This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
67 f

and the arts. Lakshmi or Laxmi, associated with bountifulness such as wealth, prosperi- ty and fertility, is represented by Laxmi taal, an 18-beat pakhawaj (double-headed drum) rhythm cycle. That gives an indication of Goddess’ cleverness.

Now, the entire project could have stuck to Hindu goddesses and covered every aspect of female divinity from the warrior via the diaphanous to the numinous. Instead, Shri- vastav, sometimes assisted by Linda Shanovitch on vocals and/ or Andy Williams of Doves on percussion, has produced a series of Indianised portraits of female deities. These include the pan-Asian, Taoist-Buddhist deity Guan Yin and Amaterasu, one of the principal deities of Japan’s Shinto religion. Beyond, from Africa and the African diaspora come the Yoruba ocean goddess Yemanja and Haiti’s Goddess of Love Erzulie. For me, the project actually works better freed of the religious associations of its inspirations as plain music – examples being the brooding surbahar-led, Inuit interlude Journey To Sedna and the dilruba and swarmandal piece about the multiple-identity Polynesian deity, Hina In The Moonlight. Ultimately, what you have is crossover concept album. Ken Hunt TIM O’BRIEN

Chicken & Egg Howdy Skies Records HS CD 1005

PETER ROWAN BLUEGRASS BAND Legacy Compass Records 7 4543 2

Two singers, writers, players who are still at the forefront of American acoustic music with cutting-edge recordings. Both have strong bluegrass roots. O’Brien from his many years with Hot Rize and Rowan with a long pedi- gree that dates back to a stint as one of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. Since then they have both been musical explorers, O’Brien to most- ly find his Celtic roots and Rowan just about everywhere, including a semi-permanent reg- gae band. Now O’Brien is back with what is simply a typical Tim O’Brien record. Clever songs, mostly his own, superb players and understated exuberance as he bounces from one song to another. Knowing exactly what textures he wants, O’Brien leads musically on guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and banjo from the old-time styled rendition of Suzanna to the bluegrass of Sinner right through to the moving country ballad Space Between The Lines. Quality and entertaining with it.

Rowan’s wheel on the other hand has turned full circle and persuaded him, I think for the first time, to form his own bluegrass band. Not flash young players, but a group who have also been around the block a few times and must be pleased to play with such a top singer that Rowan still is. The songs are mostly all his, and if they do drift into the world of bluegrass cliché, what is a man sup- posed to do? One superb gospel quartet, God’s Own Child, enlists Del McCoury to sing the high part which serves to remind that you could well be listening to a re-run of one of Monroe’s classics, and a cover of a Stanley Brothers gem sits well alongside Rowan’s Turn The Other Cheek, The Family Demon and the cleverly repetitive So Good. Bluegrass music has never run short of amazing players, but there is a dearth of instantly recognis- able, exciting singers and writers. Welcome back Peter Rowan, your genre needs you. – distributed in the UK by Proper.

John Atkins

VARIOUS ARTISTS Shangaan Electro Honest Jon’s HJRCDDJ52

Recorded over the last few years in Soweto, the record is fine and lively, but incomplete: it will make a whole lot more sense if you hunt for ‘shangaan’ on YouTube and marvel at the dancing that goes with it. Brilliant, like some down-home Cotton Club, the view opens on an earth-floored compound and we see the young stars doing their Fred Astaires with rubber-limbed style, strange little hand codes, still heads, dance as personal individu- al expression. This is some seriously nice foot- work, as one comment-writer has it.

Without the dancing, what you hear with ears is less, an accompaniment of bubbly, tin- pot simplicity, all from marimba and Casio- type organ. It doesn’t hit the normal buttons; more like some ghostly hybrid from the future, with mostly choral vocals that sound very much rooted in traditional melody. So, odd, but quite conservative, really, and con- taining almost nothing that refers to western pop. No jazz, no hip-hop, no funk, no soul – just African roots and a wash of kiddy disco, all played at ridiculously heady speed. Youth, stamina and bodily ease required. Rick Sanders NATACHA ATLAS

Mounqaliba: In A State Of Reversal World Village WVF479048

It takes a while to tell the story of Natacha Atlas’s nationality – ‘internationality’ is prob- ably a better word. In any case, her solo career has had a shifting, transglobal narra- tive of its own. Traditional Arabic sounds met funky electronic beats in her three nineties albums, reaching a logical conclusion in 2001’s wonderful Ayeshteni. Slicker pop entered the equation with Something Dan- gerous, along with a hefty cast of guest musi- cians – and for many fans, a slight sense of disappointment. Electronic production was turned down a notch on Mish Maoul, and she went fully acoustic on her most recent album – the graceful, enchanting Ana Hina.

Atlas has described Mounqaliba as a con- tinuation of the ground explored on that last record. Poetic Arabic lyrics are set over classi- cal strings, restrained piano, jazz double bass and traditional Arabic instrumentation. In a

Natacha Atlas

way, it’s as much of a daring cultural clash as the techno beats and Arabic fanfare of those early albums. But in this gentle acoustic set- ting, the divergent sounds take on a bewitch- ing and subtle character. Atlas has a habit of reinventing classic western songs throughout her career – including her fantastic I Put A Spell On You, a Nina Simone-inflected version of Black Is The Colour and James Brown’s Man’s World. On Mounqaliba, she turns her hand to Nick Drake’s River Man – another tri- umph, with Atlas putting her own jazzy twist on the dark languor of the original.

It’s not all good, though. There are five interludes – six if you include the post-fade intermission at the end of Batkallim. Most of these include samples of speeches from the leading figures of the Zeitgeist Movement and Venus Project (the latter organisation hopes to lead humanity into a Jetsons-esque future of self-contained residences, oceanic cities and cars with “magnetic levitation or air-floatation capabilities”). These excerpts are played out over whispering voices or muted instrumentals. But rather than adding to the jazzy suspense, or bringing some worthwhile thematic point (or counterpoint) to the lyrical content, these interludes tend to slow things down in a most irritating manner. Especially once you’ve examined the “3D ren- derings” of our future utopia on thevenus- If you import this CD into your iTunes library (or equivalent), be sure to uncheck these tracks with extreme prejudice. You’ll be left with the next great stage of Natacha Atlas’s meandering musical journey. – distribut- ed by Harmonia Mundi.


Tournament Of Shadows Talking Elephant TECD150 10 Years On… Talking Elephant TECD142

They say the fate of bands is written on the wind, no one knows where they may blow. Little Johnny England have been tossed about more than most in the past few years, from great white hope to an on/off existence that saw them touring acoustically and swapping rhythm sections like socks. Finally they’ve found a stable line-up and a new, supportive home at Talking Elephant and it’s a pleasure to report that Tournament Of Shadows is not only a welcome return for Little Johnny Eng- land, it’s a welcome return to form!

Kicking off with a trio of absolute bel- ters, they sound as fizzing here as they did on their debut. Tournament Of Shadows, the opening track, is not only real English rockin’ it’s also spot-on politically: if ever history gave us an eye on the future then surely it’s through events in Afghanistan; Pete Scrowther’s anti-war opus is delivered with a cynical, weary vocal by PJ Wright, who then tears into the historical ballad Lily Of Barbary. Welcome To The Sparrow Club thumps home the way an armchair carer’s skewed view of the world seems to be gaining credence with certain sections of the British press and just how dangerous that can be. Not known as a band for pointing the finger, on this album LJE do it in a big way, offering reflection on the later Random Acts Of Kindness, where the unknown heroes of every day are cele- brated. In point of fact, PJ Wright and Gareth Stevens are turning out some cracking songs, not only Kindness but The Falling Down Man where current economic woe and its effect on Mr Average come under the microscope, running a waltz rhythm. Casting their net wider, Steve Knightley’s Cutthroats, Crooks & Conmen sits squarely in the mix with some tunes that pump out that old polka groove with forceful finesse.

Photo: Judith Burrows

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100
Produced with Yudu -