Sounds From The Superhighway 18
Rachid Taha - A quick story on my introduction to Rachid Taha. I was attending a concert featuring Prem Joshua. The opening act was a belly dancing troupe. Two of the songs they performed to were from Rachid Taha. "Baadini" and "Comme un Chien" from the Ole Ole release put me on path to exploring this form of music. It was through Taha that I discovered Putumayo, Natacha Atlas, Cheb Mami and many others. Taha recently released Tekitoi, his fifth album on Wrasse Records. Tad Hendrickson of amazon.com wrote, "Taha has long mixed North African rai and chaabi with alternative rock, electronic sounds (Brian Eno co-writes one song), techno rhythms and a smattering of other styles. But instead of turning these diverse sounds into a cacophonic bowl of mush, Taha and longtime collaborator Steve Hillage balance muscular rhythms, a panoramic feeling of space, and Taha's own rock star leanings." Don't wait for belly dancers to discover the talent one magazine called "Algeria's answer to Johnny Cash."
Tinariwen - Imagine carrying an instrument in one hand and a weapon in the other. In the world of Tinariwen, this is no joke. The band formed in 1982 after being forced from the nomadic lifestyle they led by the government of Mali. Their bio picks up from there: "Radicalized by war and drought, Tinariwen invented a new style of music known as Tishoumaren, or music of the ishumar. Ishumar, which means unemployed, refers to a generation of young, enraged Tamashek exiles: people who left their stomping grounds for work after much repression and drought in Mali. Tinariwen wanted to carry on traditional music, but in exile they could rarely find the 30 or more musicians necessary to play the style. They have combined traditional musical forms with a modern rebellious and radical rock sensibility -- traditional instruments such as the teherdent lute and shepherd flute were discarded in favor of the electric guitar, electric bass and drums." The latest release is entitled Amassakoul. Such a rebellious piece of music, it was banned in Mali and Algeria. In fact, anyone caught carrying the cassette risked bodily harm. A warning: the link above is in French.
Prem Joshua - As I mentioned earlier, my introduction to Rachid Taha came during a Prem Joshua concert. It was at this concert that I experienced one of the most refreshing sounds that had ever crossed my ears. Prem Joshua fused forms of eastern and western sounds to create music so innovative, original, and inspiring that I became an instant fan. He has not returned to the U.S. since 2003, but word comes that Prem Joshua will be returning in late 2005 for a series of concerts. His latest release, Yatri (meaning traveler), is winning critical and listener acclaim from all over the world. Amazon.com wrote, "The album’s easygoing, exotic, jazzy vibe reveals a natural openness to the wisdom gained from the simple pleasure of travel, and the friends and experiences gained along the way. Inspired by bus rides through Bali, a guru’s teachings, Indian fables or a dancer’s subtle expression, these songs swing effortlessly between East and West. Featuring artists whose backgrounds are as diverse as their musical input, Yatri is a fine example of true international cooperation." Check out the Prem Joshua website for details on his upcoming U.S. tour. The album is available on White Swan Records.