Thanks to the coronavirus, international travel is pretty much out of the question. This, however, doesn't mean that you can't take a taste of a huge number of cultures from around the world, without ever leaving your home.
Radio Garden is a web service with a visual interface that allows you to tune into a vast variety of radio stations from around the world: Spin the globe, zoom in on the region you're interested in listening in on and choose a radio station. You're in business. During a recent trip to Morocco, I got into the kingdom's music scene, in a big way. Thanks to Radio Garden, I'm able to tune in and discover new sounds, anytime I please. If you're trapped inside and hungry for something to do, give it a try. It'll kill at least a few hours of your time Read the rest
The RV might be winterized and staying put until the spring thaw, but we're not. Now that I have the all clear from my cardiologist, my wife and are are planning a 20-day trip to Morocco. It'll be the first time that either of us has set foot on the African continent: With its French colonial influence and their King's tourist-friendly policies, it seems like a great place to dip our toes in the continent's waters.
Plus, it's cities, country side deserts and mountains are absolutely stunning. With out tickets purchased, we're now in the throes of planning our itinerary (which we always tend to keep a bit loosey-goosey.) I'm brushing up on my mediocre French. My partner is taking Darija lessons. I'm taking a HEAT course to polish up my already existing skill set, given that Morocco's neighbors have been a little rambunctious of late.
Perhaps most important out of all of our preparations, is the fact that my travel playlist is slowly coming together. I find that having the right music while moving into and out of an adventure helps to set the mood for the whole thing.
Tinariwen is a band that's been around for decades. Maybe you've heard of them. They only showed up as a ping on my radar within the last year. originally hails from Mali,
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Tinariwen is a group of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali. The band was formed in 1979 in Tamanrasset, Algeria, but returned to Mali after a cease-fire in the 1990s.
Scotland's Shooglenifty was one of the first acts that I had the opportunity to interview for the music magazine I still occasionally write for, over two decades ago. That it was one of my first paying assignments, well before I'd finished J-school, and that I'd been a fan of the band for years has made the experience a fond memory. 10 albums in and the Shoogles are still on regular rotation in my home.
Recorded in 2018, Written in Water, was a collaboration between the band and Rajasthani musical geniuses Dhun Dhora. It's in turns a challenging and rewarding collection of tracks to listen to. The more I jog it through my ears, the more I like it. I'd like you to have the same opportunity.
This piece of concert was recorded last year off of Bellstone stage at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival. Read the rest
Sosena Gebre Eyesus by Sosena Gebre Eyesus
Listen above to Sosena Gebre Eyesus's deeply spiritual and enchanting Ethiopian Orthodox hymns sung over the Begena, a ten string instrument also known as the Harp of David. Previously only on cassette, Eyesus's self-titled album is now available as a digital download or vinyl edition from the fine folks at Little Axe Records in Portland, Oregon.
Since ancient times the Harp of David has been used as an aural balm, a soother of evil and disturbed spirits —its low, buzzing tones widely noted for their ability to sweetly refresh one’s soul. Said to have been brought to Ethiopia in biblical times by Menelik I, it has long been the central instrument used to accompany Ethiopian Orthodox hymns, which Eyesus plays here in an absolutely entrancing manner while softly singing songs of devotional reflection.
Sosena Gebre Eyesus - self-titled (Little Axe)
Below, "Orthodox Tewahedo - Begena Derdari Sosina Gebre Eyesus - Getachine Begergeme":
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Composer and producer Josiah Steinbrick -- who has worked with the likes of Devendra Banhart and Danger Mouse along with releasing his own music -- is also a rigorous record collector and curator of all varieties of outernational music -- ancient and contemporary -- and experimental/avant-garde sounds from around the globe. Through his Instagram feed, Josiah has turned me on to countless new artists, musical cultures, and sonic experiences. This week, ARP's Cult Cargo program on NTS Radio presented Josiah's mix of "pan-global contempo/archival selections from the past 12 months of vari-functional sculptural laments, hypno-pulses, and abstractions in HD." Far fucking out. Listen below.
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Az Esam Loza
Morse Beat Roar
Toupie Dans Le Ciel
Tant Pis Pour Les Heures De Sommeil
PANAQUIRE / OSWALDO LARES
MADANG / RAGNAR JOHNSON
Sonic Morning = 音の朝
Kādā Rītā (One Morning)
NAM DI VILLAGE / LAURENT JEANNEAU
Lantene (Moon) Women
ARTURO RUIZ DEL POZO
Tarka En Brukas
Punk, Algerian chaabi music, Rai, rock and techno: Rachid Taha had it all going on. He drew inspiration from the music of North Africa, New Orleans jazz, delta blues, The Clash and Elvis Presley. He cut his teeth spinning albums as a DJ and playing in a number of bands as he came of age in France. He worked with famed producers like Don Was and Steve Hillage and traveled in the same circles as David Bowie. In his later years, he was slowed down by muscular dystrophy, but he continued to rock, nonetheless. You've very likely enjoyed his music used in films and video games without ever knowing it. It's beautiful, fire-filled stuff.
On September 12th, Rachid Taha passed away at the age of 59. Read the rest
It's hard to sort Hazmat Modine into a neat musical category. They play the blues, but it's not like anything you've likely heard anywhere else. A lot of folks consider the tunes that the New York City musical collective churn out to be "world music." I think that's just a lazy way of saying that they do a little bit of everything. If you've heard the band's music in person or on any their albums, you'll know that they handle their kitchen sink of influences amazingly well: their work incorporates the best elements of African, Eastern European, Caribbean and American musical traditions: blues, reggae, jazz and Mongolian throat singing, they do it all. The result is a wash of emotional, often joyous sound that's hard not to like.
The band's finished work on their fourth album, Box of Breathe. Well, it's mostly finished. The tracks have been recorded (I've heard them and they're fabulous!) but they still need to be mixed. Musicians and production personnel need to be paid. The album, in its physical form, still needs to be pressed. All this is expensive and, as good as Hazmat Modine is, their music isn't the sort of thing that you're likely to hear on top 10 radio these days. As such, the band has turned to crowdfunding in an effort to offset some of the expenses of getting their latest work out to where folks can hear it.
Of course, there are fabulous prizes to be had. You know the game: depending on how much you're willing to throw at the project, you'll be able to enjoy perks like historic post cards picturing old New York City, a copy of their new album, the band's complete catalog, or even a private house concert. Read the rest
William Onyeabor, the Nigerian musician who pioneered African electro-funk in the 1970s, has died. He was 70-years-old. Onyeabor's music experienced a resurgence in recent years thanks to the Luaka Bop label's reissues of his deeply groovy albums. From Luaka Bop:
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It is with incredibly heavy hearts that we have to announce that the great Nigerian business leader and mythic music pioneer William Onyeabor has passed away at the age of 70. He died peacefully in his sleep following a brief illness, at his home in Enugu, Nigeria. An extraordinary artist, businessman and visionary, Mr. Onyeabor composed and self-released 9 brilliant albums of groundbreaking electronic-funk from 1977-1985, which he recorded, pressed and printed at Wilfilms Limited—his personal pressing plant in southeast Nigeria.
For people in his hometown of Enugu, Nigeria, Mr. Onyeabor was simply referred to as "The Chief”. He was known for having created many opportunities for the people in his community. In his early 30s, he traveled the world to study record manufacturing, so that he could build, "the greatest record manufacturing business in all of West Africa." After those successful years as an artist and record label President in the 1980's, he opened a flour mill and food processing business. In 1987 these new business ventures saw him awarded West African Industrialist of the Year—just two years after the release of his most successful song "When The Going is Smooth and Good", and what should have been the height of his musical career. He was given the honorary title "Justice of the Peace"—a local judicial position elected by the community to provide independent legal ruling.
Karl Jenkins' "Adiemus" is apparently the most-performed piece of music in the world. A sweeping classical epic with vocals written in a mysterious imaginary language, it was composed for Delta Airlines, which wanted to copy British Airways' classic "Aria on Air" ad (itself by the spookily brilliant pairing of Malcolm McLaren and Yanni.) Read the rest