May 31, 2009

Samitha & Iraj - A Fortunate Collaboration

Iraj This post is about two Sri Lankan artists, Samitha Mudunkotuwa and Iraj, who despite being from different generations and styles,  have got together to create a couple of great songs.

Iraj is currently one of the best selling artists in Sri Lanka, he’s the head of the hip hop movement there, while Samitha has a successful career spanning 20 years, with several Sinhalese pop hits in her bag.

They both deserve a blog post on their own, so I will skip further details and go directly to the fun part: the music!

Saara Sadisi

Oba Hinda (Kalpana)

May 29, 2009

Jurga - Lithuanian Art Rock

1176930000_tc54388d2 If I close my eyes while listening to Jurga’s music, I start to see precious landscapes, the wind subtly blowing on my face, the sun lightly touching everything with its gentle light. It’s like a trip to a distant place, a trip where the only luggage is her charming voice.

Jurga is a Lithuanian art rock singer who started her musical career back in 2005. After the successful release of her first album, followed by a second one in 2007, Jurga has won several awards, and, more importantly, the admiration and love of her many followers in Lithuania and Europe.

The following video was filmed during a trip to Afghanistan. It was based on an Afghan folk song. There is an English version, called Sandman’s child, but I love the sonority of the Lithuanian language.

Smelio Zmones (2007)

Prie Žalio Vandens (2007)

May 27, 2009

Andrea Echeverry – Songs of the Motherhood


Today we are celebrating our 100th post in Sound Energy Flux. For this special occasion we want to talk about one of our most loved singers, a figure that has greatly influenced the Colombian rock scene.

Andrea Echeverry used to be an artist who worked in ceramics. She studied arts and made post-graduate studies at the School of Art and Design in Plymouth, UK. But in 1990, when she joined a band called Delia y Los aminoácidos, she started an unexpectedly prolific career as a singer. In 1992, this band turned into Aterciopelados, the most innovative rock band of Colombia and Latin America.

Andrea hasn’t been the typical hot female pop singer. The way she dresses has always been recognized for its extravagance. The strength of her voice, her sincere lyrics and her natural attitude, oppossed to the pop star stereotype, have captivated people and critics around the world.

Lactochampeta (2006)

Her solo album, a tribute to motherhood, was recorded in 2006 after the birth of her first daughter, Milagros. This album, whose lyrics are primarily about maternal feelings, contains the song Lactochampeta, an ode to lactation and a lullaby to her baby.

The following song is an adaptation of Canción Protesta, composed by Andrea. It was performed by various artists who come from many countries around the world, and was part of a campaign of Amnesty International against the impunity in human rights violations.

The price of silence (2008)

May 23, 2009

Shadia Mansour - Free Palestine!

I don’t have anything to add to the eloquence of Shadia Mansour’s own words, describing the events that lead her to make the beautiful hip hop song Kollon 3endon Dababaat (below).

ShadiaMansour_Ridz_010 I wrote this song a couple of hours after witnessing the gruesome attack on the innocent men,women and children in Gaza on the morning of December 27th 2008.

I was in sheer shock, I was crushed, angered, disturbed, devastated, these are just a few of the emotions that ran through me. I am harsh in this particular song and feel that I have the right to express myself freely as an artist, as a Palestinian AND as a woman. I am a passionate believer in peace between the people, the fact that I am stating the facts from one side does not necessarily mean I have a personal grudge against another nations victims.

Kollon 3endon Dababaat was released as a tribute to Gaza. To all the men, women and children who stand on the front line of the battle field. Who are fighting the occupation of their land and daily offenses and abuses inflicted upon them for over 60 years. I grew up seeing pictures and clips of Palestinian kids as young as 5 throwing hand size rocks at military tanks, the image of Palestinian kids throwing stones at these tanks has become symbolic. It has become a significant trademark to the Palestinian resistance.

Ever wonder where all these rocks come from? These rocks are the remains of peoples homes, the rock is the pride, these kids hold their dignity in their hands. The rock is the pain within, the shattered dreams, the haunting memories, the loss and survival till the end.

Kollon 3endon Dababaat

Arme D'espoir

Visit her website for more info and songs. I don’t want to finish this post without saying something to all governments in the world: Fuck you.

May 22, 2009

Enzo Avitabile E Bottari – Music in Barrels

enzo-avitabile-bottari1Born in Naples, Enzo Avitabile fell in love with soul and jazz, and learned to play sax when he was young. He became one of the most important Italian musicians, performing with stars like Tina Turner and James Brown.

But in 2000, Avitabile had a crush with his own roots, and created a new and unique project, which brought back an old tradition from the South of Italy: The Bottari, a style of percussion performed at the San Antonio Abate's feast day in Campania, a southern region of Italy. This custom, which involves the beating of wine barrels to scare away evil spirits, gave rise to Enzo Avitabile & Bottari band, an experiment that has been nominated twice to the BBC World Music Awards (in 2004 and 2006).

A' Peste to

The sound of the beaten wine barrels, which is played by The Bottari of Portico -a band that preserves the musical heritage of the Portico village- is mixed with the saxophone and the voice of Avitabile, who recites during the songs. The lyrics, sung in a Neapolitan dialect, refer to the social injustice and the poverty of their region and around the world.


May 21, 2009

Frente! - The admiration sign deserves to be there

frente! This Australian band added a thin page to the history of pop, but it was a page full of color and of admiration sings. Frente! released their first album in 1992, from where many songs became hits in Australia. Their success grew overseas when the single Bizarre Love Triangle, a cover version of New Order's song, reached the most important rock and pop charts in Europe. Unfortunately, after the second album in 1996, which wasn’t very successful, Frente! disbanded.

I came to this band thanks to a recent revival of some 90’s music that was resting in the depths of my hard drive. I only knew one song of Frente!, so I investigated a little and was pleased to learn that this band is actually very good. I will put two songs, one of them was a popular single in Australia, the second one is less known, but it is easily my favorite.

Cuscutlan (1992)

Labour of Love (1992)

May 20, 2009

Les Boukakes – The Räi Rock

les_boukakes'Boukake', a term composed of the words 'monkey' and 'Moorish' (in french), is an insult to denigrate North African people who have immigrated to France. Les Boukakes, a band whose members come from countries like Tunisia, Algeria, Kurdistan, Corsica, Italy, Morocco and France, is an example of how this minority can go beyond the offenses and make music that many Europeans like, despite the meaning of its name.

The sounds of gnawa, räi and the Arabian Andalusian music blended with rock or electronic music form a genre that the members of Les Boukakes have called 'The Räi of the cities'. Les boukakes, who have been nominated in 2007 to a BBC World Music Award, have shared stage with musicians such as Femi Kuti, Manu Chao, Natacha Atlas and others.


Seur feur

May 19, 2009

Diana King – And the 90’s nostalgia

defimage1 Today I re-discovered Diana King, a singer from Jamaica whose song Shy guy I used to love when I was a child, even though I didn’t understand the lyrics. But who cares about the lyrics when you have a song that features a playful rhythm, passionate voice arrangements and an overall groovy sonority that was able to playback over and over in my mind. I particularly like how she plays with the words to create a cheerful beat.

Shy Guy (1993)

Diana’s music is a clever fusion of soul, reggae, pop and R&B. On her website, in the context of her latest album, Respect, she explains her musical evolution:

I spent a lot of my life trying to figure out my style. I started out as a singer but reggae rapping is a part of my history. I battled with it for a long time because I was afraid of being categorized as either a pop and soul singer or a reggae artist but with this new album, I’m coming to terms with who I am musically.

I couldn’t find any streamable song from this album, so I will put another of her singles from her second one. This song is in the same spirit of the previous one, but with a bunch of nice touches that gives it a personality of its own.

L-L-Lies (1997)

May 18, 2009

Ba Cissoko - The Jimi Hendrix of Kora

The epic songs of the Mandingo tribe are the main inspiration to Ba Cissoko, widely regarded as the Master of kora and the most gifted pupil of the legendary musician M'Bady Kouyaté. Ba Cissoko has been called the Jimi Hendrix or the Eric Clapton of Kora by Nat Geo Music. His hypnotic melodies and his skills to combine urban sounds, tribal cadences and his kora, have made him and his band one of the most important Guinean groups and the best known in Europe, where they have performed in countries like the United Kingdom and France.


Ba is the son of Kandara Cissoko, the leader of Ballet Djoliba, a famous troupe of dancers and musicians that used to perform in different rituals in Guinea. His band is formed by the two sons of Kouyaté (Kórou and Sékou Kouyaté who play the kora and the bass respectively) and Ibrahima Bah Konkouré, a percussionist who has spent his childhood and part of his teen years playing in the beaches to earn some money. 


May 17, 2009

Sepultura - Metal roots

Sepultura-Roots-Frontal Sepultura doesn’t need presentation. This is one of the few metal bands whose importance gets to the point of helping define the metal genre itself. Powerful guitar rhythms, ethnically inspired percussions,  emphasis on groove over speed (from the release of Chaos A.D onwards), socially aware lyrics, and the potent voice of Max Cavalera (who was later succeeded by Derrick Green), are some of Sepultura’s most acclaimed attributes.

The Hunt(1993)

The following song comes from their sixth studio album, Roots. This album masterfully continued what Sepultura had started in Chaos A.D 3 years earlier, namely, an experimentation with the Brazilian music rhythms that were as far as inviting Carlinhos Brown, a popular Brazilian musician previously featured in this blog, to participate in the co-authoring and vocals of the following song, titled Ratamahatta.

Ratamahatta (1996)

May 16, 2009

Gogol Bordello – Multicultural punk


When Eugene Hütz was 14, he had to leave his native Ukraine because of the explosion of two reactors at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant. Nowadays, Hütz is the leader of a Gipsy punk band, formed by two Russians, an accordionist and a violinist (Sergey Ryabtsev, Yuri Lemeshev), a bassist and a guitarist from Israel (Oren Kaplan, Thomas Gobena), a percussionist from Ecuador (Pedro Erazo) and three percussionists from USA. Gogol Bordello is a multicultural band that mixes cabaret music, punk, hip hop, reggae and Gipsy rythms. Regarding this, Hütz said in an interview to Mondo

I never think about ‘musical styles’, I just think about music and use elements of any genre. It’s like the gipsy punk genre, is not a style of music, is a label to help the critics who always need to classify things.

Start wearing purple

This band, based in New York, was named after the Russian-Ukrainian writer Nikolái Gogol. Its most singular feature is the unexpected burstings of strong parts with battery in the middle of melodic passages with guitar. Rolling Stone magazine put them in the 'best 20 bands alive' list, where they got the 15th place.

American wedding

May 13, 2009

Oleg Fesov - Atmospheric Traditional

7867487 The War of Tajikistan during the 90’s led Oleg Fesov to emigrate from his country, Tajikistan, to Moscow and later to Germany. During these trips he always carried with him a great love for the traditional Tajik music. His passion is clearly reflected in his compositions, where subtle rhythms and soft melodies in Sitar, Oud or Guitar, are accompanied by the calmed sound of his own voice. All this brought together in a tranquilizing atmosphere created by keyboards, a sign of Western influence.

Chudat Medoni (1994)

Chashmi tu

May 12, 2009

Gjallarhorn – The band that sounds like the mythologic horn


Gjallarhorn was, in the Scandinavian mythology, a horn whose Heimdal, guardian of Asgard, announced the battle of the world's end. This Finnish quartet took this word to name its music, a strange mix of didgeridoo (which was later replaced with a contrabass), viola, percussion, and voice. The result is a deep sonority, which has a special resonance with the beatiful voice of Jenny Wilhelms, a student of the famous Sibelius Music Academy.


The fusion of contemporary rythms like jazz or rock, with instruments like Yembe -imported from Africa- and folk music, has been praised by many world music experts. Based on Ostrobothnia, a region where most people speak Swedish as a consequence of a colonization process that dates back to the middle age, Gjallarhorn includes in its lyrics extracts from epic poems of Icelandic literature.


May 11, 2009

Dancehall Crew - Surinamese reggae

ScreenShot001 Start with African rhythms. Add some Indian instruments and harmonies. Now put Caribbean energy and landscapes into the mix. Finally, add some lyrics in Dutch and push play. What you get is the music of Suriname, one of the most distinctive countries in South America.

Dancehall Crew is a good example of the Surinamese authenticity. I don’t recommend you to watch the following video if you are easily impressed, since it contains some violent images. The structure of the song is, however, interesting. It starts with one rhythm and, all of a sudden, it turns into another one, in a different tempo. The same thing happens several times during the song. This is something you don’t see often in Reggae music!

Faya in a ghetto


May 10, 2009

Julien Jacob – The Nonsense Of Pure Sound

Julien jacobWhen you listen to a song in a foreign language, it happens that if you like its sound, then you ask about its meaning. But, what would you think about a musician that invented a new language only to highlight the sound of the words, a language that doesn't have meaning at all? Julien Jacob, a singer, poet, composer, and ‘spiritualist’ -as he likes to be called- did just this; creating a visceral music with an emphasis in the vocal texture. His influences are the sounds of many languages and the rythms of the different places he has visited. An intimate and clean sonority are the result of his musical purpose: the creation of songs that transmit feelings that anyone with some sensitivity can understand.

Yab (2005)

Julien Jacob, whose mother is from Martinique and her father from Guadalupe, was born in Benin, and moved out to Marseille, France with his family at the age of four. He started in music at 17 as a rock singer, and later, travelled around the world and discovered other cultures such as the celtic, the hinduish or the vodoo, which had a profound impact on him.

Ankelson (2005)

May 8, 2009

Bola de nieve – The voice of feelings

bolaIgnacio Jacinto Villa Fernández, Bola de Nieve, was maybe one of the most charismatic singers of Cuba, an island that has a lot of talented musicians. He didn't have a really good voice, in fact, I think he wasn't a good singer at all. But the strength of his performances, and his expressive facial gestures, were a personal seal that I really liked when I saw an old recording in which he sang and played Ay mama Inés, a traditional Cuban song. His piano melodies were really good and very appreciated by artists like Rita Montaner, who gave him the nickname, or the legendary pianist Ernesto Lecuona, who admired him.

Drume negrita

Songs like Drume negrita are a proof of another remarkable feature of his style: a peculiar Afrocuban accent, particular of popular classes in La Habana. Edith Piaf, one of his admirers, said that Bola de Nieve's version of La vie en Rose was the best version ever.

Si me pudieras querer

May 7, 2009

Johannes Brahms - Happy Birthday!!


On May 7th, 1856 , Johannes Brahms’ mother wrote to him in a letter:

“… This morning I woke up at exactly the hour at which you first saw the light of day, 23 years ago. Half an hour later I had you in my arms, at my breast… and now you are so far away from me!

No words are more sincere and eloquent than these when talking about Johannes’ birth, on May 7th, 1833, in Hamburg.

In 1865, 11 years after the letter, Brahms’ mother passed away. This event led Johannes to write his most sublime choral work, A German Requiem. Its fifth movement, which we listen next in the emotive voice of Barbara Bonney, was the last one added to the requiem, expressly in the memory of his mother.

A German Requiem Op. 45 - 5th Movement (1868)

Johannes Brahms has been previously featured in this blog and there’s a good reason for it. This blog wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for his music! The two authors of Flux (as we have come to call this blog to save time) got to meet each other partly because we shared a big interest in his works. Natis, the heart of this blog, has played Brahms’ music on clarinet, for her own constant delight and amazement. Alejandro (me!), has listened to almost all of Brahms’ works, enjoying every musical note created by him. This post is our small tribute to one of the greatest musicians of all times. Happy Birthday, Johannes!

Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op. 115 - 1st Movement (1891)

May 6, 2009

Dadawa – A peculiar Chinese voice

dadawaZhu Zheqin, better known in Asia as Dadawa, is one of those musicians that have a special sensibility for the Tibetan culture, in spite of the fact that she is not from there. Born in the province of Guangzhou, Dadawa was discovered by He Xuntian, an Tibetan music expert. Her voice, which has a powerful timbre, is similar to other voices of her country but is characterized for its strenght.

Seven drums (1998)

Her two albums, recorded with eight years of difference, have two definite styles. The first one, Voices in the sky, has a marked tibetan influence, including the song instrumentation. The second one, Seven Days, has some buddhist references and is closer to the Chinese culture. Dadawa, who has been called by some critics the ‘Chinese Enya’, is recognized for her particular music, which some classify as new age, but others label as experimental, because of some atypical harmonies.

Seven Days (2006)

May 5, 2009

Kevin Volans - Africanization of European music

555166 Between African and European music there is a gap that not only consists of the compositional style and instrumentation, but which goes as deep as the attitude towards the individual in society. While in European music there’s a tendency to make the unique style of a performer to stand out of the band or orchestra, in traditional African music it is often the sound of the band as a whole what is important. Kevin Volans, in a highly recommended article in 1986, put it succinctly:

We as Westerners admire much more the man who can do the work of ten men, than ten men working as one.

Kevin Volans, born in South Africa in 1941, studied music in Johannesburg and, thereafter, made post-graduate studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the UK. In the early 80’s, rejecting the Apartheid, a system of racial segregation enforced by the South African government until 1994, Volans started an exploration of diverse African compositional techniques, as applied to Western music. Volans himself explains his motivations:

I wanted to reflect in the music an image of a multicultural society - one in which the traditions of different cultures are represented, honoured and, above all, shared - no more 'separate development'!

“Mbira” was the first of this series of works. It was composed for two harpsichords re-tuned in African tuning, and a rattle. This work gets its name from the Mbira, a traditional instrument from Zimbabwe, which is central to a music genre with the same name. In the first part of this work, Volans emulates the Mbira music patterns with the harpsichords. The coda, however, follows a non-traditional style.

Mbira (1981)

In 1982, Kevin Volans composed one of his best known works, titled “White Man Sleeps”. It was originally written for two harpsichords, viola da gamba and percussion, but in 1986, at the request of the Kronos Quartet, it was re-worked for string quartet. The innovative character of this work is captured in the following excerpt from Volans’ own exposition:

It was a bit like introducing an African computer virus into the heart of Western contemporary music. Thus I concentrated on the anti-hierarchic nature of traditional African music, the interlocking techniques, shifting downbeats, the largely non-functional harmony, the open forms, the extremely fast tempi of some music, the non-developmental use of repetition, contrasting and irregular patterning, the tone colour, the energy and the joy.

Let’s listen to the second movement. The other movements are available as well.

White Man Sleeps - 2nd movement (1986)

May 4, 2009

Daniel Melingo – Damned tango

melingo2-759804The strength of some tango lyrics has been an enigma for me. I have never understood the Lunfardo, but I have a feeling that the lyrics say something about the people you can find on the streets and their lives. The following song of Daniel Melingo is more understandable to me. That strange slang is used less but preserves that melancholic and vigorous energy that made me feel attracted to the urban nature of tango:


The bizarre lyrics of Melingo tell stories about the underworld of the city of Buenos Aires: the city of the drug addicts, the prostitutes or the criminals, with a touch of black humor and updated to our times.

Daniel Melingo, who was a member of the band ‘Los abuelos de la nada’, is nowadays a poet of tango who sings about the lives of marginal people. The following song, included in his last album ‘Maldito tango’ is an example of his particular style and a tribute to the old poets of Lunfardo slang.

Leonel el feo

May 3, 2009

Juan Luis Guerra – Brilliant Latin talent

juan-luis-guerra How many musicians do you know who have had their music put on several radio stations simultaneously for 12 hours straight? And who have also won 5 Latin Grammy Awards in the same night? With an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music, one of the most important conservatories in the world?

If your answer was Juan Luis Guerra, you are right! Born in Dominican Republic, his career spans more than 20 years, during which he has sold over 20 million records worldwide. His first singles were in the musical style of merengue, a popular dance genre in Latin America.

Si tú te vas (1991)

Bachata, another Dominican music genre, was popularized worldwide by Juan Luis Guerra. Many of his best compositions are a mix of this soft and romantic style with elements of pop, jazz and classical music. The following song is just an example of what happens to an already beautiful genre when it is put in the hands of a genius like him.

Cuando te beso (1992)

May 2, 2009

Ali Hassan Kuban - Nubian jazz

When he was a child, Ali Hassan Kuban used to sing in the boats that sailed over the Nile river.

Born in Nubia, a town in the south of Egypt, Hassan Kuban used a vocal style popular in that region, which years later would turn into really catchy melodies that mix the magic of the ancient Egypt with some wind instruments such as clarinet and bagpipes. 

He had a revelation when he listened to a band from Harlem in a nightclub in Egypt. That performance inspired him to create these captivating rythms that nowadays sound like oldie songs from the funk and jazz scene of the seventies, but sung in arabic language. For this style he would be called 'The Godfather' of Nubian music.