July 20, 2009

Koenjihyakkei – A Progressive Sound From Japan


Rare, or maybe weird is how I would qualify the band that I post today. The musical complexity of the Zeuhl, a genre derived from progressive rock, is the seal of  Koenjihyakkei, a Japanese band led by the drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, who had played before in a popular Japanese duo called Ruins. The powerful sound of this band, which is frequently reminiscent of Japanese music, rock, or even symphonic music, makes me at times remember the eclectic and singular Frank Zappa’s style.


Their music, which occasionally sounds subtle in the voice of Aki Kubota (who sings in a nonsense language), unexpectedly evokes fierceness and majesty through strong rhythmic transitions, key changes and occasional jazzy progressions. The Avant-garde sound of this band may not have a pleasant effect to the more conservative tastes, but despite being  unusual for me, I think it has a really good and crafted style.


July 12, 2009

Asa – The Rhythm Of Finnish Hip Hop


Foreign languages can be barriers sometimes. In the case of ASA, I can’t  understand the political message that, according to the reviews, he sings to the listeners.  But the reason why I post today about this Finnish hip hop MC, is that his music is very attractive to me. His singing in Finnish, although not intelligible for me, is very rhythmic.  His arrangements (which are a combination of rap and genres from other parts of the world) have a non conventional instrumentation, including brass sometimes. The following song is an example of this:


Alas Virtaa Ararat

July 8, 2009

Simphiwe Dana – The Political South African Diva


The vibrant voice of this South African woman makes me remember some soul and jazz divas. But the sound of Xshosa, the language she uses in her lyrics, and her unusual rhythmic patterns, are the best proof of her music's African essence. Regarded by some critics as the Miriam Makeba´s successor, Simphiwe Dana uses a poetic and political tone in some of her lyrics just like Makeba. The following verse, which belongs to the song Bantu Biko Street (a tribute to the killed anti-apartheid leader Stephen Biko), is an example of her talent:

“Bantu Biko Street is the only street paved with our hopes and dreams, a golden highway which exists first in our minds”

I really loved the following song when I discovered it. The rythmic changes (with continuous rhythmic variations) and the background female voices, which appear surprisingly in the beginning, had an unexpected effect on me. I wish it was longer, but I really like it anyway.


July 3, 2009

Novalima – Afro-Peruvian Fusion

art071_profile Recently Novalima released a new album with Cumbancha titled Coba Coba Remixed. I encourage you to go visit the last link in order to listen to the album or to purchase it. But if you want to know more about this Peruvian fusion band, we will tell you here the basics.

It all starts when four friends from Lima who travelled to different parts of the world, Peru, Spain, UK and China, and lived there for many years, returned to Peru to make a musical experiment previously unheard of in their country: Afro-Peruvian rhythms  are mixed with dub and other electronic music genres.


Cumbancha rightly describe their music as a search for the common ground between past and future, between tradition and innovation:

Their efforts have also helped bridge the divide between the Peruvian mainstream and the Afro-Peruvian community, a minority population that has struggled against discrimination and the threat of cultural dissolution for generations.

While their sound is futuristic and cutting-edge, the roots of Novalima's music stretch back hundreds of years to the times of slavery and Spanish colonial rule.