Europe: 2017 Nominees
A Thousand Cranes on Asphalt Tango
The Turkish-born, Hackney-based singer Cigdem Aslan explores the Greek blues of rebetika on her second solo album. Recorded in Athens, she sings up a storm on a set of great poise, her voice equally at home on fast, skipping dance numbers and songs of brooding intensity, sung over exquisite musical textures provided by her crack musicians. She is a musician at the top of her game. A Top of the World in #124.
Astar on Breabach
The strings, pipes and whistles of the Scottish folk quintet went global on an album that incorporates guests and influences from the Gaelic diaspora in Norway, Qu.bec, Australia and New Zealand. Fittingly, the album’s title, Astar, translates as ‘Distance’ or ‘Journey’ and, without ever losing sight of their roots, Breabach’s bold voyaging is a rare and beautiful treat. A Top of the World in #117.
Onwards to Mars! on Asphalt Tango
Recorded to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Gypsy brass band, the latest album from Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia broke newground, mixing riotous new versions of Balkan standards with a cover of ‘I Put a Spell on You’, a touch of cumbia absorbed in seamlessly on their Latin American tours and new numbers written for them by Kobi Israelite. A Top of the World in #119.
Une Meeles on Maarja Nuut
The Estonian fiddle player and singer Maarja Nuut ambitiously sets out to ‘alter our ways of seeing, hearing and perceiving’ by using digital technology to rework traditional Baltic folk styles into impressively original, edgy and unsettling songs and soundscapes. The experimental otherness of this, her second album, led reviewers to dub her a ‘Baltic Bjork.’ A Top of the World in #119.