A World Music Magazine

world music Collaborations by musicians from what we often consider "developed" nations and those still developing are popping up like mushrooms after a good soaking... we're awash in electronic updates on traditional folk forms and strange, tough-to-pin-down experimentation that exists outside previously known sonic space. Yalla Miku, on the other hand, manages to pull from its members' various heritages- Morocco, Eritrea, Algeria, and Switzerland to concoct a stew that reveals North and East African instruments and styles before wrapping them up in motoric hypnosis and post-punk jitters. The band, who call Geneva home, came into being when the European musicians connected with three North and East African immigrants, all three of whom have harrowing tales of hard travels and rough beginnings in their new home. Unlike the collaborators mentioned above, Yallu Miku neither dresses up the traditional in new clothes, nor largely eschews the musicians' solo impulses. Instead, they reimagine what might be considered African or traditional in blankets of their own making, thanks to the musicians being physically connected with one another on a full time basis. Read Bruce Miller's review.


world music Les Abranis were made up of Kabyle Berber French Algerians, featuring two members, Shamy El Baz and Karim Abdenour, who met in Paris in the 1960s and bonded over a mutual love of rock and roll. So when they left France to play in a 1973 Algiers-based festival, they shocked the conservative country's television and live audience by cranking out some seriously primitive garage-based rock antics and, more crucially, by singing in their native Kabyle, identifying themselves as belonging to a group that the Algerian government had discriminated heavily against since the country's 1962 independence from France. So that TV appearance mentioned above shows a group that pushed at the boundaries of what Algerian music was at the time, and used their love of everything from Fela to James Brown to Hendrix, as well as their membership of a cosmopolitan North African diaspora in Paris to record music that still seems radical. Hear the music while you read Bruce Miller's review of Amazigh Freedom Rock 1973-1983. (


world music

world music

New England pianist Neil Pearlman's Refractions takes Scottish and Gaelic song airs as the basis for his solo piano improvisational development. The airs are varied, non-obvious and well-chosen, from a large variety of sources that show his extensive familiarity with the repertoires and compositions of present-day musicians and with the most interesting of the printed collections.

Much of Scottish fiddler Iain Fraser's Kōterana is of his own composition, but like Pearlman, he draws on a discriminating choice of traditional Gaelic vocal and instrumental material from the past and present. Its title is the Māori word for Scotland, and it commemorates and evokes the globe-spanning journey by the Reverend Norman McLeod and his congregation, that began with him leaving Assynt in the West Highlands and culminated, via Cape Breton and Australia, with a Gaelic-speaking settlement in New Zealand. But even without any knowledge of the story it's an album full of life and strong tunes.
Explore these new visions of Scottish music in Andrew Cronshaw's review.


world music

world music

Here are two releases that are vitally important documents concerning peoples' desire to preserve their languages and culture. Both recordings are resolutely modern, but they could not sound more different.

Tarai's Empty Drum has a starkness to it that might remind the listener of post-punk; the band refers to itself as an indie, post-folk band. Their roots lie with the Chuvash people, a group that lives in the Volga River region in central Russia. Tarai are now based in Tallinn, Estonia, which provides them with an opportunity to reflect on their homeland. As one of the trio says, "Should I abandon my mother tongue in the name of economic benefits?"

Merema take the listener on a journey amongst Mordavian villages on Eryamon' Koytneva (Spiral of Life). They began as an "ethnographic folklore studio" with the intention of preserving the languages and traditions of their region. They are deeply involved in field research in their homeland, and when they perform, Merema do so in traditional costumes out of respect for their ancestors. But, it's sound is likely to stop many listeners in their tracks. The band produces a massive wall of sound that will easily appeal to lovers of the Swedish band Hedningarna. Read Lee Blackstone's review and hear some of the music.


world music Composer and Hardanger fiddle-player Anne Hytta's Brigde is a collaboration with the Telemark Chamber Orchestra, the instrumentation being limited to strings, apart from the addition of percussionist Amund Sjølie Sveen playing wine glasses, of which Sveen turns out to be a specialist, and that's the sound which begins and ends the opening track. The sound is sparse and ethereal and an indication of what is to come, but not the whole picture. Whilst most of the repertoire of the Hardanger fiddle consists of dance music, even in this there can be a dark, introspective quality, particularly in older manifestations of the tradition. It feels as if that is what Hytta is drawing attention to here, seeking a way to bring an equivalent into the orchestral writing and it works extremely well. Read Mike Adcock's review and hear some samples and full tracks from the album.


world music Erol Josué's second album seduces listeners into a magnetic web of the spiritualism of Haitian vodou. Pèlerinaj (Pilgrimage) also opens a window onto the integration of vodou and its pantheon of spirits, or lwas, into the daily life, aspirations, and politics of Haiti. In fact it was on the night of August 22, 1791, when two slaves, Dutty Boukman, a maroon of Sénégambian/Jamaican parentage, and Cécile Fattiman, of Haitian/Corsican birth, presided over the vodou ceremony that would consecrate the Haitian revolution launched on the very next day.

To achieve his musical and personal mission, Erol Josué has gathered together an august team of creative companions from various musical and geo-cultural realms, well-suited to express the authenticity and heart of Pèlerinaj's rhythm and ritual. Read Carolina Amoruso's review and listen to the music.


world music At the age of 33, Cecilé McLorin Salvant has already begun to define her legacy. She has an innate understanding of jazz that allows her to improvise, scat, interpret and mix genres effortlessly. This makes listening to her sing a time loop experience, where you are both in the past and present with the future looming ahead. Salvant's ability to sing in multiple languages is, in part, due to her being the child of a French mother and Haitian father.

The story told in Mélusine has a common theme of imagining women as witches, mermaids and various other transformations in Greek mythology. It conjures a European folklore legend sung in French, Occitan and Haitian Creole, with her own compositions, and selections dating from the 12th Century. She uses these songs and stories in part to convey a character she plays in many of her songs - an intelligent coquette who is more interested in playing with men's affection than seeking it out. Read Lisa Sahulka's full review, listen to some tracks from the album and see a video of a live performance.


world music For their third album, and first in five years, Floating Sofa Quartet becomes a revolving quintet on all nine tracks of Sofa Songs, as a cast of vocalists from several of the Nordic countries join in - Pia Raug, Topi Saha, Maria Kalaniemi, PK Keränen, Izabelle Norén, Esbjörn Hazelius, Mia Guldhammer, Ale Möller, and Lars Linholt. But as you might expected from a band that's never done the obvious thing, this isn't quite as straightforward as it might seem. It's actually a series of audio and video recordings made at locations that have meaning for the singers, all done between 2019 and 2022. Chris Nickson reviews, and you can read, listen and watch.


world music

Any album from Tuvan singer Sainkho Namtchylak will defy expectations. Namtchylak learnt the technique of throat singing from her grandmother and this, along with other vocal styles she grew up with, informs her work, though it does not define it. She has had a long career exploring new approaches to singing through experimentation and working alongside artists from different backgrounds. Improvisation is at the heart of much of what she does and that is, by definition, music made in the moment. Where water meets water: Bird songs & lullabies was recorded on the abandoned islands in the waters around Venice, a set of improvised wordless vocalizations, lightly touched by the ambient sounds of the surroundings in which they were recorded by Ian Brennan.   Read Mike Adcock's review and listen.


world music King Ayisoba is part of a recent wave of global interest in kologo players from Ghana's far northeast Bongo District. Less slick than some of his earlier releases, Work Hard revels in jagged, sometimes distorted grooves that never let up. "Good Things God Knows" jolts the record into action with Ayisoba's sandpaper rasp before his kologo (2-stringed lute) enters, followed quickly by electronic percussion, autotuned harmony vocals, and a rhythmic relentlessness as he declares that everything we do is pre-ordained. Read Bruce Miller's review and hear some of the music.


world music Since 2019, Moldova-based Antonovka Records has released 96 digital albums of field recordings of the vocal and instrumental traditional music of largely minority peoples. These aren't from some kind of archive; nearly all are recorded since 2017 and new ones are still being recorded and released regularly by Russian-born music enthusiast and recordist Anton Apostol. Andrew Cronshaw delved deep into this expansive catalog, and interviewed Apostol by e-mail. Read their conversation and listen to just a small sampling of the musical world.


world music Dur Dur Int. was a popular golden-age dance band, making otherworldly, dance floor-saturating funk from Somalia, What makes The Berlin Session so spectacular is that its existence is the direct result of new attention directed at this highly infectious, speaker-rattling music from Somalia's more stable past. Recorded in Berlin in 2019 with equipment that picked up the room's echo perfectly as the band played live, the reunion served to bring exiled singers together with Dur Dur's original bassist, as well younger players who keep the flame of this music burning. Read Bruce Miller's review and hear a few tracks.


world music To set the new album by Nyokabi Kariũki in the correct context, we need to conjure cento poems, found sounds, languages, the African diaspora, COVID as well as the music that animates Feeling Body. This work is a collage of natural elements, primarily the healing powers of water, a Kikuyu tribal philosophy, but also the power of words in convincing ourselves that there is another side to despair.

Kariũki was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. The album was recorded in New York and Maryland where the composer and musician splits her time. She has summoned a body of music that requires deep intellectual and spiritual contemplation to fully appreciate its depth. It is an engrossing work that transports the listener to a private environment that is all encompassing. Listen to some of the music and read Lisa Sahulka's review.


world music It's a very rare thing, but once in a long, long while an album comes along to get the blood pumping, stir the imagination and upend everyone's expectations. Hack-Poets Guild is a collaboration between three very experienced musicians and they've created something unique. Given access to the vast collection of old broadside ballads in Oxford's Bodleian Library, they emerged to create Blackletter Garland, a record that sometimes adapts the originals, sometimes takes them as a springboard for something new, and sometimes uses the words directly, but frames everything in an utterly original musical context. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen.


world music When you listen to the duo of Sam Reider and Jorge Glem toss melodies and rhythms back and forth song after song, the other thing you can hear is the fun that sparks up between them. The pairing of a Venezuelan cuatro and an accordion is unusual, but the duo make the match seem natural even as they turn their joint journey into a worldwide exploration on Brooklyn Cumaná. Read Marty Lipp's review and listen.


world music Lankum do intensity. They always have; it's pretty much their stock-in-trade. But what they've done in the past seems almost mild compared to the full-on feel that marks out False Lankum. The Dublin quartet spread their musical wings, bring in some guests and take a trip into psychedelia, and all that while upping that intensity. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen.


world music 38 years together and still going strong. That's not a bad history, although inevitably it involves a few changes. Swedish band Väsen is making their second recorded appearance as a duo on Milliken, with Olov Johansson on the nyckelharpa and Mikael Marin playing an assortment of bowed instruments. The sound is unmistakable; rich and complex and woody, the notes flowing free, so carefully interwoven that it's hard to tell where one player ends and the other takes over. That long-honed mix of precision and freedom is on display from the start... Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to the strings.


world music

Polobi and the Gwo Ka Masters' Abri Cyclonique is largely the production work of Irish-Parisian producer Doctor L - aka Liam Farrell. This record doesn't sound anything like actual Gwoka drumming and singing, which is what 69 year old Creole singer and drummer Moise Polobi, from Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe, became obsessed with as a boy... Abri Cyclonique allows Polobi the song creator and vocalist a chance to apply his booming voice to tracks about his ancestry, fishing for crayfish, and the spirits that watch over the land in a Creole language of his own invention. In other words, this isn't a Gwoka record. It doesn't need to be. Instead, the music here is based on select tracks from a mountain of cassette tapes Polobi had recorded of himself singing and drumming, which a neighboring musician, Klod Kiavue, sifted through. Read Bruce Miller's full review, hear some music and watch 2 videos.


world music Thanks to more than a quarter century of scholarly work, as well as a growing number of young, contemporary African American banjo players, it is increasingly well understood that this often maligned, misunderstood, yet ubiquitous North American folk instrument came from West Africa... Perhaps nothing comes closer in resemblance and direct ancestry to the American banjo than the ekonting, found in far-west Africa's Senegambia region... The music on Ears of the People: Ekonting Songs from Senegal and Gambia is a revealing look at this instrument. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen to the music.


world music This is the second album from Finnish trio Ensemble Gamut!. They describe themselves as an "experimental collective of early music and folk music specialists, who are constantly searching for new ways to perform early music," and certainly do what they claim on RE. They take medieval sacred music from their country, along with some rune songs, and even an original, and reimagine them. While they never lose the eerie beauty of the original melodies, or the fragile sense of holiness, they weave a web that crosses time, from the Middle Ages to the modern day, with subtle electronics underpinning the voices, bowed lyre, flutes and harp. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear some of the music.


world music

Lía Naviliat Cuncic brings the polish of classical music and the romance of Latin America to Como una Flor sin Raices, the first release under her lead. Of Uruguayan and Chilean background, Natiliat Cuncic was born in Belgium and moved to France, where she studied Western classical music and voice... Now, she steers her maiden voyage back to South America and the music of her own heritage.

Como una Flor sin Raices encapsulates many-colored beadlets of musical travels and sentiment that she releases into the soundsphere with her finely honed voice, eschewing high jinks while embracing measure and clarity. Naviliat Cuncic pairs the music of the southern New World and its multiple genres with that of the Old, handily vaunting the baroque, and she uses her lyrics to summon the aching, the reckonings and the resiliency of her, and our, heart. Read Carolina Amoruso's review and hear some of the music.


world music The Canadian quartet Vinta performs their own original tunes on Beacons, reflecting the influence of musicians from the past, combining a European feel with a North American joyful spring. They have also produced a series of recordings of the tunes by many of those fiddlers, an accordionist and a singer. It was their album Vinta Plays Olitunes, with compositions by the late Oliver Schroer, that attracted Andrew Cronshaw to this ensemble and their ongoing series of releases. These encompass their versions of material from the repertoires of now-passed musicians. Without exception they are beautifully arranged and played by Nathan Smith, Emilyn Stam, John David Williams, and Robert Alan Mackie. Andrew's review introduces you to their debut album, and the first in a continuing series of great tunes from around North America and Europe.


world music The slave trade was an awful thing, buying and selling people and treating them as less than human. But those people were able to carry a few things inside them. One was music, which took on different shapes in the countries where they were carried. Largely, though, slavery didn't exist in Britain (although black Africans have lived here since at least Roman times), so the Isles never had a similar legacy. Angeline Morrison, herself descended from African slaves, has told some of the stories of black people who've lived here. She brings them alive, and makes sure they have a place in history in her latest recording, The Sorrow Songs (Folk Songs Of Black Experience). Read Chris Nickson's review and hear some of the music.


world music The Nordic countries aren't the first place that springs to mind when one thinks of Roma (Gypsy) music. But there are threads of Roma music and generations of musicians in the fabric of the traditional music and song in these countries as in so many others, and indeed they sometimes keep traditions alive that have almost or completely died out in the wider population.

Elias Akselsen is 74, but there's no sign of quavery age in his strong, finely modulated singing. He was born in Norway of Romany Traveller parents. Born on the road, childhood was tough, and he spent 16 years as a street singer in Sweden... Since the late 1970s he's lived back in Norway... upholding and disseminating his culture, making records and working with leading Norwegian musicians. Brilliant multi-instrumentalist Stian Carstensen has, since the turn of the millennium, been a frequent supporter and collaborator. For the album Horta, he and Akselsen are joined by classical, traditional and jazz violinist Ola Kvernberg. Explore this little known branch of the Roma music family in Andrew Cronshaw's review.


world music Baglama master, vocalist and lyricist Derya Yıldırım and Şimşek, a trio of Roland synth, bass, and drums, owe more than a little to classic Turkish Anadolu psych. Part of the reason for the comparison lies in the Yıldırım's baglama playing, which, connects folk and pop effortlessly. There's also her rhythm section's loping, analogue funk grooves that are buoyant with 1970's warmth. Both bassist/guitarist Antonin Voyant and drummer Greta Eacott mesh effortlessly, allowing Graham Mushnik's synth to weave melodies that complement Yildirim's voice and saz. Bruce Miller reviews.


world music Shriekback were a big name some 40 years ago, parading their dark, intelligent dance music, their videos spreading the gospel far and wide in the days when MTV was young and daring. Formed by keyboard player Barry Andrews, once of XTC, they had a sound that was completely their own and a taste for curiously enigmatic lyrics.

Spring forward four decades and Shriekback are still going and releasing albums. Except Bowlahoola (the title comes from William Blake's poem, "Milton") is actually an Andrews solo project. Not that you'd know it from the music. Even to someone unfamiliar with the band in recent times, the sound is instantly identifiable as Shriekback... Today they still make music to propel the feet, but they're very much about songs – which brings the realization that they were always really song and dance men. Chris Nickson reminds you to think, and to dance.


world music Recorded by the umuduri (musical bow) and ikinyuguri (rattle) duo of Justin and Eric Iyamuremye in an apartment building in Kigali,Uganda, this music features not only the hypnotic repetition of the bow and rattle's 1-2-3-4-5 pulse, but also their vocal harmonies, which showcase an unmistakable mournful depth so unique to Rwandan music. Tracks don't deviate much musically from one to the next, as Justin's single-string bow remains in a fixed key. However, on occasion, the rhythm shifts in emphasis, while the duo's vocals answer each other and work in unison or solo. Read Bruce Miller's full review and listen.


world music Orfélia note that their inspiration for the title of their new album, Tudo o Que Move comes from Gilberto Gil's tune "Aqui e Agora" ("Here and Now") with the lyrics "love is all that moves." Orfélia at its best captures this sound with the guitar work of Filipe Mattos and the vocals and piano of Antera Mattos. But it is fair to say that this music rendered poorly can sound processedt. The songs on Tudo o Que Move that stand out are lovely and have a depth that makes them intriguing. Lisa Sahulka reviews.


world music Studio Shap Shap's music seems to have gone through a radical change since the Niamey, Niger-based quintet's last LP in 2016. Gone is the dominant role Laetitia Cecile's piano and voice once played, though she is still very much present. Gone too are the hazy, mid-tempo, nearly ambient excursions so plentiful on their debut. The field recordings remain, but this time, they appear to be less about capturing the group's natural outdoor studio ambiance and more to do with adding layers, before, after, and during many of Le Monde Moderne's tracks. Spoken word snippets, looped vocals coming from loudspeakers, and other veiled samples permeate tracks, causing unsettling whirlwinds... Bruce Miller reviews.


world music The trio Wernyhora come from the extreme south-east of Poland, on the edge of the Carpathians near the meeting of Poland with Ukraine and Slovakia. So it's natural that they focus on the traditional songs of their region, where several peoples meet ... The majority of the songs on Toloka, which are all in Ukrainian (with Polish and English translations of their very interesting and beautiful lyrics included in the booklet), are drawn from the many-volume collection that ethnologist Oskar Kolberg made across Poland in the 19th century, plus some from more recent sources including one from field recording work by the group's hurdy-gurdyist Maciej Harna. Read Andrew Cronshaw's full review and listen.


world music

Even before you start playing the album, the cover is guaranteed to grab attention: a woman walking across a field, her head replaced by a bunch of flowers. So far, so surrealist for Danish multi-instrumentalist and composer Henriette Flach. In recent years she has built quite a reputation on fiddle, Hardanger fiddle and nyckelhapa, playing variously with Mynsterland, Tailcoat, and the relentlessly questing Penny Pascal. While Skyklokke, her solo debut, stretches few boundaries, her compositions are melodic and eminently satisfying, ready to trip the light fantastic. Chris Nickson reviews. Listen along.


world music Playscapes is the third solo album from Tuulikki Bartosik and it marks something of a departure from her earlier releases. Although the accordion remains at the centre of things she has extended the possibilities it offers by using various pedals to alter the tone and also to loop short melodic motifs, which gives many of the tracks a repetitive, minimalist quality. Bartosik also plays piano, harmonium and an Estonian zither, similar to the Finnish kantele, as well as singing on some tracks. Mike Adcock listens in on her musical travelogue.


world music New Zealand band Te Vaka was founded by singer and songwriter Opetaia Foa'i in 1994. Since then the group of musicians and dancers, some of whom have Polynesian backgrounds in Samoa, Tokelau and Tuvalu, have traveled the world presenting their contemporary take on Pacific music... This new release serves to dispel any suspicions that their commercial success - including the Beijing and London Olympics and contributions to the soundtrack of the Disney film Moana, might have led them to lose sight of their musical origins. This is essentially an album of percussion - log drums, skin drums and shakers - which retains the raw excitement of the Polynesian traditions of music and dance for which the group have become ambassadors. Mike Adcock hears the Beats: Vol.3


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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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