January 26, 2010

Mulatu Astatke - Ethiojazz


When I listened to the following song in the Jim Jarmusch movie “Broken Flowers”, I liked its jazzy vintage style:

Yegelle Tezeta (2005)

However, it never occurred to me that the author of this song was African, maybe because I had an stereotyped view about how African music should sound, like tribal chants or something. Since I started this blog, I have discovered that African music can sound in so many different ways, that it always surprises me. Anyway, this cool music belongs to the brilliant musician Mulatu Astatke, the creator of a new African genre, the Ethiojazz. Astatke, an arranger, vibraphonist and composer, has played with prominent musicians such as Louis Armstrong, and was the first African to study at the Berklee college of music.

Yekermo Sew (2005)

January 22, 2010

Yangjin Lamu - A Sacred Voice From The Heart

1377827535_e44495454c I love to find those rare artists who sing straight from their hearts. Yangjin Lamu is one of them. Born in Tibet, the melodies of her songs come to her during meditation sessions. Many of her albums were spontaneously recorded  live in the place she was at the moment, often sacred places like meditation caves in Tibet, sacred gardens or Buddhist monasteries.

After co-founding one of the largest Tibetan pharmaceutical companies in China, in an attempt to promote the endangered Tibetan culture, Yangjin felt that she had to do more, so she donated almost all of her assets to charity. A few year later, she began to hear the melodies from the deities, so she started composing spontaneously, recording 5 albums in the following years.

Dharma Flower

Be As You Are

January 19, 2010

Nneka – Europeanization Of African Roots

nneka 20When Nneka travelled to Europe from Nigeria, her homeland, she wanted to study singing. She  grew up in Warri, the Delta region of Nigeria, where she had contact with gospel music. Nneka migrated at the age of 18 to Germany, the country where her mother was born. There, she studied Anthropology and later, she met Dj Farhot, a producer who lived in Hamburg who helped her to define a musical style. Despite the fact that her songs have European and Anglo elements, she has included some rhythmic basis in her tunes and has incorporated Igbo lyrics to her songs, since she and her father speak that language.  
Heartbeat  (2008)
Kangpe  (2008)

January 15, 2010

Fabrika - Russian Devushki

c25a1ebd397d35e16f83a29a485b3863 From the beautiful country of Russia, comes the pop girl group Fabrika. After their participation in a talent show called Star Factory, where they finished second, they have released two albums, and a third is coming in 2011. Initially formed by four members, one of them left for unclear reasons (to me :P ). Their pop style is markedly influenced by Russian traditional music and sometimes, traditional clothing.

Gadalka (2007)

Romantika (2008)

January 14, 2010

Alexandre Lima - Reggae - Electronica - Psychedelia

alex victoria street Released independently, Rádio Experienza, Alexandre Lima’s first album, is full of experimentation, not stopping himself in just one genre but exploring the possibilities of well conceived fusions. From reggae to rock to electronica, the sound of Alexandre is fresh and captivating. For the recording of Rádio Experienza, many recognized Brazilian musicians collaborated, such as the legendary guitarist Dado Villa Lobos or DJ Alex Zeela in the song Os Deuses do capitalismo (The gods of capitalism).

Ouro Negro (2008)

Os deuses do capitalismo (2008)

January 12, 2010

Fever Ray – Insomniac Swedish Songs


The rare and soft voice of Karin Dreijer, made even stranger through distortion effects, is the main component of Fever Ray, a solo project undertaken by this singer after being the lead voice of The Knife. Karin, who captivated me with the vocals in the Royksöpp’s song ‘What Else is there?’ , recorded her first album in 2009, simply named Fever Ray.

This album brings us unusual and dark sounds, inspired by the chronic insomnia which tormented Karin after the birth of her daughter. Her songs, rhythmically varied and dense, sound to me almost like ritual chants, as they have an unusual atmosphere. This can be seen in the following video, directed by the Danish Martin de Thurah.

When I grow up (2009)
I'm Not done

January 11, 2010

Curupira - Aphrodisiac Colombian Music


The vibrant sound of the Colombian bagpipes  (or gaita, if you prefer that name) and the voice of Malpelo, a traditional singer from Cartagena and the lead voice of this band, are the elements that I first loved from Curupira. Their wild sound with a touch of rock guitars has made them one of the pioneers of the contemporary folk movement in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.

Created by Juan Sebastián Monsalve, this group has incorporated rhythms from almost all the Colombian regions: the coasts, the Amazon and Orinoco. Its name means ‘jungle spirit’ in Ticuna language.  Curupira made its debut with the following song, El Borojó, a fabulous piece about a fruit famous for its use to increase the sexual appetite.

El Borojó (2003)
Oye perilla (2003)

January 8, 2010

Kokolo Afrobeat – The Fela’s International Heritage


Led by the Venezuelan guitarist Ray Lugo, Kokolo Afrobeat is one of the most popular afrobeat bands since Fela Kuti. Started in New York, where other groups such as Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra or The Daktaris are also part of the local afrobeat movement, Kokolo Afrobeat is an American band that has tried to prove the universal character of Afrobeat , which is a mix of funk and jazz with a huge influence of African rhythms.

Its members, who have different origins (India, Venezuela, USA) decided to name their project Kokolo, which is a word used in the Latin Harlem, used to designate a fan of African music.

Donkey (2007)
Talk - action = zero(2007)

January 4, 2010

Gnawa Diffusion - Roots Revolution

arton52 Gnawa Diffusion is known  for its mix of roots reggae with Gnawa music. Gnawa music is, in turn, a mix of Arabic music with sub-Saharan rhythms. This fusion is so well done that I certainly could try hopelessly to describe it without capturing their real essence. So, make yourself a favor, and listen to them, I wait...

Ya Laymi (2004)

Now that you know how they sound, you may want to know a little more about them. World Music Central has a very nice review of the band. Now listen to the following reggae jewel from their 2004 album Souk System. I could keep putting music from this band, they are great, but I have reached my self-imposed limit of 2 songs per post. See you tomorrow.

Saharagga (1999)

January 3, 2010

Vanessa-Mae - You may already know her!

vanessa_mae Vanessa Mae doesn’t need introduction. So we aren’t going to introduce her! :). Visit her official site for lots of information. I will only say that I used to like her music a lot when I was a teenager. She was like a bridge between the pop music world I was used to live in, and the classical music world that at the time I was just starting to discover. I was listening to her 2001 album, Subject To Change, and I liked the last song. Here it is.

Update: Unfortunately, the Youtube user removed both videos which were the pieces titled Jamais and The Blessed Spirits. I will change the not working videos for other ones that I also like.

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (1995)

The following piece was one of my favorites from more than 10 years ago. Unfortunately this version is truncated due to Youtube limits. The complete piece is about 14 minutes long. Update: The video was changed (see note above) .

Contradanza (1995)