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23 décembre 2008

Best of 2008: Top world music of the year

By Patrick Varine, GateHouse News Service, Posted Dec 22, 2008

When it comes to world music, most people are a little apprehensive … probably because they’re thinking Peter Gabriel and Enya.

No, no, no. We’re talking about music from all over the world. And there’s more than enough to go around from 2008. Just a few examples:

Etran Finatawa, "Desert Crossroads" – As the first few strains of “Kel Tamascheck” waft through the air, you’re not quite sure what to make of it. It could be a swampy blues guitarist from backwoods Louisiana. But there’s a slight Arabic-style lilt to the scales. Then the percussion kicks in, and you’re transported to the rugged, wide-open spaces of northwest Africa. In the tradition of groups like Tinariwen and Tartit, Etran Finatawa takes their tradition nomadic music and adds electric guitar, combining African and Arabic rhythms with the voodoo-blues drone of John Lee Hooker. A mesmerizing experience. Key tracks: “Kel Tamascheck,” “Ganya Maada,” “Alghalam Taxat”

Alborosie, "Soul Pirate European Tour 2008" – With an ashy, pleading tenor and a thorough command of Jamaican DJ chat in the mode of toasters like Nicodemus and Super Cat, Alborosie plows through a solid set of classic and original riddims with the ease and flash of reggae godfather Bob Marley. Key tracks: “Sound Killa,” “Moonshine,” “Police,” “Bad Mind”

Various Artists, "Nigeria 70 Lagos Jump: Original Heavyweight Afrobeat Highlife & Afro-Funk"If you wanna dance, there’s no better way than afro-beat. The polyrhythms of central Africa have kept hips shaking since Fela Kuti brought it to the world in the 1970s, and this collection of tunes is proof that it can definitely still get the party started. Key tracks: “Everybody Likes Something Good,” “Igbehin Lalayo Nta,” “African Dialects,” “Yabis”

"The Very Best of the Red Army Choirs" (self-titled) – OK, so they’re singing songs from communist Russia, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a collection of masterful eastern European classical music, with a choir to beat the band.

Busy Signal, "Loaded" – One of Jamaica’s hottest dancehall artists, Busy Signal’s sophomore disc is, at times, a few beats-per-minute slower than the average riddim, but a clear, full tenor and reliance on splashes of Auto-Tune here and there make for one of the year’s best dancehall discs. Key tracks: “Wine Pon Di Edge,” “Jail,” “Cool Baby,” “Murderer”

"Seun Kuti & the Egypt 80" (self-titled) – Picking up right where his dad, Fela, left off – and with some of the same musicians – son Seun kicks up a refreshingly retro set of Afro-beat tunes with all the neverending grooves and political consciousness that Dad taught him. Key tracks: “Na Oil,” “Mosquito Song”

And the world-music song of year -- in my completely biased yet humble opinion -- goes to a re-release of Stelios Katzantidis' "Efuge Efuge," from "...And All the Pieces Matter," the soundtrack from HBO's "The Wire."

Sussex Countian

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