Category Archives: World Music

Laurie Anderson collaborates on Songs from the Bardo

Laurie Anderson, musician and visual/conceptual artist, has made her bones exploring the intersection between the deep philosophical ruminations of fine art and the commercial world of popular culture, with results that are by turns fascinating, hilarious, sad, and chilling. Her latest collaboration, Songs from the Bardo, looks deeply into the Tibetan Buddhism that she has studied and whose ideas she has incorporated into previous work.

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The NDIM Guide to Dub

Dub music is generally considered a subgenre of reggae, and that is where its roots lie, but it has gone through several periods and a variety of innovative artists so that it no longer seems beholden to any genre. Indeed it has influenced nearly everything it has come into contact with. Musical genres as varied as punk rock, hip hop, trip hop, techno, house, and most subsequent permutations of dance or electronic music have all been imprinted heavily with the heavy sounds and trippy legacy of dub music.

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Susheela Raman: Ghost Gamelan

Susheela Raman doesn’t think much of borders. Born in London to South Indian parents but raised in Australia, her musical career has been all about bringing together people, cultures, ideas, and sounds to create her own musical voice. She’s worked with musicians from South and South East Asia, Africa, Greece, Turkey, and North Africa on previous releases such as Music For Crocodiles and Vel. So it doesn’t seem at all odd that for her latest album, Ghost Gamelan, she has worked with gamelan musicians from Java.

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Susheela Raman: Music For Crocodiles

Susheela Raman is one in a line of Indian performers who have sought to bring the traditional aspects of the music of their heritage into a satisfying mix with popular Western musical forms in a way that does not subjugate the exotic elements, making them into mere ornaments that only pay lip service to age old musical traditions. On Music for Crocodiles, her third album, Raman pushes a bit further out from her comfort zone, performing the majority of the songs in English.

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Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile

by Marshall Bowden

In the acknowledgments of his book Cut ‘N Mix: Culture and Identity in Carribean Music, Dick Hebdige notes that

“In his book There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack, Paul Gilroy has suggested that music functions within the culture of the black diaspora as an alternative public sphere. Sometimes a reggae toast or soul rap might consist of little more than a list of names or titles. Naming can be in and of itself an act of invocation, conferring power and/or grace upon the namer: the names can carry power in themselves. The titles bestowed on Halile Selassie in a Rastafarian chant or a reggae toast or on James Brown or Aretha Franklin in a soul or MC rap testify to this power. More importantly in this context, the namer pays tribute in the ‘name check’ to the community from winch (s)he has sprung and without which (s)he would be unable to survive.”

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Luciana Souza: The New Bossa Nova

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by Marshall Bowden

Read Luciana Souza: The Book of Longing

Listening to Luciana Souza on The New Bossa Nova reminds one of the best elements of bossa, the music that American jazz musicians and listeners fell in love with some fifty years ago. Souza’s voice is so tightly focused, free of distracting embellishments or unnecessary ornamentation, that one can listen to it quite apart from the words, as one would the melodic line of a great instrumentalist. Of course, the voice is truly the most intimate of all instruments, because it is created by the singer’s own body and because it is capable of transmitting meaning not only in melodic or harmonic terms, but also in words.

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Luciana Souza: The Book of Longing

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Read Luciana Souza: The New Bossa Nova

by Marshall Bowden

Luciana Souza is a singer who takes more than a passing interest in the words that she is singing. Previous projects have revolved around poetry and literature: The Poems of Elizabeth Bishop and Other Songs (2000) and Neruda (2004) were based, respectively, on the work of Elizabeth Bishop, an American poet who lived in Brazil for nearly two decades and Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

Souza’s newest album, The Book of Longing takes its title from Leonard Cohen’s 2006 collection of poetry. She sets the titular poem to music in a track called “The Book.” She adapts Cohen’s tribute to departed singer Carl Anderson, “Nightingale” as “Night Song.” She also takes on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Alms”, a sweet melancholy poem about the seasons of love, Emily Dikinson’s “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark,” and Rosetti’s “Remember.” And there are four of Luciana’s own lyrics set to music that is conceived and arranged by her.

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