Various Artists – Smithsonian Folkways, Bosnia: Echoes from an Endangered World

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A glimpse of a world all too recently shattered.

It's almost hard to believe that there was a more innocent Bosnia before the conflicts that tore the country apart in the '90s. But it exists here, although many of these musicians now exist only in memory, a stark testament to how far the carnage reached. The recordings here, all reflecting Muslim traditions, form an odd mix; some were recorded in the field and others taken from commercially available discs. What's apparent is the way musical cultures meld. At times there's a strong Western influence in the sound, while at others, such as the call to prayer, it leans decisively to the East, with a heavy nod toward Turkey. But even the more obviously commercial material shows its debt to tradition. And songs like "My Village Lies Next to Bare" foreshadow what was to come in eerie fashion. There's a fragile, snapped beauty to all this, a glimpse of a world all too recently shattered and gone that makes the music incredibly poignant.