A World Music Magazine

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 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


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 Groove& is a South Korean percussion trio with the slightly unpromising name, at least in its transliteration. The skill and precise interaction of the three women - Sang-kyung Lee, Min-ju Sohn and Ha-gyeong Kim - is extraordinary, and every sound has musical significance. Using a wide array of Korean instruments they make music of great melody and texture with a tonal spectrum more fundamental than twelve semitones or chordal harmony, one made of higher and lower, thinner and thicker, longer or short sounds that make perfect, cross-cultural, melodic and internationally accessible sense. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to some of the music.


world music It is hard to believe that this solo album from Alessia Tondo, a singer with a such high-profile band as Italy?s Canzionere Grecanico Salentino, should vanish under the radar, but that seems to be the case for the 2021 release of Sita. Intended, she says, as a healing album, this very personal collection of songs is wondrously intimate. Tondo possesses a siren voice and uses it to full effect - a soft lulling call that crosses all manner of barriers, demonstrating its beauty as she layers tracks and harmonizes with herself. Hear the varied sounds of this remarkable vocalist and read Chris Nickson's review.


world music New in our file of short reviews and audio introductions:

Here's a pair of digital-only EPs from the bouzouki player Jens Ulvsand, who is probably most familiar as a member of the Danish Trio Mio. Born out of something to fill the long days of isolation during Covid lock down, Trad-Groove 1 & 2 are explorations of traditional music, but with a twist. Ulvsand uses bouzouki and a variety of other instruments on this pair of recordings to achieve different results on each.

Come listen and get a few more Sound Bites


world music Ever So Lonely: An interview with Sheila Chandra
"The trouble was I wasn't representative of the larger Asian communities in the UK. I wasn't Punjabi, Gujerati, Bangladeshi, Muslim or Hindu... I wasn't even full blooded Asian – I have an English grandmother who never set eyes on England... Yet I was having to represent all these communities under the disapproving eye of the first generation who had emigrated who felt I was 'bastardizing' their culture with fusion. They didn't see that our culture had to adapt to its context and exist as a living breathing tradition to survive." Sheila Chandra talks with Chris Nickson about a magic time in the 1980s when everything changed.


world music Portuguese is an airy, sonorous language that lends itself especially well to music, whether expressed in the mother tongue, or inflected with Brazil’s multi culture, or fused with the Africanisms of the former Portuguese colonies. Cape Verdean Carmen Souza embodies that affinity; her music, vocals and lyrics are a feast of sensuality, intelligence, rhythm, and the unexpected. Souza’s voice, and how she invents and reinvents it in each tune, is one of her several musical gifts, which include composing, arranging, and as a guitarist and percussionist. Her interpretations of songs on Interconnectedness are so intimate that they seem to be an extension of her very self. Carolina Amoruso delves into the many voices of this unique artist.


world music Retimbrar, based in the city of Porto, is at core a group using the wide range of Portuguese traditional percussion with vocals, but its instrumentation expands to cavaquinho, violin, bass, flutes and more, and for Levantar do Chão they collaborate with a range of individual and ensemble guests, so that the overall impression isn't of a percussion album but a collection of songs, richly varied in melody, rhythm and arrangements. Andrew Cronshaw reviews.


world music It's hard to imagine that Eliza Carthy is celebrating her 30th anniversary as a professional musician. It feels like no time at all since she began, and yet it’s also as if she’s always been there, relentlessly experimental as she kicks at the tradition and writes her own material to sit alongside it. Folk music, maybe, but like her parents, Martin and the late Norma Waterson, her definition of the term has been very elastic and full of surprises. She pulls more than a few here, with a collection partly selected by Twitter. Right from the beginning she wrong foots the listener with a vocal melody on “Whirly Whorl” that works across the instruments. For a moment it’s discombobulating, but makes it apparent that Queen Of The Whirl isn’t an album of reprises. It’s a radical reworking by Carthy and her outstanding band, The RestitutionHear more surprises and read Chris Nickson's review.


world music It’s been 25 years since a compilation called Meisterspel assembled the work of the some the 20th century’s great Norse fiddlers. The problem? Every one of them was male. Celebrated hardanger fiddle player Benedicte Maurseth has put together this response – Systerspel – a pair of CDs with all women featured. Maurseth chose the tracks and wrote the book for which this is the soundtrack. It chronicles a century, beginning in 1919 with Kristiane Lund’s “Fykerud’s Farvel Til Amerika,” one of the very first pieces of music ever recorded in Norway, and carries through to recent days with works by Ragnhild Furebotten, Mari Eggen, Susanne Lundeng, Annbjørg Lien and many more. Spend 100 years with the female fiddlers of Norway and read Chris Nickson's review.


world music

Góbé are a Hungarian band that formed fifteen years ago in Budapest. The band has travelled all around the Carpathian (Pannonian) Basin, a huge area that covers not only Hungary but extends into Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, and Slovakia. “Góbé” translates as “a man with a twisted mind” and perhaps that phrase aptly serves as the band’s manifesto since they integrate a vast number of different musical styles into their interpretations of Hungarian music.

An oft-levelled critique (for better, or worse) of folk-rock is that the music may not be reverential of source materials or respectful of source singers; but, it is worth noting that Góbé have both the training and the chops to allay jaded fears. Read Lee Blackstone's review and hear some music. 

Góbé's album Elem is our selection for Music of the Month for December.


world music At this distance, it’s hard to imagine the musical landscape of 40 years ago. Plenty of synths, crash, New Romantics and elaborate hair. MTV was still a novelty. World music hadn’t acquired its awkward name yet. Such as it was, global sounds comprised ethnological releases, classical music from different cultures, and Bollywood soundtracks that didn’t reach beyond the Asian population. Rock bands had added a sitar here and there in the 1960s, but there was no real cross-cultural invention. Then came Monsoon and the world shifted.

The single “Ever So Lonely” was initially self-released in 1981 and resurfaced a year later on a larger label. The brainchild of musician and producer Steve Coe and multi-instrumentalist Martin Smith, it was the ur-text of so much of what we take for granted today. All those fusions, the Asian Underground, so many of the albums in your collection - they all were born out of this. They also gave singer Sheila Chandra her first platform and taste of stardom. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of “Ever So Lonely,” or the album Third Eye. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen.


world music In his review of the album Where Is Home (Hae Ke Kae), Andrew Cronshaw writes: "In the past year I’ve seen two concerts by South African cellist/singer Abel Selaocoe, who’s becoming deservedly celebrated here in the UK. Each was an absolute tour-de-force.

There was a long standing ovation at a sold-out Queen Elizabeth Hall in London for the brilliant Abel Selaocoe - cellist, singer, composer, improviser, performer, a shining light in bridging between western classical, African and improvising music, in collaboration with his trio and the string players of the Manchester Collective. Inspiring, indeed awe-inspiring, and liberating..." Read Andrew's review of Selaocoe's debut album. It includes works from the album and a full concert video.


world music Some three years after his passing in mid–2019 at 77, we have the final studio album by Mac Rebennack (aka Dr. John). Karla Pratt (executive producer and estate executor) relates that Things Happen That Way is her father’s long-contemplated tribute to the country and western music Rebennack imbibed as a youngster. But the repertoire, pacing, tone, and laid-back groove comprise something closer to musical autobiography and memoir. Michael Stone takes us for one last visit with the Doctor.


world music Torgeir Vassvik is a Coastal Sámi from the small fishing village of Gamvik at northern tip of Norway, on the Barents Sea. The Sámi, northern Europe’s indigenous people, are known for their unique form of vocalisation, the joik, in which the joiker expresses, indeed inhabits, the essence, of an animal, another person or a place. Vassvik, one of the most primal, bold, raw, committed performers you’re likely to see or hear, has evolved ways of keeping it as essentially personal expression. A Place Behind The Gardens Of The Houses - Báiki, his third album, is the first in which he makes all the sounds himself and has done most of the recording and producing. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and hear some of the music.


world music Given that fact that Rachele Andrioli has been involved with the music of Southern Italy for a number of years, it is surprising that this is her first solo album. Better late than never, though, because the singer and multi-instrumentalist offers a global garden of delights, all flavored with the warmth of her homeland. Her original material nestles easily beside pieces by Victor Jara, the great Enzo Avitabile, Rita & Daniele Durante (who founded Canzione Grecanico Salentino the 1970s, laying the ground for most modern Italian music from the south of the country), and the remarkable Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Quite a challenge to set herself, but she more than lives up to it. Perhaps there’s a reason Leuca has taken so long to reach fruition – perfectionism. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some of the music. https://www.rootsworld.com/reviews/andrioli-22.shtml


world music Even when it involves an artist as auspicious as the late and indubitably great acoustic guitarist Bert Jansch, an eight-CD set is a massive commitment. With tracks here ranging from 1966 to 2006, five years before his death, the remarkable thing is that so much material was kept. But be glad it was. Be very glad. It's a chance to hear the evolution of the man and his approach to songs as they recur over the years - the perennial "Blues Run The Game," for instance, and the definitive fingerpicked instrumental "Angi" – also called "Angie" in a few instances here – are prime examples. Jansch was classed as a folk musician, but the reality was so much more. Chris Nickson reviews.


world music Norwegian violinist and composer Inger Hannisdal's North South East West presents ten of her original compositions performed alongside four other players. Norway famously has a strong and thriving fiddle tradition and new releases from emerging artists offering their own take on the music occur with some regularity. What soon becomes clear here is that the influence of that Norwegian musical heritage, though not altogether absent, is never central. Perhaps significantly Hannisdal chooses to list her instrument as violin and not fiddle and the album title itself implies a wish to look outward in every direction for inspiration. Mike Adcock explores the debut album of this Norwegian artist.


world music

Cory Seznec is an artist who’s flown well under the radar for a while. The Franco-American musician and singer’s third full-length album comes after a gap of five years. Although he recorded all his tracks in just three days, there’s never a sense of anything being hurried. It’s all performed with touching good grace, and a warm, inviting voice. Seznec is an outstanding fingerpicker on both guitar and banjo, always assured, completely at home in the blues, yet never sounding like any of the earlier generations of performers.

There’s a lightness of touch in his performance that’s immediately appealing, and more than a few touches of West African music in his work, too. Read Chris Nickson's full review and listen to some of the album.


world music Among all the role-playing, power-ballad glitz of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest there was the still, quiet, sincere voice of Salvador Sobral. No glitz, no dancers, just him in his normal clothes, singing a beautiful song in Portuguese written by his sister Luisa Sobral.

Says Andrew Cronshaw, "I'd watched him win Portugal's own competition for the country's Eurovision entrant, which in itself was an affirmation from his home country. That he went on to win Eurovision with its massive international voting audience was extraordinary and encouraging. In the winner's reprise of the song he duetted with Luisa, and at the following year's final, after a heart transplant, he duetted in it with iconic Brazilian composer and singer Caetano Veloso." Five years later came the opportunity for Andrew talk to him.


world music

world music

The harp-lute known as the kora continues to provide one of the most popular sounds to come from the African continent. It is distinctive and beautiful, with an equally unmistakable visual appearance, and first became widely known through the international touring of Keda Fodéba's African Ballet in the1950s which featured two kora players. Each subsequent decade has seen the emergence of more fine players including Mory Kanté, Toumani Diabaté, Ballaké Sissoko and Sona Jobarteh. Such artists have shown an interest in collaborating with musicians from different lands and different musical backgrounds whilst maintaining a deep respect for the the Mandinka tradition from which their music sprung. Mike Adcock reviews albums from two more kora-players, Dawda Jobarteh and Momi Maiga.


world music There's a popular association between Scotland and bagpipes, but actually there are long bagpipe traditions all over the world, and Scotland is a relative late-comer. But, while there are Swedish bagpipes, there’s no evidence of a bagpipe tradition in Norway. Not to say they were never there, though, and as Tellef Kvifte observes, the ringing sympathetic strings and double-stopping technique of Norway’s Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele), a much younger instrument than bagpipes, create something of a drone effect. “So,” says Kvifte, “in the 1990s, I decided that the bagpipe had to be the solution for a wind instrument that could be used for Hardanger fiddle tunes.” And what he says, and plays, is worth listening to... Andrew Cronshaw reviews. Andrew Cronshaw reviews.


world music Soundtrack composers from Ennio Morricone to Piero Umiliani or Ryuichi Sakamoto to Lalo Schifrin have all used their scoring opportunities to mix genres into undescribable blends, practically creating new musical subgenres during the process. Freaky, acid grooves find themselves nudging up alongside choirs, symphonic percussion, odd drones, field recordings, and noise in these composers' most challenging scores. All of which connects them to the work of Peru's Luis David Aguilar, a prolific musician and composer who wrote music for television shows, advertisements, and film. Aguilar, whose work blends the avant-garde with classical composition and some of Peru's native traditions, was one of a number of Peru's more experimental film composers, such Walter Casas and Seiji Asato, coming to prominence in the 1970s. A review by Bruce Miller.


world music Norway-based Serbian accordionist Jovan Pavlovic has had many projects including his band Bengalo. Now comes his first entirely solo album. He's previously played his a piano-accordion in the standard Stradella-type set-up, which has piano keys for the right hand, and for the left a matrix of buttons each of which links reeds as a chord. But on most of this album he's switched his instrument to free-bass, in which the left-hand buttons play single notes, not chords. This means the notes skip and mingle from the two sides, rather than right-hand melody with left-hand chordal accompaniment. "I decided to start working on it because of lots of free time during the pandemic," he told me. "Since I started playing with free bass, a whole new world has opened up for me. I can form chords as I like, I can play separate lines and rhythmical figures which live their own life and are totally independent from each other. It's like having two keyboards!" Andrew Cronshaw shares works from this solo album, Life On The Accordion.


world music

world music

Islais A Genir is a landmark in Welsh music. And, showing the label recognizes and supports that, the CD comes in a beautifully produced hardback book-type pack with some fifty pages of photos and interesting, discursive writing in Welsh and English about the material. VRÏ (it's an old Welsh word meaning 'up' or 'levitating,' a sense of 'upness') is the trio of fiddler-singers Aneirin Jones, Jordan Price Williams and Patrick Rimes. What they make is music of six interacting voices, three male human and three of bowed instruments: two fiddles and cello or bass. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and hear some of the music.

VRÏ's Islais A Genir is our selection for Music of the Month for November, 2022. Subscribe monthly and get a full download of the album and book.


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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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