The Crammed Discs All Stars
20 Ways to Float Through Walls (Crammed Discs Cram 129, 2007)
This various-artists compilation is not, Crammed Discs founder Marc Hollander would have us believe, a "world music" album, but rather one that’s concerned with dissolving barriers between musical cultures and styles. I never unnecessarily concern myself with categorization, I merely found this to be a highly enjoyable and varied selection of music that’s frequently quirky and unfailingly beyond ordinary.
The Crammed label leans heavily toward electronic fusion, and most of the examples on this CD thankfully retain a flesh-and-blood musical core amongst the modern shaping and shifting. Brazilian roots are a recurring thing, as heard in the work of Apollo Nove, DJ Dolores, Zuco 103, Celso Fonseca and others, each bringing varying degrees of techno razzle-dazzle.
There are a number of Balkan excursions as well, including unadorned and electronically treated tracks by Romania’s Taraf de Haidouks, Macedonia’s Kocani Orkestar getting a Latin makeover from Senor Coconut and rousing newcomers Mahala Rai Banda.
Africa is represented (sparsely-maybe Crammed needs to explore more possibilities there) by a track each from the two mind-bending Congotronics albums and Mali’s mighty Tuareg outfit Tartit.
Global mixups from such varied locales as the U.S. (Tuxedomoon), the U.K. (Wise in Time) and Belgium (Think of One, Flat Earth Society) carry things to ever higher sonic stratospheres.
I’ll have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Hollander: In my estimation this is a world music album because so many elements from the world over are skillfully and cleverly combined here.