Monday, August 11, 2008
A Casual Introduction to World Music*
I'm going back to school this fall in Middle East Studies, and in an effort to have a truly complete experience, I'm trying to get into some music of the region. So far it's been just a smattering of pop songs (Nanci Agram, anyone?) and Tinariwen, the desert guitar band made of Tuareg refugees. Pitchfork loves 'em. But I'm starting to branch out.
1. Rainbow Arabia - "Omar K". Okay, okay...not really Middle Eastern. In fact, it's your standard hubby/wife indie duo from LA, but they mess around with lots of ululations and Middle Eastern rhythms. Pretty cool. Also coming to DC (location TBA) on October 24.
2. Tinariwen - "Matadjem Yinmixan". These guys actually formed in refugee camps in Libya, and most of their songs deal with the plight of Tuareg people (actively seeking independence from Mali at the moment). They're also getting lots of mentions from musicians -- Craig Finn and Tad Kubler both cited them in the NYT as a recent favorite.
3. Ouled Kamar - "Gnawa Ouled" (live excerpt). Gnawa (or gnaoua) is this type of Sub-Saharan music that came up to Morocco through the slave trade. It's got a trance-like feel to it (so does most of this stuff) and is closely associated with Sufi brotherhoods. Best of all though, listen close and you hear traces of a weird kind of ancient blues. There's a big Gnawa festival in Essaouira, Morocco every year.
4. Toumast - "Kik Ayittma". Very similar to Tinariwen, and, as a newbie to the genre, I'm still hard-pressed to tell them apart. But these guys tend to be a little noisier, less trance-y. But again, I'm still new to all this.
*NOTE: Should the "rockist-ness" of this post be called into question, please refer back to the word "casual" in the title.