources. "Raga," with Walcott on tabla, is more specific, with Gismonti's rapid-fire runs suggesting a sitar, but his use of percussive harmonics is a new element. The long final track is a remarkably varied suite. It begins with a light trio that has Garbarek's only appearance--a keening, soprano-saxophone solo--and includes "Sapain" for an ensemble of blown bottles with voices and wooden flute. Gismonti's fascination with shifting instrumental colors creates consistently interesting music, combining traditions and sources into a novel musical

Jan Garbarek (born March 4, 1947) is a Norwegian tenor and soprano saxophonist active in the jazz, classical, and world music genres. His daughter Anja Garbarek is also a musician.

Garbarek's sound is one of the hallmarks of the ECM record label, which has released virtually all of his recordings. His style incorporates a sharp-edged tone, long, keening, sustained notes strongly reminiscent of Islamic prayer calls, and generous use of silence. He began his recording career in the late 1960s, notably featuring on recordings by the American jazz composer George Russell (such as Othello Ballet Suite and Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature). If he had initially appeared as a devotee of Albert Ayler and Peter Brötzmann, by 1973 he had turned his back on the harsh dissonances of avant-garde jazz, retaining only his tone from his previous approach.

As a composer, Garbarek tends to draw heavily from Scandinavian folk melodies, a legacy of his Ayler influence. He is also a pioneer of ambient jazz composition, most notably on his 1976 album Dis. This textural approach, which rejects traditional notions of thematic improvisation (best exemplified by Sonny Rollins) in favor of a style described by critics Richard Cook and Brian Morton as "sculptural in its impact," has been critically divisive. Garbarek's more meandering recordings are often labeled as New Age music, a style generally scorned by more orthodox jazz musicians and listeners, or spiritual ancestors thereof.

After recording a string of unheralded avant-garde albums, Garbarek rose to international prominence in the mid-1970s playing post-bop jazz, both as a leader and as a member of Keith Jarrett's successful "European Quartet." He achieved considerable commercial success in Europe with Dis, a meditative collaboration with guitarist Ralph Towner that featured the distinctive sound of a wind harp on several tracks. (Selections from Dis have been used as incidental music in several feature films and documentaries.) In the 1980s, Garbarek's music began to incorporate synthesizers and elements of world music. In 1993, during the Gregorian chant craze, his album Officium, a collaboration with early music vocal performers the Hilliard Ensemble, became one of ECM's biggest-selling albums of all time, reaching the pop charts in several European countries. (Its sequel, Mnemosyne, followed in 1999.) In 2005, his album In Praise of Dreams was nominated for a Grammy.

In addition to the selections from Dis, Garbarek has also composed music for several other European films, including French and Norwegian films. Also his song 'Rites' was used in the American film The Insider.

Pepe Habichuela-A Mandeli

The first solo work by the brilliant guitarist in which he is accompanied by Carles Benavent on bass, and Rubem Dantas and Antonio Carmona on percussion. He was the first flamenco artist to be accompanied by Benavent and Dantas, and he was also the first to record with the Nuevos Medios record label, which also gambled on the new generation of the Habichuelas: Ketama.

He is the son of the Gypsy T'io josé Habichuela El Viejo (Granada 1910-1986), who founded this legacy of guitarists of whom Pepe (born 1944) is one of three brothers, all gifted guitarists. Pepe's son Juan continues the family tradition as founding member of Ketama, the foremost flamenco cross-over rock band. The rumba from Habichuela's first solo recording is an extraordinarily complex work, aknowledged here by Faucher who explains he has made choices as 'the original was impossible to extract as it is on the disc'. The introduction also explains that the works on recordings are like 'snapshots...which reproduce the pieces as they are played on that particular day and only at that particular time'. It appears the transcriber has worked closely with the composer and introduced three modifications which are clearly noted. It is in the introductory pages where this publication disappoints: the eulogy to Pepe Habichuela is in a tortuous Spanish style with sentences five lines long, i.e. an entire paragraph without drawing breath! The English is patently the result of inadequat translation. Surely the author would not actually want to say this: 'The artist well understands that he will only be safe by calling and putting the dance and the marvellous character's mischievousness a compás, and only in stripping them of grace and duende, making them slide their hands to pass it on to us'. From the Spanish I can deduce that he wishes to suggest the artist steals the grace and duende from past figures and allows it to flow through his own hands that we might witness it. To suggest that Pepe Habichuela strips anything of grace and duende is bordering on the libellous! These introductory words by Francisco Almazán are in Spanish and English only. The explanatory notes on 'sound and technique' are by Alain Faucher, the English is more felicitous than the translations of Almazán's Spanish and gives great insight into Pepe's unique technique. There are those who declare flamenco cannot be written down. This is patently untrue. However, like all music, noy every nuance can be accurately written in black and white. To my mind, the greatest fault of tab notation is the failure to notate the rythm. The extraordinarily improvised nature of Habichuela's rythm makes this some of the most difficult music to accurately notate. Without the recordings to hand I feel it would be extremely hard to get the correct nuances and subtle interplay of accompanying role/melodic exposition/rythmic interlude.
Everything is written here, and the result is a collection of some of the most beautiful, original and profoundly jondo solo flamenco guitar pieces ever recorded. Emma Martinez (Classical Guitar)

Amadou and Mariam

- from the liner notes "Tje Ni Moussou"
African music's recent history has been written on recycled paper, with a pen dipped in the ink of savvy resourcefulness. The biographical vicissitudes of The Bembaya Jazz, The Ambassadeurs, and the Rail Band of Bamako contain enough burlesque episodes for a sitcom, featuring indelicate managers, venal witchdoctors an piracy experts. In this hazardous context, the itinerary of Amadou and Mariam seems full of no-fuss heroics. Take the first hurdle in their long obstacle course: after meeting at the Institute for the Young Blind of Mali, they have to obtain approval for a marriage deemed unreasonable by their parents; the youngsters were the only ones to see the chances of a blind couple being successful.

In those days of military dictatorship, a musical vocation caused those with the most obvious gifts to converge on the hotels, where the house-bands, in exchange for civil-service salary, played to a clientele composed of government brass and foreign citizens, distilling the latest pop tunes and other fashionable music from Cuba in residential ballrooms. At the end of the Sixties, Amadou Bagayoko cut his teeth as a guitarist in the Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako, a versatile group later joined by Salif Keita. He refined his guitar technique, causing his fluid playing to sparkle, and thanks to a bridge or two that spanned the musical continents, cultivated a sense of versatility - the opposite of a scattering - that was to become the emergence of the radiant Bambara blues that has brought their recent productions to full bloom.

Mariam Doumbia sang, often accompanied by Amadou, and when the couple finally decided on a common career, their chances of success in Mali were so high that... they chose to emigrate to the Ivory Coast. Their success there took them by surprise.

Separated from their three children, they recorded a series of cassettes produced the Nigerian Aliyu Maikano Adamu; clothed by a single electric guitar, these recordings contain the initial versions of "Dounia", "A Chacun Son Probleme", and "Mon Amour, Ma Cherie". These songs returned some seven years later to grace the album "Sou Ni Tile", which broadened their horizon and caused the universality of African music to coincide with the resources of modern technology. "Tje Ni Mousso" ("Man And Woman") in bambara, added nuances of sound and rhythmical inflections to the already rich spectrum of their previous work, and caused other essences and perfumes to flow in from the four corners of the globe - the Portuguese cavaquihno, the violin of Bengal, jazz piano - towards the epicenter that is Africa, the land of a thousand dances.

Amadou and Miriam seem to hear their own music through the filter that made them marvel when they were adolescents: the pop of the Seventies, electric blues, reggae, Cuba... Without ever conceiving of it as a project, without even really thinking about it, man and woman caused their distant offspring, those who cradle was the Dark Continent, to come home. And this opening onto the world, this sense of hospitality, recharged the music of West Africa with a vital energy, and secured it in the maternal role that founded its identity.

This record gives "world music" a sense, a function, and a center of gravity that previous misuse of the term had hidden, damaging its reputation. The phrase invites us to a double understanding which can be found again in the use of words distilling counsel and recommendations, as happens in village meetings where the old exchange words with the young: and this manner of keeping a watchful eye, of preaching respect, patience and tolerance, finally causes little local virtues to unfold in a universal wisdom. With simple words, Amadou and Mariam relate the superiority of harmony over discord.

The amusing paradox carried by the songs of this blind couple from Mali is that they also have the power to return sight to those who think they can already see.

Egberto Gismonti

Over the last quarter century, the music of Egberto Gismonti has brought us, with its unique cultural baggage, an uncommon breadth. He draws on resources at once primitive" and "sophisticated," bringing those modes into question and shoring up issues, cultural priorities and biases. Most importantly, his music is not so much a cause for dogmatic argument or stylistic Iconoclasm as it is a sensuous and probing organism, a body of work that continues to grow and change.

At root and underfoot, of course, is his homeland of Brazil. As legend - and fact -would have it, Gismonti's deep appreciation of his heritage came as a result of his leaving. A pianist by training, Gismonti studied with the famed pedagogue Nadia Boulanger in Paris, and it was at her urging to return home and investigate his own turf that Gismonti's explorations began in earnest. He delved deep in the resident culture of Choros, the samba school, and spent time with the Xingu Indians in the rainforest, all the while fashioning a distinctive voice as a guitarist.

Such dualities fueling Gismonti's music are very much accounted for on ZigZag, his 14th project for ECM and, by his reporting, the 53rd album he's made over the 25 years since the Boulanger incident. Rawedged passages - full of Gismonti's percussive flourish and extended guitar technique - and lyrical writing coexist happily. Impressionistic textures and improvisational sections merge with intricately-detailed parts, with cascading two-guitar parts navigated by Gismonti and longtime collaborator Nando Carneiro. Most of all, the line between folklore, classical heritage, hints of jazz, and nameless modes of invention is beautifully smudged. This is, unmistakably and irreducibly, Egberto Gismonti music.

The son of a Lebanese father and a Sicilian mother, Gismonti was born in 1947 In the small Brazilian town of Carmo (Carmo is the name of the label he has run for a decade). He studied piano from the age of five, in addition to flute and clarinet, and casually picked up guitar as a teenager. These were the seeds. After his soujourn to Paris, he burrowed into the culture of Brazil and played with various musicians, including Airto Moreira and Flora Purim.

Gismonti's long and fruitful association with ECM began in 1976, when he recorded the acclaimed Danca das Cabeças, with fellow Brazilian, percussionist Nana Vasconcelos - a connection recemented with 1985's Duas Vozes. Subsequent projects brought Gismonti into collaborations with Jan Garbarek, Collin Walcott, RalphTowner and Charlie Haden, with whom he recorded the disarming, deceptively simple Folk Songs. In 1981, he released Sanfona, with his group Academia de Danças, and a solo album: portraits of the artist from two separate angles. In the '90s, Gismonti's Infância and Música de Sobrevlvência documented the evolution of his group, which, on ZigZag, is pared down to a trio, with Carneiro and bassist Zeca Assumpção and Gismonti on 10 and 14-string guitars and piano.

Throughout his musical life, Gismonti's work has proven far-reaching and visceral, both an indigenous product of Brazil and a universal statement. His work is a living mosaic of twentieth century impulses, understandable in all languages.

lnterview by Josef Woodard

On ZigZag, as with most of your albums, there is a cohesive, suite-like quality. Do you design them with that in mind, as a conceptual whole as opposed to just a collection of songs?

I'm trying to have a Brazilian cultural history for each one. I'm very involved with Brazilian stories. With each album, l'm trying to work or design or write a sort of Brazilian way. I’ll give you an example:on Danca das Cabeças, it’s about two guys together, walking through the Amazon jungle. Sometimes it's very humid, sometimes very dry, sometimes full of animals and sometimes full of silence.
Another album, the Solo album, is like a Brazilian newspaper - all the things that are happening in Brazil day by day. I'm talking about the Brazilian contradictions. We have news like "new tribes discovered in the Amazon jungle." On the other side of the newspaper, there might be a story on problems with nuclear power. There's a big contradiction.
All the albums have their own Brazilian stories. The cover on ZigZag looks at two women, these old people who have no place to live, no house. They exist. There are two women dressed very nice, full of color. There's a big river we have ... ZigZag means what's happening to this water.
If you look at something, you can see. Let's talk about one glass of water. You can think, "OK, I'm thirsty, I want to drink this glass of water". Or you can think that this water comes from this river and think about what's happening with this river. What kind of tree or fish is involved with that river? "ZigZag" for us means that we're not sure for nothing. We're not responsible for nothing. I'm talking about the Brazilian culture.
This is such a mixed country - there are Europeans, Africans, and Brazilian Indians. We're so mixed, we're allowed to have all these contradictory stories. There are a lot of people in these cities who are talking about the latest computer technology. 100 meters from these people there live the people who have a salary of 150 dollars a month. This is very bad from one point of view, but on the other hand, we know how to live with all these contradictions. It becomes very powerful for us. We know how to survive with all these kinds of things - inflation or difficulties or contradictions. But Ws a country full of stories and arts, including music. What I'm doing is presenting a very small part of my country, talking about all these stories.
Does the title also have a musical reference, regarding your tendency to combine and oscillate - Zig Zag - between different cultural points of view?

This is the most Brazilian album I've done in my life. But it is very open in terms of culture. There is a lot of European influence, Brazilian influence, and Xingu influence, at the same time. That's difficult, to draw all these cultures together.
With the piece "Forrobodo", from the new album, you blend Romantic piano music with more discernibly Brazilian sonorities. Was that the graft you were after?

Forrobodo" is synonymous with confusion. Forro is a music from northeastern Brazil. In the '40s, during the Second World War, the North Americans came to Brazil, military people. We mix language. Forro means to party, to dance. Ali these Romantic sides that you mention makes for part of our music.
On "Carta de Amor", - you adopt a muted, or prepared, guitar sound, emulating percussion instruments. Approaching the guitar as a percussive tool is nothing new for you, is it?

That sound you're talking about is a sort of samba school playing. Instead of using percussion instruments like tambourine, we use guitars and bass. And we put credit cards through the strings and play. I made this decision in the studio. In the studio, the sound was so good and clean in terms of microphones and recording, we decided to do a more percussive piece. We tried different kinds of paper or newspaper, but in the end, the plastic sounds very good. Because I have 10 strings I had to use two credit cards through my guitar.
"Um Anjo" is a piano-based piece in the lyrical ballad tradition. Was there a context or backdrop to that piece?

I have two kids, 13 and 14 years old now. In the last few years, they have started piano and guitar training. I'm used to hearing my daughter playing piano far away from my studio. This piece Is a reflection of hearing her playing, or anyone, playing far away-a nice, easy piece. "Um Anjo" means it's someone playing far way, but that gives you a good feeling. You might have this idea- when you are in the country, you are far away from another house, but there is someone playing a nice, easy piece on the piano. The sound mixes with the wind, mixing all the good feelings.
There l's an impressionistic and almost tone-poetry aspect to your music, a sense of creating imagery beyond just the language of the music. Do you aspire to that practice, of evoking things larger than notes?

I realized that through having movie directors invite me to write music for movies. I've done 25 movie scores, and 13 dance scores. Ali these directors and choreographers say the same thing, that my music gives them so many impressions and images.
In 1970, you headed off to Paris. Was the idea then to become better grounded in European classical tradition?

No. I was invited by a French actress who decided to sing, named Marie Laforet. She had done a lot of movies with all these French actors like Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon. She invited me to write the arrangements. I accepted the invitation. Instead of working with her and being a tourist, I studied musical analysis with Nadia Boulanger and dodecaphonic music with Jean Barraqué. He was someone who dedicated 25 years of his life to following Anton Webern. I did that for a year and a half, in 1970 and 1971. In July of '71,1 went back to Brazil.
And it was Boulanger who advise you to return home and rediscover your own culture ?

Yes. One day, she said, "0K, Mr. Gismonti, that's the last day of studies for you, because you have to go back home and discover that you have a big fountain of inspiration in your place." I said "what are you talking about, Madame?" She said let me say one thing - you are a medium European composer and a very bad Brazilian one.
In 1970,1 was 23 years old and it was very heavy to hear that from Nadia Boulanger. She said "go back to your place and pay attention to Samba School and pay attention to berimbau music and Forro music." She also said "you Brazilians are allowed to be crazy. Mr. Gismonti, fifty years ago, there was crazed French guy who sat down by a very small river and, after one month of looking at this river, he said 'La Mer.' This guy was Claude Debussy. He looked at this small river and said 'La Mer.' It doesn't matter what you can see. The most important thing is what you can feel". She said "you guys from the third world, especially from Brazil, are irresponsible. You can be completely crazed. Don't become a medium European composer."Can you mention one good European composer today? There are factions, if you're talking about Luciano Berio and Luigi Nono, Italian guys. But, in general, the composers in the '60s or 70s, if you're talking about Stockhausen or even John Cage, all these guys were very intellectual. But they were so far away from a basic art, to say something rather than to think about something. People like Anton Webern or Jean Barraqué, who spent a lot of time with him, taught me a lot. But, by studying Brazilian music, I tried to find a music that was much more natural than this kind of intellectual stuff. Ali this kind of basic interpretation of feelings come from inside, not from outside or from scores in front of you.
Nadia Boulanger was very powerful to me, because she encouraged me to come back to my country and walk through the Brazilian roots. I came back and stayed at this place with the Xingu Indians in the Amazon jungle. I used to drive a lot through the country in Brazil, which was really important. It changed my life a lot.
So you headed off on a process of self discovery. One could examine your history and listen to the music you make, and draw logical connections between the different ingredients. To what extent do you see your music that way, as a crystallisation of your experiences?

I don't know. It's easy to talk now, after doing 52 albums, to do any kind of analysis. I'm not afraid of mixing things. Another thing about our culture - we are really open to any kind of culture. All the European cultures and other cultures are a part of our own culture. We're able to draw attention to or use any kind of culture. I am really free to write music - that's the reason I've made 52 albums in 24 years. I'm not so responsible. I'm not making an œuvre - I'm not responsible for it.
Always, there are traditions that are producing my music. That's it-going into the studio and performing with the trio or orchestra or whatever. I finished my first symphonic album for ECM four months ago. I'm sure that this album will be appreciated by all those people who like my music. It's difficult to talk about it. I'm in process. I'm not sure about the music I'm doing. I have less doubts than I had 25 years ago, of course, but I'm not 100 per cent sure. Not yet.
You’ve been with ECM for two decades now When you made your first album for them, Dança das Cabecas, did you have the sense that this would be the first step of a long evolutionary process?

No. I didn't. Fortunately, Manfred Eicher is not like a conventional album producer. He is really involved with music and new cultures. This was incredibly important to me, to have met someone in Germany who has his own good label, because I knew ECM before I started with it. I was really impressed when Manfred said 1 have no idea about your country. I know about your music, and because of that, I've invited you to do some things. Talking about your country, I want to know about a new culture, because we need new information to survive.
That's very heavy, to hear a producer talking about your culture. That's incredibly strong. This was 20 years ago, and we still have the same relationship today. It's amazing, doing albums for ECM and sending texts and layouts from Brazilian artists. The photographs are done by Brazilians.
Referring back to when you returned to Brazil in 1971, was it at that point that you seriously took up the guitar?

Not really. I started with the guitar in '68. As you know, guitar is the most popular instrument in Brazil. Everyone plays guitar. Because I was an adolescent, 16 or 17 years old, it was difficult for me to go to the parties with my piano. The reason for taking up the guitar was to learn how to play a portable instrument. Before guitar, I started on flute and then clarinet. It was difficult, because with popular Brazilian music, you sing and play at the same time, and it was difficult to do that with flute and clarinet. I made the decision to play the guitar just to satisfy myself and to be able to go to parties to play music.
You're a unique player, in terms of guitar orthodoxy. Did you begin experimenting, veering away from tradition, right away?

The thing is, where I was living at this time was a city 300 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro called Friburgo, based on the German city of Freiburg. They had a lot of people playing guitar, but no teacher. At the same time, I had already had good training on piano. I had played classical piano for nine years. I did transcriptions of Piano music for guitar. And because I was far away from classical guitar teaching, I didn't know about the classical, six-string instruments. The first guitar I had had seven strings, which was very useful for the Brazilian music called Choro. That's the instrument that plays all the bass lines. After six months or a year of doing transcriptions from piano, I realized that I was missing a lot of notes on the low and high registers. Because of that, someone gave me the idea of adding one more string, so that I had an eight-string.
I never played like a traditional classical guitarist. I'm not a guitar player, first off, where the left hand lust pushes one string and right plays the same string. Because of the piano training, I was used to using two hands independently. I can do one thing with the left and something else with the right one. On the piano, It's easily to play separate things-say, playing 2/4 and 3/4 with different hands. I use that on the guitar, to play lines with the left one and other notes or lines with the right one. That's because I had no teacher for guitar.
What effect did jazz have on you? Can we use that term in connection to your music, generally?

Listen, the biggest experience I had with jazz music was in 1975, during the time I spent in Los Angeles, to write Airto Moreira and Flora Purim's album. Because of them, I met Herbie Hancock, who invited me to practice in his studio, in a garage. We used to play a lot with Herbie, almost four or five days a week. He was very interested in Brazilian music and in electronic stuff. It was 1975.
One day, Herbie was playing electric piano, Wayne Shorter was playing saxophones, and a bass player named John Williams, someone else playing drums, and I played acoustic piano. After one hour of playing, we stopped, and they said, "you Brazilian guys play samba very good, even through the jazz music." But I am not able to play jazz. And they are not able to play our music, with our accents, either. I had an experience with John McLaughlin, an incredible musician, who has done three or four pieces of mine, full of accents.
I should say that jazz is very important for one kind of Brazilian music, bossa nova. If you're thinking about how much bossa nova is used for North American musicians, there is a big connection in terms of chord changes, harmonies and this kind of stuff. But basically, there's no connection if you think about the fact that jazz is in 4 and Brazilian music Is In 2.
Of course, musicians like music, and because there are a lot of jazz musicians who I like a lot, they have been at my home personally, or on albums or videos
I like good music. But I'm not able to play any kind of jazz. I do it for fun, yes, play a little jazz with my kids or with other musicians, but not to represent myself.
One obvious musical link with your work is the music of Villa Lobos, both in terms of folkloric interests and new variations on what it means to be guitaristic. Did his music steer you along?

There is a big connection, because I am very involved with all the Brazilian possibilities. I am doing it the same way as Villa Lobos and all the Brazilian composers. In Brazil, they used to call me for any kind of party where Villa Lobos was receiving some kind of homage. Almost all the things that have happened in Brazil, they mention Villa Lobos. That's good, but I don't think about these things.
I am really interested in Brazil. I'm working to survive, myself, and, consequentially, to give some new possibilities to different people. Today, it's easy for me to talk about these kinds of feelings, because almost all the critics are liking my music. The last time I played at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, a reviewer wrote that I had my soul full of rights to do any kind of thing. That gives to the people the possibility to be a little irresponsible - in a good way.
I'm not responsible for anything. Ali the nuclear tests done by France, that doesn't matter for me in terms of the music. I can do nothing about that. But I can give to the French people who are angry with that a one-hour concert with fun music and fun soul and fun culture. It's difficult to talk about, even in Portuguese.
Is it important to spend a lot of time in Brazil, to connect with the feeling and the cultural soil there?

I need to stay, because of my friends, because of all the contradictions. It gives me a lot of power to continue. It's difficult to me, as a Brazilian living in the country, having all my life established for the next 25 years. I remember when I went to Japan, I met someone with an important position in the film industry. We had a lot of sake together, and this person said, I know what will happen with my life for the next 25 years. In 25 years, I will be the president of the company. But I'm not happy because of that. I want to take my bag and take any freeway, all over the world."
To be 100 per cent sure means to die. I read philosophers, especially the French guys or the Eastern guys like Gurdjieff. After all these years, I realize that we have a lot of possibilities in Brazil through this irresponsibility we are talking about. l'm not talking about simple things like respecting laws or people - which is basic to living. But you have to be responsible at the moment for being creative. I'm not talking only about music, I'm talking about life. You must be creative. You must be excited about something, not doing the same thing everyday.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar Touring

About the Artists:
Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar
Ulhas Kashalkar, one of the prime representatives of both the Gwalior and
Jaipur Gharanas, has earned wide recognition in India and abroad.
Gifted with a melodious voice with superb flexibility, Kashalkar’s music
appeals to every music lover. His gayaki is especially noted for its pure
traditional rendering with his own aesthetic interpretation. Renowned
music labels around the world have brought out many recordings of his
music, a testimonial to his immense popularity. He has performed
extensively in India and internationally. Presently, he is associated with the
prestigious Sangeet Research Academy of Calcutta as a guru.
Yogesh Shamsi
An “A” grade artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan for more than a
decade, Yogesh has given many solo performances on tabla, as well as
having accompanied almost all the top grade Hindustani musicians such as:
Pt Dinkar Kaikini, Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Ustad Rashid Khan, Pt Ram Narain,
Ustad Sultan Khan, Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt Shivkumar Sharma, Pt Birju
Maharaj, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and the legendary sitar maestro the late
Ustad Vilayat Khan to name a few.
Venue: Australian Institute of Music
1-51 Foveaux St. Surry Hills

Friday, January 27, 2006

Andrew Chuter's review of Another Day On Earth

Andrew Chuter used to present Biorhythms on 2SER. He originally reviewed this for Cyclic Defrost's blog. Check out their blog. It's quite interesting.

Brian Eno - Another Day on Earth (Rykodisc/Stomp)

‘Another Day on Earth’ sees the godfather of ambient making a return to songs, a territory Eno has visited only occasionally since the mid-70’s. To me, this album seems to be about the current forlorn state of the world post 9-11. The title perhaps asks us to look at the world from a planetary perspective, with a species, homo sapiens, going about its business, trying to get on. ‘This’, the opening and most accessible track has a loping bass-heavy groove reminiscent of ‘Ali click’ from the Nerve Net album. It projects Eno looking at the objects around him and questioning his assumptions, his sanity even. Of late, Eno has become increasingly politically engaged, campaigning door-to-door against Tony Blair for an anti-war candidate, and involved with the Long Now Foundation which is concerned with the long term future of humanity.
Many of the tracks on the album benefit from the sonic atmospheres Eno has built up on his ambient productions, drifting off into serene reminiscence. ‘A long way down’ sounds like the Apollo album, Eno as Kubrick’s star child. Some have female spoken word vocals, such as ‘going unconscious’ and ‘bonebomb’, a very dark piece about the last thoughts of a suicide bomber that abruptly ends the album. Even though this album is going into ’song’ territory, this is a relative term with Eno, and certainly not conventional lyrically or structurally. ‘Caught between’ is in a surreal, dreamy place and ends with a gorgeous Robert Fripp-esque guitar solo. ‘Bottomliners’, a standout track, has a tocking clock, a little Buddhist bell, Thursday Afternoon atmospheres and Eno’s richly processed voice contributing to a song possibly about bloggers, memes or an uprising in the Third World, it’s hard to tell.
For those willing to listen carefully, put their preconceptions aside, and take this album at face value, they will find it a beautiful and rewarding experience.
Andrew Chuter

The catholics 28 Jan 06- news

It's been a while, but The catholics are back in action and shaping up for a number of shows in the next few months, leading to the release of our fifth album Gondola, on Rufus Records (through Universal) in April.
We will be launching Gondola in Sydney at a venue TBA, but until then:
*This Saturday, we're at the Sound Lounge at the Seymour Centre, for the Sydney Improvised Music Association. We're on from 8.30 to 11pm, with special guest, the wonderful Carl Dewhurst filling in for Bruce Reid. Carl was on board for our triumphant concert in the cathedral at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival late last year, which featured all the material we'd just recorded for Gondola.

8.30 pm, Sat 28th January
Sound Lounge, Seymour Centre
Cnr City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale Tix $15, $13 JazzGroove, Jazz Action and student, $12 SIMA members Box office 9351 7940 (booking fees may apply)

And a couple for the diary:
*We're playing in Canberra at the National Multicultural Festival, doing one set at 8pm on Saturday 11th February at Stage 2 (Ainslie Avenue), and then two sets from 9pm on Sunday 12th February at the Hippo Lounge Bar, Garema Place.
*On Sunday 12th March, we're doing a spot from 12.30 at Victoria Park, as part of the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Oxfam's Walk Against Want. This will be a great occasion, all for a very good cause. More details closer to the date, but perhaps you night consider participating in the Walk Against Want if you're not already doing so. Visit www.oxfam.org.au/walk

**********All the catholics albums are available at www.thenecks.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mercan Dede-The Visual DJ

Mercan Dede , The Visual DJ

01/15 10:44AM
Contributed by: WMC_News_Dept.

Author: Yvonne Mitton

Interviewing Mercan Dede is a dream ~ quite simply, you don’t interview Mercan Dede, you sit with him eating mezze and drinking tea in a plush Turkish restaurant in Islington, and talk as if you had known him all your life, as if you are old friends pleased to see each other, enthusiastically swapping stories about childhood, university, art, music and other topics of mutual interest.

He’s quick to talk about the very special experiences, still precious to him, of his early years in Turkey, speaking eloquently and fervently of when, at the age of six, traveling in a car with his mother in his home town of Bursa, he first heard a sound on the radio that transfixed him; she told him it was the ney ~ the Turkish flute. That sound never left him and years later, he made his first ney after seeing one in a shop in Istanbul. As an 18 year-old student, with little money and during the hard times of the military coupe of the 1980s, the price was beyond his means; grabbing a piece of paper from the gutter he marked it with the length and the position of the holes, bought the cheapest plastic water pipe and improvised.

He smiles when he remembers the terrible sound it made, but for all its faults, he has kept it and still has it on his wall as an icon of his inspiration. These days his neys are made by a master craftsman in Istanbul from specially selected bamboo, the sections of which have to be a precise length for the positioning of the holes ~ and incredibly only one in 5,000 lengths are suitable. He’s also made Mercan a plastic ney as a homage to that ancestral water pipe, this one works!

Mercan has lived in Canada since the 1990s, not perhaps the most obvious of destinations for a young Turkish man, and he now spends much of his time, when not touring, between Montreal and Istanbul, both of which he regards as home. His life, after his arrival in Canada, at that time speaking no English, took him on a serendipitous path. Initially he went to Saskatoon for only three weeks with his exhibition of photography ~ he already had a degree in photography and journalism from the University of Istanbul ~ and was spotted by a professor from the University of Saskatchewan who convinced him to study there for a degree in Fine Art. He then went on to Concordia University, Montreal, to study for his Masters under the tutelage of Guido Molinari, the installation artist and enfant terrible of Canadian Formalist painting.

During the 90s Mercan exhibited, in his real name of Arkin Ilicali, as a visual artist and as well as teaching at Concordia he continued DJ-ing , something he started doing as a student almost by accident to help pay the rent. In conversation it’s obvious that his knowledge and interest in the visual arts has never left him and as he talks he evokes vivid imagery and references to describe his philosophy and music. The visual still has real meaning for him; he creates light projections for many of his larger stage performances and the photographic images on his last album, Su, and the collage on his techno album, Fusion Monster, also released in 2004, are his work. He’s modest about recent accolades, the nominations in 2003 and 2004 for two categories in the Radio 3 Awards for World Music and casually mentions in an aside that he played drums on the soundtrack of the Ridley Scott film, Kingdom of Heaven.

Without proselytizing, he wants to make it clear how important Sufism is in his life ~ first and foremost he is a Sufi, and he explains how the use of music, poetry and the dance of the dervishes are central to Sufi beliefs as a pathway to worship. Dervish means threshold and their meditational whirling dance is used as a means to pass through this transcendental doorway to bond with the divine. The ascetic white woolen costume gives the order its name ~ Sufi meaning man of wool. He goes on to relate how the 13th century Sufi poet, Rumi, founder of the Mevlevi order in Turkey, developed the regimen of whirling as a devotional practice, inspired by the the steady rhythms of craftsmen in the goldsmith’s quarter beating their precious metal into shapes. And this brings the conversation to another important and enduring memory of his childhood ~ his first sight of dervishes when they visited his town, whirling in their white robes; for a child they were fantastical beings, they astounded him ~ he asked ‘are they aliens or angels?’. Everything returns to Mercan’s consummate passion for his faith, it is the absolute and uncompromising focus of his music ~ without his beliefs there is no music, it is this that drives and empowers his impressive creative energy as a composer, recording artist and performer. And this dynamic, spiritual energy isn’t just about Mercan Dede, he tells me he has nine names under which he works, because for him what he does isn’t centered around personality or image, it’s about the meaning of the music; in all his guises ‘the message is the same’.

The name Mercan Dede came into being because he didn’t want to put his real name, (which he was happy to use as producer) to his first album, made with the San Francisco based Golden Horn Productions. This was Sufi Dreams and he ended up responding to the needs of the record label, choosing the name Mercan Dede meaning coral grandfather after a character, a ‘really crazy man’, in a book he was reading by the Turkish writer, Ihasan Oktay Anar.

He describes his nine names as the equivalent of the separate parts of a child’s puzzle; after a bit of discussion we decide this is a jigsaw, the pieces with their enigmatic, individual characteristics that when fitted together make a recognizable and coherent picture. Using his hands descriptively, something he does throughout the interview, he also summons up the image of the Turkish riddle ~ ‘what is one when you buy it in the bazaar but thousands when you get it home? A pomegranate.’

He has been impressively prolific, with five CDs as Mercan Dede since 1997, plus Fusion Monster in his DJ alter ego, Arkin Allen. Each album is conceived not only as collection of linear tracks but as an interwoven whole, circling back on itself and again reflecting the images of the jigsaw and the pomegranate; nor does he compromise on the length of the tracks. He composes using the concept of the Sufi musical tradition of maqams or modes, but doesn’t regard this as confining or restrictive, for him it is infinitely fertile ground for his inspiration and creativity, mixing the orthodox with the underlying substrate of his techno skills into a seamless blend of traditional and and modern, east and west.

As we drink tea he likens the structure of his albums to a Turkish dinner, the courses exquisitely and delicately balanced, complimenting each other in a composition of tastes, textures, colors and presentation, building into a meal of celebration and satisfaction. And he is is a great believer in the power of the resonance of music to affect the emotions and to heal ~ there are maqams that relate to specific parts of the body and he gives me the name of the maqam for the digestive system, huzzam, as an example.

His first three albums as Mercan Dede are a trilogy, Sufi Dreams (1997), Journeys of a Dervish (1999) and Seyahatname (2001), charting the stages of a journey ~ dreaming of the journey, the journey itself and the diary of that journey. From the start, with that very first album, the uniqueness of the Mercan Dede sound and compositions were established, confident and timeless, there’s a feel of the ancient about them brought into existence by that moveable feast of distinguished musicians and collaborators he gathers to him for both recording and performance.

He reveals that Nar, 2002, is the first in a proposed tetralogy and as well as meaning pomegranate, it is the Persian for fire, but not, he explains, the fire of destruction, it is the fire of passion. This was followed in 2004 by Su and although for him the present is more important than the future, bringing his hands up to his head he tells me that the concepts of the two further albums are already there in his mind. Remarkably, Su, meaning water, was recorded entirely in his flat in Istanbul appropriately opposite the waters of the Bosphorus, ‘everyone came there’; he has begun to find the recording studio ‘too clinical’.

He’s been DJ-ing for 16 years, but surprisingly, did not get round to releasing an album in his primary performing guise until 2004, the same year as Su. This is Fusion Monster, the title taken from a negative article about him in a Turkish newspaper; he astutely turns the criticism into a positive. Fusion Monster is the heavily dominating techno of Arkin Allen, more frenetic and compulsive than Mercan Dede, but he is unmistakably there, at the same time familiar and
unfamiliar in the circular amassing sound. He still enthusiastic about the DJ part of his life and he continues to perform to large audiences, most notably in July 2004 at the Concert of Colours Diversity Festival in Detroit on the main stage to a crowd of half a million.

But whatever the size of the gig, from behind his decks he likes to watch the reactions of the audience, they provide him with a performance. On a superficial level, as either Mercan Dede or Arkin Allen, his music could be pigeonholed as dance, ambient, fusion, but there is a depth far beyond the decks and tracks of the DJ in him; there’s an intelligence to the organization of the sound, an intensity, an involvement, a sense of place that isn’t where you are physically, you’re taken into another landscape, the sound moves you and gets inside you whether you are receptive to its spiritual dimension or not and in this it undeniably succeeds as Sufi music.

He toured England in June this year [2005], the first Turkish musician to do so, albeit restricted to the south; Salisbury, Bristol, Brighton, Kentish Town Forum in London, where I see his concert before he traveled on to the Wytchwood Festival, Cheltenham. I thought I knew what to expect from a Mercan Dede concert ~ a friend had emailed me from Seattle after he had performed there in May and was still in a state of euphoric shock, people had left
the concert weeping for the joy of it ~ but nothing can prepare you for the experience, any description is going to be totally inadequate, even in Kentish Town the spectacle of it involves and engulfs you. A compact version of his ensemble was on stage, only six musicians including himself, brought together for this tour, but the sound still achieved the overwhelming power of his albums. Most eminent of these musicians was Goskel Baktagir. Mercan was quick to point out
that Goskel is more famous than he in Turkey; known as ‘the father of the kanun’ with at least 13 albums to his name, he is a highly respected performer and teacher of the instrument, and Mercan also tells me with shy pride that the kanun, or zither, is the forerunner of the piano.

It is Goskel’s melodic and liquid sound that we hear on Nar and Su. Also on stage are three impressive young musicians: Aykut Sutoolu a 16 year old clarinet and trumpet player from a gypsy family and two young percussionists with the skills and virtuosity of much longer life times, Huseyin Ceylan, 19 years old and Memduh Akatay, a mere 15 years old.

At The Kentish Town Forum, the marvelous Sheera Mukerjeee, sitar player from Transglobal Underground is the support and also joins the ensemble on the stage for Ab-i Lå’l from Su on which she guests. Mercan is modest about his own musicianship, ‘anyone can do it’, and leaves the centre stage to the ensemble. He’s at the side with his decks, giving us sampled tracks and the visceral percussive depth of the bass. He occasionally gestures to his musicians with precise and elegant

hand movements or picks up one of his neys adding momentarily a breathy, atmospheric susurrus to a piece. Of course his hair, blond and shaved into rows by a barber in Istanbul, tells you who he is ~ there is no mistaking him!

But most breathtaking of all is the Canadian, Mira Burke, a female dervish. The passion of her whirling is palpable; balletic, dynamic, almost frenzied at it’s climax, not the slow, stately dance of the more familiar male dervish. As she whirls she gradually emerges from a brown coat and is in the purest of red costume, the color singing as the speed of the whirl builds up.

Returning to the stage later she’s in the traditional white garments of the Sufi and spins again, giving the illusion of suspension, the lights dim and the hem of her skirt glows with the endless blur of a revolving ribbon of neon light.

There’s no stage invasion at the Forum as there was at the Queen Elizabeth Hall when he was there in 2003~ we would have needed ladders ~ but an ecstatic and well pleased audience got the three encores they demanded before the lights came up and it was over.

Back stage I expected to see him slumped with exhaustion, but he was still buoyant and energetic, unfazed by 2 hours on stage, engaged in animated conversation with a packed dressing room. It was a real wrench to take my leave of Mercan Dede, even more so when he paid me the generous and unbelievable compliment, ‘You are now a member of the Mercan Dede family’.

Playlist 25 January 2006

Tonight's program is a repeat of a show I did prior to Christmas which highlighted all the sounds which imprinted themselves on my mind in the last twelve months or so. Artists and releases as follows. I hope everyone has a wonderful Australia tomorrow.

Natacha Atlas- CD Best of...I Put A Spell On You /It's A Man's World
Emmanuel Jal & Abdel Gadir Salim- CD Ceasefire
Salif Keita- CD Moffou- Track Madan
Baaba Maal- Mbolo- CD Senegal (www.calabashmusic.com)
Midival Punditz- CD Midival Times / CD Midival Games
Susheela Rahman- Music For Crocodiles-Track What Silence Said
Afro Celt Sound System- CD Anatomica
Amadou & Mariam- CD Dimanche A Bamako-Track Senegal Fast Food
Seu George-Rebel Rebel- S/T Life Aquatic
Celso Fonseca- Tracks Done De Fluir /Perdi (www.calabashmusic.com)
Nortec Collective-CD Tijuana Sessions Vol 3 (www.calabashmusic.com)
Brian Eno- CD Another Day on Earth- Tracks How Many Worlds / Just Another Day


Brian Eno- Another Day on Earth
Another Day on Earth is an ambient song cycle that is full of yearning and a mood that Brian Eno has called "brave and resigned." Even in song, Eno is a master of ambience, creating detailed soundworlds and lyrics that don't so much make sense as create a feeling. It's taken him 15 years to create a new vocal album, and the songs span that time, with the welcome reprise of "Under," a devastatingly beautiful hymn of loss and redemption that dates back to 1991's aborted, unreleased My Squelchy Life album. It's turned up before on the Cool World soundtrack and Eno Box II: Vocals. Joining "Under" as one of Eno's most sublime songs is "And Then So Clear," a paean of wasted longing and hope with its cycling rhythm, ethereal guitars, and pitch-shifted vocal harmonies. You can hear Eno's love of gospel music on "This" and "Bottomliners," and can almost picture them in a particularly pensive Baptist church with his double-tracked vocals emulating a solemn choir. But it's not all minor-key reflection. Eno also unleashes a couple of fractured tunes, like "Bonebomb," which is from a project in which he mutated the meter of poets reciting their works. Another Day on Earth is a more personal album from the ambient avatar, a recording of rare and meticulous maturity. --John Diliberto

Emmanuel Jal & Abdel Gadir Salim- CD Ceasefire
Ceasefire is an inspired collaboration between Southern Sudanese rising-star rapper Jal and established Northern Sudanese singer and oud player Salim. Here the two find common ground within their music. Sudan is in a state of civil war, and while political clashes make for death and starvation, this musical union offers an optimistic alternative, one where the Northern Arabic melodies and rhythms fit hand in glove with the Southern African percussion and Jal's laid-back flow. When the duo digs most deeply into the hip-hop vibe, as it does on Jal's "Aiwa" and "Elengwen," it mixes hiccupping beats, smooth raps, and rich ethnic backdrops. Yet there are also some conventional Arabic songs (with both doing vocals) like the Salim-penned "Ya Salam" and the traditional-leaning "Lemon Bara" that provide their own perspective. Ceasefire will hopefully open the eyes of those on either side of the conflict as well as draw some attention from abroad. It also makes for exciting and innovative listening. --Tad Hendrickson Product Description:For the first time, musicians from the north and south of Sudan come together to explore their common ground. Southern Sudanese artist Emmanuel Jal, one of the hottest rappers to explode out of the African music scene, joins northern Sudanese singer, composer and oud player Abdel Gadir Salim in a captivating musical collaboration. This incredible alliance of a renowned maestro with a young rapper produces music bursting with intricate melodies and a central message calling for peace in Sudan.

Salif KeitaMoffou(Universal)
Moffou marks a return to form for Mali's most famous male solo artist. Salif Keita's career appeared to be flagging slightly upon the release of 1999's lacklustre electro-based Papa. Here, he has wisely opted for an almost totally acoustic production. The combination of Mali's finest traditional instrumentalists with the cream of Paris' neo-classical and nu-jazz acoustic players is an uncommonly happy one.
Guitarists Djelly Moussa Kouyate and Kante Manfile are both long-term Keita associates from their days together in early Malian supergroups The Rail Band and Les Ambassadeurs. They hit the 'jeli' (griot) groove right from the start.The opener, 'Yamore', sets the seal: the song's romantic wistfulness is underlined by guest spots from Cap Verde's Cesaria Evora and Parisian accordionist Benoit Urbain.
Keita's own considerable skill as a guitarist in his three solo performances - especially 'Iniagige' - is in evidence throughout. The effortlessly rocking tempo of 'Madan' juxtaposes Malian fiddles and lutes against Camerounian Guy N'Sangue's funky electric bass and a driving West African percussion section.The album has a consistent recording sound throughout. But it's a homogeneity that matures with repeated listenings into a shifting tapestry of rhythm and texture. For instance, the last two tracks, 'Koukou' and 'Here', share an almost Caribbean lilt. Closer inspection lays bare a strong Brazilian influence in the former, and an old-fashioned calypso edge to the latter, accentuated by Arnaud Devos' novel steel drum work.The album has already achieved some of Keita's strongest sales to date and will undoubtedly figure highly in many 'best of 2002' charts. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: John Armstrong

Natacha Atlas- CD Best of Natacha Atlas
Never heard of Natacha Atlas? Think again. If you're a movie goer then her tones will have wafted over the auditorium during many a blockbuster, most recently Kingdom of Heaven.
Natacha Atlas is all about atmosphere. She was a pioneer mixing Middle Eastern and Western music. Dub, trip hop, Arabic pop - everything from Egypt, Morocco to Palestine.
As someone brought up in Europe Natacha Atlas really has embraced the best of all her worlds.
This might be a best of her songs but half the collection here is of new edits. Purists might be upset but those new to her style won't be disappointed.
And while it might have been her eastern - western traditional mix that got her noticed you'll be amazed at the twist she can put on soul classics like It's A Man's Man's Man's World.

Baaba Maal-Senegal
Senegal's Baaba Maal is considered the voice of his people and was the first artist released on Palm Pictures. Crafting a distinctive sound that fuses traditional African music with pop and reggae elements, Baaba Maal led the way in what was to be termed 'Afro-pop'. This compilation showcases the master in various stages of his esteemed career, using a dazzling convergence of music, photography, film, and words - all of it presented in stunning deluxe packaging containing a treasure trove of beautiful elements.

Baaba Maal comes from the Fouta Toro region in northern Senegal. He belongs to the Fula tribe, a minority in Senegal, Mali and Mauritania, and his music builds on traditional music from these areas. This music is different from the dominant Wolof music in Senegal and is more lyrical and melodious. The singer and guitarist, Baaba Maal, gives his all in everything from traditional arrangements with few instruments, to rock and reggae-influenced versions with full band and modern hi-tech. The same can be said about his lyrics, that spring from traditional myths, via Islam to modern commentaries on social problems in northern Senegal. Baaba Maal does not come from any Griot family, but has studied music at Ecole Des Beuax Arts in Dakar and the Paris Music Conservatory. After studying in Europe he returned to Senegal at the beginning of the 1980s, when he recorded 6 albums that are found only on cassette. In 1985 he formed his own band, Dande Lenol, and got a recording contract with the Paris based company Syllart, that released the 3 strong discs, “Wango”, “Nouvelle Generation” and “Taara”. In 1991 he signed a new contract with the Island company, Mango.Baaba Maal belongs, together with others such as Youssou N’Dour to a generation of pioneering musicians who, in the course of the last decade, have placed Senegal emphatically on the music world’s map. They have convincingly moved music on in their homeland and, as they live in Senegal, have contributed to the steering of its music industry and turned Dakar into an important centre for music in Africa.

Midival PunditzMidival Punditz(Six Degrees)
Midival Punditz, the first Indian electronica band to sign to an international label, have recreated the sound of Asian ambience and trance in a melting of Indian classical and contemporary club music.
The musical partnership of Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj dates back to childhood, a friendship which helps explain the ease with which their talents gel on the album. Veterans of the New Delhi club scene, the Punditz set up their own studio in 1997, gaining instant respect from the Asian Massive group of DJs, including Talvin Singh and becoming part of Tabla Beat Science.
Fusing folk and electronica can appear premeditated: a mix of too many sounds and not enough subtlety. But not here. This is masterfully produced, each sound meticulously placed with heart and soul, for maximum impact.
The album creates equal space for past and present, East and West, but it's the Punditz first love for Indian classical music which creates its depth and beauty. 'Fabric', is recognisable from the "Monsoon Wedding" soundtrack, and builds looping electronica upon a ghazal sung by 50s star, Heera Devi Misra. The propulsive rhythm of 'Extasis' is far more trance orientated, mixing intelligent drum 'n' bass with soaring santur laden raga. The wholly ambient 'Night' stands out as a vast work, the space between ancient and digital culture radiating soulful sound.
With track titles including 'Forest Dream' and 'Far From Home', this is music to take you far away to extraordinary worlds! Its intrigue lies in the fact that not one track remains the same, but constantly evolves on each listening. Closing the album, 'Dark Age' is an extraordinary piece of music, lost in the snake like travels of Shailendar's bansuri flute, dark beats and haunting semi-classical vocals, it opens itself up to constant exploration.
This album lacks for not a single beat and the sounds of tabla, sarangi and synth are heightened to the max. The experience is over all too quickly: put it on repeat and take the trip over and over again!
Reviewer: Faye Burton

Afro Celt Sound System- CD Anatomica
Perhaps James McNally said it best in an interview with the New York Post in July of 2003. When asked about the Afro Celts' successful approach to music, James responded that the Afro Celts success lies in the balance of the influences of African music, Irish music, ancient traditional instruments and singing styles combined with cutting edge technology - - all seamlessly integrated to take people on a journey and "move from scene to scene in our passages like a drama."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Africa's Women Speak Out


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Playlist 18-01-06

An all Australian content show tonight. Information about these release should be updated by the time goes to air.

1 Bobby Singh- Ashoka- CD Under Eastern Skies (2.27) ABC
2 Guy Strazzullo- Teena de healer- CD Mosaic AIEM CD 003 (6.57)
3 Joseph Tawadros- Pharoah's Dream- CD Storyteller (5.14) ABC 4762280
4 Kim Cunio-Heather lee-Bobby Singh- Om Mane Padme Hum- CD Under Eastern Skies (4.07) ABC
5 Dha-Tere Darr Toh- CD Dha (9.07) Cross Pollution / Vitamin CD 007
6 Adrian McNeil / Bobby Singh- Raga Madhuwanti (abridged version) CD Aasha (10.00) VEDA 4
7 Zulya- Leaving- CD The Waltz of Emptiness (5.21) UAR040

8 Tenzing Tsewang / Llew Kiek- let's gallop on the horse young lady- CD Lotus Hand Tibetan Grooves- (5.55) MMTT 001
9 Tenzing Tsewang / Llew Kiek-Dance away in triple worlds-CD Lotus hand Tibetan Grooves- (5.07) MMTT 001
10 CODA- Smoking Camel- CD For Our Animal Friends Silent Recordings SRL012 (4.02)
11 CODA- The Hunt- CD For Our Animal Friends Silent Recordings SRL012 (6.57)
12 James Ashley Franklin- Looking for Deer- CD Butsuga Celestial Harmonies 13177-2 (4.13)
13 Kim Cunio- The Thanksgiving Scroll- CD Music of the Dead Dea Scrolls- Lotus Foot LFP101.2 (5.03)
14 Kim Sanders- Tanzara- Cd Trance N'Dancin (3.03)
15 The Catholics- Parvati- CD Life on Earth- Rufus RF022 (9.58)

CD Under Eastern Skies- Kim Cunio / Heather Lee / Bobby Singh ao

Under Eastern Skies is a response to some of the great range of Buddhist traditions and experiences. Initially written for the ABC Compass documentaries Buddha Realms and the Art Gallery of NSW' Buddha Radiant Awakening Exhibition, the music uses many of the scales and instruments of Buddhist culture in India, Tibet, Nepal, China and Japan. Created by Kim Cunio - a composer, music historian and performer who is equally at home in reconstructive, contemporary & classical music forms radio. Kim is published by the ABC and was recently nominated for an AGSC award for his television music.

CD Storyteller-Joseph Tawadros

“Storyteller” is the debut CD by a prodigiously talented, young Egyptian-Australian. Joseph Tawadros was born in Cairo in 1983. His family came to Australia in 1986. He’s been a concert lutenist since he was 12. A serious (& seriously good) “classical”/“erudite”/”art” musician in the Arabic sense, he’s an open-eared, musical adventurer, too. Joseph Tawadros has already played his oud {the fretless, Arabic lute which is the ancestor of the European kind} with classical guitarist Slava Grigoryan, the world’s most prominent tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, the Australian Chamber Orchestra & with jazz pianist & composer Mark Isaacs. He’s likely the only oud soloist to have performed at both the Sydney Opera House & the Cairo Opera House. Absolutely solo, “Storyteller” is a set of keenly focused, yet highly improvisatory music - much of it composed by Tawadros”


The release of Dha's self-titled new album heralds a new wave in Eastern fusion music for Australia. Exploring the unique cross over of powerhouse percussive music laced with traditional Indian sounds and western grooves and rhythms, Dha is an eastern fusion ensemble that blurs all boundaries, casting a haunting yet uplifting spell on audiences.

Since their formation in 1999 Dha has thrilled their audiences at world music festivals such as: Bellingen Global Carnival, Woodford Folk Festival, Carnivalé, and the Asian Music Festival at the Sydney Opera House.

Led by the Singh brothers (Bobby on tablas and Sukhi on harmonium and vocals), Dha also features Ben Walsh (from live drum'n'bass crew The Bird) on kit, Cleis Pearce on violin, Barry Hill on double bass and renowned percussionist Greg Sheehan.

CD Aasha-Adrian MCNeil & Bobby Singh

Adrian McNeil, student of Ashok Roy, is Australia's finest Sarod artiste, performing regularly to considerable acclaim in India. Here he teams up with Bobby Singh on the tabla, for a compelling performance.

CD Waltz of Emptiness-Zulya

Artist of the Year 2001 (Australian World Music Awards) World Music Artist of the Year 2002 (Australian LIVE Music Awards) Album of the year 2000 for Aloukie (Australian World Music Awards) World Music Album of the Year 2003 nomination for elusive (Australian Record Industry Awards, ARIA)Best Album 2005 for The Waltz of Emptiness (National Film and Sound Archive Award)
Multi award-winning ZULYA KAMALOVA is the leading proponent of Tatar music in Australia as well as one of the most versatile and accomplished vocalists on the world music scene today. A native of Volga-Kama region of Central Russia, ZULYA began performing Russian and Tatar songs at the age of 9. Later she studied music and languages at university level. Inspired by the diversity of cultures, she made a dramatic decision to settle in Australia in 1991 and began to not only share her traditional music with Australians, but to explore the musical and linguistic riches of the multitude of cultures living in Australia. As a result, ZULYA has developed a totally original approach as an affirmation of her unique identity - an affirmation that takes her Tatar and Russian background to totally new places and in completely new ways. Zulya has independently produced four albums to date, including the ARIA-nominated
elusive (2002) and, together with her band The Children of the Underground, 2004's magical The Waltz of Emptiness (and Other Songs on Russian Themes). Although she is well-known in Australia, Zulya's performances of her gorgeous blend of traditional and original music have recently been enchanting audiences from Serbia to Siberia, Luxembourg to Moscow, Tatarstan to Helsinki and almost everywhere in between. ZULYA now is at an exciting new stage in her already illustrious career.
ZULYA's first release in Australia,
Journey of Voice (1997), a unique collection of vocal styles and traditions received accolades for its versatility, passion and the "achingly beautiful" tone of her voice. In the following years, Australian audiences have been able to witness the continuing rise of this unique musical treasure. ZULYA's later albums, Aloukie (1999) and elusive (2002) have recently been released in Europe and have been awarded and nominated for various awards - the World Music Album of the Year 2000 at the Australian World Music Awards (Aloukie) and ARIA 2003 (elusive). These albums feature traditional and original songs in her distinctive Tatar style but with unusual instrumentation (kora, oud, bouzouki, litungu, jaw harp, kalimba, tuba, flugelhorn, saxillo, tabla, ghatam, violin, accordion and others) presenting the traditional music from a new perspective. Several tracks from these albums have been included in various compilations such as Putumayo's "Music from the Tea Lands" and "Dreamland" along with many others. ZULYA's work has been repeatedly featured on national radio and television to high acclaim, and she was also awarded "Female Artist of the Year" at the World Music Awards (2001) and Best World Music Artist by Australian Live Music Awards (2002). ZULYA has been described as "a remarkable singer, who is not merely versatile..." by Doug Spencer of ABC Radio National. Aloukie and elusive have also been released in Europe by a German label Wespark Music.
She has worked with Bob Brozman, Nikola Parov, Slava Grigoryan, 'Sirocco', Llew Kiek and Epizo Bangoura among others. ZULYA continues to dazzle audiences with her multi-cultural proficiency and passion for music and song and during the last few years has performed at many major venues and festivals in Europe, Russia, Tatarstan and of course in Australia including The Moods (Zurich, Switzerland), Kulturbrauerai (Berlin, Germany), Savoy Teatteri (Helsinki, Finland), Szene Wien (Vienna, Austria), Cafe de Overkant (Netherlands), Kulturfabrik (Luxemburg), Red Square (Moscow, Russia), Piramida (Kazan, Tatarstan), Living Water festival (Altai Mountains, Russia), Red Club (St.Petersburg, Russia) and WOMADELAIDE (SA), Sydney Opera House - Festival of Asian Music and Dance (NSW), The Basement (NSW), The Boite Winter Festival (Vic), National Folk Festival (ACT), "10 Days on the Island" Arts festival (Tas), Woodford Folk Festival (Qld), Brunswick Music Festival (Vic), Brisbane Biennial Festival of Music (Qld), Apollo Bay Music Festival (Vic), Kulcha (WA), Musician in Residence Program, Aboriginal communities (N.T) etc. With her outstanding new band,
The Children of the Underground (Anthony Schulz - accordion, Lucas Michailidis - electric guitar, Andrew Tanner - double bass, Justin Marshall - drums), ZULYA has released her long-awaited Russian album, The Waltz of Emptiness (and Other Songs on Russian Themes) in November 2004 in Australia by UAR and in March 2005 in Europe by Westpark Music.

CD- For All Our Animal Friends

(Silent Recordings/Undercover Music)
While boundaries certainly serve a purpose in music, some of the most exciting music produced comes when these boundaries are unexpectedly broken. Coda are a band that produce music sitting at the edge of electronica, but borrow much of their sound from traditional folk music. Fusing together strings, grooves and gypsy influences, this Sydney collective have delighted a broad range of audiences (from the Sydney Festival to school children with Musica Viva to the Big Day Out) with their innovative compositions.
For Our Animal Friends is Coda’s follow up to their debut, Aria Award nominated album, There Is A Way To Fly, from two years ago. Merely an EP to satiate appetites until the release of their new album later this year, this release finds the band delving into sounds that range from Middle Eastern to gypsy to Moroccan.
The EP starts with Giraffe Girl, which slowly introduces xylophone, strings then keyboard, and builds up into highly textured
and incessant haunting string melodies. This track is followed by the Middle Eastern harmonies of Alunud, a rattle weaving in and out.
Smoking Camel On A Camel provides a folk bent to classical sounds. Rich, orchestral textures, dominated by strings, weave through the track over gypsy dance beats. Circus Bizarre lives up to its name with showground sounding music. It builds up into a fast folk dance jig, and comes to an end with weird electronic noises.
The fifth and final track on the EP is The Hunt, a chilled tribal track. Starting simply with a meandering violin melody, incessant Moroccan influenced drumming is then introduced, topped off with xylophone and kooky electronic sounds.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Next Wednesday night

Next Wednesday night's program will feature all Australian content. Some of the musicians who will be featured are Kim Sanders, Kim Cunio & Heather Lee, Joseph Tawadros, Tenzing Tsewang, Ashok Roy, Bobby Singh, Adrian MCNeill, The Catholics and more.

Hope you can tune in.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Playlist 11 January 06

On the show tomorrow nights, tracks from the following releases

Various Artists- CD: The Rough Guide To Arabesque
Beyrouth Ecœurée - Clotaire K
Dourbiha - Momo
Since its experimental beginnings in the early 1990s, Arabesque's blend of traditional musical roots and modern electronically generated rhythms has taken the world by storm. From the groundbreaking beats of those early days to the cutting edge Dar sounds of today, the artists featured on this album hail from Marrakech, London, Montpellier, Beirut, New York, Paris and Berlin, neatly illustrating the global scope of the Arabesque phenomenon. This Rough Guide offers a wide-ranging introduction to the infectious appeal of modern Arabic electronica.

Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim, CD: Ceasefire

Cesaria Evora- CD: Best of

Cesaria Evora, born in 1941 in the port town of Mindelo on the Cape Verde island of Sao Vicente, is known as the barefoot diva because of her propensity to appear on stage in her bare feet in support of the disadvantaged women and children of her country.
Long known as the queen of the morna, a soulful genre sung in Creole-Portuguese, she mixes her sentimental folk tunes filled with longing and sadness with the acoustic sounds of guitar, cavaquinho, violin, accordian, and clarinet. Evora's Cape Verdean blues often speak of the country's long and bitter history of isolation and slave trade, as well as emigration: almost two-thirds of the million Cape Verdeans alive live abroad.
"Morna is like the blues because it is a way to express life's suffering in music."Evora's voice, a finely-tuned, melancholy instrument with a touch of hoarseness, highlights her emotional phrasing by accenting a word or phrase. Even audiences who do not understand her language are held spell-bound by the emotions evident in her performances.
Now 54, and a grandmother (though never married), Evora is gladdened by her current worldwide popularity,
"... in all those years when I sang in bars and in front of strangers I sometimes had an idea I might someday be successful outside my country. The thought never stayed with me for very long, but here I am."

Jah Wobble- CD: Mu
Reviewed by Wolfgang Steuer
On first listen to Jah Wobble’s album MU I was blown away! There was the expected dub, but there also was Jazz (I thought initially I heard some Miles Davis) and Indian Music (I thought a slice of a bollywood movie) and Jethro Tull flutes. So I expected to read a lot about samples in the liner notes, and found a host of people mentioned that had created these wonderful sounds. To name but a few it was Harry Beckett on trumpet I had mistaken as Miles Davis and Clive Bell whose flute amazed on Samsara all over the groove-meisters work which ties this very ambitious piece of work together. Chris Cookson’s guitar on New Mexico Dub reminds me of the surf guitar histrionics last heard on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. By last track Into The Light Jean-Pierre Rasle’s pipes with Satomi Takada’s spoken words, you will understand my enthusiasm in this work.In Jah Wobble’s own words though he also credits Mark Angelo (co-producer and mixer of this and many of his previous albums), stating that “he is the most under appreciated and unacknowledged ‘back room boy’ in the game that I know of”. The album started live as a joint project of an ‘universal dub’ in 5.1 sound. This was abandoned very early on due to the technical difficulties this created. We are left with a super stereo sound that places voices and instruments all over the place, enveloping the listener.Mu the title as explained in the liner notes refers to an old Zen Koan. The beautiful cover work is inspired by this, and, as Jah Wobble admits, “hitting that low E on the Bass…THAT’S MU!

Various Artists- CD Congotronics No 2 Buzz 'N' Rumble From The Urb'N' Jungle
Konono No1 - Live From Couleur Café

Chris May

Earlier this year, the Congolese trance band known as Konono No. 1—a Mad Maxian agglomeration featuring ingenious and massive DIY amplification, electronically distorted, outsize likembe thumb pianos, and drum and percussion instruments made from recycled industrial scrap—burst out of Kinshasa to shock and awe the European music scene with Congotronics. It wasn't a jazz album by any means, but it was sufficiently creative, dangerous, and uncompromising to appeal to the experimental margins of the jazz, world, rock, and dance music scenes.
There's more of the mesmerising same, served up with a little more variety, on this excellent second volume in the series, subtitled Buzz 'n' Rumble From The Urb 'n' Jungle, featuring Konono alongside six other Kinshasa trance bands. Masanka Sankayi + Kasai Allstars open the album in bass-heavy, throbbing, neo-Konono style with “Wa Muluendu,” and Konono itself shuts things down, more or less apocalyptically, with “T.P. Couleur Cafe.”
In between these two monumental slabs of sound are seven tracks of a relatively (repeat: relatively) more subtle nature. Most of the bands have percussion and likembe sections in their back line, and these are variously augmented by up-front bells, balafons, berimbaus, accordions (a retained Europeanism dating back to the colonial era), slit drums, and rumba-meets-something-like-thrash metal electric guitars.
Compared to the smooth, lyrical grooves of the classic Congolese rumba style spawned by Joseph “Le Grand Kalle” Kabasele in the '50s and honed by Luambe “Franco” Makiadi in the '60s, today's Kinshasa trance bands might seem like rough trade coming out of nowhere. In fact, they are simply the latest and most extreme manifestation of a back-to-the-tribal-roots, post-colonial, punk-rumba, roughing-up tradition that started with Zaiko Langa Langa in the '70s and grew more pronounced with Choc Stars and others in the '80s. Konono and its brother/sister bands are an integral part of the dirt-poor Kinshasa suburbs where they find their audience, more or less recently arrived tribal people from the bush and forest, and they serve to keep traditional tribal cultures—and the human spirit—alive in the most desperate circumstances.
As an added bonus, Congotronics 2 includes a 45-minute DVD showing some of the featured bands in rehearsal. The handheld camera sound quality is poor, but the visuals bring the music to vivid contextual life. The dancing—all the groups include dancers—is a thing of wonder in itself. Basokin are fronted by three dancers whose stately yet astonishingly trippy choreography (and makeup) is inspired, quite probably, by divine intervention. Seeing is believing.

"This is one of the wildest records of the year.Forget all your preconceptions about African music - Congotronics 2 is a whole new strain of pop" (The Observer, UK)"Every rock fan and musician should hear this album as a timely reminder of what their perpetually derivative genre used to be about. This is rock sucked back to the continent of its birth to be granted a glorious resurrection" (Word, UK)
"So what do [Konono No.1] sound like ? A cargo cult built around a Steve Reich recording and a fuzzbox. The late work of Jimmy Page, had he bought Kurtz's mansion instead of Crowley's. [...] Afro-soul, had Jaki Liebezeit from Can produced in Nigeria rather than Ginger Baker [...] King Leopold's worst nightmare (and the reason he never visited "his" Congo). A New Orleans funeral for Patrice Lumumba. An African funeral for New Orleans [...] You get the idea. (Damon Krukowsky, Boston Phoenix, USA)
"Not only the finest African album of the year, but also the most exciting electronic dance record, this remarkable hybrid of homespun percussion, euphoric whistling and thrillingly overamplified electric thumb pianos is guaranteed to get any party starting" (Ben Thompson, Sunday Telegraph, UK)

State of Bengal Vs Paban das Baul, Tana Tani

Moner Manush
Tal Rosh

These two WOMAD regulars are arriving from opposite camps, one being electronically geared for the UK dancefloor, the other steeped in ancient folk traditions.

Paban is a member of Bengal's Baul sect, itinerant minstrels whose religious ideas centre around the nameless, sexless nature of God, and the importance of the body as a conduit for spiritual matter. This seems vaguely akin to Sufi beliefs in its visceral nature. Paban was initiated at the age of 14, singing his songs across India's rail lines. He's accustomed to fusion work, having already collaborated with guitarist Sam Mills on the Real Sugar album, for Real World in 1997.

This time, Paban's meeting has taken his music in an even more extreme direction, with Sam Zaman (State Of Bengal) providing club beats, heady production and an uncompromising dialogue with the old ways. The two musicians were introduced at a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tribute, shortly after the Qawwali singer's passing. Zaman was already accustomed to spinning Paban's first Real World disc during his DJ sets. Sessions started at Sam's home studio in Upton Park, east London, then continued in what was then Paban's Paris residence.

Paban Das Baul's central contribution to each song is an emotive vocal line, with his specialised Baul instrumentation taking on a decorative role. It's Zaman's gigantic rhythm tracks that form much of the musical muscle, taking a drum 'n' bass format as their starting point, even though this is frequently settled down into a calmer manifestation.

Guest players include Marque Gilmore (specialising in real-drumkit breakbeats) and Asian Dub Foundation's bassist Dr. Das. Zaman encouraged Paban to write his own words, determined to stretch him into unfamiliar positions. Paban's extended technique allows his voice to soar majestically, his lines usually remaining tranquil, even if his musical backing is becoming agitated.

On certain tracks, the Baul element is intensified, with "Ram Rahim" featuring the wobbly khomuk drum, whilst "Padma Nodi" clatters with the banjoesque dotara. The most forceful confrontation happens during "Dohai Allah", which is heavy on the acoustic percussion, yet still pumped up by weighty breakbeats. The majority of the songs maintain their linear flow, underlining a developing musical theme rather than shunting into differing areas.

Reviewer: Martin Longley

Tana Tani' plunges Paban into the dub-heavy melee of the British Asian breakbeat scene, where his ecstatic, smoky vocals soar over juddering beats and squelchy basslines, and his urgent and hypnotic rhythms mutate into frenetic drum 'n' bass breaks.
The collaboration began in Zaman's home studio in Upton Park, east London in December 2002 and continued to grow at Paban's Paris home. During the sessions Zaman began working around Paban's strong, timeless melodies and haunting lyrics, building up each song organically. Often Zaman's syncopated beats were unfamiliar to Paban, and essentially they had to learn each other's music. Both Zaman and Mimlu Sen (Paban's partner and collaborator) made suggestions, and Paban experimented by fitting more familiar rhythmic patterns like the dhrupada of the jhaptal into Zaman's syncopations.
'You can take a Baul to a track,' explains Mimlu Sen, 'but you can't make him synch unless the approach is organic and interior.'

Reviewer: Evening Standard UK

This is described as a folk culture over 500 years old meeting this digital soundscapes of the 21st century. The versus of the title suggests some sort of contest, but if the British Asian music scene has proved anything, it is that the subcontinent's rich and ancient cultures are ripe and durable enought for fusing. State of Bengal (aka Sam Zaman) is a leading DJ and producer in the Asian club scene, and Paban Das Baul is a singer from Bengal's mystical sect of wandering minstrels, the Bauls. While the album's shape and character comes from Zaman, it's felicitous details come from Paban's incantatory vocals and the traditional Baul instruments used on many of the tracks. The title track translates as "pushing and pulling", which could be a metaphor for the whole project. A fine release from the label that pioneered the historic Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan fusions a decade ago.

Reviewer: Songlines Magazine 'Top Of The World' UK

Asian Fusion Disc of the Year So Far

The result of this cultural meshing of streetwise dance production and ancient folk culture is remarkably cohesive, which bears testimony to Zaman's sympathetic production and Paban Das Baul's willingness to embrace Westernised dance sounds.....The album features Asian Dub Foundation's Aniruddha Das on bass, and renowned jazz drummer Marque Gilmour, who replicates drum'n'bass skittering hi-hats and kick-drum patterns to startling effect. The result is extremely funky... and deeply soulful, with Paban's soul-searching voice sounding marvellous throughout. The Asian-fusion disc of the year so far.Rating (out of 5):

Reviewer: Mojo UK

State of Bengal Vs Paban Das Baul
Sometimes getting spiritual while melting your brain appeals. When London's State of Bengal last passed this way, there was a short but memorable collaboration with Ananda Shankar, the psychedelia-minded sitarist. This time, they've teamed up with a leading light of Bengal's Bauls, a musical gypsy caste of minstrels, ascetics and devotees of tantric sex, to go to places others have ventured (Temple of Sound and Rizwan-Muazzam, Massive Attack's remix of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) and update them for 2004.

Reviewer: ethnotechno.com internet

State of Bengal Vs Paban Das Baul - Tana Tani
Tana Tani - meaning "push and pull", a metaphor for many things, as we shall see - is a brilliant serenade to what's quickly becoming known as Asian Chill... The very opener is destined for fame, certain to be picked up by more chill-out comps than Thievery Corporation and Groove Armada combined: "Moner Manush," the very definition of lie-back-relax-and-immerse-submerge-yourself-into-your-self-and-the-Self-we'll-take-care-of-everything. From there, it only gets better. "Kali," the black goddess, sees beautiful light as Zaman and Baul once again push/pull meaning into metaphor. The following tribute, "Radha Krishna," is a midtempo mindswirl, and by the time they reach the title track, you've been fully stretched, sedated and surrendering. Even when Zaman programs d-'n-b, as in "Tana Tani," "Ram Rahim" and "Al Keuto Sap," he allows spaciousness to exist. Much like the Baul practice of Aarope Sadhana - the yoga of breathing - Zaman lets his beats out for fresh air. He even steps aside, on occasion, and lets tradition be kept: the heartwrenching "Padma Nodi" and "Kon Ek Pakhi," a minimalist dream. The album's opus, in this journalist's ear, may very well be "Medina," with sounds mimicking the Australian digeridoo and Brazilian berimbau, laid atop an absolutely unbeatable (slightly) broken beat. Paban's voice continues its sensual voyage from headspace to heartspace, and you give in. There is no choice, really. Tana Tani is seductive, reels you in with delicate claws and rips away fragments of your being. When you recover, you realize it was excess dissolved, and you emerge with clarity, focused, inspired and content.
Real World Records
State of Bengal All Rights Reserved 1987-2004 ©

Peter Dickson & Juan Martinez- CD Falsettas

At the age of six he started exploring rhytm. And now at 39, his concerts in Australia and Europe are a rage. Peter Dickson, born in Bangalore is all set to take the city by storm.
Peter always had the urge to create rhythms and fuse music. In his childhood days, he would spend hours playing on buckets with knitting needles to old jazz records. The result surprisingly was good! Peter now resides in Sydney and makes music for a living. His passion is now his profession and has taken him to the top of Australian charts.
"Rhythm to me is the soul of all life. From the first heartbeat of a baby to life around, everything moves to a rhythm. People respond to powerful rhythm and my strength is rhythm", Peter explains. "I try to tailor in soulful melody with rhythm".
Peter's music is a rare Indian rhythm structure that is merged with native Latin grooves and further enhanced with the art of Flamenco. This unique style has it's roots in Indian traditional music. Peter writes Western music notations and harmony, and adapts them to suit Indian percussion instruments. "It has a very Indian feeling to a Western melodic and harmonic structure", he says.
Peter attributes the deep emotional expression that oozes out of his music to his roots that are in Bangalore. "Musicians here play from the heart because it is a reflection of our constant exposure to life in all its dimensions. You see and feel pain, pleasure, success, depression and the entire spectrum of experience vividly. This sort of exposure is not common in the West. It encourages soulful expression and music", he elaborates.
He has nine albums and over a hundred compositions so far. His concerts typically begin with his guitar renditions accompanied by tabla and ghatam support. After a night raag sort of beginning, he moves into a whole range of Latin and jazz styles wit Indian percussion fused in to create melodies that blend the rhythms of the east and west. "My music gives Western audiences a feel of Indian rhythms in a music environment that is familiar to them", he says.
A good fourteen years after his first album, Peter is looking for a market at home. "My albums have done well abroad and I want to bring my music here, where it all started", he smiles. He is now in Bangalore to launch his albums in India and open up possibilities for concerts here.
So how does it feel coming back? "It's a walk down memory lane and an inspiration", he says. "The immense pace of development I see here inspires me and I want to be part of it". He plans to bring his entire troupe here shortly. "I work with some of the best players in the world and it will be a treat for the music lovers here", he says. He has performed with greats like Martin Taylor. Peter feels people here are very music literate and will follow the textures of fusion easily.
The man with a flair for fusion that Bangalore exported is back to share his creations that have captured the hearts of Australian and European audiences.

Marcel Khalife- CD Caress

Marcel Khalifé was born in 1950 in Amchit, Mount-Lebanon. He studied the oud (the Arabic lute) at the Beirut National conservatory, and, ever since, has been injecting a new life into the oud.From 1970 to 1975, Marcel Khalifé taught at the conservatory and other local institutions. During that same period, he toured the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the United States giving solo performances on the oud.Oud playing was traditionally constrained by the strict techniques that governed its playing. Highly talented and skillful musicians such as Marcel Khalifé were, however, able to free the instrument from those constraints and thus greatly expanding its possibilities.In 1972, Marcel Khalifé created a musical group in his native village with the goal of reviving its musical heritage and the Arabic chorale. The first performances took place in Lebanon. 1976 saw the birth of Al Mayadeen Ensemble. Enriched by the previous ensemble’s musical experiences, Al Mayadeen’s notoriety went well beyond Lebanon. Accompanied by his musical ensemble, Marcel Khalifé began a lifelong far-reaching musical journey, performing in Arab countries, Europe, the United States, Canada, South America, Australia, and Japan.Marcel Khalifé has been invited several times to festivals of international fame such as: Baalbeck, Beit Eddine (Lebanon), Carthage, El Hammamat (Tunisia), Timgad (Algeria), Jarash (Jordan), Arles (France), Krems, Linz (Austria), Bremen (Germany), ReOrient (Sweden), Pavia (Italy), World Music Festival in San Francisco, New York, Cleveland (the USA).He has performed in such prestigious halls as the "Palace of Arts" in Montreal, "Symphony Space" and "Merkin Concert" in New York, "Berklee Theatre" and "New England Conservatory" in Boston, "Royal Festival Hall", and "Queen Elizabeth Hall" in London,"UNESCO Palace" of Beirut, Cairo Opera House (Egypt), "Reciprocity","House of the Cultures of the World" and "UNESCO Hall" in Paris, "Central Dionysia" in Rome, "Yerba Buena" in San Francisco,"Sõdra Teatern" in Stokholm.Since 1974, Marcel Khalifé has been composing music for dance which gave rise to a new genre of dance, the popular Eastern ballet (Caracalla, Sarab Ensemble, Rimah, Popular Art Ensemble)Marcel Khalifé has also been composing soundracks for film, documentary and fiction, produced by Maroun Baghdadi and Oussama Mouhamad among others.Marcel Khalifé has also composed several purely instrumental works like The Symphony of Return, Chants of the East, Concerto Al Andalus "Suite for Oud and Orchestra" "Mouda'aba" (Caress), Diwan Al Oud, "Jadal" Oud duo, Oud Quartet, "Al Samaa" in the traditional Arabic forms andTaqasim, duo for oud and double bass.Marcel Khalifé’s compositions has been performed by several orchestras, notably the Kiev Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of Boulogne Billancourt Orchestra, The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of the city of Tunis, and the "Absolute Ensemble".Since 1982, Marcel Khalifé has been writing books on musicthat reflect his avant garde compositions and the maturity of his experience.His challenges, however, are not only musical in character. Interpreter of music and oud performer, he is also a composer who is deeply attached to the text on which he relies. In his association with great contemporary Arab poets, particularly Palestinian poet par excellence, Mahmoud Darwish, he seeks to renew the character of the Arabic song, to break its stereotypes, and to advance the culture of the society that surrounds it.His lyrical recordings adds up to about 20 albums, the likes Promises of the storm, Ahmad Al Arabi, Weddings, Peace Be With you, Ode To A Homeland, Arabic Coffeepot, The Children and Body(Al Jassad,) to name a few.On his journey, Marcel Khalifé invents and creates original music, a novel world of sounds, freed of all pre-established rules. This language elevates him to the level of an ambassador of his own culture and to the vanguard of Near Eastern music in search of innovators.
Rokia Traore- Bowmboi

Rokia TraoreBowmboi(Label Bleu)
On paper Rokia Traore is a bit of a radical. She's one of Mali's leading new singers, although she's not a traditional griot musician. She tries new ideas, combining traditional instruments that aren't usually brought together, and on this album works with the classical musicians, the Kronos Quartet. To my untrained ear her experiments are entirely successful.
The daughter of a Malian' diplomat she built her career in France before returning to Mali and is only now becoming a star there. On this, her third album, she sounds right at the heart of the traditions of West African music.
Rokia's vocal style is very much her own. She doesn't have the high pitched, keening, attack of Oumou Sangare, or the rougher, deeper tang of Kandia Kouyate, both of them great female artists from Mali. Her voice is quavery and bird-like, soft, fragile and attractive. Curiously, it reminds me a little of Ethiopian and even Asian vocal styles. But it has an inner power, and on the faster paced songs she sings with impressive authority. "Mariama", is a passionate, intense duet with male griot singer Ousame Sacko, and one of the album's highlights.
The gentleness of Rokia's voice means this album is a reflective, subtle experience even on the faster songs like "Sara" or "Kote Don". And the two collaborations with The Kronos Quartet work extremely well. The strings lay down a pulsing layer of shifting tones and Rokia murmurs and declaims over them, and on the lovely "Manian" there's a little vocal part that sounds like Laurie Anderson's "O Superman". These tracks don't feel like experiments at all; they sound like something that could have been created in West Africa anytime in the last thousand years.
This is an album full of contemplative and meditative pleasures. If you love Malian music you will probably already have heard of Rokia. If you haven't Bowmboi is certainly worth adding to your collection.
Reviewer: Nick Reynolds