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Terje Isungset is a Norwegian percussionist who has long explored the sound-making potential to be found in the natural materials of his homeland, whether it be birch wood, lumps of granite, slate or, as we find here, ice. Over twenty ago years ago he began staging an annual ice music festival each February in Norway, and Glacial Poetry is his ninth Ice Music album. For these recordings and for live performances of his ice music, Isungset insists on using natural ice - tap water just doesn't sound right – and this latest recording was made in a specially built igloo high in the mountains over one winter. Read Mike Adcock's review and listen.

Terje Isungset's work with ice recognizes and draws attention to the endangered fragility of the medium. Stefan Östersjö and Mats Edén are creating music from the other end of the process on Wind, water, strings, bow. We learn from the accompanying booklet that Vombsjön, a lake in southern Sweden, was formed (albeit 14,000 years ago) from the melting of glaciers, but now of course that process is accelerating rapidly. Fiddler player Edén and guitarist Östersjö place the emphasis on free improvisation in partnership with sounds from the natural world. They recorded next to the Vombsjön, and the instrumentation might be thought of as a deconstruction of a jazz quartet format: two front players and a rhythm section. The latter is provided here by the sound of water lapping on the shore along with wind roaring through the strings of a specially adapted guitar suspended from a tree, a contemporary take on an aeolian harp. Stand on the shore and listen while you read Mike Adcock's review.

 

world music In the ancient world, Babylon was a happening place. Founded some 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, it was a sprawling, multicultural metropolis where art, science, music, mathematics, astronomy, and literature flourished. But for the Abrahamic faiths, Babylon represents worldliness and sensual excess, oppression, and evil... That Babylon is not what Antonio Castrignanò had in mind when he titled his latest release Babilonia. For Castrignanò, a singer, percussionist, and composer from Salento, the southern part of Italy's Puglia region, the Mesopotamian capital is a metaphor for "a collective journey outside the Salento borders to discover different languages and cultures." Salento is the point of departure (and return), but Castrignanó's Babilonia reaches Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Babilonia comprises ten new compositions performed by Castrignanò and an ensemble of Italian and non-Italian musicians... Castrignanò has created a personal style rooted in traditional Salentine music, and not only pizzica but also work songs and love ballads. He's been immersed in it since his childhood in Galatina, once a center of tarantismo.

George De Stefano reviews an album that "takes the listener on a voyage on which every stop offers pleasure, surprise, excitement, and often stunning beauty. It's Antonio Castrignanò's masterpiece and a highwater mark in contemporary Salentine music."

 

Music of the Month

world music Olav Luksengard Mjelva is a Norwegian fiddler whose second album Hugnad features almost exclusively his own compositions. The CD comes with a booklet illustrated with color photographs and containing short notes in Norwegian and English on each of the tracks. Mjelva is from Roros in the east of Norway, close to the Swedish border, an area known for its standard fiddle tradition. However, following in the footsteps of celebrated fiddle-player and authority on Norwegian folk music Sven Nyhus, who also came from there, Mjelva has embraced styles from a wider area of the country, playing both standard fiddle and the Hardanger variety with its added sympathetic under strings. Mike Adcock takes you through some of the albums tracks.

 

world music

Music of the Month

The Mtsogo and Punu forest-dwelling tribes of Gabon have practiced Bwiti, a religious practice involving psychedelic root bark ingestion, for hundreds of years or longer. And like many rituals around the planet, music plays a role. In the case of these Gabonese tribes, the mungongo (mouth bow) and ngombi (harp) play a central role in Bwiti ritual. As participants surrender to a psychoactive state, the ngombi can often be plucked at a manic pace, inducing hallucinations. Ngombi master Papé Nziengui mixed ritual with commerce when he released Kadi Yombo in 1989. Here, on tracks such as "Ngonde," furious harp and mouth bow accompany Nziengui's lead vocal, which is answered by a female chorus. This is the vocal approach on much this album, and as such, represents aspects of Bwiti performance. "Ngonde" is representative of the second half of this LP, which focuses on the traditional instruments and vocals and comes as something of a surprise after the first half of this album... where you will hear the ngomi engulfed by drum machines, electric bass throb, and synths, rendering the ceremonial as dance floor pulse. The blend works well, connecting straight to the club, which has its own rituals of surrender, drug use, and movement as interconnected slices of a collective experience. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen to some of the music

This album is a RootsWorld Music of the Month selection. You can subscribe or make a one time donation and receive this CD as our thank you. The CDs were donated by the artist and the label, Awesome Tapes from Africa. I thank them, and YOU, for supporting RootsWorld.
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world music Tone of Voice Orchestra is a 10 piece group out of Copenhagen, and includes a cittern, bagpipes, drums, double bass, flutes sax, hurdy-gurdy, fiddle and four singers. Martha Willette Lewis writes, "I must confess I was not immediately taken with this album. On my initial listen I found the vocals too redolent of the Mammas and the Papas or the 5th Dimension. And there was flute. It was too upbeat as well. I have ingrained and strong opinions, that in this case got in my way. And then I really listened. Once I got over myself and my curmudgeonly biases, I found a jazz-inflected musical gem full of sparkle and some truly fine music. The stand-up bass and fiddle with the sax really do it for me. I felt really good listening to this. I fell for all of the instrumental parts, and the lyrics are whip smart, witty and surprising. The songs reflect on stereotypes, daily life, bittersweet love and it's clearly and strongly voiced from a female perspective." Read Martha's full review and hear a number of songs from this surprising new album.

 

world music Peter Knight & John Spiers are Both In A Tune on the second album from this venerable duo of fiddle and accordion, and shows that the art of deep listening is very much alive and well in music. Yes, it's a folk album of sorts, but one which explores and reimagines traditional tunes, making them into something quite new and often daring. There's also a strong sprinkling of original music, filled with delicate and sometimes breathless improvisation. Chris Nickson reviews an album he finds beautifully performed and thought out.

 

world music The Henrys are one of those curious little Canadian enigmas. They periodically emerging with new albums containing staggeringly good, inventive music, maybe playing a show or two, then vanishing back into Toronto like northern ninjas. They're one of those bands where 'if you know, you know' is true, and if you don't, well, you really should... Shrug sees a small change, with leader/guitarist Don Rooke now handling most of the vocals, helped by Maggie Keogh, over one of the tautest rhythm sections in music, plus occasional guests. But everything remains honed, sharp, and ready to entertain and sometimes confound. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some songs.

 

world music Whether through brawny assertiveness or by embellishing happenstance, we are now being gifted by more and first-rate access to what women have to say and how they choose to say it in music. While working recently on a review, I had a mini-revelation: I had inadvertently (or maybe not) filed my last ten or so articles for RootsWorld top-loaded with the efforts of women from around the world who have been pivotal in elbowing men from their ages-old monopoly over the artistry, center stage, and business of music, arguably the most influential of all of the arts. These women boast supreme and engaging musicianship, as well as growing savvy independent of and with equal agency as men.

Read about how Sofia Rei, Siti Muharam, Les Filles de Illighadad, Amparo Sanchez, Ladama and Luedji Luna are changing the musical landscapes of the world in Carolina Amoruso's article, I will show you what a woman can do.

 

world music Passionately soaring, thrilling, slithering violins, rolling piano, surging bandoneón, double bass, in lurching, hesitating rhythms - the sounds associated with tango. And indeed this is the traditional formation of a tango orchestra, an 'orquesta típica'. But only one of the fifteen tracks on La Típica Folklórica's La Diablera is an actual tango. All the rest are the zambas, cuecas, chacareras, escondido, rasguido doble and bailecito of rural Argentinian dance and song music, arranged for the orquesta típica line-up. The melodies, and the four songs, are from the repertoires of a variety of Argentinian musicians and groups... The Argentinian founder, leader and arranger of this Paris-based ensemble, Alfonso Pacin, plays guitar, violin and bombo, and is a sensitive, light-voiced singer, while the other musicians and guests are an international mix. Read more about this unique ensemble in Andrew Cronshaw's review.

 

world music Janus, the latest album from Norwegian Hardanger fiddle-player Annbjørg Lien, sets off in fine style with a rousing original tune called "Amazon." It's written in the gangar dance tune tradition of Setesdal, not where Lien is from but whose music she has long turned to for inspiration. It starts with just fiddle and what sounds like a bass drum keeping the pulse, rather than the customary stamped foot. Second time through the tune she is joined by a few of of the collection of eight musicians backing her on the album, who together help to propel the piece's great rhythmic drive. So it comes as quite a surprise, as early as the second track, to find ourselves in a quite different sound world. "The Clock Is Ticking" is another original, this time a song delivered by Lien in English. It has a gentle bluesy gospel feel with harmonica and slide guitar predominating instrumentally, both provided by Knut Reiersrud. The Hardanger fiddle isn't heard until it takes the instrumental break, but it then suffers from being rather crowded out by the other things going on, an ominous indicator of what is to come. Read Mike Adcock's review and listen.

 

Music of the Month
world music Beny Esguerra has an amazing story. Born in Bogota, Colombia surrounded by music, his family had to flee to Canada when his parents' work as activists and educators placed them in danger of being disappeared by the country's then-repressive government. Since then he has been a teacher, worked with a roving music studio and won a few awards. He raps, deals in spoken word, and mixes indigenous South American sounds with just about anything else you can name. On Northside Kuisi he continues to mix Colombian instrumentation such as gourds, accordion, hand drums, or Guacharaca with hip hop, Congolese rhythms, recorded speeches, horn riffs, and metallic guitar for music that focuses on North and South American Unity. In the process, both musically and lyrically, he eradicates borders. He ends up with a near-perfect gumbo of the entire hemisphere, all of it coming off as a natural extension of his own experience. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music Polish singer Karolina Cicha has, over the last decade or so and several of her albums, been exploring the music of Poland's minorities, making arrangements and singing in their languages. Karaimska Mapa Muzyczna (Karaim Music Map) is a 2 CD project focuses on the songs of a very small minority, the Karaim people. Their history is complicated and their exact origins are the subject of dispute, but they are historically of the Jewish faith, but with differences from mainstream Judaism, and they live mainly in Crimea, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland... Their language, which is of the Turkic group with Hebrew influences, is spoken by only a few dozen today, mainly in the town of Trakai in Lithuania.

On disc 1 Cicha sings, in the Karaim language, some of the same songs and more, in arrangements by her and the three musicians of her group Spólka (Company) using her accordion and keyboards and the band's instrumentation that includes kemanche, fiddle, cymbaly (hammered dulcimer), saz, oud, kantele and percussion... Disc 2 is twelve tracks from eight Karaim singers, unaccompanied solo or in duet. They're fine singers, male and female, most of them from Trakai, who are involved in the encouragement of Karaim music and culture. Many of the songs come from the Crimean Karaim tradition. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and find links to all the music and the actual interactive 'map' that takes you though it all.

 

world music

Music of the month

Remembrance begins with the sound of a high lonesome harmonica, more in the sonic image of the American west than one might expect from Iranian-born artist Mamak Khadem. But then the rhythm section slides in under keyboards and the words of 13th Century Persian poet Saadi Shirazi come slowly to your ear. Khadem writes that Remembrance is "a musical journey to remembrance, healing the huge loss of my beloved father, Mohsen Khadem... Being unable to be by his side was profoundly difficult, yet for so many immigrants in our world, life itself is like an infinity of limitations." In these eight songs, written during the pandemic, isolated from family, the words of poets ancient and modern are brought to life in an album of rich, droning music and a voice filled with both pain and hope... Each song on the album is its own highway, each path feeling different underfoot... Read the editor's review.

I am pleased to present this album as our selection for Music of the Month for March, 2022. These recordings are donated by the artist and labels to help you support RootsWorld with your contribution of 20.00 a month, or a one-time purchase of 22.00. I want to thank Mamak Khadem and Six Degrees Records for helping me bribe you to help RootsWorld.
Find out how you can subscribe and support us.

 

world music In a pop landscape populated with singers who wield the kind of gob-smacking, roof-raising voices celebrated by TV shows like "The Voice," Brazil's Marisa Monte is a voice apart. On her latest, Portas, Monte more than ever leans into creating music of quiet beauty – a pop star who declines to be ear-popping. Her latest album shows her in gentle mode – more bossa nova sweet sophistication than street party samba. While the album ends with several vivid, upbeat songs, the album seems to be Monte's balm for a Brazil and world that has been wracked by the Covid pandemic... For her first solo album in 10 years, Monte returns to form, but in an unexpectedly quiet way. Read Marty Lipp's review and listen to some songs.

 

world music Traditionally the province of men, a young woman from a semi-nomadic scrubland village in Niger, Fatou Seidi Ghali, had the temerity to steal away with a cousin's electric guitar and taught herself to play. Ghali has become the first professional female guitarist amongst the Tuareg. With Alamnou Akrouni and Amaria Hamadalher, Ghali formed Les Filles de Illighadad (The Daughters of Illighadad, their native village), in 2017, the first female Tuareg band. A cousin of Ghali, Abdoulaye Madassane, plays more or less rhythm guitar, but his key role is to negotiate for the women in situations where they may not, and to act as their de facto chaperone. Carolina Amoruso delves into the Tuareg women's music called Tendé.

 

world music Ruky na Dudách offers a thrilling mass of grainy instruments and strong vocals, in music of the Moravian-Silesian Beskyd mountains in eastern Czechia (the Czech Republic). Bagpipe, fiddles, kontra (rhythm viola), koncovka, hammered dulcimer, trúba (long wooden Carpathian trumpet), high-pitched pistalka (wooden whistle), various gutsy folk percussion instruments and more, are joined by wild full-voiced male and female singing. It's music full of the energy and spirit of village tradition, but these aren't field recordings; they're tracks, new and from previous releases, featuring bagpiper Vlastimil Bjacek in arrangements by his longtime colleague, musician, ethnomusicologist and producer Marian Freidl. Andrew Cronshaw offers a full review, plus a little tutorial on the Lydian mode.

 

world music As UK-based Matsuli continues its journey to unearth music from South Africa's 1970's-era funk, jazz, and disco hybrids, One Night in Pelican serves as both primer for and extension of what we know about Soweto's fertile scene. As it turns out, the Pelican, a venue that opened in 1973, located in an industrial park near railways and warehouses, and run by bootlegger Lucky Michaels, was Soweto's first club. As such, it had its own house bands as well as a VIP-section full of the city's cross section of celebrities and hot shot musicians. And while the Pelican's weekend sounds focused on top 20 hits, the rest of the week was open for jamming, which is where this collection comes in. Bruce Miller listens to the late night sounds of Soweto.

 

world music Lima, Peru-based Buh Records has been releasing reminders of the massive, multi-cultural, geographically astounding South American country's vast experimental music scene for the better part of the last 20 years, unearthing treasures of the country's music beyond more well-known Amazonian Chicha or coastal Afro-Latin rhythms. Buh has exposed a country that has boundless experimentation on par with anything from Europe or the states. So, it only makes sense that they have decided to release two collections of more foundational tracks from the rainforest or rainforest-adjacent areas of the country. Around the Humisha focuses on ensembles from the country's vast Amazon region. However, what they show are musical forms that had long ago hybridized to included sounds from the coasts, the mountains, as well as the Amazon, which means to hear whatever Peruvian Amazonian "traditional" music is to hear a stew of the country's vast assortment of instruments and rhythms... The music of the Lamista Kechwas focuses on a single ensemble, the elderly Los Abuelos del Wayku, who are from a region of Northern Peru where mountains, jungle, and wide valleys converge. Everything in this collection was recorded between 2017 and 2020 by Percy Alexander Flores Navarro and shows off the most hardcore indigenous music from this Quechua-speaking area. Bruce Miller delves into two albums of the living tradition of Peru.

 

world music For quite a few of the early years of this century, Maria Mazzotta was the female vocalist for the estimable Italian group Canzionere Grecanico Salentino, using her powerful but supple voice on their songs. She has branched out in a couple of directions since then, in a collaboration with the Toulouse-based jazz group Pulcinella on Grifone, and also her 2020 solo release, Amoreamaro. Together they showcase very different sides of her personality. Listen to some of the songs and read Chris Nickson's review of these two albums featuring one of Italy's finest voices.

 

world music A simple electric guitar pattern, over which the fiddle plays a phrase, develops as it repeats. Then in with the full band, big chunks growing into a huge loping riff and screaming guitar, before subsiding to the opening fiddle phrase and guitar pattern. It is a satisfying opening to the first album in a long time from one of the leaders of Sweden's folk-rock phase of the 1990s. Trad is a full-blooded, energizing and very welcome return for Hoven Droven, up there with their finest. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to the music.

 

world music Bonga Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian-born master vodou drummer now living in New York City has been performing and teaching children rhythm in an attempt to make sure the music's practice lives on. Boula shows the drummer, singer, and Houngan (priest) exploring rhythms he learned as he traveled his home country as a young man. The record allows snapshots of the various regional rhythms, as well as lyrical themes shaped as songs. What they can't possibly capture is the experience one gets from a vodou ceremony; instead, they showcase Jean-Baptiste's vast knowledge of this music and offer an authentic recording of a centuries-old tradition. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen.

 

world music The trio plays traditional Swedish music (except for one track), but quite honestly, it's unlike any take on the past you've heard. This is the lumpity-bumpity version, a gleeful rise through it all by a trio using violins, saxophones, and clarinets. Not your standard line-up, but there's nothing standard about Massiv. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to a few of those bumpity tunes.

 

world music Two Estonians appear in dark suits and white shirts without ties. One looks like a doctor or lawyer, the other a renegade rocker. But it's what's in their hands that completes the picture and makes it unusual: each has a hiiu-kannel, the Estonian variant of the Baltic bowed lyre, close kin to Finland's jouhikko and also known as talharpa, tagelharpa or in Swedish stråkharpa. The duo - Ramo Teder (hiiu-kannel, vocal, looper, effects) and Marko Veisson (hiiu-kannel, vocal, effects) - are cunningly, palindromically named Puuluup. 'Puu' is Estonian and Finnish for tree or wood, and 'luup' is a fortuitous re-spelling of the English loop. Those two hiiu-kannels, looped and processed, provide the source of all of Puuluup's instrumentation. Their second album - Viimane Suusataja - offers danceable grooves in songs with surreal lyrics, wittily presented. Listen in and read Andrew Cronshaw's review.

 

world music Hazama is the second album from Mitsune, a Berlin-based band featuring an all-female trio of shamisen players who also provide the vocals, supported by double bass and percussion. Whilst it has its roots firmly in Japanese traditional music, Hazama presents a decidedly modern take on that tradition, not in its technology - the instrumentation is purely acoustic - but in its brazen eclecticism. The band members hail from Japan, Germany, Australia and Greece and that is reflected in their global approach to things... What is so endearing about this album is its sheer energy and rapid changes of direction, the unexpected shifts continually taking the music into new territory while at the same time remaining cohesive throughout. Read Mike Adcock's review, listen to some samples and see an animated video by the band,

 

world music Some recordings are hard to capsulize in a quick blurb. Brazilian composer and singer Juçara Marçal's Delta Estácio Blues is one of those. Martha Willette Lewis found "a sonic feast of surprises: by turns discordant, whooping, crunchy, soulful, brassy and supremely confident. It's a daring tour-de-force that squarely deserves a place as one of the top albums of the year. Yes, there is pain, anger, and political critique but also… Liveliness, curiosity, a sly sense of humor, and marvelous vocals. Join Martha and dig in to what both she and your editor find to be one of the more intriguing releases in recent memory.

 

world music The subtitle of Please Re-adjust Your Time is 'the early blues & psych-folk years,' but more apt might be 'growing up in public.' With this four-CD box set, pretty much everything of Ian A. Anderson's is now available, I believe. It really does show the maturation of an artist who's proved important to English roots music over the decades. While his very early releases aren't here in their entirety, the first four LPs are, with some of the other items cropping up among the bonus tracks. Played one after the other, it offers a fascinating insight into Anderson's development." Chris Nickson explores one aspect of the world of Mr. Anderson.

 

world music

world music

In 2016, the accordionist Riccardo Tesi and musicians such as Lucilla Galeazzi, Elena Ledda, Ginevra Di Marco (all providing vocals), Alessio Lega (voice, guitar), Gigi Biolcati (percussion, voice) brought to life the fiftieth anniversary of the monumental folk program of the 'Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano.' The re-mounting of this program proved to be a huge success, and the strong emotions evoked led the core of this 'Bella Ciao' group to continue its research and performances. Nando Citarella (voice, tambourine, jew's harp) and Claudio Carboni (saxophone) added to the recording ensemble. Where the original emphasis of the 2016 repertoire had been from northern Italy, it was perhaps natural that attention should then pivot towards the south. What emerges over the course of A Sud di Bella Ciao is an incredible travelogue, one forged by impeccable musicianship. Lee Blackstone takes you on a journey to the south.

A Sud di Bella Ciao is a RootsWorld Music of the Month selection. Find out how you can support the magazine and get the CD as our gift.

 

world music Emmanuel Iduma's A Stranger's Pose is so rich with images: written, documented, suggested and lyrical, that it just begs the exaltation of music. Consequently, Nigerian born Iduma collaborated with Portuguese composer and vocalist Sara Serpa, who has written a score to a number of especially evocative or illustrative passages. Serpa, alone, or with vocalists Sofia Rei and Aubrey Johnson, sing the lines, or they are recited by Serpa and Iduma. Though intrinsic to the album Intimate Strangers, the music is especially distinguished, riding on undertones and simple melodic lines expressed by the piano (Matt Mitchell), with sotto voce electronics (Qasim Naqvi). It sometimes feels as if the pace in the quiet expectancy of the arrangements, were the footfalls of the perambulating Iduma, as he follows one step with another, seeking discovery. Carolina Amoruso explores the book and it's musical collaboration in her review.

 

world music

Harr is a beautiful shape shifter of an album. Part a portrait of a landscape, part the opening of a veil on some family history, part nature walk in Norway. It's satisfying and strangely elusive, all at the same time. The music follows winding paths of the imagination, mixing Benedicte Maurseth's Hardanger fiddle with subtly-placed electronics and other instruments to create a moving, inviting bed of sound. "Heilo," for instance, the longest piece on the disc, presents an utterly different artist from her 2019 solo release. Or does it? The music certainly isn't traditional by any means, but the nature, the history that goes back generations – what is that but tradition? Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some excerpts from the album.

 

world music Ssilfie-Bondzie, aka Mr. Essiebons, had founded the Essiebons label and record pressing plant- West Africa's first- in the late 1960s... The label's 1970s heyday coincided with changes in Ghanaian popular music, as typical highlife rhythms gave way to edgy, stuttering Afro-funk, mirroring Nigeria's more well-known but no-more-important developments in this area. Essiebons Special 1973 - 1984 Ghana Music Power House shows off some lesser known sides and needless to say, the music presented here continues to show the relentless consistency the Analog Africa label is known for. Read Bruce Miller's full review and hear a few tracks.

 

world music

Some music seems to arrive by stealth, made by someone entirely unknown who manages to beguile the ears and the heart. Stella Ariente is one of those albums. It seems to exist out of time; the music could equally have appeared in the 16th century as the 21st and felt completely at home. This is religious singing, from the oral tradition of Alta Murgia in Bari, just above the heel of Italy. Maria Moramarco, from a family of singers, seems to have been collecting songs since the 1970s. She appeared on a 2007 album with the group Uaragniaun, but this seems to be the first release under her own name. Quite sublime it is, too, musically hewing out a space between sacred and folk music, where late Renaissance music can mingle with hints of North Africa, all adding to the oral tradition that Moramarco so obviously reveres. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some of the songs.

Stella Ariente is our choice for the first Music of the Month selection for 2022. Find out how to subscribe and get music in your mailbox every month as our thank-you for your contribution to RootsWorld.

 

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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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