FolkWorld Issue 40 11/2009

FolkWorld CD Reviews

V/A "Röseligarte - Neue Schweizer Volksmusik"
Label: Migros; MGB-NV 8; 2009
Stelzhamma "Frisch aussa wias drin is"
Label: ATS records; CD 0690; 2009
Röseligarte is an album which gives an overview of Swiss folk talents of today. Starting with the virtuosic Alp style composition Mösch by Hujässler the diversity of this countries tradition is beautifully represented. Dulcimer in the folk-classical composition De grossartig by Alberbuebe, accordion-swing by Rampas and Hanneli-musig, a nice and sweet polonaise by Hujgroup with mouth harp! Brass by the Lucerne chamber brass. Dramatic piano and brass by Thierry Lang, stereotype Swiss folk by Oberwalliser spillit, jazz-folk by Heirassa revival and so many other styles. Nice to get an impression of the many sides of Swiss traditional music. Second a group from Austria called Stelzhamma, strangely enough their webpage mentioned in the booklet is out of order, hopefully it’s on the net again when this review is released. The band plays music from Austria and original compositions inspired by Austrian music. Besides that you will hear some Balkan influences and even some blues. The band searches for new ways of playing, which results in nice new arrangements but occasionally also a bit messy sound. What I like is their free style of playing and improvisation. They are creative and dare to try new things. This makes the album intriguing, but also a bit uncontrolled. Not that it matters, I prefer a band like this who tries and has the guts to think differently, than a band that plays a perfect copy of a traditional tunes that has been played a million times before in exactly the same way. A band I will follow closely in future, they might have enough to grow into one of Austria’s leading folk-related bands.,
Eelco Schilder

La Musgaña "Idas y venidas"
Label: Lubican records; 309 ; 2009
A long time ago I bought in a CD shop in Breda, Holland an album by an unknown Spanish band (unknown to me I mean) called La Musgaña. It were live recordings and I fell for their energetic mixture of Spanish and Celtic tradition with jazz and brass. For years I thought the band stopped shortly after recording this album, seen the fact that I never found any other album by them. Now their latest CD arrived from the Folkworld headquarters and I find out they have been very active during the past years. The band is a quartet now and still focus on traditional melodies mostly. Idas y venidas shows a dynamic group with quality and a deep passion for their music. Their roots lay in the Castile area and the band has had quit a few line ups in the history of the band. I can only compare this new album with the live album, it’s like a new band to me. Much closer to their original roots, closer to the traditions of Middle Spain (where Castile is located) with more lines to the tradition of the North Spanish areas than to the South Spanish traditions as far as I can judge that. La Musgaña has a few talented and a few experienced musicians. The fifteen songs are played at a high level and will probably be liked mostly by those who are into the Celtic influenced styles of Spanish tradition. For me this is a great meeting with an old friend and I’m happy this band is still alive and shares their quality with the rest of the world.
Eelco Schilder

Nefes in Motion "Sabah"
Label: Makro Musikverlag; 1006 ; 2008
Nefes in motion is a German band focussing on the ancient Sufi music. The musicians want to build a bridge between the European and Asian music. The quintet exists out of musicians on traditional instruments such as the kavala, zurna and Ney. This mixed with electric guitar, bass, (electronic) percussion, saxophone and flutes. The result can be heard in five long tracks in easy listening style. The way of arranging the music (especially the bass-line) makes it a very jazzy album. The tracks are all a bit dreamy and although I hear a few Sufi influences, it doesn’t have the deeply rooted passion and tradition Sufi music normally has. This is music that you will hear after midnight on the radio and helps you to relax and fall asleep. Technically spoken well played, but it’s al so riskless and decent. And therefore I notice that I loose my interest after a while.
Eelco Schilder

Ahmet Aslan "Dance of the Angels"
Kalan; cd432; 2008
Ahmet Aslan is a musician from Turkish origin, now living in Germany. This dance of the angels is his second solo album and the first on the famous Kalan label. Aslan plays several (string) instruments like the guitar, tembur, baglama and the cura. On this album he is backed by two musicians on percussion, guitars and baglama. Most tracks are original, a few traditionals as well. The picture that I get from his biography is that of a creative soul, a dreamer but also somebody who can look into the world with a realistic view. His songs are intense and impressive. Beautiful, bit fragile, vocals with outstanding performance on the string instruments. Aslan keeps his music close to himself and that makes this a very personal and intimate album. Listen to the intensity of Minnet eylemem, one of the best songs on this album. Straight from the soul, straight to the heart. Listen to the different vocal style in Ali heyder or the almost bluegrass a like intro of Dagli bir kabiledir aşk. Aslan has so much to offer and I have the feeling this album is only the start of a fantastic discography in the next twenty years. One hour of great music!
Eelco Schilder

Somar Music "Siesta en Sevilla"
Label: BSC / Rough trade; 398.9815.2; 2009
See also the German
review in this issue
Bernd Voss is a German guitar player, now living in Seville, Spain. He recorded (I quote the press info) with Bonnie Tyler, Dionne Warwick and Umberto Tozzi. This album contains easy going music influenced by the tradition of his new homeland. In five different settings he gently plays the guitar backed by smooth electronics and percussion. Occasionally some nice vocals, but mostly instrumental. Voss is a great guitarists, strong techniques etc. But unfortunately his style of music isn’t my style. It’s Spanish easy listening that is great at the background, but disappears into a far distance after a while. I really have to try hard to find anything back from the passionate tradition of Sevilla. The title of the album says it all, it’s siesta in Sevilla and this album will makes it easier to fell a sleep. As I wrote before, not my cup of tea.
Eelco Schilder

Burlakat "Oma"
Label: Own label; 2009
When I put this CD in our CD-player, my four year old son stops playing, I see him thinking and after about ten seconds he walks to my CD collection and out of the many albums he picks Tsihi tsihi recorded 13 years ago by Sari Kaasinen. ‘Is this her new album’ he asks, and I’m surprised, because the opening track on this Oma album has the same sound and vibe of Kaasinens album. But this time the band is called Burlakat and I’m surprised as I closely follow the Finnish world of folk, but I missed this one. And I should be ashamed because Oma is a beautiful album with uplifting, well sung and played music from the Karelian tradition (amongst others) Three female vocalists and four male musicians on accordion, guitar, bass, drums and dobro. The singers also play the kantele and one of them the violin. Do I hear somebody think that this line up sounds a lot like the one from another, very famous, Finnish band? Well, it does but the music is different in many ways. The women of Burlakat has a more raw and somehow more pure way of singing and their music has still a stronger traditional sound, although non-traditional instruments are used. The band convinces me in the more acoustic setting, but a song like Hyinen Tyttö shows their more rock orientated side, and I love it. Oma proofs that Burlakat is ready to conquer the world, top quality from Finland!
Eelco Schilder

Dante Ferrara "Bazimakoo"
Label: Own label; 207
The English singer and multi instrumentalist Dante Ferrara records an almost eighty minutes solo project with music from the 17th century, mostly from Henry Purcell, but also from similar composers such as Cranford, Hilton, d’Urfey, Ellis and others. An impressive album because of the variety of tunes and songs all played by one person. On ancient instruments such as the hurdy gurdy, Milanese mandolin, English guitar, bass colascione and cittern he Ferrare gives a beautiful picture of time. All though he plays the one instrument more fluently than the other, he understands the basic elements of their techniques and creates a melodic, humorous and authentic sound. He is not only a musician but a historian and bit of an actor as well. While listening to this album and closing my eyes I picture myself back in some of the old theatres I visited this summer on my holiday in England and get a feeling how a performance should have been on their opening nights a few hundred years ago. Impressive project, very well done.
Eelco Schilder

Monika Stadler "Between earth, sea and sky"
Extraplatte; ex 737-2; 2009
Monika Stadler is an Austrian harpist who, for many years, is loved for her beautiful techniques and her fine own compositions in jazz, folk, improvisation and classical style. This is her seventh album and after a few works with a band, she is back as solo artist now. Stadler composed nineteen new compositions, mostly instrumental, but occasionally with her beautiful airy vocals. Stadler shows with this new album to be a great musician and a composer who searches for the peace and soberness in music. This album brings rest but is also a pleasure to listen to because of her fine, gentle way of playing. Feeling stressed? This is your album! Loving well played, dreamy harp music? This is your album!
Eelco Schilder

Nicholas Gun, Johannes Linstead, Loren Gold & David Arkenstone "Live"
Geminisun; GSR2310; 2008
Nicholas Gun, Johannes Linstead, Loren Gold & David Arkenstone "Live" Four instrumentalists, one live CD and a DVD on which you get an impression on each of the musicians. Flute, guitar, piano, accordion, drums etc. Sometimes with short vocal interruptions. This quartet is backed by a few other musicians and play a mixture of jazz, rock, sympho and some world influences now and then. All four they proof to be technically highly skilled musicians. Their music is very easy going, all well produced and directed until the last second. Maybe that’s what is bothering me a bit, it’s a bit too much thought over and after my personal opinion, not as innovative the booklet suggests.
Eelco Schilder

Willie Nelson "American Classic"
Blue note; 65167; 2009
Ok, I have to admit. I’m one of those people who only know Nelson from his world-famous hit-songs. I never followed his career and didn’t have a clue If he is still making music or not. So this blue note album came a bit as a surprise to me and I didn’t know what to think. Than I started playing the album and sat down and listened. I had to, the beauty of the music didn’t give me another choice. Twelve American classics, with Nelson on his guitar and with his beautiful fragile voice. Backed by a bunch of fantastic (jazz) musicians. I cant compare this with his other albums, because as I wrote before, this is the first time ever I listen to him seriously, but this is a beautiful production of the highest quality. Perfect balance between Nelson and the band, good choice of repertoire and most of all a great singer who knows how to sing these songs in a heart warming way. Eelco Schilder
Eelco Schilder

Ljiljana Butler "Frozen roses"
Snail records; 2009
Butlers story has been told many times, even in some earlier folkworld reviews. She is a legendary singer from Bosnia and after her cooperation with the Mostar Sevdah reunion, she is totally back in the picture. The past years she recorded a few fantastic albums, some of them are still on my list of favourite albums from the Balkan. So a new album by this diva is something to look forward to! Her deep, dark, rich voice is one of a kind. On this album she takes it easy, modest songs in a bit jazzy setting, again produced by Dragi Šestic. Somehow the album has a melancholic character, without getting sad. It’s like the diva sits down in her chair and tells/sings about her past and present. Butler did it again, even more subtle and personal than before.
Eelco Schilder

Celilo "Bending Mirrors"
Label: Own label; 2009
Celilo is a band from Portland, USA. Six musicians on (electric) guitars, mellotron, pedal steel, harmonica and much more, sing songs written by lead vocalist Sloan Martin. Together with nine guest musicians the band recorded this album and they present it as their debut album. This is not true, there are earlier recordings, but no longer available. The band plays a bit dreamy, alternative kind of country rock with influences from the blues and some light-prog. Music as well. Martin is a nice vocalist, although I noticed that his way of expressing his feelings in his music, is not my way. I interpret ate it as a bit shallow, but I know that others who heard this album think the totally opposite way. The recordings have a nice, messy and bit underground sound. But I keep the feeling that it’s all a bit to careful. Great ideas, some really strong compositions but it’s like the band (with all it’s possibilities) is to shy to really break through their shell. A promising album, but I noticed that it needs more to keep my attention for the whole thirteen songs.
Eelco Schilder

Hans Dans "Folksdans & Kandidel"
Label: Own label; 2009
Hans dans is a folk band from Northern Germany and started to play together four years ago. This is their debut album with thirteen songs and dances, most of them traditional. The band plays real dancing music from the North German / Danish tradition. This album shows a traditional folk band on instruments such as violin, guitar, concertina, violin and much more. Their simple, but effective way of playing shows a band very suitable for live performances were people love to (folk) dance, the weather is sunny and life feels good. On a studio album like this the music sounds not always in the right balance and the recording quality could be better. The way of playing is occasionally interesting, but mostly very conservative. Because of this I think Hans dans is a nice group, but not different than similar bands.
Eelco Schilder

Lumayna "Fussi ‘nfatata"
Label: Own label; 2009
Orchestra Bailam "Harem Bailam"
Felmay; 8153; 2009
La Moresca "Ammore trivolo currivo e devozione"
Label: Felmay; 8154; 2009
Three Italian albums, well…more or less. The first one by Lumayna called Fussi ‘nfatata contains Italian songs, but the group comes from the Netherlands. This quartet is fronted by singer Marcella Pischedda and includes three Dutch musicians on guitars, whistles, violin and percussion. The band brings traditional music from the regions Sicily, Puglia and Campania together on this album. Sometimes they put new music to traditional lyrics, but others are played as they originally are. Although Pischedda has a nice, powerful voice, it has it’s limits and in most songs she stays within her vocal possibilities. The nice musicians play at a reasonable level and sometimes they manage to capture the atmosphere of the rich Italian traditions in the right way. The production could be better, same as the musical arrangements. The instruments don’t always follow the same path and the one has better playing techniques than the other and that gives an occasional unbalanced sound. I think this album shows the potential of Lumayna, but I also think they need more time to achieve a higher level and really take the music there where it belongs. The next band Orchestra Bailam is a band from Italian origin and this album is a registration of a live performance. This orchestra loves a party and knows how to entertain their audience with a energetic show. They mix brass with accordion, violin and vocals, Italian traditions with Balkan and Arabic influenced compositions. The order of the songs are a bit of a mystery to me, now the styles are mixed a lot and I think that the soul of the compositions differ a lot and need time to land into the listeners head. Otherwise this is a fine album, with mostly strong music and an orchestra that is alive! The last one is also my favourite of the three. La Moresca brings traditional songs and dances from the regions around Naples. Starting with three songs about love, beautiful female vocals and rhythmic music with occasionally a mediaeval character. This first three songs is followed by a fantastic tarantella, played in the best traditional way. Uplifting, sunny and furious. Again a cluster of three songs follows, starting with the melancholy of Terra terra terra and the gypsy influenced Danza arabesca and the Neapolitan song Dint a la vicaria from the 19th century. Only halfway and much more beautiful music to come ending with songs about devotion. This album is a beautiful document which gives a brief picture of the many traditional styles from Naples.,
Eelco Schilder

Greg Wall "Ha’orot"
Tzadik; 8137; 2009
London / Sklamberg "Tsuker-zis"
Label: Tzadik; 8141; 2009
Eyal Maoz’s Edom "Hope and Destruction"
Label: Tzadik; 8147; 2009
Koby Israelite "Is he listening"
Label: Tzadik; 8145; 2009
I’ve wrote it before and I will write it again. John Zorn’s Tzadik label is one of the most interesting labels on the planet. Some while ago I got a few of his avant-garde CD’s for review and I loved almost all of them. This time four CD’s in the Radical Jewish culture serie, four albums with music rooted in the Jewish tradition in seldom heard styles. First is Greg Wall with his Ha’orot. For over thirty years Wall is known for his Jewish music and he is one of the pioneers in Jewish jazz. On this project he mixes top quality jazz with poetry and traditional elements. The spoken word by Rabi Itzchak Marmorstein is impressive and it’s not often that spoken word and music make such a strong and pure match as on this album. Wall shows to be a great musician and a creative composer. Highly recommended for the jazz lovers, as this is the main ingredient on the album. The second album is by one of the best known Klezmer musician Frank London and singer Lorin Sklamberg. The result of their cooperation is recorded in 1998 when they formed a trio with Uri Caine and now as a duo on Tsuker zis. That London is a master on the trumpet and many other instruments, that I knew already. But that there is a singer called Lorin Sklamberg, who brings tears into my eyes with his fabulous way of singing, is new to me. I remember the first time, about 20 years ago I guess, my father brought home a CD with Jewish songs. Until that moment I had only heard Zupfeigenhansel, which I liked a lot, but the intensity of the album he brought home that day is still with me. And now, two decades later, London and especially Sklamberg brings back this intense emotion in my whole body. Their good choice of traditional pieces and top quality composing makes this album a must. One of my favourite on this album is Blessing without end which combines the best of the two musicians together with fabulous tabla work by Deep Singh. Besides Singh I have to mention Knox Chandler doing a great job on guitar and electronics and Ara Dinkjian on oud, saz and Cümbüş, who adds some spicy ingredients to the music. Back to the music, listen to Our parents, our sovereign over seven minutes of modern-traditional music with the spirituality of the tradition and the heartbeat of the 21st century. A bit less intense is the Klezmer style composition Increase our joy one of the few songs that gives a bit time to breathe. Tsuker-zis is a fantastic album and Lorin Sklamberg is from now on one of my all time favourite singers. This album will end high in my 2009 list of best records, I can guarantee you that! Now, something completely different. Eyal Maoz’s Edom makes music that is almost the opposite of London and Sklambergs style. With guitar, keyboard, bass and drums they play electric rock with a heavy sound. Nice, well played when you are into solid, noisy stuff. Much more interesting is the mixture of rock and tradition Koby Israelite makes on the album Is he listening. Eleven original and one traditional composition show Israelite as the great musician (accordion, drums, flute, guitar, piano etc) as he is. Backed by heavy electric guitars, beating brass rhythms and more. Joy surprises me, starts with metal like electric guitar, but soon a wonderful melody appears when the guitars stopped playing. More traditional style is Papa don’t rill which is followed by the heavy sound of Easy listening which brings together the best of traditional sounds and modern heavy rock. Out to lounge is exactly what the title suggests, easy going world-lounge with a jazzy touch. A nice moment of rest on this energetic album. Nice Balkan style in Almost there but not quite, melancholy in Under the apricot tree and an exploding accordion in Self hating blues. This album is sometimes raw, sometimes sweet but always entertaining. I like the way Israelite mixes styles and creates his own Jewish universe.,,,
Eelco Schilder

London & Sklamberg "Tsuker-zis"
Tzadik; TZ8141; 2009; Playing time: 57 min
See also the German
review in this issue
This is the third collection of traditional Jewish songs and melodies released by these two members of the New York Jewish sensation The Klezmatics. Tsuker-Zis, literally "sugar-sweet", ranges from relatively recent Yiddish songs to ancient Hebrew religious verses. London and Sklamberg's skill is such that it isn't always obvious which is which: they can dress up a centuries-old song in jazzy new chords, or turn a modern text into a temple classic with the help of eastern instruments. All the material here has religious significance, but with typical Jewish pragmatism it can also be humorous, festive, and at times even irreverent.
It helps if you understand Yiddish, and/or Hebrew, but the gist of most songs is translated in the CD notes and the music stands up for itself. Frank London plays trumpet and related instruments, in a broad Klezmer style which effortlessly encompasses everything from Salsa to Slavonic dances. Lobin Sklamberg provides vocals on all but two tracks, and plays accordion on about half the songs. There's a fair amount of guitar and electronic wizardry from Knox Chandler, adding depth and atmosphere throughout this recording. Some numbers feature the glorious eastern sounds of oud and tabla from Ara Dinkjian and Deep Singh, putting a convincing nomadic edge on pieces like Ovinu Malkeynu, Heed Not the Accuser, and the final mystical blessing Eyns zwey dray fir.
There are two short instrumentals, more like preludes to the following tracks, and there's also a short unaccompanied vocal intro to the song Greeks Gathered Against Me, leaving eleven full-length tracks in just under an hour. Tsuker-Zis swings between the excitement of European Jewish music numbers like Increase Our Joy and the irresistible dance rhythms of the penultimate song, through the more mournful "Fiddler on the Roof" mood of A Suke a Kleyne or the ironic title track Our Life is Sugar-Sweet, to the ancient Palestine character of Blessings Without End and The Days Between: a real roller-coaster ride through Jewish history and culture, thrillingly led by London and Sklamberg.
Alex Monaghan

V/A [Samplers, EP's & Demo CD's]

Phillip Bracken "Everything Looks Better in Candlelight" (EP, 2008): Five tracks from an Australian singer-songwriter, with six to seven minutes quite lengthy tracks. Folk rock with gutsy vocals and nice stories and tunes.

Čači Vorba (Demo): Polish-Ukrainian sextet playing Gypsy music from the Carpathian and the Balkans on traditional instruments such as kemence, bouzouki, cobza and darabuka. The short sound clips present high-octane instrumental music and high vocal skills by the band's singer Maria Natanson. Čači Vorba - true speech - how Gypsies themselves describe their own music.

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst "Topanga Ranch Motel" (Silent City Records BRRCD-10, 2008): Four tracks from a Los Angeles based singer-songwriter. Infectious grooves, embracing blues and country rock, boogie woogie and folk.

Chasing Pandora "Running in Circles" (EP, Tickety-boo Records TKBCD15, 2009): Four novel tracks by Maltese duo Melissa Portelli (vocals) and Keith Anthony (guitar). Another acoustic pop-jazz-folk duo from that island with fine guitar playing and bittersweet vocals (compare FW#37). Sponsored by Airmalta to bring it around the world and not running in circles.

Eamon Friel "In for the Day" (EP, Thran Records; THR1005; 2008): Northern Irish singer-songwriter presents two songs from his forthcoming album (FW#40), one from his last (FW#34), and a live version of an old favourite. Featuring the gorgeous vocals of ex Deanta singer Mary Dillon (#5, #6).

Ivor Game "Small" (Single, IGCDS5, 2009): A short acoustic guitar song from the album "Inside" (2006) by this London based singer-songwriter. Though Ivor says he is happy with staying in my house and being small, the song is not.

Dean Moriarty: Another Londoner (is this his real name? - Dean Moriarty is a character in Kerouac's novel "On the Road") recently recorded a few demos and uploaded them to Featuring a song about Woody Guthrie and another about Jack Kerouac - ah!

V/A "CAT NAV - Songs and Poems of Les Barker - Guide Cats for the Blind Volume 4" (Osmosys Records; OSMO CD 050/051; 2009): CD release to raise funds for The British Computer Association of the Blind. Stars, celebrities and artists such as Jez Lowe (FW#26), Norma Waterson (#17), Isla St Clair (#1), Chumbawamba (#33), Simon Mayor & Hilary James (#32) are playing music and reading the poems of English poet and self-claimed Professional Idiot Les Barker. Including reworkings of "She Moved Through The Fair", "Hunting The Cutty Wren" and "Roseville Fair", as well as parodies such as "Sloop John A" and "The De'il's Awa' Wi' The Exercise Bike".

V/A (Phil Ochs, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell) "Amchitka" (2009): It took some time, but eventually Greenpeace Canada released a two-disc, re-mastered recording of the fundraising concert at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver on 16 October 1970 that marks the birth of the worldwide organization known today as Greenpeace. The concert, a fundraiser to protest U.S. nuclear bomb tests near the Aleutian Island of Amchitka, was featuring US singer-songwriters James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and the late Phil Ochs. The CD is available exclusively through Greenpeace and all proceeds will benefit the organization.

V/A "UN-HERD... Volume 15": Each issue of R2 magazine (formerly Rock'n'Reel) consists of a free, jewel-cased CD compilation. Vol. 15 found its way to our webzine (while #17 is on sale now). Roots, rock and blues music featuring new recordings by And Did Those Feet (FW#24), Elbow Jane (#39), The Men They Couldn't Hang (#25), Show of Hands (#28), Little Johnny England (#21), Ned Ludd (#35), etc.

More CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6
German Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5

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