Several weeks ago in this space, I mentioned my mild distaste for using the term "free jazz." Well there's another musical label about which I have no such ambivalence. In fact, I find it thoroughly revolting. "World Music." Just typing it leaves me queasy. To me, the term represents an ignorant, parochial designation of largely non-white, European-based culture as somehow being the exotic "other." Thanks to radio station playlists, record company labeling and lazy journalism, this noxious phrase has seeped ever deeper into the groundwater of popular experience. Schizophrenically, usage of World Music has evolved to a point where it simultaneously indicates indigenous folk culture, removed from modernizing influences, and international (i.e. non-Western) roots music updated via the blessing of Western instrumentation and technology.
The impulse to make these comments bubbled up after I sensed a contradiction between the two recordings juxtaposed of the bottom of this week's Motherlode. How can it be that only the album of Tuvan throat singing would be defined as World music? Since it's a classification purely intended for marketing non-Western music to Western audiences, maybe we should just call a spade a spade and rename it "Third World Music." (For a thoughtful exegesis on the subject, be sure to read David Byrne's New York Times op-ed "I Hate World Music" from October 3, 1999.)
Now for a world of fun...
M.L. King Jr. Ensemble Movement ~ "Soul Refreshment"
(Blog: A Pyrex Scholar)
From the album: He's Got It (mp3)
Next Round's on Jesus
From the ubiquitous "WANTED!" messages posted all over the Net from those desperately seeking copies of this funky mid-seventies gospel album, the blogger at A Pyrex Scholar will have a near stampede to snatch up these tracks. As is so often the case, Beware of the Blog poster and WFMU DJ Jason Elbogen unearthed this gem months ahead of everyone else.
Muse You Can Use
Swiss guitarist René Bardet convened Poesie und Musik in the seventies out of a desire to render the texts of favored poets with improvised musical accompaniment. Heinrich Heine got the treatment in '75; François Villon in '76. In 1980, Bardet and friends release to recordings featuring Pablo Neruda's poetry.
Various ~ "Saudades Da Minha Terra"
(Blog: Toque Musical)
From the album: Nancy (mp3) by Moacyr Bueno Rocha
Putting on the Ritz in Rio
I love this archive of sophisticated ditties from the early days of Brazilian radio. Most of the performers here were initially famous as actors, announcers and comedians before becoming singing stars. Dig the Hawaiian guitar on the 1932 valsa-canção Nancy, provided above.
Praise songs for Lamas and llamas—and other beasts of the Mongolian outback! A relatively young troupe for such an ancient art, Ensemble Khan Bogd has been touring since 1997. I prefer my throat singing in this unison-style presentation. If you like solo practitioners, check out the disc from Hosoo, also included in the post from Different Waters. (The blog We Love Music also posted the Ensemble Khan Bogd record and included the extensive liner notes in its download. Note: You have to brave annoying ads and pop-ups when visiting We Love Music.)
Various ~ "White Country Blues: A Lighter Shade of Blue"
(Blog: On Muddy Sava Riverbank )
Blues You Can Use
When music nuts in Ulan Bator or Uruguay want to immerse themselves in some "world music" exotica, they could hardly do better than this two-hour collection of American roots music—rags, blues and hokum performed with what R. Christgau aptly called a "droll detachment that epitomizes rural cool."
Listen to my radio show Give the Drummer Some—Tuesdays 6-7pm, on WFMU and Fridays 9 to noon—on WFMU's web stream Give the Drummer Radio.
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