New WMN Releases: Fado, Bluegrass and Sambasunda Quintet
The World Music Network are looking forward to January 31st as three new albums are to be released: The Rough Guide to Fado, The Rough Guide to Bluegrass and Riverboat Records presents 'Java' by Sambasunda Quintet.
All three of these new releases are available with the subscription to the World Music Network or can be enjoyed as a one-off!
Fado is regarded as one of the world’s oldest styles of urban song. Having been born in Lisbon's characteristic alleyways, it become associated with trade unionists and socialist ideals in the early 1900s.Linked to Lisbon's oldest neighbourhoods, such as Mouraria and Alfama, fado has been regarded as Portuguese multicultural mirror. As Lisbon is a port city, fado bears the influence of music that arrived over the sea from former Portuguese colonies, including those in Africa and Brazil. 2011, fado was awarded a place on UNESCO’s prestigious ‘Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
This album features the cream of modern fado. Renowned fado singer Mariza revolutionised traditional fado. Her perfectly forthright yet melancholic vocals feature on track ‘Que Deus Me Perdone’ complete with accented guitar accompaniment. Another young and glamorous fadista Carminho treats us to a magnificent interpretation of the very famous song ‘Escrevi Teu Nome No Vento’. Ana Moura’s dreamily enthralling voice slinks across a beautiful arrangement of the song, ‘Sou Do Fado, Sou Fadista’.
The art of the 12-stringed pearshaped Portuguese guitar known as the Petrolino is also represented on this comprehensive Rough Guide. Artists including Ricardo Parriera and Marco Oliveira employ the typically dextrous fado technique and weave elegant rippling textures.
As ever, the music doesn’t stop there: World Music Network also include a fabulous full-length bonus album by the inimitable Cristina Branco.
This Rough Guide features everything from legendary first generation artists to contemporary artists who are still delivering top-notch bluegrass today. Bluegrass musics depict local issues, and many of the songs on this Rough Guide reference life in the coal mines and the disturbing contemporary practice of ‘Mountain Top Removal’ - a form of surface mining that involves the mining of the summit or summit ridge of a mountain.
Heading up the legends of old, singer-bassist-guitarist Hazel Dickens intones her pro-union message on ‘Coal Mining Woman’. Her voice winds around with a raw toned violin, whilst a gently chugging rhythm section pumps along at the base of the texture. Another great track is contributed by Tom T. Hall, who rose to fame during the 1960s and has written songs for huge stars including as Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and George Jones. ‘A Hero In Harlan’ is a slow, almost mournful, number about a young boy who decided to join up to war rather than work in the coalmine.
At the forefront of the contemporary scene, artists like Grammy nominated band The Grascals also feature on The Rough Guide to Bluegrass. Claire Lynch’s reflective number tells of a young girl’s memory of a canary in a coalmine, it was traditional to keep the small birds in coalmines as they are sensitive to dangerous gases. Kathy Mattea is one of the giants of bluegrass music. Her track ‘Coal Tattoo’ is a soulful tune accented by her own deep alto vocals. The album closes with a cover of the Hazel Dicken’s tune, ‘Black Lung’ by the Dry Branch Fire Squad. This time the musicians consider the common illness of lung cancer often contracted by coal mine workers.
The bonus album by Scott Holstein is bluegrass infused with hard rock.
The Sambasunda collective of Bandung has gained international attention for its fresh, groundbreaking approach to the traditional music of West Java, releasing a series of albums boldly bringing together pan-Indonesian styles and instruments with added global percussion. This album reflects an enduring classical tradition of Sundanese music while at the same time creating something fresh, modern and original.
The music is centred on the kacapi, a boat-shaped zither whose mellifluous tones have been heard in Sunda (West Java) for centuries.The kacapi has been described as the ancestral ship which transports its listener home to the mythical golden age of the ancient Javanese kingdom of Pajajaran. From the days of its use in the courts of the regional nobility, from where the still-popular classical style of Tembang Sunda developed, to its twentieth-century migration to the fast-growing capital city of Bandung, where new urbanized styles came into being, it has been a key instrument of Sundanese musical culture.
This album is representative of the roots and sounds of Bandung, the bustling capital city and cultural centre of West Java, university town and magnet for a young generation logged into the global cultural network. Here there is any number of contemporary pop bands to be found, from shoegazers to headbangers. Sambasunda lead the field in applying that urban energy to the multifarious traditional music of the Indonesian archipelago. With this special project, the Sambasunda Quintet further explores the unique musical heritage of their home region.
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New City Music, Chicago: 'a great showcase of the funky sounds currently made in Crescent City'.
The Guardian, UK, 3*** stars: 'A classy compilation'.
Guardian, UK 4****stars: 'A highly original, compelling set'.
Froots, UK: '... a superb album of an under-represented music ... and comes highly recommended'.