As the year draws to a close and that festive nostalgia sets in, one starts to reminisce about what the past twelve months have brought, and wonders what the future twelve months may hold. For the World Music Network, 2011 has certainly been an exciting year! We have released twenty two new Rough Guide CDs, including the continuation of the Jazz and Blues Legends series and the development of a brand new Classical series, alongside the launch of our exclusive T-Music T-Shirt range. We've also gone old school, releasing a number of limited vinyl editions for some of our compilations, and launched the innovatively packaged download card venture, 'The Rough Guide To The Best Music You've Never Heard'.
There are many more great ventures to look forward to in 2012, but in this reflective mood lets have a look back at some of the fantastic releases that 2011 has given us...
Launched in 2010 and continued lovingly into 2011, The Rough Guide To Jazz And Blues series breathes new life into classic recordings with exceptional audio clarity. Reborn and remastered, additions to the series this year have included greats such as composer, performer and band leader Duke Ellington, musical colossus John Lee Hooker, 'Empress Of The Blues' Bessie Smith, trumpeting legend Miles Davis and influential saxophonist Charlie Parker.
Curated by best-selling author William Dalrymple, this Rough Guide takes you on a journey from the traditional dervish and qawwali forms to explore the modern innovators inspired by the spirit of Sufism. Passionate and ecstatic, spiritual and entrancing, Sufi music acts as a uniquely valuable bridge between East and West reflecting the most accessible, liberal and pluralistic aspects of Islam.
Awarded 4**** stars by The Evening Standard who deemed it a 'fascinating disc... a good introduction, with a great bonus CD of Bengali fakirs.'
For the childlike (and child raising) among us, three releases of this year would have stood out. The Rough Guide To World Lullabies had parents and children alike soothed to sleep in an 'enchanting multicultural journey' (The Sunday Times), while The Rough Guide To World Playtime brought the joys of childhood back to us all. Finally, The Rough Guide To African Lullabies, given 4*** stars for being a 'perfect selection of tracks' by Songlines, brought some of the biggest names in African music to make bedtime extra special.
From Congolese rumba’s intricate guitar lines to Mali’s evocative blues, in Africa the guitar is king. This compilation brings the greatest riffs that you have never heard and reveals why these ground-breaking players are heroes in their own land. With a bonus disc by Syran Mbenza & Ensemble Rumba Kongo, UK Vibedeemed this Rough Guide 'a fine overview and excellent value for money, 4**** stars'... we certainly agree!
Forged with the knowledge of many roots, a new generation of artists from Bellowheadto Eliza Carthy has taken English folk by the scruff of the neck. This Rough Guide is a vibrant celebration of this new golden age of English folk music, and was described by Limelight(Australia) as 'a largely rewarding set, 3*** stars'.
T-Music is World Music Network's unique range of musical instrument T-Shirts. Featuring beautiful images of the kora, sitar, trumpet, piano, guitar, bongosand banjo designed by the renowned Catalan artist Xavier Salvador, each shirt captures the true essence of its instrument. Made from 100% cotton and in various colours, each shirt comes with a free 30-track download album, 'The Rough Guide To The Best Musive You've Never Heard'. Now you can look the part while you listen!
This brand new series of 2011 features compilations of three of the most influential classical composers. The Rough Guide To Classical Composers: J. S. Bach showcases Bach's inimitable genius in all its forms - his intricate polyphonic textures, poetic melody lines and thrusting terraced dynamics. The Rough Guide To Classical Composers: Beethoven reveals the work of a great, whose symphonies, sonatas, concertos and other works completely revolutionized the history of music. Completing the trio is The Rough Guide To Classical Composers: Mozart, whose simple and delicate style conveys emotion with an artistic sensitivity that has never been matched. This series represents an exciting new venture for the World Music Network!
This Rough Guide, featuring legendary Brazilian artists Seu Jorge, Cibelle and Ceu, is the perfect sound track to a cafezinho shared with friends or a caipirinha on the beach. Songlinesgave it 3*** stars in appreciation for the 'poppier side to today's Brazil', the perfect vibes to relax and unwind to'.
The World Music Network's only release on the Riverboat label this year, 'Crocodile Blues' displays the talent of Malian guitarist, vocalist and composer Samba Touré, whose African blues style invokes the spirit of the legendary Ali Farka Touré. Recorded in Bamako, 'Crocodile Blues' is his second international release and a giant leap forward for the Malian bluesman.
The critics wholeheartedly agreed, with Onze Wereld(Netherlands) dubbing Touré 'the new king of the desert blues' (4**** stars), and Popmatters.comacclaiming him as 'one of the most accomplished guitarists of all the desert blues players'.
This distinctive collection of musical gems presents an off-the-wall selection of diverse sounds from across the planet, in the World Music Network's very own innovative packaging! Inside the light-weight exterior is an exclusive download code printed on a cardboard CD cut-out. It may look like a CD, but don’t be fooled! The next step is to visit the World Music Network website to download the music straight to your computer, smartphone or other audio device.
This fun product is a way for bricks and mortar music stores to sell digital downloads, whilst allowing the customer to walk away with something physical. The listener can read informative sleeve notes, view a full track listing, and enjoy the pleasure of some striking images to digest along with over two hours of music (more than a CD can hold). All this for just £1.99, a price The Observer names 'jaw-droppingly good value'.
Other releases of 2011 not mentioned above include The Rough Guide To Bellydancewhich comes with a free instructional DVD to hone your belly shaking skills, The Rough Guide To Cajun & Zydeco which showcases the raw and riotous music that fills the steamy night air of Louisiana, The Rough Guide To Klezmer (Second Edition) which explores how Klezmer is evolving into a dynamic music scene drawing on influences as diverse as gypsy, rock and hip-hop, and finally The Rough Guide To Paris Lounge, a compilation that invites the listener to discover the ambiance of Paris after dark with the cutting edge sounds of the Paris Lounge groove.
So that completes the World Music Network's round up of 2011! We hope you've enjoyed this year of music as much as we have, and are looking forward to a whole new set of fresh sounds which our 2012 release schedule will be bringing. Keep an ear out in the new year!