This engaging world music survey, culled from the first year of an increasingly popular annual festival, features top-notch acts from Central Asia, West Africa and the less industrialized portions of Europe; it's replete with non-Western harmonic and rhythmic surprises. The album runs a wide musical gamut, starting with the surreal and joyous opening track, "Eldek Kys," by the Tuvan (Tuva is a tiny, remote republic in Mongolia) throat singing group Chirgilchin, which alternates between happy Beach Boys-esque harmonies and some gritty throat singing that might have made Howlin 'Wolf envious. There are also some more somber moments, like the standout, eerie cry to the heavens, "Ave Mama e Deu" by Alessandra Belloni, a vocalist, percussionist and expert in the largely forgotten traditional music of southern Italy. In an era when historians (and, more perniciously, politicians) insist that civilizations must clash, this album offers a subtle and welcome refutation. In fact, the seamless way these vastly disparate songs work together adds to a body of unscientific evidence that suggests a more peaceful counter-hypothesis: that all music — and by extension, all people — no matter how different, share an indefinable spiritual unity.
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.11.14 in Features
Five music critics discuss the best, worst, and most significant moments in Latin music this year.
By Michaelangelo Matos on 12.08.14 in Reviews
For all the quality mining of African oldies over three and a half decades, it's not as if the coffers have been exhausted. Far from it, especially judging from this nonstop display of one of the great bands of the Congo...
By Claire Lobenfeld on 11.29.14 in News
Spice, Jamaica's queen of dancehall, is gearing up to release her debut EP So Mi Like It. With her contribution to Vybz Kartel's "Rampin Shop," another bananas collab between the two called "Conjugal Visit" and her most...
By John Schaefer on 11.24.14 in Reviews
In this 50th-anniversary romp through Terry Riley's In C, a brilliant ensemble of Malian musicians (mostly playing traditional instruments) joins forces with Damon Albarn, the globetrotting frontman of Blur and Gorillaz;...