Awards for World Music 2004

Various artists

BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2004 (Manteca
MANTDCD224,2004)

Here we go ‘round again. This year’s finalists from the third annual BBC Radio 3
Awards for World Music on another well-annotated, thoughtfully-programmed
selection, featuring a track from each artist’s most recent album. There are 32
tracks/artists in all over the 2CDs and the emphasis here is more towards the
uptempo. For example, the set kicks off with one of my favourite Brazilians – DJ
Dolores and his band, Orchestra Santa Massa, a brightly-coloured magpie
collective taking musical influence and inspiration from the world scene
pick’n’mix style and presenting it to the world with a very Brazilian (ie
innovative) edge. A perfect choice as winner for this year’s re-vamped ‘Fusion’
category, re-packaged as ‘Club Global’. On it goes, through a veritable who’s
who in 2003/4 world music hipness and reflecting the spinning axis that is the
world music cognoscenti, who dictate the direction we’re looking for new sounds
through the very process of this awards system. As fashion has it, European
artists have twice as many entries here compared to almost any other region –
Latin America/North America/Asia/Middle East & North Africa/Africa – and the
Pacific region scores a totally under-represented zero presence. This is a
complaint and, of course, is a criticism of the awards process itself, not of
this generally fine set with high spots including Turkish renaissance man Mercan
Dede, whose work from a Sufi root spreads out to encompass the very traditional
to the ultra-contemporary, one of two excellent Polish acts in the finals –
Warsaw Village Band, a track from Cesaria Evora’s terrific new album ‘Voz d’amor’,
London’s very own groove machine Oi Va Voi and North African chanteuse Souad
Massi with ‘Bel El Madhi’ (The Gate Of The Past), from her classy 2003 release,
Deb’.

There are some low points too: the (frankly) political choice of dodgy
pop purveyor Kazem Al Sahir from Iraq, Trilok Gurtu’s inspirational but mostly
incomprehensible studio work and the not very convincing Euro/Brazilian hybrid
that is Zuco 103 all fail to impress and do detract from the overall feel of the
collection. Compiler/awards presenter Rita Ray has done an excellent job within
her remit and the release is well worth the money, but I predict you’ll be using
the ‘delete’ option on your CD programmer for certain tracks before too long.

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