With purist and light fusion tracks by children, veterans and pioneers from the Khyber in the west to Assam in the east and everywhere in between – three countries and half a dozen states – this is nothing more than an introduction to a series of varied, vibrant folk traditions south of the Himalayas. Playlist by Amar Dhillon for Songlines. (Photo of Kutle Khan by Simon Broughton).
The fiddle is at the core of many musical traditions across the world, but nowhere more so than in music from the north, and Nordic and Celtic cultures particularly. For centuries, the fiddle has led the dance (a jig in Scotland, a polka in Sweden, a hornpipe in England), bringing people together and putting fire in their bellies on a cold winter’s night. This set of instrumental tunes ranges from Finland to Canada, with a special focus on the hard-driving music of the Shetland Islands, where the fiddle rules the roost and the very culture itself is part Celtic, part Scandinavian. Whirl around your living room to these glorious tunes. Playlist by Tim Woodall for Songlines. (Photo of The Nodic Fiddlers Bloc by Ingrid Eide/Thornbjorn Liell):
Words by Liam Izod, photo by Mariángel Gonzales
On the strength of the release of just two music videos, Puerto Rican group ÌFÉ were able to command a packed crowd for their UK debut at London’s Rich Mix in Shoreditch. An impressive feat given that producer/percussionist Otura Mun’s group are hardly your typical commercial proposition. ÌFÉ offer an experimental vision of organic electronic music, alloyed with Yoruban theology, the religion in which Mun is a babalao (priest).
Dressed in matching robe-like white shirts and kufi hats, and all sporting large headphones, ÌFÉ’s four percussionists looked like they had come direct from a silent disco at a theological conference. The somewhat shambolic impression carried through to the music. Clave rhythms ricocheted across the stage, triggering murky electro blips and plonks, by means of sensors rigged to the percussion. One woodblock –gaffer taped and trailing a cable – had the appearance of an improvised explosive, but ÌFÉ’s grooves were far from incendiary.
The group’s vocals were a highlight though, with every member singing in powerful chorus. It felt devotional at times, and clearly resonated with many in the audience, whether they understand the lyrics or not. Singer Kathy Cepeda cut a particularly charismatic figure, growling into the mic and exhorting the audience to dance.
While not revolutionary, ÌFÉ’s UK live debut had a raucous raw energy. As the group develop, there may be more than just the Shoreditch-istas at Rich Mix who will want to join Otura Mun’s groove infused guerilla movement.
Songlines Music Traveller Gareth Richards recently returned from our first trip to Colombia. Here he shares a few of his favourite moments and photos
Colombia is a country with an amazingly vibrant and diverse music scene. And it was well worth going on this Songlines Music Travel trip. Some of my highlights include:
- A couple of introductions into Colombian music presented by Mario Galeano (Ondatropica, Cumbia Freinte) and Lucas Silva (Palenque Records).
- Showcase performances at the Bogotá Music Market (BoMM). Look out for Sango Groove and Canalón de Timbiquí.
- A morning in Medellín with salsa trumpeter Maite Hontelé, followed by a live show that evening featuring her band and Los Hacheros.
- A late night show by champeta star Charles King at the iconic Bazurto Social Club in Cartagena.
- A day at San Basilio de Palenque, founded by escaped slaves as a refuge in the 17th century and still a home of African culture with a remarkable music scene. We enjoyed musical performances by Rafael Cassiani (of Sexteto Tabala) and Justo Valdés (of Son Palenque), and young percussion/hip-hop outfit Kombilesa Mi. Lunch was accompanied by a huge ‘Pico’ sound system playing music by M’bilia Bel from Congo.
- Rootsy percussion and dance in one of Cartagena’s squares by Candela Viva.
We also found time to explore the cities. A real highlight was a visit to Comuna 13 in Medellín – until recently the frontline in drug and gang wars, but now transformed by the community and full of stunning street art and a sense of optimism. And with visits to the ‘La Candelaria’ district of Bogotá, a Cathedral in a salt mine at Zipaquirá and the ‘Aviario Nacional de Colombia’ outside Cartagena, there were plenty of opportunities to get to know other aspects of Colombia as well.
Well worth going!