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Rough Guide

The Rough Guide To The Best Music You've Never Heard



This Rough Guide concocts a collection of laid-back music you can hear pumped out from street-side coffee-houses across North Africa and the Middle East. Sip the historic infusion with musical masters Maurice El Medioni, Akim El Sikameya, Ali Hassan Kuban, Salamat and Abdel Gadir Salim.

Purchase The Rough Guide To The Best Music You’ve Never Heard and enjoy an off-the-wall selection of diverse sounds from across the planet.

Inside the eye-catching light-weight packaging 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!

And of course, this quirky album doesn’t just look good, it sounds great too. Each track is available as a high-quality 320kbps MP3 file, and The Best Music You’ve Never Heardfeatures driving rhythms from Africa and South America alongside exquisite Asian harmonies and beautiful European ballads. Traditional arrangements meet modern grooves, performed by extraordinary masters from around the globe from the acclaimed labels of World Music Network.

Since 1994, WMN have been producing the Rough Guide CD series, delivering the best possible starting point for exploring different music from all over the world. These musical compasses now come in two-CD editions, delivering more depth by including a full-length artist album alongside the well-researched compilations. A number of the artists featured on the The Best Music You’ve Never Heard originally featured on the relevant Rough Guides, while others are sourced from WMN’s developing-artist label Introducing, as well as Riverboat Records, WMN’s premium artist label, featuring leading artists such as Mory Kanté, Bob Brozman, Debashish Bhattacharya and Etran Finatawa, to name a few.

The Best Music You've Never Heard

The compilation offers a rare glimpse at some of the very best music from around the globe. The journey takes us to Africa, showcasing the dynamic grooves of the north, such as the driving gnawa trance and the desert blues – nomadic traditions inspired by the dunes of the Sahara. Two legendary peoples from this region, the Tuareg and the Wodaabe, have joined forces in Etran Finatawa to play nostalgic and haunting songs with driving beats, compelling voices and wonderfully laid-back guitars. Moving towards the west of the continent, we find the exceptional singer and songwriter Daby Balde, whose arrangements bring smoothly hypnotic sounds to life. His captivating vocals and stunning melodies make him a rising star of Senegal, yet in other African tracks we can also discover the uplifting rhythms of Mozambique and the modern songs of Somalia.

On the way to Asia we find the distinctive sounds of the Middle East. The innovative Jordanian ensemble Dozan celebrates Arabic folk culture with a beautiful blend of mystical melodies and haunting contemporary compositions. Further east, the Afghani singer and harmonium player Ahmad Sham performs delicate devotional music based on Sufi poetry, a tradition that survived the immensely restrictive Taliban rule. Another Asian flavour appears in the Mongolian folk revival movement. The Beijing-based group Hanggaienriches this ethnic heritage of magical songs with traditional instruments, throat singing and a touch of punk rock. The many colours of India emerge in a wonderful unity in the improvisations of slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya. With a Grammy nomination and a BBC World Music Award under his belt, he celebrates eternal love in a dazzling fusion of Carnatic music from the south and Hindustani music from the north. The energetic dance grooves of bhangra already point to the meeting of Eastern and Western influences, as British Asian bands add synthesizers and serious basslines to Punjabi rhythms and lyrics. One of the genre’s pioneers, Achanak, has taken these beats around the globe, from Canada to Malaysia and Europe.

The British Isles are home to splendidly rich musical traditions, including those of the Highlands, where Scottish folk tunes are played on fiddles, pipes, harps and drums alongside enchanting voices such as that of singer Maggie MacInnes. Although continental Europe offers an astonishing cultural diversity, some influences have managed to reach across it. Gypsy musicians have taken their vibrant, passionate style to Spain, where the Andalusian flamenco genre combines song, guitar and dance. The soulful melodies and creative percussions of Hungarian Gypsies also make it impossible to sit still, and the case is no different in Russia. The exceptionally virtuosic guitarists of the renowned Kolpakov Duo have played tender and infectious Gypsy melodies everywhere from Moscow to New York. The impact of such musicians is even present in the romantic and playful café music of Paris, which also takes a hint from tango and jazz. The accordion-infused ballads and dances have an especially fresh and adventurous sound in the interpretations of the band Beltuner.

Across the Atlantic, Latin rhythms give the pulse of many a nation. Cuba’s leading songroup, Sierra Maestra has brought about the revival of the style, playing legendary tunes from the 1920s in the original arrangements. The son genre has also migrated to the United States, to become part of the sauce that is the Latin sound of the Big Apple. A New Yorker of Puerto Rican origin, Wayne Gorbea plays relentless grooves and dynamic arrangements and has for decades been a favourite of salsa lovers. Dances can take more modern forms, as well, as Miami’s party band, the Spam Allstars, illustrate with a powerful and light-hearted mix of Latin funk, horns, hip-hop and dub. The phenomenal American guitarist Bob Brozman provides another unparalleled experience, playing each instrumental part of an entire orchestra himself, resulting in the exquisite tune, heard here, of an Afro-Caribbean calypso. Yet the transformative influence on club scenes all over the world comes from the shores of Brazil in the form of Axial, where charming acoustic bossa nova grooves meet electronic ingenuity.

Travelling at the speed of musical sound will certainly reveal some of the finest unheard treasures that the cultures of our planet hold and create today.