28 April sees the release of two new World Music Network compilation albums: The Rough Guide to Celtic Musicand The Rough Guide To African Blues. Besides the various artists featuring the compilations, each release also includes a bonus album. The new Rough Guides are available as a one off purchase and can be part of your subscription service.
Storytelling lies at the heart of Celtic music; breathtaking voices sing tales of lost love, tragedies both old and new, as well as exile, prison, war, and separation. Featuring bodhrán, flute, guitar and harp, this Rough Guide includes old folk lullabies, work songs and contemporary compositions from leading Celtic artists.
The term ‘Celtic music’ encompasses the sweet songs and wistful melodies of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany (France), Asturias and Galicia (Spain). The modern Celtic music revival was shaped, in large part, by the folk movements of the 1960s and 1970s. In Wales, many of the Celtic traditions were lost during the Nonconformist period in the eighteenth century, and musicians were left to reconstruct traditional works. The revival has reached new heights in recent decades, epitomized by the Scottish group, Capercaillie, a band that has sold over a million albums.
Certainly, one of the trademarks of Celtic music is a breathtaking lead vocal as well as using instruments to mimic human expressions. Another hallmark that has been synonymous is captivating storytelling. Tales of lost love, tragedies both old and new, as well as exile, prison, war and separation, woven through old folk lullabies and work songs, as well as contemporary compositions. Today, Celtic music is expanding in virtually every direction as groups such as Chantan, Solas and the Old Blind Dogs fuse elements of rock, jazz, electronica, R&B, and African folk music with traditional Celtic melodies.
In the twenty years since Malian guitar legend Ali Farka Touré won his first Grammy, a whole spectrum of African Blues has become hugely popular with a global audience. The shades of Blues on this Rough Guide range from the deep indigo of the Saharan nomads to a vivid Madagascan cobalt.
Africa is considered by many to be the home of the Blues, both musically and spiritually. Musically the connection is particularly evident in the music of Ali Farka Touré and other artists from Mali and Saharan West Africa. Elsewhere, the link to the Blues can be described as more spiritual – the intensity of the emotion comes across in the passion of the voices and the rawness of the music.
Some of the highlightes of the album include Ali Farka Touré, who himself said that he was ‘an absolute fool for the guitar’ in the 1970s when ‘Yer Mali Gakoyoyo’ was recorded for Mali’s national radio station, while ‘Dani Dou’ by his acolyte Samba Touré hints at the loping gait of a camel-train. Senegalese artists Nuru Kane and Amadou Diagne are joined by musicians from their adopted communities in France and the UK and it’s English guitarist Ramon Goose who provides the springy electric riff to accompany Modou Touré’s vocals in the West African Blues Project. The complex traditional music of their native Madagascar influences the blues of both Nogabe Randriaharimalala and Lala Njava, while Menelik Wesnatchew’s ‘Teteza’ is a beautifully swaying version of ‘Ethiopia’s majestic hymn to the blues’. The final track on the album is a unique unaccompanied vocal piece by La Reunion’s greatest maloya artist, Danyèl Waro.