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World Music 2013: A Quiet Storm | reviews, news & interviews

World Music 2013: A Quiet Storm

World Music 2013: A Quiet Storm

Many of the highlights this year were introverted and low-key, but no less powerful for that

Baha'uddin Dagar: Deep Dhrupad

Not a year in which big names came through, and many on the list below are actually quite introverted and low-key, but none the worse for that. Among numerous global musical gems this year were the following:

The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music retained its high quality with scores of top notch acts, notably the wonderful Lebanese singer Abeer Nehme singing Aramaic music with incredible sweetness and purity. The video below gives some idea:

The most extraordinary act of this year’s WOMAD was a modern folk group from Italy with the unwieldy name of Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, whose rootsy music from the heel of Italy was the revelation of the weekend.

Voted the best album in polls like the Froots Magazine, Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita’s Clychau Dibon was a gorgeous collision of harp and kora. theartsdesk contributor Andy Morgan was so impressed he has written a small book on the project to be published shortly.

Carla Morrison played a riveting showcase at the Vortex in Dalston – once you get over the initial slight tweeness she is the real deal, a big-voiced, emotional singer who has a wonderfully honest, post-ironic style. She’s used to playing huge crowds in Mexico and she likely will be building up an audience here in 2014.

One of the great new CDs of the year was Family Atlantica's self-titled album – you get an idea of their verve from the video, below. (I also managed to get a cut down version of the band to play at my own Manu Chao book launch, a personal highlight).

Talking of Mr Chao, his Parisian album Sibérie m'était contéee finally saw the light of day here in December – it's one of his best. This track is a tribute to Helno, a friend and fellow singer of the Parisian underground who died of a drug overdose.

Bassekou Kouyate’s album Jama Ko and show was one of the highlights of the year – and was something positive coming out of the horrible situation in Mali. It also was a great soundtrack to driving through France in a Mercedes (inherited from Malcolm Mclaren: a long story).

The Darbar Festival on the South Bank was splendid and had some of the greatest music heard all year. Any suspicion that Indian classical music is on the decline seems to be overdone judging by the amazing quality of musicianship. I was lucky enough to meet the likes of Dhrupad player Baha’uddin Dagar in Mumbai, who plays some of the oldest classical music on the planet.

While we are on “classical“ music, John Adams' masterpiece El Niňo is not usually defined as world music, but is full of Latin inspiration and plenty of globalistas would love this amazing piece, which rounded off the often revelatory The Rest Is Noise Festival at the South Bank

Also on the South Bank, during the Alchemy Festival in May, Susheela Raman managed another strong collaboration with some Qawaali musicians, this time the Rizwan Muazzam group. Susheela's partner Sam Mills wrote from Lahore of "mysticism and fistfights" in a fascinating piece for theartsdesk. The video below is a bit grainy and low tech but captures something of the extraordinary vibe. Having heard some previews of the forthcoming, highly ambitious album The Queen Between, a sort of missing link between prog rock, Fela Kuti, Traffic and Rajasthani folk, it will be one of the albums to look out for in 2014.


Any suspicion that Indian classical music is on the decline seems to be overdone judging by the amazing quality of musicianship

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