Bollywood kitsch, Bhutan style, when authenticity is just too borringg, from a people too damn happy, I reckon. But it's a beautiful country, I hear tell, hope to go there one day, soon. Eat your heart out, Lindsey Stirling...
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Monday, January 25, 2016
Wales is that forgotten little country (did you know it was a country?) tucked under the UK's left wing on the UK's left coast and left there to prosper or rot, like it or not, earliest of the non-English additions, so approaching from another Angle, Celtic and proud, determined but not loud... and not Gaelic. Ireland and sometimes Scotland get all the Celtic sympathy, but Wales is more traditional IMHO and likely predates it, the two languages dissimilar enough to indicate a notable degree of separation in time if not space, but you're not likely to hear anyone speaking 'Irish' (Gaelic) there, much less complete with radio radio, but you will find exactly that in Wales, found it cruising through on the train to the ferry port, in fact, wasn't even looking, so there! That was then 2003 fast forward to now and I'm looking for Welsh music, sorting through all the genres, generally ballads for the most part, with the occasional punk and the inevitable Celtic-woman-like show act, God help us. Then I found Cate. Wait a minute; I've heard this before--but where? KCRW, of course. And yes, she can do it in Welsh, too, all night long, figure our son would look just like me and the daughter just like her, you know the rest... move over, Enya...
Friday, January 22, 2016
This is interesting: and pretty darn good, too. I'm not sure where the African DNA comes from, but I'm guessing the slave trade. Seems it ended in these parts not so long ago--oops! The most interesting part of Bahrain's music in general is the syncopated clapping which seems to pop up everywhere almost any time. Enjoy.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
This is my vote for modern successor to Ros Sereysothea; song and singer definitely reminds me of the good old days of Sinn Sisamouth and others, just straight-ahead R & R Asian-style, with no self-conscious aping of the latest trends overseas, good news since a decade ago seems they were reduced to cheap imitation of Thai pop--yuk!
Saturday, January 16, 2016
If you've heard any Yemeni music at all, it's probably Yemen Blues, the Bill Laswell-produced ode to all things blue and all things Semitic, Hamitic, and Cushitic, the middle Eastern cacophony of cultures that forms a strong third branch of world music, after sub-Saharan African and Latino. There's only one problem: it's really not Yemeni. It's Jewish Yemeni. Not that it's hard to find 'real' Yemeni music. It's not. It's only hard to find a name attached to any of it. So I chose this video as representative, since it shows scenes I witnessed every day while there, including my hotel. I hope it's still there.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
If music is the universal language, then finding each country's sweet spot for sweet talk and sweet music is the fruit of love's labor. The Internet is a universe composed of Swiss cheese, though, of course, so the long winding roads only lead forever inward--to frequent dead ends. It's there, though, if you look hard enough, and often in the strangest places. In Zambia I found it in church. In Azerbaijan I find it at weddings, no big shock since that's where I ended up hanging out every night in Samarkand, with similar culture. Azerbaijan is the missing link of Turkish culture--the link between east and west, from the eastern Asian homeland to the modern western sorta-European Turkish state. You get the feeling that the whirling dervishes here are real, not just tourist programs. Enjoy.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Like so many countries, the best music in Zambia is not necessarily the newest. Unlike many others the best I can find comes straight from the mouth of babes, invoking the words of the Christian God, utilizing the universal language of music. You can get religion fast this way...
Friday, January 08, 2016
Is China ready to rule the world? If the quality of their indie rock is any indication, then they just might be. This is not C-pop, mind you, nor any other mass-produced cutie-bootie schlock pop, just good ol' R & R, the kind that makes you realize why you came in the first place...
Wednesday, January 06, 2016
Part of the problem in finding good music from countries where you've never heard any before is knowing where to start. Generic YouTube play-lists that say 'Armenian music' don't necessarily yield much, generally the schlock or Westernized pseudo-hiphop that pervades the world these days, fine if you like that, but not much of a clue to the country itself or its culture. For that it's best to refine the search, e.g. Armenian folk music, which will get you some more authentic vibes... enjoy...
Monday, January 04, 2016
Well, Zimbabwean music has probably seen better days, to be honest, talking about the breezy vibes of Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi, Mukadota and others, some still alive, others still kicking, but all is not lost, as evidenced by the efforts of this young lady, who somehow has managed to buck the reigning 'urban' trend for a return to Zimbabwe's roots in the countryside, hearts and minds not lost in all the crime sex and violence of cities. Let's blame it on the rapacious government of Mugabe--yeah. On the other hand, I found some lovely Botswana music that also crosses borders, and genres...
Sunday, January 03, 2016
Despite all efforts by the central Chinese government and Han Chinese culture to overwhelm the Tibetan culture and populace, somehow they manage to survive, and infect the rest of the country with their quest for freedom and independence. It's a double-edge sword, after all, and a two-lane highway...
Saturday, January 02, 2016
If my goal right here right now is to get a glimpse into culture(s) through the lens of its popular music, then Afghanistan is a supreme challenge right off the bat. After viewing dozens of videos and listening to the same number of songs, almost nothing was revealed--until now.
Most seem to be made in studios and on sound-stages in hermetically sealed enclaves in well-guarded neighborhoods, no 'students', i.e. Taliban allowed. The music is mostly generic schlock-pop from well-tried formulas featuring well-coiffed celebrities, most of whom probably haven't tasted the dust of Kabul in years.
The few external scenes are of Dubai or London or Samarkand, fer Chrissakes! You'd never even know that there's a real country of real people fighting a real war for real reasons--until now. Kudos to Seeta Qasemi now only for her good voice and her good music, but for her good taste in narrating a story of her country. Long live Afghanistan, one of the most interesting countries of the world!
Friday, January 01, 2016
It's always New Year's Day somewhere. My theory is that you can tell more about a country and its place in the world from its music than any other cultural aspect. I'll test that theory in the coming days--should be interesting! In the case of Kampuchea, I'd say that they're reviving from their darkest darkest days of the Khmer Rouge in fine style, especially with music, which is beginning to rival the good old days of the 70's...