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La Tsadika
La Tsadika
Price: £7.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious, 22 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: La Tsadika (MP3 Download)
Mor Karbasi plays Ladino music - the almost lost music of Sephardic Jews from Spain.
Her voices trills and soars with flamenco tones. The music also at times has a flamenco element, not too surprising given the roots of the music and that she now lives in Seville. It often feels quite religious as well but not in an off putting or overpowering way. Perhaps I really mean spiritual.

Some of the tracks start with short intros or interludes, that sound like they may be the source material for the songs. Although I don't think these are old recordings I think they may be intended as little sketches for a song. It's quite a odd feature and adds to the feeling that this music is old and rescued. These often sound, to me, like eastern European singing.

The tracks are quite varied, most being traditional songs, some Sephardic from Morocco.
La Gallarda has flamenco guitars, Mi Nina Me Trajo La Mar is a bit jazz influenced with piano and trumpet. Ay Si Te Fueres A Banar Novia is a stunningly gorgeous vocal only track. It reminds me very much of Bulgarian singing (and made me change my 4 stars to 5 stars!) There's one of those hidden tracks at the end of the CD which takes you by surprise after 5 minutes of silence.

There are times when for me the mannered tremulous voice is just a bit too much and the piano doesn't always provide the best backing in my opinion. Great CD though!

Mali Overdrive
Mali Overdrive
Price: £10.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Mali normal drive!, 8 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Mali Overdrive (Audio CD)
I don't understand the marketing of this release. 'Mail Overdrive' almost put me off. I was thinking another Issa Bagayoko or Mamou Sidibe style programmed drums and synth approach.

What you actually get are 10 laid back Mali blues style tracks with some great n'goni, soku fiddle (yes Zoumana Tereta who seems to be the only soku player in Mali judging by the number of albums he plays on), and calabash, with bursts of electric guitar.

It's quite like Lobi Traore, who actually does have some faster 'overdrive' albums.

It's great, I love it. Really accessible Malian music. But I'm not getting an 'overdrive' vibe, the songs have a languid sun drenched blues pace. Cisse's voice is gentle and intimate. Beautiful, more please!

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £15.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mali keeps on giving, 11 May 2014
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This review is from: Adibar (Audio CD)
Excellent album of laid back Malian music in the style of Ali Farka Toure. Perhaps unsurprising really, as the musicians are from Toure's band.
Mamadou's vocals are gentle and unstrained, without the big vocal gymnastics of some Malian singers.
What I like best about this album is that it doesn't take on western styles to try to win us over. It's not showy, just wonderful gentle music.
The band are exceptional, with acoustic guitars, calabash percussion, bass and the rasping textured sound of the ndjarka (a type of 'violin') and the twanging djourkel (like the n'goni).
The tracks are quite similar in sound with some more immediately catching in my mind - listen to 'Fissa Maiga'.
A really nice debut, not as distinctive as Ali Farka Toure or with songs as catchy as Sidi Toure.

Price: £10.44

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Father and son, 10 May 2014
This review is from: TOUMANI & SIDIKI (Audio CD)
Instrumental kora music from Mali. Father and son playing some classics with one new song 'Lampedusa'. You'll recognise some of the tracks if you are familiar with Malian music but the interpretations here are their own.
Coming from such a rich and long musical tradition this album is a real pleasure to hear.
It's fascinating to hear the different approaches to playing. The son, Sidiki, often takes the more active role with fast fingered flourishes.
They are touring at the moment so It'll be a treat to hear them live.
This isn't Toumani's best album, check out the astonishing solo release The Mande Variations.
The CD has great packaging with suitably arty photos and design and rather pompous sleeve notes by producer Lucy Duran.

Soô - Habib Koite
Soô - Habib Koite
Price: £10.56

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mali smooth, 4 May 2014
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This review is from: Soô - Habib Koite (Audio CD)
Another fine album from this Malian bluesman. Try anything from his back catalogue as all his albums are good.

Here the sound is very polished and smooth but does have an authentic feel. Habib's voice is not one of those big Malian voices, it fits nicely with his acoustic guitar playing. He sings in a variety of different Malian languages: Malinke, Dogon, Khassonke, Bambara, also one track with some English, and another with the universal sound of the whistle! The album is mainly acoustic, there are some keyboards but they fit really well, never overwhelming the sound.

Toumani Diabate plays kora and Bassekou Kouyate n'goni on one track called Terere. The musicians are great throughout - very nice backing vocals, with a banjo on some tracks. The feeling is generally quite laid back with the occasional track having more percussion, for example the faster paced 'Diarabi Niani' or 'Balon tan' which also has a bit of rap. 'LA' is a different version to the one played on Habib's last album with Eric Bibb, it's a song celebrating Tequila!

There's a lovely gentle instrumental track to end the album.

Al Bilali Soudan
Al Bilali Soudan
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £10.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A hard listen, 27 April 2014
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This review is from: Al Bilali Soudan (Audio CD)
A traditional sound from north Mali. Two tehardents (the Tamasheq name for the n'goni) and a couple of calabashes, with occasional vocals.

The music is repetitive and meditative. The tracks become quite similar. There is some fine playing but the electrified sound of the tehardents means the nuance and texture of the lute like strings is lost. The percussion taps out endless loping rhythms.

It's good but the recording quality is harsh and doesn't make for an easy listen. I'd prefer to hear an acoustic recording with some guest vocalists to add some variety.

Price: £8.70

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, 26 April 2014
This review is from: Autoretrato (Audio CD)
Estrella is the daughter of the late Enrique Morente, a famous flamenco singer. Enrique was a great experimenter and Estrella has followed the same path.

What other flamenco album would open with a track with music by Micheal Nyman! It's a quite extraordinary start. The music is typically Nymanesque and Estrella's vocal is astonishing - it floats across the music with Bulgarian/eastern European hints. There is a second track with Michael Nyman but it is less remarkable.

Estrella's voice is incredible, at it's best, soaring and twisting. 'Segurillas de la Vera' with Paco de Lucia (recorded by Javier Limon who has really captured the space around her voice) is a wonderful example.

There is a real stinker - 'Find Me In Your Dreams', with Pat Methany is particularly dreadful.

Overall the album is great, with many guests; Montoyita, Tomatito, Vicente Amigo, Isidro Munoz, Alain Perez, Alfredo Lagos and Enrique Morente. The album is long, 15 tracks, 66 minutes long, so ignoring the bad track this is a great album. Estrella's vocals are always wonderful just let down here and there by mundane songs. The last track 'Adagio' with Enrique has some unengaging keyboards.

There's a great Cuban track 'Cuba-Cui' which has brass and lots of percussion. Elsewhere it's mainly flamenco guitar and percussion. Not traditional, definitely nuevo flamenco.

Lovely Difficult
Lovely Difficult
Offered by marvelio-uk
Price: £11.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to love, 13 April 2014
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This review is from: Lovely Difficult (Audio CD)
Mayra Andrade has previously released a couple of very nice albums of Cape Verdean music, with Brazilian hints and a live album which used tracks from the albums along with a few more jazz influenced tracks - these didn't always work for me.

Lovely Difficult moves even more into the world of jazz/singer-songwriter. 4 of the 13 tracks are sung in English. It took me quite a while to come round to these tracks. Mayra avoids the embarrassing switch to English experienced by previous world music stars and thankfully there are no guest spots from Sting, Peter Gabriel or Neneh Cherry! Surprisingly to me, these English lyric tracks are not always the weakest. However, they lack the shape of the Cape Verdean ones, although even these sometimes lack real character.

We Used To Call It Love has a great swing and far away jazz trumpet. Catchy enough to make it a hit

Build it Up, written by Krystle Warren is a nice track but I can't help thinking that Krystle would have made a much better job of it, rather than have an odd little voice, although nicely timed, that doesn't really carry the emotion of the song.

96 Days has particularly annoying English lyrics using smoking as a comparison to the 'addiction' to a failed relationship. It'll probably carry more weight in high smoking countries like Spain, France or Portugal!

There are some lovely gems with more of a Cape Verdean vibe, Ilha de Santiago, written by Simentara star Mario Lucio, has delicious vocal phrasing and dreamy guitar.

Tenou Ki Bai with it's swirling organ is a promising opener. Rosa offers a reggae lilt with a good electric guitar riff. Les Moits D'Amour offers some more reggae-lite. Tera Lonji has a strong longing for Cape Verde.

Overall I'm sorry to say it's often quite languid and samey. Some of the tunes can be quite bland. I think it will be a big hit and Mayra deserves praise for trying to find her own way in this 'world music' niche. She does rather trade on her looks, the photos are all soft focus and posed. The back cover could have been a 1980's Athena poster! I hope it's her choice to use her images in this way rather than a cynical white male record producer.

I'm going to stick with Mayra but do prefer her previous releases.

Sorano Singers 2
Sorano Singers 2
Offered by world_media
Price: £15.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spacey Senegalese Sounds, 4 April 2014
This review is from: Sorano Singers 2 (Audio CD)
7 gorgeous tracks of laid back spacey Senegalese music from 1980.
A couple of tracks with the female singer Madiodio on vocals backed by the band SK7. The rest of the tracks have different lead singers with Super Etoile (yes that's Youssou N'dour's band).

Recorded at the Sorano theatre the singers are the vocalists of the national ensemble. The recording quality is basic but it doesn't matter as the music is truly wonderful. There is a sense of space around all the instruments, unhurried sax solos and guitar breaks, sometimes a change of pace to a faster ending to a song.

The electric guitars weave a dreamy lead, backed by horns, the staccato mbalax beat on sabar drums, with the tama, the talking drum, bubbling across this, with great backing singers. Quite similar to the sound of Orchestra Baobab but without the Cuban edge.

All the lead vocalists have those big islamic tinged voices. In addition to the 2 tracks by Madiodio, the other female singers are Kine Lam (she has quite a distinctive voice and has a few solo releases worth checking out) and Khar M'Baye Madiaga. There are also 2 male vocalists, 2 tracks by Madiop Seck and 1 by N'Diaye Samba M'Boup.

All of the re-releases on the Dakar Sound label are a real treat.

Price: £13.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cuban-Senes sound from another time and place, 23 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Vagabonde (Audio CD)
7 tracks from 1969 with Super Cap Vert, 3 tracks from 1973 with Star Band de Dakar and 2 tracks from 1980 with Number One de Dakar.
Far away recordings of early Senegalese music with a strong Cuban sound. Dreamy and evocative of a different time.
It has the sound of Youssou N'dour's early band Etoile de Dakar (well Mar Seck was first, but I'm trying to give a reference point for the sound).
Pape Seck, singer from the first Africando albums, appears on the later tracks. A very special album indeed.
The record label Teranga has some other great releases of obscure early Senegalese bands.

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