elevenshadows musicblog


music that makes my ears wiggle




Arturo "Zambo" Cavero and Oscar Aviles "Les Traemos...El Chacaombo" 1998 Iempsa
Afro-Peruvian music from two masters of the genre. This disc offers modern and older selections of valses, polka, and other dance rhythms largely unique to Afro-Peruvian music. The acoustic guitars are lively, retaining a somewhat Spanish feel and providing interesting rhythmic and melodic accompaniment. The cajón, essentially a wooden box on which the player sits and pounds out a rhythm with his hands, lend a unique sound to this (as well as other Afro-Peruvian music, such as Eva Ayllon "Musica Negra", reviewed here in 1998, one of my favorite CDs of all time!). I purchased this disc in Chincha Alta, Peru, where the lively Fiesta Patrias, a festival of Afro-Peruvian music, occurs each year.


Orishas "A Lo Cubano" 2000 Universal/Surco
The first time I heard this fascinating combination of hip-hop and son music of Cuba (made famous by Buena Vista Social Club) was in the plaza de armas in the district of Carmen, near Chincha Alta, Peru. Two young black women were playing this at pulsing volumes while dancing and singing along, and I thought that it was one of the catchiest things I'd heard in quite some time. Slow hip-hop rhythms lope along, with beautiful son harmonies trading off with rapping and beautiful singing in an absolutely seamless combination of those elements. Easily my favorite hip-hop record.


"Gengong, Balinese Jews' harp Orchestra" 1997 World Music Library
The gengong, a "Jew's harp" by which the sound is made by pulling a string, and the engung (translates to "frog with a big voice") are among the unusual instruments that mix with the more traditional Balinese gamelan bronze and bamboo instruments. An excellent and very unusual release.


V/A, "Vocal and Instrumental Music of Mongolia" Tangent
An excellent compilation of Mongolian music recorded by Jean Jenkins, this collection features the Mongolian Horse head Fiddle, and various singing which recalls the steppes of Mongolia. Some of the selections, such as "Mouth Music", sound like processed electronic sounds, but are indeed unaltered field recordings. Many of the longer vocal songs have a lot of embellishments.


V/A "Music of the Rainforest Pygmies" Lyrichord
Recorded by anthropologist Colin Turnbull in the late '50s and '60s, when he lived among the Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri rainforest of what was then Zaire. The recordings are good when one considers the age of the recordings, and the interval-based vocal harmonies of the pygmies are mesmerizing. The song "Clementine" is given the pygmy treatment, with their fascinating vocal harmonies and polyrhythmic handclaps.


Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, "Padma Vibhushan" 1999 RPG Music International, Calcutta
This two-CD collection brings together various ragas, bhajan, abhang, and film songs by the legendary Indian vocalist. Although I like Hindi film songs, with Bhimsen Joshi's music, I find myself especially drawn to the ragas, in which he is given ample room to stretch out in startling improvisations. At some moments in the ragas, particularly on the second disc, he sounds almost as if someone is violently shaking him while he is singing, but this is done with such startling control and accuracy that it's hard to believe that anyone can sing like this. Yet he does. Very much recommended.

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