A World Music Magazine

world music Joseph Shabalala, who introduced the sound of traditional Zulu and South African gospel music to the whole world, died February 11 at the age of 78. The musician was best known as the founder and director of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I first heard the ensemble singing their gospel tinged Zulu music on a tape compilation in the early 1980s, then got their first US album (a Gallo recording reissued by Shanachie) and they became a regular part of my radio programs. Then of course, Paul Simon came along in 1986 and turned them into a phenomenon. Some of their choices were dubious as they tried to hang on to popular fame, like a set of duets with singers like Dolly Parton, and the infamous Lifesavers commercials, but their pure a cappella music was always powerful and uplifting. Shabalala led the goup on numerous world tours until just a few years ago, and they never ceased to bring audiences to their feet with the genuine joy and zeal they brought to the music.

The national radio in South Africa sent him off with this:
"Ulale ngoxolo Tata ugqatso lwakho ulufezile."
(Rest in peace, Father, your race is complete.)


world music Somaliland has long been set apart, politically, from their Somali cousins. In the colonial era, the region was a British protectorate, while the rest of Somalia flew an Italian flag, and Somalilanders had their own nation for a brief, shining five days in 1960, before being absorbed into the newly independent Republic of Somalia. Sahra Halgan has been one of the strongest voices in the current struggle for independence, both as a musician and cultural activist. Her latest album, Was Dardaaran is the culmination of her journey so far. The album takes it's title from a polite form of address that Somalis use to speak to the powerful ­ but don't mistake this for timidity on Halgan's part: this is a bold, brash, statement of a record that kicks down doors. Don't expect straight-ahead Somali music. Like her previous album, this is a multinational project with a hybrid sound that owes much of its sonic palette to Sahelian "Desert Rock." Don't expect delicately-picked ouds accompanied by stately sung poetry. Instead, think big, ballsy, distorted guitar riffs that build and repeat hypnotically, backed by a rocking backbeat and punctuated by call-and response choruses. You can read a short history of the region and the artist in Tom Pryor's review.


world music Carmen Souza's latest album, The Silver Messengers, pays homage to jazz piano great Horace Silver. Silver was a touchstone in the hard bop era of the 50s and 60s, joining the likes of Les McCann, Cannonball Adderley and Charles Mingus; among other innovations, hard bop incorporated the rhythms and the feeling of R&B and soul into the jazz canon. Souza and Silver’s roots both lie in Cabo Verde, the island conglomerate far off the coast of Sénégal in the Atlantic. Souza’s beat, so to speak, is jazz; she has ten CD releases under her belt, primarily as a vocalist with a predilection for scat singing, but she’s also a composer, guitarist and keyboardist. Souza’s partnership with bassist, arranger and producer Theo Pascal, beginning in 2003, has been fruitful and her star is rising, especially in Europe. Drummer/percussionist Elias Kacomanolis, and pianist Benjamin Burrell round out her current quartet. Read Carolina Amoruso's full review, and listen to some songs from Carmen Souza and the band, as well as Horace Silver's original recordings of the songs.


world music Finnish singer and composer Emmi Kujanpää has a deep, long-standing love of Bulgarian music. She studied in Plovdiv and at home she assembled the group Finno-Balkan Voices, which takes from the tradition of both countries. Three years ago she began working with La Mystère des Voix Bulgares Vocal Academy, the successor to those Bulgarian choirs whose beautiful polyphony was so thrilling and new to Western ears in the 1980s and ‘90s. They pop up all across this first solo disc from Kujanpää, backing and adding to her singing. Other guest contribute trumpet, harmonium, and even a touch of throat singing, on the (mostly) original compositions. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear some of the music


world music

Part of the magic conjured up by the always entertaining Hazmat Modine is that the New York-based group's music seems instantly familiar, yet that familiarity quickly gives way to a realization that there are some unexpected exotic threads woven throughout the intricate tapestry of the songs. As it has on past albums, the group continues to have a retro blues-jazz feel, but the music never sits in one genre too firmly. One of the consistent hallmarks of the group has been its collaborations with musicians from other countries – this time it's Malian-born Balla Kouyate playing the wooden marimba-like balafon, keeping pace amid the galloping brass, drums and electric instruments... One common theme throughout Hazmat Modine's career has been the gathering of highly talented instrumentalists who serve each song in precise arrangements, then are given liberty to step out for eye-opening runs, as they do on the band's latest recording, Box of Breath. Read Marty Lipp's review and listen to some of the music


world music

Manhu are from the Stone Forest region of Yunnan Province in Southwest China, home of the Sani people. The Sani have lived in this region for many years, probably going back as far as the Qing Dynasty (1600s), The Chinese government categorizes them as part of a large combined ethnic group called Yi, even though the Sani have maintained a strong and unique linguistic and cultural presence in the region for all of that time. On Voices Of The Sani, the quintet explores the tradition of their own people, but acknowledges the cross hybridization of the many cultures who share the region. They also clearly want to make the music live in the present, as you can hear in many of the songs on the album. They even dip into the global with their own Sani rendition of an old American mountain tune they call "Brothers and Sisters." - CF
Listen to some of the music


world music IN…SE… -dawning- is an opera by Cypriot composer Andys Skordis. Sharing as much affinity with the “Licht” cycle of Karlheinz Stockhausen as with the Balinese traditions from which it absorbs so much atmospheric wonder, Skordis’s interdisciplinary experience weaves gamelan, voices, and dance into a constantly morphing whole. Recasting the tale of Prince Bima and his quest for holy water (from the Mahabharata), the libretto overlays Bima’s transfigurations with those of a modern woman named Ida, whose sense of oppression compels her to embark on a fiercely inner journey of her own. Listen to or watch the opera and read Tyran Grillo's full review.


world music Hrubá Hudba glorious, beautifully mysterious music, soaringly uplifting but also evoking deep historical melancholy and a vision of the richness of Central European folk music in general and in particular that of the small region Hornácko in Moravia’s Hodonin district. It’s in the south-east of the Czech Republic, close to both the Slovak and Austrian borders, roughly midway in the 130 Km between between label Indies’s Moravian base Brno and Slovak capital Bratislava. Cultures don’t stop at borders, so there’s a lot of kinship between this music and that of Slovakia.

It’s a double CD. On the first, Rugged Music, are Jirí Hradil’s treatments of studio and field recordings he’s made of songs from a variety of male and female traditional singers, with the instruments of his fiddler colleague Petr Micka‘s Hornácko Band, the sort of string band that still plays at village events in Moravia and Slovakia... The second, Voices From The World Of Old, doesn’t have Hradil's developments, but is lovely in its own right. Traditional singers are accompanied by members of Petr Micka‘s Hornácko Band. Read Andrew Cronshaw's full review and listen to some of the music


world music

world music

Two new releases serve as a fantastic reminder of the kinds of ethnomusicological benevolence that’s opened up thanks to the low cost of digital field recordings as well as streaming platforms. Russia-based Antonovka records’ mission statement is simple: “We are agile and low cost ethnographic music label.” There are no physical copies of any of their recordings, though they stream via bandcamp, where digital downloads can also be purchased. Read Bruce Miller's reviews of ngombi harp player Jospin Pendere-Ye from Central African Republic and The Asif Zaman Band from Northern Pakistan.


world music On Dziemas No Aulejas - Songs From Auleja, the six women who make up Tautumeitas give their own take on a particular strand of Latvian traditional music. It’s an homage to the singing of Aulejas Sievas (Women from Auleja), who come from a single village in the eastern Latgale part of the country and have been keepers of one of their country’s oldest vocal traditions – one that differs markedly from elsewhere in Latvia in both its melodic style and the type of harmony... Tautumeitas member Asnate Rancãne studied the music of Auleja in depth for her degree dissertation, making field recordings, talking to villagers and singers. One thing she needed to do to obtain her degree was put on a concert of the music – an event which first brought together several members of Tautumeitas. So, in some ways, their own roots lie in this music. too... The nature of it is that this is decidedly niche, but by God, it’s powerful and invigorating. Read Chris Nickson's full review and listen to some of the music.


world music To listen to The Good Ones is to experience the redemption that follows heartbreak. There’s a slight creak in the harmony vocals, a sense of the forlorn in the acoustic guitars. Rwanda, You Should Be Loved presents music of endless depth, something that bears witness to not only tragedy but the hope that follows. And because the lyrics are sung in various dialects not widely spoken, it’s easy to imagine the lyrics telling of hard won battles, sufferings overcome, obscure pathways to enlightenment, or long lost, forbidden lovers reunited after years of anguish. In short, it’s probably some of the most beautiful music to emerge from Rwanda... Listen to a few of the songs and read Bruce Miller's review.


world music

world music

Two new bands from Denmark have similar personnel and a common factor, but quite different approaches to music. Penny Pascal boast two fiddles, cittern and bass, and state that they’re a band where “rules, conventions and comfort zones do not apply.” Their digital-only release Grand Voyager, is a step outside music that might be termed folk.

One of the violin players in Penny Pascal is Henriette Ambæl Flach, who recently won New Talent of the Year in the Danish Music Awards. She is also a member of Tailcoat, bringing her fiddle and hardingfele to work alongside cittern, bass, percussion and nyckelharpa on a selection of original compositions that comprise Tall Tales In Tiny Pieces... You can read Chris Nickson's reviews, hear some songs and watch a video of each ensemble online.


world music The RootsWorld Radio #295 features tracks from some of our selections for our monthly music series. The show will stream on our stations and is now available on demand.

Artists for Music of the Month, 2019 were:

Audio courtesy of our partners at RadioFolk.dk


world music Tempest In A Teapot, the second solo album by Estonian accordionist, kannel player and singer Tuulikki Bartosik stands in complete contrast to her first. The experimentalism that characterized that debut is replaced with track after track of delicious melody, and it really works. It makes the disc feel personal, and it certainly is. It’s about her people, her country, and above all, the area where she lives – Rouge, in the south of the country. But in many ways, this seems like Bartosik’s own travelogue: meeting a relative here, observing nature there, a word about a famous musician who lived over there, or telling the epic tale of people who fled Stalin and World War II, first to Sweden and then in a small boat that took them to Portugal and the US... The music throughout – everything is played and composed by Bartosik – might give a nod to minimalism, but its heart is in the soil of Rouge. Read Chris Nickson's full review and listen.


world music Fado is not just from a time long ago, but it is a genre that, at its best, stops time. While this Portuguese music is steeped in melancholy like the blues and features big, dramatic singing like opera, it is about powerfully and poetically expressing deep feelings in a way that creates a timeless moment of connection between a singer and listener akin to the “duende” in flamenco. Carminho has been one of the most successful of a new generation of fado singers in Portugal and now arrives in the United States with her debut on the iconoclastic Nonesuch label. Though new listeners will be catching Carminho after her career has already gotten underway, her new album Maria is a return to roots – her own and of the genre. Marty Lipp explores the singer's history and reviews her new album.


world music In 1999 Alexey Belkin formed Reelroad, a band playing a rough energetic Russian take on mostly Irish music, at home in St Petersburg and also touring in the USA and elsewhere. They began to apply the same rumbustious approach to Russian village folk music, and Otava Yo emerged in 2003, first as a quartet of Reelroad members, then adding a second fiddler and bass guitarist. They made entertaining videos in a village setting, and played in their trademark earflap hats and white vest, but I confess I was dubious; they seemed to be grabbing the music and visuals of the village and bashing out the music without going deep... But I saw them live again this year, at Musafir festival in Ufa, Bashkortostan. The set still had great energy and the hats, but with much more musical subtlety, and the reception was jubilantly, dancingly enthusiastic... Do You Love is a good representation of that, reflected in the increased adeptness of arrangements and playing. The vocals are generally group, with instrumentation that’s a mixture from Russia and elsewhere... Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to their music.


world music Despite success fronting Jaffa Road, a Toronto-based band that mixed the ancient with the modern and the sacred with the secular, Aviva Chernick was looking for a musical outlet that embraced more of her Ashkenazi Jewish roots. She found the gateway to it under the tutorage of Flory Jagoda, a specialist not only in the Sephardic music with origins in Spain, but the Balkan Ladino tradition that branched from it. Three of La Serena’s 10 tracks are Jagoda originals, and the rest are rich with her influence... Tom Orr reviews.


world music Bamako in particular and the Wassoulou region in general have produced many of the massive, landlocked nation’s most well-known names. From Oumou Sangare to Ali Farka Toure, there’s been no shortage of international exports that have not only put the country on the map for many, but have also kicked out some of the continent’s deepest grooves... Na Hawa Doumbia’s first album, La Grande Cantatrice Malienne, holds a place within a larger circle of hard-driving singers, all of whom started out recording with guitarists and/or n’goni players. Doumbia and her six-string accompanist, N’Gou Bagayoko, also share their tendency to play in what Westerner’s would call a minor-key, lending the music a sense of foreboding that the lyrics might just belie... Whatever the case, this album demands repeated listens and one’s full attention as Doumbia, barely 20 years old and still developing into the synth-driven dance singer she would become, soars over the guitar, holding tightly to notes before dropping them into the songs’ rhythms, apparently determining tempo and tension as a result.   Bruce Miller reviews and you can hear a couple of tracks.


world music The absorbing, creative style of Blick Bassy surrounds every aspect of his latest release. 1958 is a concept album that celebrates the bravery of Ruben Um Nyobé, an inspirational hero who dedicated his life to fighting for Cameroon’s independence. He was tragically killed by French forces in 1958. Bassy sets out to remind Cameroonians about the importance of Nyobé and urges them to remember their history. He uses minimal blues inspired compositions to provide a foundation for his vocals, often soft and smooth, but at times expansive and pushed to the limit. He writes lyrics mostly in the Bassa language and uses a percussive pulse to deliver his songs with popping guitar and cello patterns. Horns and electronics round out the instruments to make a set of contemporary tracks that do not rely on drums for rhythm.   Alex Brown shares his thoughts, along with a few videos.


world music

English folk music rolls on with remarkable depth on Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll’s fifth full-length album, Cold Light. The duo’s first album from 2006 featured a mix of traditional and contemporary (self-penned) tunes which highlighted Wyke and Driscoll’s complex fiddle playing – sensitively supporting each other’s flights, driving each other on, and drawing out compositions that bore witness to two artists on the rise. Over the years, Wyke and Driscoll’s sound palette has expanded as other instrumentation and guests have been added to their recordings, but the core has always been the interplay between the duo. Cold Light finds the perfect balance between arrangements and the trad-modern mix that Wyke and Driscoll are mining... Wyke and Driscoll have produced an album of folk music that mixes wondrous chamber-pop deeply founded on a respect for traditional music and modern songcraft. It stands as one of the strongest releases of the year.   Lee Blackstone reviews the album, and you can listen to some of the music.

Cold Light is our December choice for Music of the Month. Subscribe, or get this CD, and support RootsWorld.


world music "Zan Bezan" (Women, Sing) is Liraz's call to join her personal revolution, a revolution expressed in song and dance, encouraging women to work for positive change and female freedom in the Middle East and around the globe. Liraz Charhi is a singer, songwriter, actress and cultural activist with deep personal ties to Persian traditions. Her family (Persian Jews) emigrated to Israel during the 70’s, just as the Iranian Revolution was taking shape. It was in the Persian community of Tehrangeles, Los Angeles that she discovered not only new sounds, but a new way of expressing her music in modern terms and contemporary politics, especially about the role of woman in society, as you can hear in this song and video..


world music Songs From Lands Of Silence is the debut release from Nelia Safaie, an Iranian singer/songwriter and player of tar, setar, and baghlama, offers delicious smaller servings of beauty to bring some light into the most ordinary of days. Largely self-taught as in instrumentalist, in her 30s she moved to Tehran for the musical opportunities it could bring her. She’s student with a number of teachers, including vocal lessons from Masha Vahdat. From the very beginning Safaie shows what she can do: “Shoopeh” is full of delicate tracery in the vocals, while baghlama shadows and fills out her singing. It’s an introduction and indication of her talents. Read Chris Nickson's full review and listen to some of the music.


world music Near as I can tell, there's nothing odd about a bluegrass band led by a fiddler from North Carolina. But what about a bluegrass band that was formed in Argentina and includes two players from that country as well as a fourth from Mexico? It's bluegrass, yes, and more. The first thing you'll hear when you spin Che Apalache's Rearrange My Heart is a clapped-out clave pattern and a sung invitation, partially in Spanish, to pull up a chair and lend you ears. Doing so reaps many a reward and more than a few surprises. Soon "Maria" kicks in with a dual Americana/Latin sweep that also takes a turn into manouche sounds. It's followed by "The Dreamer," a timely tale about the plight of a DACA recipient who befriended Che Apalache fiddler and front man Joe Troop.   Read Tom Orr's full review and listen to some of the songs.


world music While the British Protestant tradition sees hymns come as complete entities, with specially-composed words and music, in the Nordic countries they do things a little differently. There’s a long history of mixing the hymn words with folk tunes. It makes sense: the tunes were simple and memorable, people already knew them, and they’d be likely to take up the new words (the oldest text dates from 1572, just to give you an idea). It’s this history mingling folk and church that Phønix jump into on this new album and they do it with glee on their new release, Hvad Intet Øre Hørte End.   Hear the music and read Chris Nickson's review.


world music
Influenced by the music of his native Algeria and his adopted homeland of France, the late Rachid Taha always put the wry in rai. While Je Suis Africain feels like it should somehow be a weighty epitaph for his unique career (he died of a heart attack last year), the album fits the situation only in that it maintains his signature cultural mix and continues the themes of his career as a smart aleck that rocked out as he thumbed his nose at the assholes that made life tough for immigrants. Born in Oran, Taha emigrated to Lyons, where he worked in a factory and eventually started gigging as a deejay at a local club, playing a mix of Western rock and Middle Eastern sounds that were coming up, such as rai and chaabi. That bringing together and celebrating various kinds of music continued right up through this last album, which touches on an array of styles... Read Marty Lipp's review and hear some of the music.


world music review

Music of the Month

The mention of the music of Epirus, a region of south-eastern Europe now divided between north-east Greece and southern Albania, evokes the sound of a sobbing, down-bending clarinet, on the slow tunes like Escher’s ever-descending staircase. But it’s not necessarily sad music, and much on The Soul of Epirus by the 85-year-old clarinet master Petroloukas Halkias and Vasilis Kostas, 29-year-old master of the laouto (lute with eight steel strings), is joyful and skittering... This is beautiful, exciting, heart-felt music by two brilliant players...   Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to some of the music.

The Soul Of Epirus is our November selection for Music of the Month
Subscribe monthly, or get only this CD and support RootsWorld.


world music The Furrow Collective's Fathoms is the group's third full-length album, and as on previous releases, the band's plumbs traditional music in an unsparing, contemporary manner. Comprised of four sterling musicians – Lucy Farrell (voice, viola, tenor guitar, percussion), Rachel Newton (voice, electroharp, fiddle, piano, percussion), Emily Portman (voice, banjo, concertina, harmonium, percussion), and Alasdair Roberts (voice, acoustic and electric guitars, banjolin, piano, harmonium) – The Furrow Collective brings its members' English and Scottish roots to the table. Lee Blackstone digs deep into the music of this superb quartet.


world music A double bassist and a singer - both of them doubling on other instruments - explore the very fluid boundary between folk music and improvisation, and create something that lingers long in the mind. The words come from traditional songs, some from the musicians' native Latvia, but also Lithuania, Bulgaria and the Ukraine - notably, all countries once repressed under the Soviet yoke. Stansilav Yudin And Asnata Rancāne give a grounding to the songs, an anchor, although at times they seem to hover, circling around and over a track, more ghostlike than solid. The words are the clothes, however; it's the music that's the body of Op. 2. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear the some of the music


world music Tanec Strún is a reverential reimagining of Slovak folk traditions fed into modern Western styles, mostly ballads, interpreted by the Miriam Kaiser Trio. Strings predominate - violin, viola, cello - with added percussion, jew's harp and synthesizer. The trio is Miriam Kaiser, violinist, arranger, vocalist; Milan Adamec, producer, arranger, violinist, electronics; and Júlia Vesselá, cello, with lyrics by Kaiser and Nad’a Mitanová. The Slovak song tradition goes back to the 18th century and is said to be among the richest of Central Europe. Western music, newly embraced after being forbidden in the Soviet Union until its fall in 1989, is the axis around which these songs turn. Infused electronic strains contribute definitively these works, luxuriously padding the songs rather than usurping them. Hear some songs and excerpts from the album, and read Carolina Amoruso's review.


world music It's remarkable to consider that the Swedish trio Väsen have been around for 30 years now, releasing album after album of satisfying music, often with a sly touch of gentle humor. They helped to create the movement of European instrumental music, grounded in native folk tradition, but with ambitions and reach far beyond it. With nyckelharpa/viola/guitar and three virtuoso players, they have stayed at the forefront. Rule of 3 isn't a musical revolution of any kind. It's simply a journey further down the road that Väsen began to walk three decades ago. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear the music.


world music Daniel Cros, a singer-songwriter based in Barcelona, presents a likeable 10-tune collection of songs about travelling, evoking voyages to Latin America, France and elsewhere. He began his solo career in 1995. He also founded the Rosazul recording studio in Barcelona. Sed de Viaje does not break a lot of new ground musically, but successfully presents a very likeable selection with his warm, calm voice and compelling acoustic guitar.   Read David Cox review and listen to some songs.


world music

Madagascar, due to its having broken off of the Indian subcontinent some 88 million years, is well known for plants and animals not found anywhere else. The same might be said of its music, traditionally played on zither-like instruments, preserved from Indonesian origin, such as the marovany and valiha. Malagasy folk have simply managed to apply their own melodic and rhythmic concepts to anything they touch, be it the accordion, the guitar, or choral vocal music... Not surprisingly, the electric guitar changed much once it was introduced on the island in the late 1950s. Pop bands, mixing indigenous grooves with sounds coming from South African radio soon followed, and this concoction serves as something of a foundation for the sometimes loping other times stuttering tracks that have been so smartly curated on Alefa Madagascar! Salegy, Soukous, and Soul From the Red Island 1974-1984.   Read Bruce Miller's review and hear some tracks from the set.


world music

The driving sound of London’s creative music scene cuts right through 360°, the second release from Kongo Dia Ntotila. Led by Mulele Matondo, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, this ensemble blends Central African dance music together with jazz and other styles to create an energetic mix they refer to as “Kongo Jazz.” This uptempo music is shaped by intricate polyrhythms that feel alive, drawing upon the full technique of the band. Two electric guitars (John Kelly and Diala Sakuba), bass (Mulele Matondo), drums (David Lessie), trumpet (Mike Soper), and sax (Will Scott) lace intricate phrases together with precision while the vocals are split between Matondo and Lessie... Read Alex Brown's review, hear some songs and see a live performance video.


world music

In their nine years together, the Belgian brothers of Trio Dhoore have come a long way. Starting out as highly talented young lads, they've grown into a central part of the European instrumental movement, influenced but not completely consumed by their native traditions. August, their fourth album sees them experimenting more than ever before, bringing soundscapes, synths, and electric guitar into their world, alongside hurdy-gurdy and diatonic accordion. It makes for a timeless sound palette that is ancient and refreshingly new at the same time, especially as everything is handled sparingly and with quite exquisite taste. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some of the music.


world music Chicha, or cumbia peruana, as it was called in its nascence, is uniquely Peruvian and a mainstay of the national repertoire since the late 60s, early 70s. (Chicha is named after an ancient Amerindian fermented or virgin brew made from purple corn.) It’s an idiosyncratic amalgam of musics, with jumpbacks to­ of all things­ the surf guitars of such as Dick Dale, e, the Ventures, Surfaris, and more; you’ll also hear strains of Peru’s romantic and old-timey criollo music, Amazonia, Afro-Latin, classic and psychedelic rock, and inevitably its backbone of cumbia from Peru, Colombia and, more recently, cumbia electronica. Los Wembler’s de Iquitos go back to the first crop of chicha bands, led by Los Destellos, a bunch from Rimac, a working class area of Lima, that formed in 1966... The step firmly back onto the international circuit in 2012 and are celebrating their 50th anniversary with Visión del Ayahuasca. (Ayahuasca is another ancient brew of tradition, this one hallucinogenic and used sacramentally in indigenous ceremonies, though it has penetrated mainstream Peru and far beyond.) The CD includes a number of new songs and revisits some of the old. Production is up and all of the tunes sport vocals; even when not pitch perfect, they add to the listenability diminished by the repetitious melody of some of the older works... Read Carolina Amoruso's review and listen to some of the songs


world music So much of what falls under the category of "world music" is often focused on one or two cultures, and in its wanderlust reveals something beyond human nature's tendency to draw borders around itself. Throughout annual growth rings, the fertile collaboration between Mats Edén (playing violin and viola d'amore) and sound artist Stefan Klaverdal, we search not far and wide for metaphysical connections, but rather dive inward to articulate commonalities between all matter­living and nonliving­at the molecular level. Although the sounds come mostly from Edén's strings, processed live by Klaverdal, the resulting assemblage is as organic in feel as each track title is in image. Tyran Grillo reviews, and the artists share some of their music.


world music

world music

Haitian roots outfit Lakou Mizik is the brainchild of singer Jonas Attis and guitarist/singer Steeve Valcourt. Lakou Mizik brings together a multi-generational septet of some of Haiti’s best musicians to showcase the diversity of modern Haitian sounds, including konpas, kanaval songs, twobadou ballads, and vodou ritual music. Now Lakou Mizik returns with a barn-burner of a second act on HaitiNola. The album revisits the connections between Haiti and New Orleans with a crew of NOLA musical all-stars including The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Leyla McCalla, Cyril Neville, Trombone Shorty, Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, Lost Bayou Ramblers, The Soul Rebels, 79ers Gang and many others.   Read Tom Pryor's review and listen to some of the music

HaitiaNola is our Music of the Month selection for October, 2019. Your 20.00 a month (US; 28.00 globally) subscription will get you brilliant music from around the world every month and help support RootsWorld's continuing mission. These CDs are donated by the artists and labels, so all of your contribution goes to support the magazine. Subscribe now.


world music Lucilla Galeazzi, Didier Laloy, Ialma, Carlo Rizzo and Maarten Decombel join forces on Alegrìa e Libertà. This very enjoyable twelve-track release features the skilled work of eight performers, highlighted by the vocals of Salentina singer Lucilla Galeazzi, and Ialma, the vocal and percussion group from Galicia (Veronica Codesal, Natalia Codesal, Eva Fernandez and Marisol Palomo). At the same time, this disc is the coming together of the talents of accordionist Didier Laloy, tamburello player Carlo Rizzo, and Maarten Decombel on the guitar, and the lyrics of Brais Fernandes and Galeazzi. In a time when freedoms are being threatened, including artistic freedoms, in Europe and elsewhere, my sense is that this is a quiet cri-de-coeur from artists that are part of that international community that is forming in places like Belgium, where many paths cross in the heart of today's political Europe... Read David Cox' full review and listen to the music.


world music

world music

Benedicte Maurseth is one of the Norway's leading players of the Hardanger fiddle (she comes from the region where it originated; you might say it's in her DNA). The instrument is similar to a violin, but with four or five tuned sympathetic strings that resonate and deliciously eerie depth to the music. For, this her seventh album, she's completely solo (apart from some birdsong on one cut), taking traditional music, tunes associated with different fiddlers, and adding her own voice and ideas to them in variations and improvisations. It's beautifully meditative and utterly immersive; you don't listen to the disc; it draws you in until you're subsumed in the music. Read Chris Nickson's full review and listen to some of the music.

You can also read Chris' book review of Maurseth's To Be Nothing: Conversations with Knut Hamre, Hardanger Fiddle Master.


world music Sámi music takes many forms, and Ássu's debut release is informed by a lot of influences while remaining true to the north. This collection of eleven tracks, primarily traditional in origin, sounds like a merger of the music of the northern Sámi, the joik, with elements seemingly transplanted from the Sahara. Harald Skullerud, the Norwegian percussionist, and Olav Torget, a strikingly innovative guitarist, team up with Ulla Pirttijärvi, the famed Sami artist, and co-creator of Solju, to create a soundscape which very much rocks the joik, or traditional Sámi song. Fans of Tinariwen and Boubacar Traoré might well recognize some of the stylings of Torget, who along with Skullerud has spent time in Mali and Senegal - and have a history of bringing Norwegian and West African music together. No surprise. If it wasn't for the inimitable vocal style it would be easy to place this disc a couple of thousand kilometers south of its place of origin. Read David Cox' full review and listen.


Music of the Month


world music A bakhshi is a singer of epic ballads that can last, Homeric-like, for many hours or even days, self-accompanying usually on dutar, the thin-necked two-string lute. The Bashkirs have a true living song tradition; singing is a normal part of life, and some epics last several days. Termez is at the southern tip of the country, on the river Amu Darya that forms the border with Afghanistan, with the extremities of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan not far west and east respectively. In fact it’s pretty much at a confluence of Central Asia’s -stans. Founded over 2,500 years ago, in 1220 the original city was destroyed by Genghis Khan. Under Russian rule from the end of the 19th century, Termez became a military base until the end of the Soviet-Afghan war, and Uzbekistan’s independence in 1991, and today it’s a fast-modernizing, spread-out city. Andrew Cronshaw takes you to a festival and competition centered on these great singers, in photos, words and an interesting audio piece.


world music It’s been interesting to hear the way Afenginn have grown over the course of the seven albums since their 2004 debut. With each outing, the reach of leader/composer Kim Rafael Nyberg has grown by leaps and bounds, but with Klingra he’s gone far beyond anything he’s attempted before, capturing the great sweep that extends beyond the Denmark/Sweden/Finland axis and far out into the North Atlantic to the Faroe Isles. But it’s not solely the composition, which has long been edging towards something like this; the band itself has morphed, too. Four of the musicians from the last album are here (including Nyberg, who plays nothing this time around; he’s become purely the composer and arranger), along with the Danish String Quartet and several Faroese musicians. Afenginn has always had a pan-Nordic vision, but this time it’s taken on a different identity. Chris Nickson takes you into this unique aural landscape.


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About RootsWorld: RootsWorld is a world music magazine started in 1993, pretty much at the dawn of the term "world music" as well as the pre-dawn of internet publishing (I suspect this was the first music magazine of any sort published on the www). Our focus is the music of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Pacifica and The Americas, the roots of the global musical milieu that has come to be known as world music, be it traditional folk music, jazz, rock or some hybrid. How is that defined? I don't know and don't particularly care at this point: it's music from someplace you aren't, music with roots, music of the world and for the world. OK?

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