February 28, 2014

Alsarah & The Nubatones | Silt

ARTIST: Alsarah & The Nubatones
LABEL: Wonderwheel
More or less out of the blue, here’s one of the best albums you’ll hear this year. Alsarah is a native of Sudan who grew up in Yemen, relocated to the USA and studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan. She has a terrific singing voice, effortlessly shifting between intimate and powerful. Her band includes Armenian-American oud virtuoso Haig Manoukian, Egyptian-American percussionist Rami El Aasser, and French-Togolese bassist Mawuena Kodjovi – the kind of multicultural collision that happens in New York City. Alsarah calls what they’re playing “East African retro pop” – pentatonic harmonies, Eastern flourishes, influences from Nubian music, Egyptian pop and taarab music of Tanzania. If this sounds esoteric, it isn’t – just start with tracks 1 and 3, traditional songs that you’ll be (trying to) sing along with right away. 2 is a small-group acoustic take on the kind of funky Nubian rhythm that made Ali Hassan Kuban a worldwide star; 7 is a kind of dreamy funk seasoned with electric organ. 8 is straight-forward accordion-and-strings driven taarab, the kind of music that makes it sound like Egypt and Tanzania share a border. Don’t miss this outstanding debut.
TOP TRACKS:    1    2    3    7    8
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    5    6    9    11

No comments: