The World Music Network are looking forward to 12 March as two new albums are to be released: The Rough Guide to Celtic Women and The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Africa. Both of these new releases are available with the subscription to World Music Network or can be enjoyed as a one-off!
Celtic traditions are commonly infused with romanticised notions of a lost time. Often linked to landscape, folk and celtic traditions are a significant part of daily culture. Today, the Celtic music world includes Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany (France), Asturias and Galicia (Spain), and parts of Atlantic Canada and the United States - as a result of large waves of Scottish, Irish and French immigration to the Americas. In recent decades, Celtic women have been leading a revival in folk music. Artists like Sharon Shannon, Karen Matheson (of Capercaillie), Cara Dillon and others have achieved what was only a generation ago almost unthinkable, reaching mainstream audiences with Celtic folk music. This Rough Guide presents a selection of the best female artists on the scene.
The album opens with the spirited song, ‘In Shame Love, In Shame’ by Pauline Scanlon. Her music is immersed in the Irish tradition, with a dose of contemporary edginess from alternative music. Other highlights include a track by a four piece ensemble lead by the great Julie Fowlis. ‘Da Bhafaigheann Mo Rogha De Thriur Acu’ is a strident, dance-like tune that is sure to start toes tapping. Karan Casey’s contribution is her version of ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’, one of the most famous anti-war songs ever written. The emotional lyrics describe a poor, blind and crippled soldier returning from war. An ethereal harp-led number is contributed by Cécile Corbel. Cécile was born in Brittany and learned to play the harp as a teenager, on this track she sings in the traditional Breton language (Breizh). T With The Maggies is a close harmony vocal group composed of four native Gaelic speakers from County Donegal, Ireland. The women’s seemingly effortless ability to sing in tight, sweet, as demonstrated on ‘Cuach Mo Lundobh Bui’, harmony is simply breathtaking.
This Rough Guide also comes with a full-length bonus album from one of the leading voices in Celtic Canadian music, Teresa Doyle. Orrachan is a collection of ancient Irish Gaelic songs. Teresa sings them with her trademark ethereal voice and effortlessly transports us to the beating heart of the Celtic world.
This Rough Guide compilation is a far-out psychedelic-sound rock mized album is mixed with a thick dollop of deep funk and soul which was massively popular during the 1960s and 70s in Africa. The album features some hand-picked psychedelic gems such as Victor Uwaifo and Balla Et Ses Balladins, and includes tracks by unstoppable psychedelic veterans Ebo Taylor and Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, who are still releasing top-quality mind-bending grooves today.
The 1960s and 1970s were times of bright optimism and clashing sensibilites across the African continent. As newly independent countries grappled to assert fresh identities, politicized youth movements bristled against authority. It was this rapid urbanisation that challenged the tradition and hierarchies of older generations, and the Europeanised urban elite collided with pioneers of 'back to roots' movements. Music was heavily used as a powerful tool of expression and implemented in such movements. Reflecting the youth movements, the music was cosmopolitan, rebellious and deeply engaging all at the same time.
You can expect to hear Nigerian guitar maestro Sir Victor Uwaifo employing the use of sweet harmonies and gently lilting textures of highlife, mixed with echoing horns and distorted guitar lines, resulting in a heady psychedelic brew. His seminal track ‘Guitar Boy’, included on this album, was a huge hit in 1966. Celestine Ukwu’s gentle track ‘Obialu Be Onye Abiagbunia Okwukwe’ also includes a highlife groove, played at a laid-back tempo and teasingly interspersed with swooping, bent notes played on a pedal steel guitar. On ‘Let Yourself Go’, Olaiya rasps and growls his vocals above tightly stacked horn lines that, along with the percussion, pound out a straight-ahead groove.
East African psychedelic music often has a darker, jazzier feel, inferred from the use of traditional modes and harmonies. Hailing from Ethiopia, Alèmayèhu Eshèté’s music is brooding Ethio-jazz with a splash of psychedelia in the form of a winding high-pitched guitar, a booming amplified bass line and interjecting keyboard figures.