Friday, April 30, 2010

Valravn pushes the limits of Nordic Roots, and shines

World Music

“Valravn is testing the extremes of Nordic roots music and its application here and now; in that process we are open to outside influences. The point of departure is on the cusp of something very ancient and something brand new." – Juan Pino, Valravn

The Danish folktronica band Valravn grew out of the acoustic medieval music ensemble Virelai, which had specialized in performing traditional music at medieval festivals. Valravn, updating old Faroese ballads sung in the original language, accompanied on hurdy-gurdy, flutes, hand drums, viola, mandola and electronic samples, have no equals on the Danish music scene. Ask Valravn percussionist, Juan Pino, and he will tell of an explosive development from the band's first album of mainly traditional material to their second, Koder på snor, which relies more on their own compositions.

Morten Alfred Høirup investigates the new sound of Danish roots in his interview in RootsWorld

Friday, April 23, 2010

Italian New Waves: Consoli, Avitabile and Ferrante

world music cd cover
The public face of Italy today is una brutta faccia. Silvio Berlusconi's regime is a riotous carnival of corruption, abuse of power, and sexual sleaze; organized crime wields enormous economic power throughout the peninsula and in Sicily; the Vatican intrudes with an ever more heavy hand into Italian politics; and racism, xenophobia, and homophobia are surging. The civil society organization Justice and Liberty raises alarms over the "unequivocal signs of social decay," but much of the populace couldn't care less - they'd rather turn on Berlusconi's TV channels and submit to the mindless mediated reality that historian Paul Ginsborg calls "videocracy."

Given all this, it's up to artists to limn the current malessere... Carmen Consoli, Massimo Ferrante, and Enzo Avitabile, all from Italy's southern regions, have released new recordings that comment on the current situation or evoke traditions and stories of an Italy at risk of being forgotten in the seemingly interminable Berlusconi era.

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North American tour for King Sunny Ade and his African Beats cancelled

Here's the official word:

"It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of the entire April/May 2010 North American tour for King Sunny Ade and his African Beats.

On March 26th 2010 a tragic car accident took the lives of two members of the African Beats, talking drummer Gabriel Ayanniyi and percussionist Omo Olope, who were en-route to a video shoot for a forthcoming recording. When the US Embassy refused to grant visas to replacement members in a timely manner, there was confusion about the possible courses of action.At the same time, it became clear that the artist and the band had neither recovered from the impact of the tragedy, nor were they able to find consensus on how to move forward with normal touring.

As a result, the North American April/May 2010 tour has been canceled until such a time as King Sunny Ade and his group have sufficiently regrouped and are ready to face the rigors of an International tour again.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to the band and the families of the deceased. On behalf of the artist and his band we extend our apologies to all who will be disappointed by their inability to perform in North America this year."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fair Turn Around for Chicago Afropop Ensemble

Chicago based Afropop ensemble Occidental Brothers Dance Band International has scored a major coup with the signing of legendary Kenyan/Congolese singer Samba Mapangala as their new lead singer. A chance meeting last year, followed by a few gigs - and a recording session with Orchestra Virunga of Mapangala's tribute to Barak Obama - has led to the union of the two, the Chicago reader reports today.

Obama Ubarikiwe by Samba Mapangala

Read the full story in Chicago Reader