New Reviews: March 2008
Reviews by Matthew Forss
When I Don’t Sleep
The music of Sinem Saniye incorporates Middle Eastern sensibilities, bossa nova rhythms, and
playful classical infusions on her debut CD. Sinem’s vocals resemble a combination of the soft and sweet
vocal tones of The Corrs, Leahy, and Sixpence None The Richer. A short classical and instrumental track
opens and closes the CD. Sinem’s lyrical ingenuity is on equal par with the musical arrangements. The
entire album contains songs with different arrangements that give each song a high degree of catchiness.
“Boom Sheke Nana” is a track that makes one want to belly-dance. “Are We In Love” is a song that touches
on indecision over a loved one. The musical feel of the song is similar to a lounge jazz bar in a Brazilian city.
Most of the vocals are in English, except for a few Portuguese and Turkish lines on “Baba Bossa”. “One Woman” is a
rhythmic masterpiece incorporating accordion, percussion, and Latin-tinged elements with Sinem’s sensuous vocals.
“A Certain Kind Of Lovely” is an ode to a ‘certain’ type of man that shares the same type of desires. “Now We Can
Go To Sleep” is another introspective look at love – wherever it may be – at parties or in dreams. “My Favorite Room”
seems like the perfect place for spending time with a special someone. Sinem’s piano playing on “Outsider” gives a
voice to those with ‘two’ homelands. “In My Slumber” recalls a love from an earlier time. A nice addition of harp,
organ, lute, violin and cello provide a classical backbone to her crystalline vocals. When an album incorporates Brazilian
and Middle Eastern influences, one would expect a rather sensuous musical product to result. That is exactly what When I
Don’t Sleep embodies. The CD is enhanced with bonus features on her music, a bio, web links, photos and more. Lastly, I
believe the album is titled When I Don’t Sleep, because ‘when I don’t sleep’ I will be listening to Sinem Saniye – and you will too!
Rough Guide to Hungarian Gypsies
World Music Network
From the title track “Rovel E Luludyi” to the closing track “O Bijav”, the best music from Hungary is represented on
Hungarian Gypsies. Each track is vibrant with lively percussion and energetic vocalizations. The male and female vocals
are as varied as the musical tracks. The styles are seemingly indescribable, but resemble classical, Indian, folk and
Klezmer-type rhythms. Popular musicians like Fanfare Ciocarlia, Kalyi Jag, Bela Lakatos, Besh O Drom, and others showcase
their talents on this amazing collection. The soothing sounds of the cimbalom instrument are present on a few tracks. The
instrument resembles the Persian santoor – a hammered dulcimer. The folksy rhythms and danceable riffs would seem fitting
at a small town bar near the outskirts of Budapest. Anyone familiar with Hungarian and Romanian gypsy music will appreciate
Think Global: Acoustic Brazil
World Music Network
Want to hear Brazil unplugged? Then grab the latest compilation in the Think Global series. Acoustic Brazil s
howcases the samba rhythms, jazzy beats, hot percussion, and male and female vocals of at least 15 different musicians.
A few of the tracks incorporate classical arrangements with brass instrumentation and flutes. Overall, the music is very
lively, full and ‘electric’. Some well known composers, including Chico Buarque and Marcos Sacramento lend their legendary
talents on this compilation. The jazzy songs and effervescent vocals are never grating on the ears. Fans of Brazilian, tropical,
samba, jazz, acoustic, piano and folk music will love it. Acoustic Brazil is best listened to while lounging in your favorite cabana
with a piña colada in hand.
World Music Network
Congo Gold appropriately describes the music on this compilation. The Congolese rhythms of the 1940’s through the 1990’s
are featured from some of the greatest singers and innovators of rumba music. The music of Franco, Sam Mangwana, Wendo
Kolosoy, Madilu System, and others, performs music highly influenced by European and Cuban cultures. The result is a
nostalgic set of songs even more desirable with a hint of recording ‘fuzz’ typical of the early field recordings. The
music is sung in the Lingala language. Congolese rumba contains an assortment of horns, guitars, and catchy vocals. Overall,
Congo Gold is a musical ‘treasure’ that should be in every African music fans repertoire.
Introducing Perunika Trio
World Music Network
Bulgaria’s Perunika Trio performs vocal music in the classical tradition of oral story-telling. The trio is Eugenia Georgieva,
Victoria Mancheva, and Victoria Evstatieva. The opening track features the kaval flute in the background. The percussion instrument,
the tarabuka, also makes an appearance on a few tracks. The oral tradition of Bulgaria and the Macedonian region is steeped in chants,
na atsane singing, irregular time signatures, and laments, often a part of the Christian religion. Part of the success of the Bulgarian
vocal tradition, stems from the Orthodox Church’s disallowance of instrumentation. The Perunika Trio performs 18 different vocal tracks.
Many tracks reflect elements of love, maidens, astronomy, weather, geography, and history. All the tracks are eloquently performed and
resemble a smoother form of the Finnish group, Varttina. A contemplative, energetic, and refreshing release. Vocal fans rejoice for the
Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk and Pop Music Vol. 1
The historical popular music of Cambodia is showcased thanks to compiler and editor Mark Gergis. This collection was
created from over 150 cassettes from the Asian Branch of the Oakland, California public library. Several tracks were
recorded in the mid-1960’s and early 1970’s, while others were recorded between the 1970’s and 1990’s. Some of the
artists on the compilation are listed as unknown. These are the lost recordings from the Khmer Rouge era, when 90
percent of Cambodia’s musicians, teachers, and intellectuals were killed. Khmer Folk and Pop Music Vol. 1 is an
incredible collection of Cambodian music. One of Cambodia’s most accomplished singer, Sinn Sisamouth, lends her
vocals on Track 5. The most infectious instrumental song on the album is Track 6. It features a jazzy beats and
snappy hooks. It reminds me of a Cambodian equivalent to the popular theme song from the film Rocky. The vocal
songs are also very well done. This would be a perfect album for fans of Southeast Asian music and historical
recordings. Moreover, it doesn’t take a listener long to see the historical parallels between the popular
American group Dengue Fever and their Cambodian predecessors. A high quality listening experience!
Anno & Jonhild
Few people have heard of the Faroe Islands and fewer people yet can even name a musical group from islands. Min Verd is a catchy
progressive pop/rock album that effortlessly transcends geographic boundaries. There are 8 vocal tracks and 4 instrumental tracks.
Some of the tracks infuse Scandinavian sounds, but I can also hear a hint of contemporary Russian rock/pop melodies. All vocals
are sung in Faroese. Female singer Jonhild contributes to most of the tracks with a voice similar to America’s Blondie. This is
one album you will play over and over without losing interest. A strong recording. Liner notes are in Faroese.
Sun Is Shining
Bulgarian singer Desislava Dimcheva brings us original songs steeped in tradition. Desislava is
joined by guitar, tamboura, gadulka, kaval flute, and string accompaniment. A total of 18 songs proclaim
the Bulgarian vocal spirit. The album is very easy to listen to and it offers something new upon each listen.
Fans of Nordic, Balkan, and Mediterranean vocal music traditions will find this album particularly enlightening.
The sun is definitely shining on Desislava!
The experimental sounds of Valravn are rather dark, but equally intriguing. Anna Katrin’s vocals carry the tunes
to places seemingly beyond our imagination. She reminds me of a Danish form of the UK’s Beth Orton. The music is
similar to the darker contemporary experimental groups throughout Scandinavia, including Gjallarhorn, Garmarna,
Sorten Muld, and Hedningarna. The instrumental “Marsk” is a shining tribute to the great mountains. Valravn is
difficult to describe, but a joy to listen to. The best way to describe it is a hyper-energized ambient music
with a twist of Gaelic, classical, Mediterranean and Nordic sea song elements thrown in. In fact, the songs come
from traditional sources in Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and the Faroe Islands. The sound is very organic and draws
upon historical stories, ballads, and the beauty of nature. Lyrics included in liner notes. Valravn deserves a spot
on your CD shelf!
Piniartut is a collective of force of four musicians from the Faroe Islands, Finland, and Greenland. Piniartut,
which means “hunters”, celebrates the legends and lore behind fishing and hunting traditions in the North Sea. Piniartut is
Kristian Blak on piano, organ, grass straw; Rasmus Lyberth on vocals, sound effects; Ville Kangas on bouzouki, violin, piano, cow bell;
Tellu Virkkala on vocals, mora harp and percussion. Almost every type of Nordic music style is represented here. However, all the songs
do flow nicely from one to another. It is not too often the music of Greenland is included on a CD. The arrangements are very much
contemporary, but fit perfectly with traditional instrumentation. Some of the tracks would seem very appropriate for a film soundtrack.
This is probably due to the sound of great expanses, which mimics the surrounding geography. There is also an element of jazz
that sounds as cool as the waters off Greenland. All tracks include Finnish or Greenlandic lyrics in the liner notes. If you want
to try the music of the North, then track down Piniartut. This one is a catch you cannot afford to lose!
Addeq incorporates sparse instrumentation and elements of the Greenlandic countryside with bird and polar bear calls.
The music is quite jazzy with lilting sounds of the kora harp and contemplative sounds of the piano and Greenland drum.
The vocals are mostly animal calls. If Greenland had a soundtrack, Addeq would be it. Most of the 8 tracks include a short
explanation of the songs in the liner notes. Other recordings by Kristian Blak are also mentioned. A perfect recording that
melds the sound of music with the sound of nature.
Rock From The Cold Seas
This compilation is one that is sure to break apart icebergs. Innovative rock music from Greenland, Faroe Islands,
Samiland, Iceland, and Canada will shake you to the bone. It is not just rock that is represented, but rather heavy
metal, techno-joik, jazz-punk, rap, and melodic ballads echo from these tracks. 16 different musicians sing and play
their hearts out on this impressive collection of music from cold seas of the North. Liner notes describe each song,
along with the birth of rock in Greenland, Samiland, and Faroe Islands in English. Over 70 minutes of the best rock music
on the Tutl label.
Matthew J. Forss graduated from Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin in
2005 with a B.A. in Biology. He will graduate with an M.Sc. in Exercise
Science in May 2007 from Northern Michigan University-Marquette, Michigan.
He is pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Goddard
College-Plainfield, VT. Since 1998, he has collected numerous
musical instruments and CDs from around the world. In 2000, he wrote a paper
on Mongolian ethnomusicology, entitled: How Does Music Play An Important
Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia? Currently, he has collected over
400 CDs that represent over 180 different countries. His general interests
include ethnomusicology journalism and researching the
traditional/contemporary ethnic music of various cultures from around the
world. His specific, geographic areas of study include the traditional and
popular music from Central Eurasia (especially Mongolia, Uzbekistan and
Azerbaijan), North Africa (especially Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara,
Libya and Morocco), Scandinavia and Pacific Islands (especially New Zealand,
Solomon Islands and New Caledonia). He also enjoys studying Uzbek, Tamasheq,
and German linguistics. In November of 2000, he accepted the position of
writing World Music CD reviews for this site.