Songs of Freedom

Kabul Workshop  - Trigana
Kabul Workshop – Trigana
Kabul Workshop

Trigana (Tinder Records, 2002)

Imperialism in all its guises and current world politicking have created a new diaspora with many of the musical
results ending up in London or Paris. For instance the international electronic outfit, Kabul Workshop includes
exiles from Afghanistan and India that when combined with Euro influences creates something positive out of
something devastating. The title of the CD, Trigana translates to, “tri is for three in English and gana for three in Indian.” Kabul
Workshop formed by a Neapolitan, Francesco Russo and an Afghan Khaled Arman fuses the best of French
and English electronica with Persian and Indian music. The sound of tablas rip through electronic drum beats
and a tar (Persian lute), other exotic instruments and keyboards ride over the funky wave. Afghan vocalist
Massoud Raonaq’s serpentine vocals weave into the tapestry of exotic instrumentation creating the perfect mix
for DJs and those into the trance scene.

The CD liner notes are a bit confusing since it list a different set of musicians than in the group’s BIO. The
musicians that appear on the CD include Khaled Arman on Rubab and tar, Ikram Khan on sarangi, Hanif Khan
on tablas, Massoud Raonaq on vocals and Francesco Russo on piano and keyboards. The
music here reminds us to dance off our frustrations, anger and sadness to reach a place of inner peace. If
these musicians can do it, anyone can.

 www.tinderrecords.com

(Originally published on the
Cranky Crow World Music
site).

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Mísia, New Fado CD and German Tour

Misia - Canto
Misia – Canto
Germany – Fado singer Mísia has recorded a new album titled Canto. The album will be in stores  October 10th.

To promote the album, Mísia will present her new repertoire October 4th, at the “Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage” in Berlin. The award was created by the cultural journal “Lettre International” together with the Goethe Institut Inter Nationes and the Aventis Foundation. The ceremony will take place at the “Tipi” in Berlin. The ceremony will be broadcast in part on “Arte”.

Mísia will also be in Germany on tour in January 2004:
20.01. Berlin, Philharmonie
22.01. Karlsruhe, Konzethaus
23.01. Freiburg, Herz Jesu Kirche
27.01. Düsseldorf, Tonhalle
28.01. Bonn,, Brückenforum
30.01. Darmstadt, Centralstation
31.01. Hamburg, Musikhalle
05.02. München, Herkulessaal

Mísia talks about the new recording: “A work based on the music of Carlos Paredes has always been part of my gallery of the impossible. That’s where I store records born out of the pictures of Marc Rothkos, records that are accomplices of Louise Bourgeois’ sculptural crimes, records that have fled out of Francesca Woodman’s photographs or were strangled because of Peter Handke.  And let’s not forget Arsenii Tarkovskii and other unsingable writers – or are they? … “Shouldn’t a needle, aerial and alive, guide me through the world like a thread“.

It seemed a lot more reasonable to continue to nourish my wonderful and neurotic relationship with Fado.

Beyond all reason and possessed by fury and tenderness, I finally recorded this album in seven months.

On one side stood the brilliancy of the work of Paredes, on the other the resistance of and the responsibility for the material.

It was important to listen carefully to the “opinions” the record offered. To choose the repertoire by following a song line that only I could hear instinctively within myself. To find someone gifted with the necessary sensibility and skill to fit verses of unforeseeable metric into that music. To look for an arranger and musical producer who would understand the popular and docile character, the Portuguese side and the universal dimension of this work without hurting its relevance or its authenticity.  To challenge my Fado guitarists from Lisbon to use a different musical language from their own. To
sing without converting the pieces into caricatures of a “forced Fado” or neglecting the “soul of Fado” that is forever embodied in my voice.

If Fado is “a way of feeling”, a “state of mind”, then this, without the shadow of a doubt, is a Fado record, even if the music contained in it is not Fado.

I always knew that a new “corpus” would emerge out of the encounter of all these creative particularities. I never wanted to approach an insipid copy of an aesthetic that belongs to Paredes and only to Paredes, an aesthetic that only he and nobody else can master, that will forever be his secret.

“Canto” is a gift ….

Only now, after twenty five years of traveling and living on and off stages I am ready to give in peace, without fear.

I want to thank everyone who has helped my to do this record. I am particularly obliged to Vasco Graça Moura, author of most of the lyrics. I thank him for writing for a particular voice for the first time, for giving his poetic wisdom and his talent, for his extraordinary comprehension of metric necessities that are implied in such a work. For being elegantly true to Paredes’ intentions,
respecting the history of a piece of music here (António Marinheiro – Presságio de Alfama), integrating references to a title into his poems there (Cançao para Titi – Tia minha gentil). And finally I thank him for having written with such awe inspiring beauty that I felt I was growing while singing his words, growing out of a depth inside me whose existence I ignored.

I thank Sérgio Godinho (author of my first original Fado written thirteen years ago) for the matchless quality of his text for “Raiz” and for the friendship that motivated him to write it. Thank you, Sérgio!

To be able to sing such a classic piece as “Verdes Anos” in itself is reason enough to thank its author, Pedro Tamen.

Many thanks also to Henri Agnel, an artist specialized in Arabic and Renaissance music, who has accompanied Paredes on his French tours and who has been familiar with his work for more than thirty years now, for the richness and emotionality of his arrangements.

In “Cançao para Titi” we hear the rhythm of the oriental dance “baladi” from southern Egypt (Nubia); at the beginning of “raiz” we hear the Persian rhythm “from the mother” or “of the heart beat” and later, the rhythm of a dance from the renaissance.

The cistre, a kind of lute used at the Elizabethan court (and, according to some, the ancestor of the Portuguese guitar) creates a medieval pitch in the improvisation in “Ah Nao II”. And we hear the sophisticated sounds of the string quintet of the Camerata de la Bourgogne in perfect harmony with our Portuguese guitar and the Fado guitar from Lisbon.

This song (canto) of mine is for Carlos Paredes, and in are the best things I could find to give him.

I will never know if “the musician” would have liked this record, but I want to believe that his generous heart will one day sense the love and veneration with which this work was devised, felt and done.
Mísia

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More Fun in the Desert

Justin Adams - Desert Road
Justin Adams – Desert Road
Justin Adams

Desert Road (World Village, 2002)

During the Victorian era many French and English adventure seekers headed to Imperialist Africa to escape
Victorian confines and to battle the powers of a harsh natural environment. One doesn’t have to go too far to
find examples other than reading one of numerous novels written about taming nature and turning nomadic or
indigenous people into proper English and French speaking citizens.

Today the continent of Africa lures a different sort of adventurer, most likely hypnotized by Africa’s wild diversity
of rhythms, cacophony of voices singing out in ancient languages and musicians passing on the knowledge of
ancient instruments. Why else would anyone brave the desert heat and diseases like Malaria? Today
musicians and artists from various western cultures fall under Africa, our tribal mother’s trance. It’s as if she
calls these wayward musicians back to the comfort of her breasts where the artists are then nurtured into a
new creative force that is literally blowing away an old paradigm on the planet. Where once explorers came to
rob the indigenous cultures of their languages, music and tribal ways by calling the indigenous way the “devil’s
making,” now musicians explore and incorporate many rich musical traditions as part of a cultural exchange. Musicians such as Justin Adams have formed new friendships with indigenous musicians and we get a sense
of the birth of a new world just waiting to happen. Of course the North African desert and the Middle East isn’t
new to Adams who spent his childhood years living in the desert and like most childhood experiences this one
has come full circle for Adams who in any case, always had a pension of Arabic rhythms and the songs
snaking their way through the Sahara’s desert. Influenced by the Clash, reggae, American Black music (blues)
and Tuareg music, Adams after 20 years of collaborating and producing other musical acts, recorded his first
solo album in a lo-tech studio in his home. Desert Road might have been recorded in a small studio, yet the
songs here come across as complex with various layers of guitar tracks, percussion and Adams even found a
new use for a cardboard box.

Adams’ story is a long one that can be condensed into a few fateful encounters. A friend living in France
introduced him to Lo’Jo which led to Adams producing two Lo’Jo CD’s. Then later, Adams produced
Tinariwen’s first album leading to his involvement with the inaugural Festival in the Desert which took place
during the first full moon of the millennium (eclipse). Adams shared a make-shift stage with such acts as Lo’Jo
and Tinariwen, again leading to a birth of a new music festival. And Adams Desert Road garners its
inspiration from this special time in the Sahara.

Recalling Tom Waits, Lou Reed (Velvet Underground), American blues, Bob Dylan and Tinariwen, Adams
combines Arabic percussion and layers of bluesy guitar while creating a coupling of ambient and snaky blues.
It is familiar and unfamiliar to the ear at the same time. Adams plays several instruments including electric
guitar, steel string, bass, the ancient lute instrument, Ngoni, Bendir, bells, finger cymbals, Hopi shaker, an
electric organ and a cardboard box. Percussionist Salah Dawson Miller joins Adams on the tracks Wayward
and Majnoun and Leila. Out of the Woods recalls early Bruce Springstien and contemporary Tom Waits in
the way that Adams’ gruff vocals punctuate his guitar playing.

Dark Sea could easily be performed by the Canadian act The Cowboy Junkies, an act familiar with ambient
blues and the song certainly sets a melancholic mood augmented by hush tones. The lyrics read, “They say
that this road is made for walking–take my hand–made for talking.” Wayward could be an homage to
Tinariwen since it is performed in a Tuareg style. Runway with its sonic guitars could easily fall into the grunge
category, not surprising since many of those musicians were heavily influenced by American blues. Finally,
Wallahee mixes Arabic percussion with steel string creating an unusual aural effect.

I am not a big fan of blues and yet, I really have enjoyed listening to the tracks on Adams’ Desert Road.
Adams has taken old traditions and along with other world musicians has helped in giving birth to a new
musical style dubbed the desert blues.

www.worldvillagemusic.com

(Compliments of Cranky Crow World Music).

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EMI Group plc Entering into non-exclusive Discussions with AOL Time Warner Inc

London, England – In view of speculation in the weekend press, EMI Group plc announced today that it has now entered non-exclusive discussions with AOL Time Warner Inc. with regard to a possible transaction involving the recorded music division of the Warner Music Group.

Discussions are at a very preliminary stage and there is no assurance that they will result in an agreement acceptable to both parties. Any potential transaction would be subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

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WOMEX News – September 22, 2003

womex-250Berlin, Germany – By the Guide Rate deadline on Friday, 12 September, there have been as many pre-registrations for WOMEX 2003 as there had been last year in total. Participants can have a look at the Who is Coming list and the Exhibitors list at Who is Coming.

WOMEX expanded its hours and will officially open one day earlier on Wednesday evening.On Sunday, participants will have two hours more for trade fair business beforethe Award Celebration starts at 14:00.

WEDNESDAY: On Wednesday, early birds can pick up their registration badge and WOMEX Bag and set up their stand from 17:00 – 20:30.

Wednesday night at 20:30is the official WOMEX & WORLD FLAMENCO FAIR OPENING. Don’t miss it with the first WOMEX showcase of MUSAFIR (Rajasthan/India) and the WFF showcase of DAVID PENA DORANTES “SUR” (Spain)

SUNDAY: The WOMEX AWARD CELEBRATION for Freemuse – the World Forum on Music and Censorship ( http://www.freemuse.org ) will be celebrated on Sunday at 14:00 with showcases by AMAL MURKUS (Palestine/Israel) and MARCEL KHALIFE (Lebanon/France).It is followed by the announcement of the nominees for the BBC RADIO 3 AWARDS FOR WORLD MUSIC.

This is always a good opportunity for last meetings and farewell so keep it in mind when planning your return home. After the Award Celebration you can still visit the World Flamenco Fair with its last showcases until 20:30.

WOMEX PHOTOGRAPHER

Each year WOMEX features a different official WOMEX photographer. This year, Robert Corwin will secure best coverage of all WOMEX activities. Robert has been photographing folk and roots based music for 38 years. His work is seen in CDs, publications, promotion, television, and official Olympic t-shirts and posters and on the web at http://www.robertcorwin.com. As the official photographer, Robert
is available to photograph artists or stand exhibit in the trade fair as well as other activities.

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Face the Music

John Wubbenhorst and Facing East – Facing Beloved
John Wubbenhorst and Facing East

Facing Beloved (Facing East Productions 03050541, 2003)

A lot of fusion music has been based on and around the sounds of India. So what sets this apart? Well, the title and content of the opening track, “Continuous Celebration,” might give you a clue. This is stuff that makes you feel glad to be alive in a world where there often isn’t a lot to feel glad about. Flutist Wubbenhorst and his bandmates (percussionists Subash Chandran and Ganesh Kumar, guitarist Jorge Zamorano and bassist Steve Zerlin) are dazzlingly good musicians who clearly don’t feel the need to spend every second showing off how dazzling they are. Yes, many of the complexities of Indian music and the fusion it inspires are here, but the fact that these guys can get away with naming a track “Infectuoso Groovatissmo” shows they’re having fun and they want the fun to be catching. The moodier selections like “There is Only Light” serve as sort of palette-cleansers (albeit good ones) between the livlier pieces where the sparks really fly.

This band’s debt to such trailblazers as Shakti is acknowledged on “John Beyond” and elsewhere, though not only through the shared characteristics of nimble acoustic guitar and ghatam (clay pot drum) work. Like Shakti, Facing East are able to sustain lengthy compositions like the 15-minute title track, unfolding stark melodic colors that gradually give way to rhythmic euphoria that is equal parts wild and controlled. They blaze their own trail by emphasizing the rhythms of southern India, not bothering with the familiar tabla drum and instead utilizing the ghatam and kanjira (lizard skin frame drum) as their percussive backbone.

The combination of the two achieves some nicely slippery lock-ups with the bass and fuels tunes like “Irish Raga” with both chops and charm. This is one of those discs that sounds good off the bat and grows on you with repeated listenings. And if the fine music here is meant to prove the assertion of the liner notes (and a brief spoken excerpt on the album itself) that “there is no greater religion than beauty itself,” hey, that’s good enough to get me to the church on time.

Buy Facing Beloved

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Digital Bled

Digital Bled  - Caravana
Digital Bled – Caravana
Digital Bled (France)
Caravana (Tinder Records)

Digital Bled, led by Portugal’s DJ Joao Pedro Velosos mixes dub, funk, and hip hop tempos with musical
styles from southern Europe and north Africa. When Pedro was 11 years old and living in the suburbs of Paris,
he began to experiment with different instruments and styles of music. As he grew older, he discovered Pink
Floyd, David Bowie and funk (compliments of the theme from the American TV show, Shaft). As the years flew
by, Pedro built a home studio where he mixed soundtracks for movies and fashion shows. Now, along with
other international musicians and DJ’s, Pedro brings us his “electro-transhumance” peppered with Arabic
influences with his latest release, Caravana.While electronica, hip hop and house music is not my thing, Digital Bled will appeal to individuals that enjoy the
rave culture. I prefer acoustic drums and instruments. Still, I try to be open minded when reviewing CD’s
realizing that we all have different taste in musical styles. However, as far as genre goes, Digital Bled offers
some transcendental moments and the Arabic ingredients add an originality to the mix.

www.tinderrecords.com

(Originally appeared on Cranky Crow World Music summer reviews 2002)

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New CD by June Tabor

June Tabor - An Echo of Hooves
June Tabor – An Echo of Hooves
London, England – An Echo of Hooves (Topic Records TSCD543) is the title of June Tabor’s new CD.

The recording features a program made up exclusively of the great traditional folk ballads – story telling at its dark, urgent best. June’s regular trio of accompanists (Huw Warren – piano, cello; Mark Emerson – violin, viola; Tim Harries – double bass) is joined by Martin Simpson, guitar and Kathryn Tickell, Northumbrian pipes.Her first steps to becoming a singer began in the Midlands, before her arrival at Oxford University. She quickly became immersed in Oxford’s lively folk scene but also found time to make an appearance on University Challenge. June quickly developed a reputation as a rare,unaccompanied singer who crawled inside the very heart of every song she performed. The predominantly traditional debut solo album Airs and Graces (Topic) (1976) was followed by Ashes and Diamonds (Topic) which showed a desire to extend her repertoire. By the 1980’s she was working in an inventive duo with the renowned guitarist and singer, Martin Simpson.

Now living in the Welsh countryside, she is passionate), June Tabor continues to portray the world’s glory and grief in a unique and exquisite style

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Charlie Gillett’s World 2003

World 2003, compiled by Charlie Gillett
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA – Following up his World 2002 compilation for Narada, veteran BBC world music DJ Charlie Gillett has collected new music from around the planet for this new double album, World 2003, out on Narada.

Gillett has presented world music on BBC London, BBC Radio 2, and the BBC World Service for over 30 years, establishing a loyal — and global — listening audience.

This album features only the very best music played most frequently on Charlie’s shows — the songs which have received the most enthusiastic audience response, including performances by Lisbon’s Fado sensation Mariza…Mexican-American songstress Lila Downs (who performed on the 75th annual Academy Awards telecast), Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab, young Uzbek star Sevara Nazarkhan, alternative Latin singer Manu Chao and many more.

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3 from 6 Degrees Records

Karsh Kale – Redesign
Karsh Kale – Redesign
(Six Degrees, 2002)

MIDIval PunditZ – MIDIval PunditZ (Six Degrees, 2002)

dj Cheb i Sabbah – Krishna Lila (Six Degrees, 2002)

Redesign 
is a party unto itself with a variety of international DJ or mixing guests including Bill Laswell, DJ Spooky, Ming with FS, Banco De Gaia, MIDIval PunditZ, Navdeep, Mukul and DK/Pyar Amor (the only femme DJ on the disc). The New York City underground dance scene mixes with Euro beats and the New Delhi techno craze in which the guests revamp Kale’s Realized.

Delicate bansuri flutes float in and out of heavy drum beats while the exotic sarangi melts into thumping bass lines. Then haunting vocals compliments of Sarah Sarhandi (Home), Ustad Sultan Khan (Deepest Blue & Light up the Love), Vidya Shah (One Step Beyond & Anja), Fulgani Shah (various) and Shahid Siddiqui float over the top.

Fulgani Shah’s classically trained voice rides over tabla slapping beats (Kale) and bansuri ( Steve Gorn and Ajay Prassana) on Banco de Gaia’s remix of Distance. Bill Laswell’s remix of Empty Hands is nothing short of phantasmagoria. And Light Up The Love could be called a hi-fi Hindu Stereolab. I’ve not heard the original recording that has been remixed here so dubbers and dancers will have to form their own expert opinions regarding Redesign.

MIDIval PunditZ – MIDIval PunditZ
New Delhi electronica sensation MIDIval PunditZ has been dubbed, “A true Indian music outfit for the future,” by Skim Magazine out of Switzerland. For those individuals fortunate enough to have heard MP’s track, Fabric gracing the soundtrack of Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding or caught Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj in concert with Tabla Beat Science (August 2001) will understand the excitement generated by this duo.

Although Raj and Raina knew each other as children, they didn’t bring their collective talents together until 1994 when Gaurev moonlighted as a DJ and Tapan worked as an engineer at a recording studio. The duo pooled funds together from their relations in the same manner that young filmmakers beg and borrow then they formed their own studio. However, it wasn’t until 1997 when Gaurev and Tapan rediscovered ragas and decided to blend the past with the future thus creating a fusion of Indian classical music with modern technology.

MP’s latest CD features India’s top classical vocalists, Vidya Shah and Smiti with flute performances by Rajendra Prassanna and Shailendra skimming the top of heavy bass riffs and drum beats. The end result ranges from slow ambient trance music, to goth to absolutely exotic. The tracks are sexy, provocative and sacred.

Extasis features a santur (a hammered dulcimer that originated in Persia) that proves its power by blending with contemporary instruments. Far From Home showcases the vocal talents of Vidya Shah (an emerging talent). Bhangra Fever offers a lilting and delicate melody enhanced by a pounding surf of dohl drums and chanting. We are told that “Delhi swings.” And of course, there is much evidence to support that statement. New Delhi swings with dot com and electronica. The youth are celebrating their parents’ traditions in the dance clubs across New Dehli where the past and the future melt into one. Mira Nair once said that Indians will take any import and make it their own. Globalization doesn’t pose a threat when a country can transform McDonalds or Hollywood into an authentic product of India. And MIDIval PunditZ has married Euro beats with ragas and created something totally Indian, at the same time foreign and familiar.

DJ Cheb i Sabbah – Krishna Lila
Algerian born and veteran disc spinner dj Cheb i Sabbah’s release Krishna Lila (based on Lord Krishna’s loves with 16,801 wives) completes a trilogy that began with Sabbah’s Shri Durga (1999) and followed by MahaMaya (2000).

Krishna Lila took two years to complete in which Sabbah traveled around India recording Indian virtuoso musicians in New Delhi, Bombay and Madras. The collection of devotional songs on this disc, with the exception with the drum & bass track, Raja Vedalu land in the classical music territory. The album
consists of bhajans sung in praise of Krishna, but the songs are both erotic and sacred (think tantric sex).

Krishna Lila has been divided into South and North while featuring two types of songs, dhun (chants) from the south and the more sophisticated singing style called thumri practiced in North India. Although the Algerian Sabbah had no ties to Indian classical music, he carefully researched his subject then recorded musicians in Madras, Bombay, New Delhi, New York and San Francisco while threading five sung languages into an exquisite tapestry that carries with it a timeless quality.

Sabbah also combined the talents of fellow dj-musicians Karsh Kale and Bill Laswell along with a who’s who of Indian classical music including Madras vocalist Baby Sreeram who sings on the three opening tracks. Other musicians that appear on the CD include A.K. Devi’s on saraswati vina, vocalist Radhika Rajiv and flautist Deepak Ram, just to name a handful.

Krishna Lila (The blue god) successfully blends electronica (used sparingly) and classical ragas while never straying from music’s sacredness. Listeners are introduced to the Carnatic form from South India and Hindustani form of North India. And for listeners unfamiliar with Indian classical music will also be introduced to some new sounds compliments of the santur, bansuri flute, sarod and vina (a sitar like instrument) used in their traditional sense as opposed to enhancing Asian trance music. However, having said that, Krishna Lila compliments Karsh Kale’s Redesign and MIDIval PunditZ’s release.

(Originally appeared on Cranky Crow World Music).

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