Thursday, December 28, 2006

Abstract Index playlist - December 20/06

So much of what I wrote in 2006 was about the equation of music from around the world which is considered to be "world music" and music from around the world which was "just good, y'know, not like that worldbeat crap". I'm always trying to look at the boundary line, if any between the two distinctions. When a CD claims "this is from a time before worldbeat" as these two volumes in the African Pearls series (see Tim Perlich's write up a few weeks ago), it's just a code for saying "this is fusion music that no one makes a big deal about". Both discs (of 4 available in this series so far) come from the vast archives of West African maverick producer Ibrahim Sylla who has been chasing down popular sounds for more than 35 years. Since I don't have full copies of either of these discs, I can't quite tell you how these tracks came to be released on this collection. Nevertheless, these are both wide ranging discs spanning the 50s to the 80s. There is an emphasis on folk material revived by state-encouraged initiatives, and later tracks become poppier. Unsurprisingly, the later material also has better sound quality (tho' I'll always love oversaturated 60's Fender bass in all its manifestations), and incorporates more international influences.

Both tracks that I spun during this show were very worldbeat-y. Xalam was one of the new generation of Senegalese bands, like Etoile de Dakar with Youssou N'dour, who took the reins from heavier more rumba oriented bands like Orchestra Baobab at the turn of the 80s. Check the sound system for the jazzy, Afrobeat inflected groove that is Ade. As for "Tam Tam Sax" by Momo Wandel, the song title itself is self explanatory, with a bit of a Manu Dibango-like growl to the sax and some very slippery rhythms. It would fit right in with the Chicago sound of someone like Kahil El Zabar.
Anyways, in my book, the 'world music' tag is always going to apply to something which is unfamiliar to you. Moreover, there are many for whom the pursuit of unfamiliarity in all forms of musical expression is the highest form of musical engagement - this is the 'world music' audience, an audience which is increasingly diverse and decentralized (this year I've often said the same about the audience for improvised music). On the production front, there are more artists than ever which successfully and consciously (or at least humourously) fuse different sonics and rhythms, building on the explosion of scholarship and availabity of music from around the world to avoid creating the half-baked worldbeat of years past. The African Pearls series is an excellent entry point into one of the great hybridized musical regions of the world.

you've changed - the reveries (rat drifting)
kalimba lua cheia - egberto gismonti (ecm)
entre lagos e montanhas - qiu xia he/silk road music (silk road)
glades the veil - detention (arrival)
clearance - free work band (independent)
love bones - lonnie smith (blue note)
haka blues - otto donner element (ricky tick)
ade - xalam (syllart)
siete tazes de cafe - irakere (escondida)
doppelspiel - feuermusik (independent)
efrooh bwadina - hossam ramzy (arc)
muerive yo diva - tumba francesca (soul jazz)
tam tam sax - momo wandel (syllart)
how could I live - dennis brown (vp)
taxi connection - sly and robbie (heartbeat)
king of kings - fantan mojah (greensleeves)
lessons of life - luciano (shanachie)
the winner - alton ellis (heartbeat)


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