Tag Archives: World Music

Hidden Gems: Cheché Dramé, “Mogoya”

In our series Hidden Gems, writers share their favorite Bandcamp discoveries.

Malian singer Cheché Dramé’s second album, Mogoya, made her a superstar in West Africa. She had the most popular ringtone in Mali in 2010, the year it was released, and she seemed poised to go on to a long and successful career. Unfortunately, while on tour supporting the record, she was killed in a car crash. She was only 26.

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Album of the Day: Mina, “Flight Paths”

London-based producer Mina’s latest, Flight Paths, is a perfect summer soundtrack. After spending 18 months traveling through Spain, Ghana, Brazil, Peru, Jamaica, and America, Mina translates her travels into an album that fuses electronic Afrobeats and dancehall with the pounding bass of hip-hop. 

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A Future Without Borders: The Music of Suns of Arqa

Suns of Arqa

Suns of Arqa’s 1980 album Revenge of the Mozabites sounds like it came from a future without borders. Indian tabla, Celtic strings, flamenco guitars, and pounding dub basslines reverberate throughout the album—the sound of cultures and nations colliding and their music intermingling.

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Album of the Day: Dexter Story, “Bahir”

During the first minute of Bahir, the new album from multi-instrumentalist and producer Dexter Story, a steady beating drum crescendo slowly evolves into an intricate composition: traditional jazz pianos, classical strings, wind chimes and East African percussion playfully mingle with cymbals that almost sound like a rushing wind. The opening track, “Techawit,” feels like an introduction to Dexter Story’s brand new world — a place where the musician can toe the line between different dimensions, embracing the pull of history and tradition, while conjuring a new, seamless fusion between the old and the new. Continue reading

Album of the Day: Kel Assouf, “Black Tenere”

Black Tenere, by desert blues outfit Kel Assouf, is not so much a blistering record as it is a Saharan letterbomb: heavy guitars, fierce drumming, and hypnotically repetitive beats channeling the band’s anger in the face of injustice and colonialism. It’s their first effort since stripping down to a trio—the group’s members are Anana Harouna, the Belgium-based Nigerien founder, frontman, and guitarist, whose Kel Tamashek (a word preferred to the colonial moniker Tuareg) rock is the heart and soul of this band; drummer Olivier Penu, whose percussion is the propulsive force behind most of the tracks; and Tunisia-born keyboardist Sofyann Ben Youssef, the sonic mastermind who brought us the (North) Afrofuturistic marvel that is AMMAR 808.

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On “Mama Funny Day,” Veteran Producer Sarazino Charts His Global Path Home


“Pack your bags—we’re going to Burundi tomorrow!” declares Lamine Fellah, aka Sarazino, recounting how his dad greeted him one day when he returned from school. As a member of a diplomatic family, the 48-year-old musician explains that “home” changed at a moment’s notice. Born in Algeria, Fellah has now lived in Ecuador for the better part of two decades, but before that lived in Spain, Burundi, Burkina Faso, and Canada as well as his homeland. As a quintessential globetrotter in both his life and his music, all of his journeys pour into his music in one way or another. “Immersion [into other cultures] forces us to adapt,” he says. Continue reading

A Brief Introduction to Traditional Mainland Southeast Asian Music on Bandcamp

Mainland Southeast Asian Music“Southeast Asia” is the deceptively straightforward geographical name for a world region comprised of 1.75 million square miles, 11 countries, and dozens of ethnicities and spoken languages. Unlike its richer and more developed neighbors to the north (China, Japan, Korea) and west (India), Southeast Asia has been a relatively muted participant in the cultural flows facilitated by globalization, including the outward spread of its distinctive musical traditions.

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Crammed Discs Celebrates Boundary-Pushing Music From Around the World

Crammed Discs

Few record labels are as difficult to categorize as Belgium’s Crammed Discs, which is exactly the way founder Marc Hollander likes it. Over the small imprint’s nearly 40 years in business, the label has amassed a catalogue consisting of cult post-punk releases by Tuxedomoon and The Honeymoon Killers, a soundtrack for TV commercials by Japanese composer Yasuaki Shimizu, and countless other genre-busting releases—expanding beyond the confines of experimental, pop, and electronic—from around the world. Hollander and his longtime co-conspirators, Hanna Gorjaczkowska and producer Vincent Kenis, have forged a singular identity out of strenuously avoiding any easy file-unders.

Speaking over the phone from the label headquarters in Brussels, Hollander calls this willful eclecticism “one of the key features of the label.” “Or maybe it’s more of a psychological problem that I have,” he adds. “I just can’t stand doing the same thing for too long, so we always try to carefully avoid that. It’s almost an anti-branding strategy.”

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