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WIGENS Golden Section Environmental Studies ES003LP

Ian Kearey’s been visible on the radar of the discerning fRoots reader (is there any other kind?) for decades now, thanks to his various adventures in Oysterbandinage and Duck Soupery. In very recent times, his status as an original and distinctive guitarist has been greatly increased through his pivotal role in Shirley Collins’ astonishing Lodestar album, and via The Ballad Of Shirley Collins movie. This, then, is a timely and deserving vinyl LP release for a mythical 2005 recording that was originally pressed in a run of just 20 CDs.

The pairing of Kearey and drummer Paul Wigens performed but once as a duo, at the behest of their former Blue Aeroplanes lead- er and cohort Gerard Langley, who envisaged them as a “Sandy Bull/ John Fahey improvised guitar and drum duo”. While this live record- ing of that performance certainly meets the aesthetic principles of American Primitive, there’s an undeniably English folk- baroque/Soho jazz quality to tracks like (opener) Where Were We? which sounds not unlike half of Pentangle cutting loose at a rehearsal while waiting for the others to turn up. This, of course, is a very good thing indeed to sound not unlike.

Perhaps the biggest surprises of this record are just how accessible this largely improvised music is, and the number of famil- iar melodies incorporated into pieces like Feast Of The Unkown Gods – a great big twanging and clanging creature of a medley that gleefully chugs and slithers its way through Wayfaring Stranger, You Are My Sun- shine, The Banks Of The Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee, on its way to Unknown Gods know where. The beautiful, understated Lapwing – a drummer-less slide guitar piece (which shares its title with an unrelated Bert Jansch composition) is another album highlight.

Kearey plays a 1934 twelve-string Regal resonator guitar, a 1980 Yamaha acoustic and a 1967 John Bailey ‘banjimer’ (yes, the very instrument that appears on the cover of Shirley Collins’ The Power Of The True Love Knot LP!) with a powerful and playful preci- sion perfectly matched by Wigens’s ecstatic drumming. Anyone who attended that unique concert (at Bristol’s Cube Cinema) is surely still talking about it to this day. Thank- fully, the rest of us can now experience the music via this terrific record. Oh, and the cover’s great, too! Steve Hunt VARIOUS ARTISTS

The Rough Guide To World Music Rough Guides RGNET1370CD

This compilation release of tracks by Phil Stanton celebrates 25 years and 369 releases of this prime source of world music and relat- ed information. A betting man might put money on the majority of people having at least one of these albums on CD or digital form in their collections.

All fifteen tracks are chosen from Stan-

ton’s own Riverboat releases and if the incredibly diverse selection has a theme, it is that cross-cultural items predominate: Celtic traditions meet Mali, Indo/Jazz, a marriage between Pakistani devotional music and rock’n’roll and so on.

Another theme seems to be avoiding the

richer First World counties of North America and Europe, but the sheer diversity defies the reviewer’s ability to give a clear insight of what the album encompasses. Rather than

Nancy Vueira

attempt that, the sounds that remain with this listener after several playings are the out- standing opening track of musicians from widely differing backgrounds achieving something very special with Rafiki Jazz in the opening track, and the three East European

offerings from Kries, the voice of Çi ˘gdem Aslam with the London-based She’Koyokh and the sublime finale provided by Söndörg˝o from Hungary. There is just too much superb music out there to savour in one lifetime. Vic Smith NANCY VIEIRA

Manhã Florida Harmonia-Lusafrica 025452

In contrast to the earthy style of Cesária Évora, the singer most responsible for bring- ing Cape Verde’s traditional music to world audiences, Nancy Vieira’s singular clarity of tone reflects an international musical forma- tion. Raised in a musical household (her father backed Évora before being drawn into the Cape Verde independence movement), Vieira moved to Lisbon permanently at age fourteen, when her father became the island nation’s ambassador to Portugal and France. Hence, Vieira seamlessly blends Cape Verdean traditional song with influences including Brazilian popular music, Portuguese fado and French chanson. A natural talent, Vieira sparked her career when a Lisbon song con- test judge overheard her humming along with a contestant and persuaded her to deliver an impromptu rendition of a classic by Francisco Xavier da Cruz ‘B Leza’, the morna composer favored by Cesária Évora.

Manhã Florida, Vieira’s fifth release, begins in traditional mode with a classic morna by Vitorino Chantre and Amândio Cabral, Mi Sem Bo Amor. Other Cape Verdean classics include Bocas Di Paiol by Cesário António Duarte (1932-2014), Kaká Barboza’s Bela, and Mar Di Lua Cheia, by national poet Eugénio Tavares (1867-1930). With the exception of Marc Estève and Teófi- lo Chantre’s French-language Les Lendemains De Carnaval, Vieira sings in Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole. She contributes one original, a dreamy Porto Inseguro. The remaining songs are by contemporary island composers: Mário Lúcio, a poet, musician and

former Cape Verdean minister of culture; Adalberto Higino Tavares Silva ‘Betú’, com- poser of the national hymn; António Alves, Tiolino, and Teofilo Chantre, who contribut- ed the title track and also produced. The clos- er, Mário Lúcio’s Sunha Dor, is an upbeat anthem whose cosmopolitan strains (Cuban son, Afropop) gesture to the future of Cape Verdean music. Michael Stone


An uplifting feeling of exhilaration is pro- duced right from the start of the first listen- ing. This sextet from Durban, South Africa, describe themselves as primarily a self-help sisterhood of single mothers but musically they are quite exceptional. The impression from the start is that they owe more to Lady- smith Black Mambazo than to The Mahotella Queens or any other of that country’s female groups. Then, reading the press release, there is the information that the studio where this album is recorded is owned by the son of Joseph Shalala, Ah yes.

Having identified a prime influence, oth- ers quickly appear. The superb lead voice of Facile Bessie Melange phrases in a way that resemble some American gospel and soul divas. Their harmonies are rich, adventurous and way beyond the obvious; their arrange- ments are full of delights. They use a number of other effects to add to the excitement and interest; the clicked consonants of the items sung in Xhosa are loud and clear, ululating and the occasional subtle use of percussion and beatbox effects all add to the enjoyment.

But wait a minute! This is meant to be a female group. What’s that lovely rumbling bass voice doing in the mix? Let’s look at their line-up – It includes “Sister Zungu – bass”. If so, she has one of the best as well as the low- est female voices that I have heard.

Having mentioned the impact of the opening track, the album builds. Listen to the last two tracks, Emgodini and Amakhekhe on headphones and you will be giving yourself a luxurious aural treat. Vic Smith

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