September 18, 2003

Test Spin: Various Artists

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World Music: what the hell is it? Anyone in the “genre” will you tell you themselves that it’s such a subjective and fluctuating term, full of exceptions and personal preferences there’s pretty much no way you’re ever going to get a consensus on the subject. Here’s my own personal idea after listening to this CD: the lyrics can’t be in English, the verses have to be sung in the sexiest way possible, and light wooden percussion, be it bongos or xylophones, is where it’s at.

Actually, I do have quite an affinity for a few of the songs on this double CD. The opener, “Le Vent Nous Portera,” by Noir Desier really warmed me up to the rest of the disc. Possibly it’s because I really like the way French sounds when it’s sung, but my favorites on the disc were the French songs, especially the French rap from Senegal. It was as novel and entertaining as it was awesome, in every way it possibly could be.

“Dojo Kun (Jamais Laisser Tomber),” by Temple of Sound, was an especially good song. It opens slowly, looping noise in the background, giving you time to get into the groove. Gradually the layering of beats begins, then the vocals slide on over, giving a lovely sensation of sinking. A few of the songs on the disc work this way: mellow start before gut-wrenching emotion.

There’s a lot of variety of artists on the disc, and quite a diverse selection of musical tastes. There’s the aforementioned come-hither songs from French artists, out-there UK musicians laying down the beats, Kenyan singers wailing away, Spanish guitarists trying their best to get you to salsa, or at least get your feet tapping away. A regular plethora of musical sounds!

All of the artists on this disc were definitely very good at what they do, especially considering the depth of world music. Clearly, the talent bursts out from each country. If you’re not familiar with the genre of World Music, I would definitely recommend this as a good primer. And if you’re a music snob and love casually rattling off bands that no one has ever heard of, you probably want to give this a spin, it’ll provide lots of great material. And I guarantee you that if anyone tries to show off by saying “Oh, I love them too!” they’re most likely lying.

Archived article by Sue Karp