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Communion tak:till /Glitterbeat GBCD057

In the last ten years, there can’t be many countries whose government, through vari- ous arts agencies, has been as supportive to traditional-based music than that of South Korea. A big presence at WOMEX, festivals such as K-Music in London and various world music illuminati flown to South Korea to see the music in situ.

What’s been clever is the selection of

artists. Tapping into a long-established scene, bursting with creative musicians combining Korean traditional music with contemporary sounds from classical minimalism, avant- garde to post rock.

More lacking however, has been an availability of physical product to support live appearances, rectified later in some cases, but mostly not, even as hard-to-find imports. Which is why this album is particu- larly welcome.

Park Jiha is already known as half of the neo-traditional duo [su m]. On this, her first solo album, she has extended the soundscape considerably. Park plays piri (a kind of oboe), saenghwang (a kind of mouth organ) and yanggeum (hammered dulcimer) with noted collaborators John Bell, a New Zealander playing vibraphone and currently teaching improvisation in Korea, tenor sax and bass clarinet player Kim Oki and bassist Kang Tekhyun. Original- ly released in 2016, the quartet performed last year at K-Music in London, but this still feels like a timely release.

At turns dark and mysterious, light and

airy, melodic, unmelodic, full of unexpected twists, yet always a beauty running through. Paul Fisher


I’m not crazy about the title and I’m even less crazy about the cover which looks like it’s aimed at tourists in the Parthenon souvenir shop. And why no lyrics? These are songs with rich lyrics but no translations bar snippets. Surely much of the point of buying an album rather than listening online is the package? The lyrics, info and pictures which enrich the music? There are sleevenotes; enough, at least, to explain who the musicians are. Terzis wrote and arranged the music. Skoulas sings the lead (bar one). A dozen other local musi- cians are involved.

And then there’s the music… The songs are led but not dominated by the vocals, new but thoroughly part of the Greek tradition. The music is largely acoustic and lovely. The sound has a nice balance of clarity and warmth. Skoulas sings in that subtle, restrained Hellenistic way which is the oppo- site of torch singing. A kind of sprechgesang. He talk-sings the words (one reason why it’s so annoying not to have the lyrics, grrr!) and it’s perfect. Meaning he sings with the calm strength of understatement, never carried away, and his voice is naturally rich and lived- in. Nothing forced, no pretension. A less-con- structed and less-knowing Leonard Cohen of a voice. And the album is well recorded and produced, with arrangements and tunes all between fine and very fine.

Highlights: Edo Tha Meinoume is a hit, instantly sounding like a song you’ve heard and loved a hundred times. Diskoli Pou ‘Nai I Lefteria is pregnant with foreboding. To Mel- lon Einai Edo Kai Einai Tora skips along like

DOMO EMIGRANTES Aquai Domo Emigrantes

Their previous releases in 2011 and 2015 won high praise and between these years Domo Emigrantes were accorded several prestigious awards. Now their third release shows them continuing in the same vein with this new album being the best and most exciting of the three.

The sextet started out in 2009 with an interest in the various roots musics around their home areas of Southern Italy and the first tracks here reflect this. Addhrai, which after a sombre opening, segues into a furi- ous tarantella, one of several on the album, soon followed by Mi Votu which was closely associated with the great Sicilian diva, Rosa Balistreri.

Park Jiha

victory-marching squirrels. Anafora Ston Nikos Kazantzakis is, I assume, a panegyric to Kazantzakis, the late great writer. Crete 2017 is a springy instrumental shuffle which makes me want to open all the windows and let the birds in. And the others are all good too. Nick Hobbs AYUUNE SULE

We Have One Destiny Makkum/Rebel MR23/ ROP 01

Kologo’s origins are in the north-east of Ghana and over the border in Burkino Faso in an area around the town of Bolga tanga. It is the name given to both the music and the main instrument it is played on which is one version of the cow-skin covered calabash instrument with nylon fishing line strings attached to a round pole which can be fret- ted. In construction and in the way it is played it is a rougher version of the n’goni or xalam played by griots. The language of most of the recordings is the various dialects of Frafra.

It has enjoyed a rapid growth in popular- ity in the last decade throughout Ghana and outwards to the rest of the world with pio- neers like King Ayisoba and Guy-One enjoy- ing a swift rise to fame. It has also mutated quickly with some frankly awful stuff record- ed with cheap drum machines and other poor quality digital backings, but others, like this one, combine considerable artistry with raw excitement. Ayuune Sule has played and toured with King Ayisoba but on this evi- dence he deserves wider recognition under his own name.

The tracks here show different approaches. Three of the tracks are sung in English and these also feature a slightly more sophisticated feel with the addition of back- ing singers, some sort of flute or whistle and some delightful hand drum percussion as well as some passages that show hip-hop influ- ence. Elsewhere he reverts to local languages and a more straightforward approach. Both these angles have their merits and all feature his committed, engaging singing which brings more delight to the ears than the growling rasp of his mentor. Vic Smith

Elsewhere they extend their repertoire to various other pan-Mediterranean tradi- tions with styles and rhythms from various Levantine and North African sources with only one track seeming to stray outside this area, the delightful Vals Azul composed by the band’s Stefano Torre. This is not the waltz of this title written by the famed Cuban com- poser Ernesto Lecuona, but sounds as though it could be a tribute to his composition.

A short review does not allow space to mention everything that is first class about this album, but a summary should include the quality of their three lead singers, the excel- lence of the strings – fiddle, cello and bass. The bassist Alessandro Cassini is described as a guest but he is on every track and makes a notable contribution to every one. Lello La Porta offers accordeon, flute and when he enters a track playing Sicilian bagpipes the band is given a considerable lift.

A prediction would be that this album will add to their growing collection of awards. Vic Smith

ROWAN PIGGOTT Mountscribe Scribe SRCD 004

Born and raised in rural Co Galway and now Brighton-based, five-string fiddle player and singer Rowan Piggott is a mainstay of both the Causeway Ceili Band and the Georgia Lewis Band, but this is his first recording under his own name.

A distinctive feature of this album is Pig-

gott’s skilful blending of his English and Irish influences in tracks like When All The World Is Young – which sets the words of AE House- man and Charles Kingsley to an air by Kath- leen Behan, and in Rosie Hodgson’s clog step- ping to a Paddy Fahey tune. There’s a strong Swedish current too, as Piggott (inspired by fellow Brighton fiddle player Ben Paley) fol- lows The Cuckoo – a song found in both Ire- land and Sussex – with a polska and entwines A Maid Went To Comber with a tune learned from Swedish duo Algot.

Although still a relative newcomer, Pig- gott is an experienced performer with an eclectic and impressive musical pedigree.His singing style retains something of the boy cho- rister’s impeccable diction and phrasing while his instrumental virtuosity and versatility reveal something of the jazz graduate. Above and beyond the impressive technique howev- er, it’s the engaging personality of the musi- cian that shines brightest on this recording. Somehow you can tell that Rowan Piggott is a likeable fella, just from the way he hits a fiddle with a hairy stick. That’s a rare gift. Steve Hunt

Photo: Kim Jaewoo

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