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November 30, 2018

My 2018 Year-End Music Discovery

 

As the year 2018 is nearing to its final day, the media is full of endless ‘the best of’ charts in any imaginable cathegory. My interest got cought yesterday by the Robin Denselow’s article in The Guardian titled Music without borders: 2018’s 10 best world albums.

I am willing to admint, that the world music as a genre is something of a refuge for me. When my mind and ears get tired of all the rock, pop, jazz and classical music, there is always here to save me the endless variety of music emanating sometimes from the most improbable and unexpected corners of the world. More often than not, I have to be in the righ mood for those completely strange sounds and rhythms. But in those rare moments, when ‘all the stars get aligned’, I am lucky to discover something unique and precious. Something, what almost naturaly expands my music boundaries.

As I was reading through the article and clicking on the links opening sound or video files of albums that made it to Robin Denselow’s world albums of the year, suddenly my sensitive music discovery antenae recognized something special. Not, that other nine entrants were not interesting. But this was the sound and music, that immediately matched my music taste. And the truth is, that this doesn’t happen that often anymore. Unfortunately …

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the view and the sound of the classical harp.

Really? Harp in the world music?

Yes! Absolutely!!

I would never have expected, that I would get truly mesmerized by a classical harp in the realm of the world music. Sure, there have been various harps and lyres used in the ancient music, in the Celtic music, Latin American music, and elswhere. But the classical harp?

And then there is this other instrument, looking more like a bulky round drum, but producing a sound very similar to the harp. It is the kora – a string instrument originating in the West Africa.

As the two instruments are seemingly from two different cultures, so are two musicians who play them. Catrin Finch is a classically trained harpist from Wales. Seckou Keita is a charismatic kora player and drummer from Senegal. The final result of their musicking is an unbelievably homogeneous sound. Their music is pleasing for the ears and also for the eyes, when watching these two playing together. When observing their faces, it is so obvious how much they enjoy all those sometimes sparkling, other times subtle musical exchanges. They communicate, they support each other and are simply having a lot of fun.

Like the instruments and musicians themselves, the music that Catrin and Seckou produce on their album Soar is also a combination of at least their two respective cultures. Older and newer melodies from Wales easily transition to melancholic Senegalese tunes. Ethereal and soothing sounds follow more up-tempo riffs. In one compositions we can reveal Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Everything almost hypnotically united and tied together by two masters of their musical instruments.

This is how the joy sounds in the musical realm.

Here is the complete list:

1. BCUC: Emakhosini (Buda Musique)

2. Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita: Soar (bendigedig)

3. Fatoumata Diawara: Fenfo (Wagram/Montuno)

4. Moonlight Benjamin: Siltane (Ma Case)

5. Gaye Su Akyol: Istikrarli Hayal Hakikattir (Glitterbeat)

6. Mélissa Laveaux: Radyo Siwèl (No Format!)

7. 47Soul: Balfran Promise (Cooking Vinyl)

8. Susheela Raman: Ghost Gamelan (Naïve)

9. Mari Kalkun: Ilmamotsan (Nordic Notes)

10. Ammar 808: Maghreb United (Glitterbeat)

 

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