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are rumbling together whilst the quality of the singing sounds in places like the tradi- tional voices of Genoa and Sardinia.

The pleading voices, the changes of pace and the developing cross-rhythms of a num- ber of tracks, particularly on Reveillez-vous Tous Les Endormis show Aronde to be work- ing within the framework of traditional music, yet have come up with a unique, dif- ferent approach. How many times can you say that about an album? Vic Smith VARIOUS ARTISTS

Andina: The Sound Of The Peruvian Andes – Huayno, Carnaval & Cumbia 1968 To 1978 Tigers Milk/Strut TIGM006LP

Think you know the music of the Andes? Think it’s all about the sedate panpipes beloved by New Age types? Well ditch the hand-woven poncho and go grab your danc- ing shoes. Because here’s something alto- gether different, altogether more authentic.

This seventeen-track compilation is a labour of love for Lima-born, London-based label boss, DJ and chef, Martin Morales. As a child, he’d visit his grandmother high up in the Andes, soaking up these sounds along the sway. He and co-compilers Duncan Ballantyne and Andres Tapia Del Rio have put together an expectation-defying mix of big band thumpers, swinging cumbias (including some twangy guitar instrumentals) and more folk- loric tunes featuring harps and keening vocals.

It’s all highly infectious and none of it has been available outside Peru before (and not inside for some decades either). Appar- ently, this is the first of a planned three-part series of compilations, each focusing on a dif- ferent region of the country, with collections of vintage Amazonian and Peruvian coastal music in the pipeline. If they’re as entertain- ing and well put together as this one, they’ll be well worth looking forward to. Jamie Renton


Astro-Hungarian Jewish Music Piranha PIR3063-DCD

Frank London – trumpet player with the Klez- matics and peerless participant in countless collaborative projects in the febrile intersec- tions between many different traditions – has now conceived and facilitated a truly excep- tional examination of the often confusing musical, cultural and historical traditions of contemporary and historical Hungary. There’s a knowing punk attitude, but the whole is a studied illumination of a musical develop- ment once denied.

In album opener, Glass House, though,

there’s an unsubtle hint of that old punk enemy, Smoke On The Water. But this is fol- lowed, in quick succession, by a manic frenzy of Central European orkestar, a Bonham - esque pounding of the skins, a flit of ecstatic violin, rapidly uncoiling cimbalom scales, and loud electric shapes from onetime Lou Reed acolyte Aram Bajakian on guitar. A breathless panorama of clashing styles, histories, tradi- tions, countries and musics. We are told that “nobody knows where it will all end”.

But it is difficult to even discern a recog- nisable beginning. The simplicity of the pro- ject’s origin – “a tribute to Jewish Hungarian heritage” – is swiftly shattered by the madly complex exchange recorded here. Central European trad staples meet deep cuts of psychedelic rock, punk élan, and collapsing

borders in which no ‘greater’ country ever was, no cataclysm ever happened, no border ever constrained any happy journey of inter- dependent influence. “Astro-Hungarian folk punk”, London terms it.

And there is plenty to revolt and folk- punk about in Central Europe at present, as certain groups and traditions find themselves marginalised in newly rewritten national sto- ries and cultures. Astro-Hungarian Suite I goes to appropriately epic lengths to encom- pass these historical vagaries and threatened musics – with confusions of Western popular music, Central rite and Eastern dance. There’s a ghost of a café orchestra, in which we can hear Hungary’s great musical flowering from the turn of the last century, from a time before the long darkness silenced everything.

Psychedelic airwaved rock and Jewish Hungarian music, played by a supergroup of virtuosi from across the world, traditions sep- arated by oceans and history. Jake Shulman- Ment is as excellent as ever on violin, but everything is exposed in unfamiliarity, sharp- ened with a zest for ironic but life-affirming power chords and attitude.

“Sun Ra goes to Transylvania” they say.

This, certainly, at the very least.

John Pheby

COCANHA i ès Pagans PAG013

It’s the cover that startles first: a roundabout with a metallic sculpture of a cli- toris. That’s enough to grab the eye. But that’s just the beginning. The disc inside is a starburst of sound, three glorious polyphonic voices singing in Occitan (the lan-

guage that runs around the rim of the Mediterranean, from north-east Spain, across southern France, and into a portion of Italy) accompanied only by all manner of percus- sion. It explodes out of the speakers in har- mony and dissonance, startlingly beautiful and rhythmic. The songs are traditional, gath- ered from different areas where the lan- guage is spoken, and recast for a new century by a trio of young women. There’s nothing shy about it, a headlong dive into music that pulls the listener along in a stream of voices that weave together intricately. Sometime a tamborins de còrdas (vaguely akin to the Indi- an tambura) will give a drone pulse, and on


M’an Dit Martin an elaborate pattern of dancing feet provide the underpinning. But this is music originally meant for the dance, and these women never forget that; the rhythm is always there in the songs. It’s Cocanha’s first full-length release, assured, confident and energetic, part of the gradual Occitan renaissance. There’s a sense of experi- ment to the album that’s thrilling, deliciously raw yet always professional and accom- plished. And it’s a reminder that the human voice can never cease to amaze. Chris Nickson

THE ROUTES QUARTET Windrose Routes Records RQCD001

The Glasgow-based Routes Quartet is a string quartet made up of traditional folk musi- cians: Gràinne Brady and Tricia Mullan (fid- dles), Emma Tomlinson (viola) and Rufus Hug- gan (cello). They perform innovative arrange- ments of Scottish, Irish and English traditional music along with their own compositions. This, their debut album, was recorded live at St Columba’s Chapel, Drimnin, on the Morven Peninsula of the West Highland coast of Scot- land. The album is a charming synthesis of classical and folk music, exploring the textures, tones and musical qualities that are character - istic of a string quartet, but with a folk accent and an occasional jazzy touch with impro- vised solo spots on individual instruments.

Tricia Mullan’s sweet and elegant com-

position The Gentleman’s Farewell has a gracefulness that feels like 18th Century tra- ditional Scottish baroque in style. Kathryn Tickell’s composition Fenham is majestic, plaintive, atmospheric and dramatic. Gràinne Brady’s The Quartz Jig is a dashing folk- baroque jig that could be from the sound- track of the Stanley Kubrick movie The Adventures Of Barry Lyndon.

Dark Falls The Night/Key to The Cellar

(aka Cam Ye O’er Frae France) is a superb, semi-classical arrangement of traditional Scottish tunes by 18th/19th Century com- posers John MacKay and Niel Gow. This arrangement has a Vaughan Williams-esque gravitas and solemnity. It too would provide evocative material for a film soundtrack (indeed, it reminded me of Peter Weir’s use of Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis for the storm scene in his film Master & Commander).

Paul Matheson

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