May 10 2010
The new tradition continues into a second week as Sound Travels has gone daily in in its exploration of new music from around the world for the Monday show. In twenty short minutes, squeezed five new tunes into the frame. Spanish pop, afrobeat, Cuban ska, afro hip hop and some very Latin vibed Russian music made the set. Which one(s) did you like?
First up was something I got from my connection at Nacional Records, who has been feeding me the best and the latest new Latin Alternative music for awhile. Spain's La Bien Querida fits the bill quite nice. Frontwoman Ana Fernandez-Villaverde has crafted a lovely album with a great band that frames her subtle vocals with a somber sound full of the right kind of emotion convincingly good from the restraint she utilizes quite effectively on their latest Romancero.
Lo Bien Querida "Ya No" Romancero
That Tony Allen pretty much defines what good afrobeat drummers ought to sound like is a given. Everybody knows this, as they also know that Fela is one of the genre's greatest exemplars. Given that he practically co-invented the genre, it's a wonder he's not even close to being as well known as the long-deceased Fela is a travesty of not yet tragic proportions. Though he's getting up there in years, you can't tell from his sound; which is as consistently good as it gets really. His latest, Secret Agent, is quite nice; now lets hope some others pick up on this cat before he's a long gone legend.
Tony Allen "Secret Agent" Secret Agent
Russia rarely gets a turn on ST but that has just changed. Markscheider Kunst, out of St. Petersburg is creating quite a bit of excitement with their latest album Utopia. Their sound however is decidedly Western; Latin-ska fusion from the Northern Havana or a Russian band with a German name that plays music that sounds like the African tropics. That something so hot could come from cold-as-hell Russia is indeed news in itself. But their sound is really accessible. Checkit!
Markscheider Kunst "Utopia" Utopia
Ska Cubano is a project of Peter Scott whose ten-year tenure in Cuba gave him a deep appreciation for the music as well as the history of this Island that embodies so many syncretic sounds as much as it defines isolation. His imagination wanders and wondered what had happened if certain histories hadn't become reality and if Cuba's sound had continued to fuse those of it's neighbors. Specifically the sound of ska, which owes a brassy debt to Cuban horn sections of the past; what if Cuba had fused the sound of reggae as reggae had fused that of Cuba? Ska Cubano is the answer to that hypothetical. Two albums into this project finds SC growing into a hallucination that I wish had happened on a much larger scale. But given the history and the reality of the situation, I'll happily settle for these imaginative and remarkable cuts that take the concept to perfect conclusion. Keep 'em coming!
Ska Cubano "Pepe" Mambo Ska
Fans of K'Naan should check this one from South African up-and-comers Tumi & The Volume whose latest album is just as positive as the dapper dude from Somalia but may be graced with a better sense of hip hop. The beats are solid and at times superlative, but it's the lyrics that steal the show. If you don't believe then check the sound. Unfortunately the album, is getting a first release in France before it hits the States, but you can download it on iTunes. Damn, this is why hip hop is global. Check the proof!
Tumi & The Volume "Limpopo" Pick A Dream