Sunday, September 27, 2009
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Sound of the World presents Otro Mundo: Another World (Warner Classical and Jazz)
Happy tenth anniversary to Charlie Gillett’s annual round-up of all that rocks his particular corner of the “world” world. These days each release takes a unique title (rather than the generic “World 20YY” of the past) and possesses a cover picture of a bus with new destination, livery, personnel and shape. But what never seems to change is the existence of trends, threads and patterns in the sequencing that defy the iPod shuffle tendency of today’s listener with their logic and flow. One of the notable trends over the last few compilations is for gentle, insinuating and identifiably rooted melodies set in very modern arrangements. Otro Mundo’s exemplars include the moody laid-back funk of Peru’s Novalima, Brazilian experimentalists Sonantes and the thoroughly modern middle-eastern tones of the ex-pat Iranians that make up Niyaz. Each has a tune whose perfume lingers for long after it’s finished, and each is enhanced by the carefully-sequenced tunes placed either side of them. And every selection is worthy of its place amongst such big-hitters as Rokia Traore, Manu Chao and Oumou Sangare, as well as Belizean ensemble Umalali, whose horn-punctuated Caribbean twister Merua already feels like a classic.
Other highlights and revelations include a mesmeric, rolling Algerian groove by Gaada Diwane De Bechar, an extraordinary Anatolian/Armenian mood-piece from Turkish percussionist Sjahin During alongside the never-less-than-incredible Arto Tunçboyaciyan, and the return of what might be loosely termed Americana (in the form of Calexico and Australia’s C W Stoneking) as well as what seems to have become a perennial rule-breaker, a not-so-recent track from a recently deceased great; and who could begrudge the legendary Miriam Makeba one last swansong from her Sangoma album from 1998?
Asia is the only (broadly) geographical area that seems particularly under-represented, but as a seasoned broadcaster and self-styled DJing jackdaw, Gillett’s focus is on picking what appeals to his and his listeners’ tastes rather than being an exercise in geographical or genre box-ticking. And when you pick up a copy of this double CD from a stall in a festival field somewhere this summer, remember to follow the sleeve-note hints - both textural and pictorial - as to which albums are worthwhile following up; the rest of the time you can be rest assured that what you are getting are the absolute gems hand-picked and ordered for maximum effect.
This review first appeared in fRoots magazine