World Music Album Selections November 2021
What makes November this year so special? In the World Music Charts, we’re seeing some spectacular songs and albums charting for very good reasons. Its hard work rarely recognised in the mainstream music world is making transcendental effects. And we’re highlighting these spectacular work here at Music Press Asia simply because it is too good to ignore.
Monsieur Doumani’s Pissourin is at No. 1 again. It isn’t so hard to know why this song is so symbolically representative of its entire album. Released by Glitterbeat, we cannot imagine a more dedicated album than what we’ve heard in a very long time. One cannot listen to just one song and leave. But its essence is one that lingers throughout the album contributing the strength we might all need this November, for some of you at least. Its psychedelic strength is all consumingly emotional and psychological. Equally alluring is the language they sing in because, almost instantaneously, I’m considering whether it is Greek or Turkish. Or would it even be Armenian or Cypriot Arabic?
Listen to their album here.
World Music Network’s recent release of Shanu by Monoswezi is a testament to amazing cross-border collaboration.
It has no comparison because of its worldly, orderly compositions merging voices of a Zimbabwean, a Swede, a Norwegian, and a Mozambiquan. Mostly, it sings in a folksy, nonchalant melody. But its most intriguing sound comes from the combination of both instinctive as well as electronically made. All-encompassing in its adoration towards the natural world, this album takes you on a journey to self-discovery and delicious aural entertainment. In Where is my Mbira, it is that little bit of disco combining elements of Africanism and jazz that melts away anxious sensitivity. So we say no more, as there’s nothing else we could recommend more than for a good listening of this wondrous recording.
Listen to Where is my Mbira from the album here.
Our region’s favourite, Purbayan Chatterjee’s latest album Unbounded (Abaad) is not entirely a typical classical music production.
To say it is traditional isn’t even entirely descriptive of its characteristics when jazz is involved. Released by Sufiscore, this is perhaps the label’s biggest hit in the world music scene. It isn’t too early to say this because of its justly international cast. Involving prominent musicians from India, the USA, and the UK, it is a six-song album bringing together music forms including jazz, folk, Latin, country, Sufi, western, and Hindustani classical music. Purbayan Chatterjee is India’s sitar maestro, whose talent was the reason for this star-studded collaboration. Each song unfolds the ideas and personalities of all the collaborators. Opening the album, Shanmukhapriya (The Mystic) explores the devotional element of Carnatic music in a post-modern Latin jazz soundscape directed by the mandolin, guitar, keyboards, and the subtle textural effect of the strings. Rajasthani folk is intertwined with soulful rhythms in cohesion with blues using the banjo, sitar, piano, and guitar. It is sheer poetry to the ears. Let Thana Alexa’s voice take you on a high in Sukoon.
Listen to single Sukoon from the album here.
A beautifully spontaneous collaboration between acclaimed South African guitarist Guy Buttery and Indian master musicians Mohd. Amjad Khan (tabla) & Mudassir Khan (sarangi), One Morning In Gurgaon was inspired by the trio’s shared appreciation of the musical wonders and landscapes of the subcontinent.
One should pay attention to the steely rendition created from the strings in I Like the Motorcar. Here it is all about the musical instruments being center stage. Its forms here play a secondary to the musicianship skills so often lacking in live performances today. Interweaving Buttery’s rhythmic technique with complex beats of master tabla player Mohd. Amjad Khan, the sonic compendium is far from complete. Mudassir Khan weaves lyrical lines using sarangi, a short-necked string instrument, which found its prominence in Punjabi and Rajasthani folk music. It has repertoires closely related to traditional vocal music. Subliminally alluring.
Listen to Chidiya from the album here.
Henna is a collective album of various young female voices from Palestine.
Produced and arranged by Suhail Khoury and Erik Hillestad, the album features thirty young women from East Jerusalem. Its creative endeavor is a highly controversial matter carrying a deep message related to freedom and suffering as well as songs that are nearly forgotten. Hillestad has released the album under his very own Norwegian label – Kirkelig Kulturverksted (KKV) – of which has also released records for Ketil Bjornstad, Kari Bremnes, and Erik Bye. The album also features Daughters of Jerusalem, an instrumental ensemble formed in 2013 and led by Suhail Khoury whose efforts have made her director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. “We hope this CD will inspire the singers in it to create their independent recordings in the future. By this project, we also hope to encourage more original Palestinian songs to be written, recorded, and performed as part of the endeavor to create a unique identity for Palestinian music,” Khoury says. (Quoted on WorldMusicCentral.org)
Listen to Gaza (The Daughters of Jerusalem) from the album here.