July 4, 2010

Reviews and charts July 4, 2010

WRIR's world music number one again this week is Gogol Bordello.  Great record but I'm tired of showing the same image, so pictured is our #2 for the week instead.  Lots of reviews inside, plus the charts.

Brand-New Reviews
ARTIST:  Konono No. 1                                                      
TITLE:  Assume Crash Position
LABEL:  Crammed Discs
REVIEW:  This is Konono No. 1’s second album, and the fourth item in Crammed’s Congotronics series.  This veteran Congolese band (now in their fourth decade!) plays a style of music that’s quite different from the globally popular Latin-derived Congolese styles.  Konono’s music is based on the trance rhythms of their native Bazombo region, and they play it on homemade instruments and amplification systems made from parts salvaged in Kinshasa’s second-hand marketplaces.  This driving, clanging, buzzing sound has won fans from the world, indie rock and experimental music communities around the globe, and few of Konono’s many fans are likely to be disappointed by this release.  It’s similar in many ways to their Crammed debut, maybe a little bit more melodic overall and it actually features real guitars on one track.  These long, hypnotizing, compelling grooves are unique in the world of music.  Cool stuff.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
RECOMMENDED TRACKS:    1    3    7

ARTIST:  various artists                                                        
TITLE:  Palenque Palenque: Champeta Criolla & Afro Roots In Colombia, 1975-91
LABEL:  Soundway
REVIEW:  The Caribbean coast of Colombia was the home of the new world’s largest concentration of escaped slaves; the cities of Cartagena and Baranquilla have long been thriving merchant seaports.  Put these two factors together and it makes sense that African records were commonly available in Colombia, and that Afro-Colombians developed their own styles of music in response to all the great African music played on DJ soundsystems in those two cities starting in the 1950’s.  This superb compilation, assembled by Soundway’s Miles Cleret and “Champeta Man #1” Lucas Silva of Palenque Records, documents one of those styles: champeta, which is highly influenced by everything from Afrobeat to Congolese soukous to South African mbaqanga.  Champeta is some of the world’s most infectious dance music, still largely unknown outside of Afro-Colombia, and this is certainly one of the best world music compilations of 2010.  Not to be missed.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
RECOMMENDED TRACKS:    1    11    13    14    21

ARTIST:  various artists                                                          
TITLE:  Shangaan Electro
LABEL:  Honest Jon’s  
REVIEW:  The Shangaan people are an ethnic group in southern Mozambique and northern South Africa (in SA, they’re also known as Tsonga).  Shangaan music hasn’t been much on the world’s radar until now, but lots of folks are sitting up and paying attention to this wild compilation of urban Shangaan dance music.  It seems lots of Shangaans have migrated to the cities, and the head-on collision of their traditional musical culture (which thrives on fast dance rhythms) with modern South African pop music (which, as in the USA, features midi samplers and drum machines) has led to this brilliant fusion.  The beats are wicked fast (150 to 180 bpm), the only instruments are voices and electronics, but the songs will sound familiar to fans of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens, the Soul Brothers and the other stars of rural-to-urban South African pop.  I can’t stop listening (and dancing) to this one.  Highly recommended.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
RECOMMENDED TRACKS:    2    5    8    10

ARTIST:  SMOD                                                                    
LABEL:  Because Music  
REVIEW:  SMOD (with a long O, rhymes with “snowed”) is a trio of young Frenchmen of Malian descent.  One of them, Sam Bagayoko, is the son of Malian superstars Amadou & Mariam, and they’ve received a huge boost here in the production work of mega-superstar Manu Chao (who produced Amadou & Mariam’s hit Dimanche A Bamako as well).  SMOD describe their music as “African rap ‘n’ folk,” and that’s an apt label.  The Manu Chao sound – the strumming guitars, super-catchy melodies, short motifs frequently repeated, rapid  vocals half-sung and half-rapped – is in full evidence, all that’s missing are the police sirens.  If you like Manu Chao and Amadou & Mariam (I’m a big fan of both), this is like getting a bonus new release from either of them.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
RECOMMENDED TRACKS:    2    7    8    10

ARTIST:  Vieux Farka Toure                                                
TITLE:  Live
LABEL:  Six Degrees
REVIEW:  I liked the first two albums that Ali Farka Toure’s guitar-playing son Vieux released, by not nearly as much as I loved the show he did at the Richmond Folk Festival in 2008.  On stage, Vieux is much more of a Hendrix-influenced guitar hero than he has put across on record  -- until now.  This live record captures the rocking side of Vieux and his crack band (rhythm guitar, bass guitar, trap drums and djembe).  He stretches out songs from his second album, Fondo, with lengthy guitar solos and group improvisations that move him away from the world music section and toward the jam band category, similar to what the excellent Asheville NC-based Toubab Krewe is doing.  This is a simple, clean recording that sounds like it’s taken right from the mixing board with little editing or tweaking, and as such it does an excellent job of capturing the experience of seeing Vieux live.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
RECOMMENDED TRACKS:    1    4    7    9

New & Recommended At WRIR
Absolute Belter | (various artists) | B-Music
African Pearls: Congo -- Pont Sur Le Congo | (various artists) | Syllart/Discograph
African Pearls: Cote D'Ivoire -- West African Crossroads | (various artists) | Syllart/Discograph
African Pearls: Senegal -- Echo Musical | (various artists) | Syllart/Discograph
Egypt Noir: Nubian Soul Treasures | (various artists) | Piranha
Etoile De Dakar Featuring Youssou N'Dour | Once Upon A Time In Senegal: The Birth Of Mbalax 1979-1981 | Sterns
Fat Freddys Drop | Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW | Electrofone
Fela! | (original cast recording) | Knitting Factory
Foliba Trio | Matopie Wa | Farafina Djigui
Gogol Bordello | Trans-Continental Hustle | American
Grupo Fantasma | El Existential | Nat Geo Music
Koes Bersaudara | To The So-Called "The Guilties" | Sublime Frequencies
Konono No. 1 | Assume Crash Position | Crammed Discs
Le Pop 5 | (various artists) | Le Pop Muzik
Next Stop … Soweto, Volume 2 | (various artists) | Strut
Palenque Palenque: Champeta Criolla & Afro Roots In Colombia | (various artists) | Soundway
Pomegranates: Persian Pop, Funk, Folk And Psych Of The 60s And 70's | (various artists) | B-Music
Shangaan Electro | (various artists) | Honest Jon's
SMOD | SMOD | Because Music
Toure, Vieux Farka | Live | Six Degrees

CMJ New World Top Ten
1 GOGOL BORDELLO | Trans-Continental Hustle | American
2 VARIOUS ARTISTS | Absolute Belter: Mid-Med-Mod-Rock And Spanish Psychsploitation From The Cradle Of Spanish Pop | B-Music
3 VARIOUS ARTISTS | Palenque Palenque: Champeta Criolla And Afro Roots In Colombia | Soundway
4 ETOILE DE DAKAR FEATURING YOUSSOU N'DOUR | Once Upon A Time In Senegal: The Birth Of Mbalax 1979-1981 | Sterns
5 GRUPO FANTASMA | El Existential | Nat Geo
6 BALKAN BEAT BOX | Blue Eyed Black Boy | Nat Geo Music
7 VARIOUS ARTISTS | The Afrosound Of Columbiam, Volume 1 | Vampisoul
8 VARIOUS ARTISTS | Shangaan Electro | Honest Jon's
9 FAT FREDDY'S DROP | Dr. Boondigga And The Big BW | Electrofone
10 VARIOUS ARTISTS | Next Stop ... Soweto, Volume 2 | Strut

CMJ New World Adds
1 AMABUTHO | Sikelela | Alma
2 AMIRA AND MERIMA KLJUCO | Zumra | World Village
3 CIBELLE | Las Venus Resort Palace Hotel | Six Degrees
4 FOLIBA TRIO | Matopie Wa | Farafina Djigui
5 KOES PLUS | Dheg Dheg Plas And Volume 2 | Sublime Frequencies

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