We say: Edgy and earthy Sahara blues from the next generation
Bands such as the exciting Etran Finatawa and Tinariwen have already established the sound of guitar–sting'n'vocal chant blues–rock out of the Sahara—but this young band stamps its own take on the style. Tamikrest are outward looking—they have performed live with English alt–folk outfit Tuung and have appeared on the album BKO by US alt–country rockers Dirt Music (which includes singer–songwriter Chris Eckman). Here they haul in a little reggae groove, some dub touches, and even backward guitar.
Even more than so their predecessors, Tamikrest can sound menacing or world–weary. The barbed wire guitar of Ousmane Ag Mossa can be positively life–threatening but the counterpoint comes in his expressive, oddly monotone delivery in places. With ululations and joyous whoops, this is mesmerizing music. They've made their Revolver, first time out.
New Morning (Deluxe Edition)
We say: A revelation—again, and again
The original New Morning album of 2008 by singer–songwriter Malheiros (daughter of Alex, bassist in Brazil's legendary jazz–rock band Azymuth) was quite remarkable for its melding of jazz, bossa, cool mood ballads and lightly swinging songs with a bit of lyrical sinew and muscle. But this reissue is something else again: with some remixes (two by Nicola Conte), an unreleased track, and instrumental versions of a couple off the original release, this sounds like a completely new and different album again. Malheiros' family connections doubtless made it easy to get the cream of Brazil's musicians together, but that takes nothing away from her own talents which are her supple vocals and an intuitive sense of rhythm—as well as being smart enough to step away and let these musicians excel in the space they are given. Beguiling stuff all round. And a new New Morning.
We say: It's a party alright—but you do wonder who is your host
Singer, songwriter and producer Lamine Fellah (aka Sarazino) is a true child of the global village: He was born in Algeria; as the son of a diplomat he lived with his family in Spain, Switzerland, Burundi and Burkina Faso; later studied in Montreal where he made music in various bands, and in '96 moved to Quito in Ecuador. For this melange of styles—Latin grooves, West African pop, Arabic influences and of course the pop music of Equador—Fellah also calls upon reggae legend Toots Hibbert for the driving People, Latin toaster Blanquito man for the dark thump of Mundo Babilon 2/Babylon World and generally mashes up the dance floor with upbeat, groove–oriented material. It's a joyous sound but sometimes you do wonder where Fellah is in all this.
We say: Around the world with goddesses as your guide
Subtitled "Indian Music in Celebration of Goddesses Around the World," this seven track album is unlikely to appeal to women who style themselves as "domestic goddesses". This music by blind multi–instrumentalist (sitar, surbahar, dilruba and more) Shrivastav is rather more ethereal and esoteric than that. With drummer Andy Williams from the UK rock band The Doves (and Linda Shanovitch on vocals for the tribute to Buddhist goddess Guan Yin), this is an album which attempts a great sweep (India to West Africa, Japan to the Pacific Islands).
To their great credit Shrivastav and Williams don't merely hijack something from the cultures but rather assimilate it into music which is engrossing (the percussive Yemanja from West Africa, the lively tin whistles on Dance of Erzulie from Haiti, the brief and disconcerting Journey to Sedna from Inuit belief) and evokes the stories outlined in the excellent liner notes. Not for everyone, but an ambitious project which has worked.
Graham Reid is a New Zealandâ€“based writer whose first book Postcards from Elsewhere won the 2006 Whitcoulls Travel Book of the Year Award in New Zealand. His new collection The Idiot Boy Who Flew won the Whitcoulls Reader Choice award and is available through www.amazon.com. He also hosts his own music/travel/arts website www.elsewhere.co.nz .