All that’s good and bad from a scene on two discs. Fabulous diversity with music that leaps language barriers to grab you by the heart on the one hand but it’s still a closed shop
Every year, everyone (well every European) with a vested interest in global music gathers for a fab trade fair. We see loads of bands, meet friends, have discussions of dizzying eclecticism and sometimes get blind drunk. After that, we get invited to vote for who will be nominated for the following year’s Awards for World Music. The nomination process is pretty open, you can add all of your artists if you like even if they have not released anything for a while. A panel of pretty well-known and mostly British experts sifts through the nominations. These are the folks who decide what you hear on the radio and read about in the magazines or the newspapers. They are the opinion formers and filters of an impossibly diverse scene. Some of the judges like Charlie Gillett and Eric Soul I am proud to call friends and all of them are knowledgeable in their fields.
So why does my heart sink just a little with the whole exercise? Is the CD not filled with great tracks, many of which we have gladly championed on Fly? Will the concert to celebrate the winners not be a great spectacle and a chance to hear an impossibly diverse range of acts?
I think it has something to do with the artifice of the ‘world music scene’. Leaving aside the breathtaking Eurocentrism that belies the genre, sidestepping the uselessness of a descriptive phrase that includes music as diverse as meditative Chinese flute music and thumping Gypsy punk, we are left with the fact that ‘world music’ was a term used to describe not a scene of like-minded people like punk, nor a musical approach or set of conventions like jazz, soul or rock but a stop gap to have something to write on the plastic dividers used in record shops. As such the phrase and this compilation are a marketing exercise and no one loves to be a part of a marketing exercise (well maybe when they are teens they do).
As soon as you get enough people together you are allowed to peel off. Latin music for example is not really thought of as part of the world scene because it has its own distinctive musical forms and a definite audience. The same for Indian music. For the sake of inclusivity, they both get a slot on this compilation but don’t expect to find the big stars of Latin or Indian music here.
If it’s been 20 years since many of the people who judge these awards met in a pub and came up with the phrase ‘world music’ to sell more records, perhaps it is a good moment to bury our friend ‘world music’ with all its faults and achievements and start speaking about these forms of music without using catch all terms that mean nothing and insult almost everyone.
There are no plastic tags or limited shelf space in the information age. Time to fly.
1 Camille — Ta Douleur
2 Bongo Maffin — Kura Uone (Grow Up And You Will See)
3 Think Of One — Fiera De Mangaio
4 Balkan Beat Box — Cha Cha
5 Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra — Single
6 K’naan – Soobax
7 Natacha Atlas — Hayati Inta
8 Mahmoud Ahmed — Bèlomi Bènna
9 Mercan Dede – Napas
10 Lila Downs — La Cumbia Del Mole
11 Ska Cubano — Bobine (Da Lata remix)
12 Gogol Bordello — Not A Crime
13 Les Boukakes — L’Alawi
14 Fat Freddy’s Drop — This Room
15 Cheb I Sabbah — Esh ‘Dani, Alash Mshit (Constantine Remix)
16 Aida Nadeem – Khadri
17 Ben Harper — Better Way (War Mix)
1 Fonseca — Lagartija Azul
2 Nuru Kane – Çigil
3 Ojos de Brujo — Sultanas De Merkaillo
4 Lo’jo — Un Grand Voyage
5 Debashish Bhattacharya – Aanandam
6 Ali Farka Touré — Penda Yoro
7 Yasmin Levy – Locura (Madness)
8 Maurice el Médioni meets Roberto Rodriguez — Oh! Ma Belle (edit)
9 Mariza – Primavera (live)
10 Sara Tavares – Balancê
11 Bellowhead – Jordan
12 Dadawa — In The Setting Of The Sun
13 Ghada Shbeir — Kom Bina Hana Al Humaya
14 Etran Finatawa – Surbajo
15 Gotan Project – Celos
16 Anoushka Shankar – Naked