Posts Tagged ‘kefaya’

Introducing…Kefaya

Posted on May 25th, 2017 in Features, Recent posts by .

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Jo Frost speaks to Al MacSween and Giuliano Modarelli, the driving force behind the London collective who are on an upward trajectory

Kefaya will be appearing at the Songlines Encounters Festival at Kings Place on June 2. Click here to buy tickets.

Good things come to those that wait. That seems to be the case for the collective known as Kefaya and their long-awaited debut. The group’s name means ‘Enough’ in Arabic and, after months of anticipation, their album launch is the not-to-be missed gig in November.

Songlines readers got their first introduction to the band back in April when ‘Indignados’ opened the Yorkshire Festival CD (#117). Indeed, there is a Yorkshire link as the founders of the group, Italian guitarist Giuliano Modarelli and keyboard player Al MacSween, met studying jazz in Leeds.

They recorded Radio International over three years, featuring musicians from India, Palestine, Spain, Italy and the UK. The two other key players in the band are drummer Joost Hendrickx and bassist Domenico Angarano.

The album is modestly presented in a cardboard wallet and depicts a fist smashing through a globe, brandishing an antenna – underlining the concept of an international radio station with no borders. It starts with crackly radio interference and samples of a clipped English broadcasting voice, then kicks into the pulsating, heavy bass lines of ‘Indignados’. “We decided to dedicate the track to the spirit of protest and political resistance,” the pair say, paying tribute to the “inspiring anti-austerity movement that had been developing in Spain, known as the ‘15M Movement’ or ‘Indignados’ (the Indignant).” It’s a big, bold number with yearning flamenco vocals of Chico Pere, samples of the left-wing Spanish activist and writer, Pablo Iglesias, speaking on Spanish radio and Éthiopiques-inspired horns. It’s been getting a tonne of radio play – and no wonder, it’s a killer track.

Clearly socially and politically motivated, there are big themes of immigration, freedom of movement and struggle addressed on the album. “There’s a market for this kind of music,” asserts MacSween, “what with Bernie Sanders and Podemos [Spanish political party], all these social movements happening.”

Beyond the heavy-duty stuff, both MacSween and Modarelli are consummate musicians who voraciously absorb styles and techniques. “We try and choose to play styles of music that we’ve actually had experience working within,” says MacSween. “We don’t really want to approach it unless we feel we have the basics,” continues Modarelli. “We try to compose around things that we have an interest in studying.”

This approach means they collaborate a lot: MacSween has recently been working with Cuban violinist Omar Puente and Modarelli has been touring with the choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. They’ve also been working with Sarathy Korwar on his album Day to Day (a Top of the World in #121).

Their live shows feature an eclectic mix of guest vocalists, including the Afghan singer Elaha Soroor, who was a contestant on Afghan Star in 2009 (Afghanistan’s equivalent of Pop Idol). Other frequent guests include vocalist Deepa Nair Rasiya, Cormac Byrne on bodhrán and Gurdain Rayatt on tabla. “These collaborations, they open lots of doors for us,” says Modarelli. “It’s great,” agrees MacSween, “It’s the ethos of what we like to do, keep this feeling that it’s a collective.”

Kefaya have only done a handful of choice gigs this year, but they’ve certainly made an impression, with the FT proclaiming them as: ‘One of the hottest acts on this summer’s festival circuit,’ after their Larmer Tree appearance. “We’re just dying to get out there and gig!” says MacSween, a sentiment their rapidly-expanding fan base will undoubtedly echo.

 

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Songlines Music Awards 2017: The Winners

Posted on May 11th, 2017 in Recent posts by .

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Songlines Music Awards 2017 Compilation

We’re delighted to announce the winners of the ninth Songlines Music Awards which aim to put a much-deserved spotlight on some incredibly talented artists from around the world.

In addition to the Best Artist and Best Group awards – as voted by Songlines readers – we have five geographical awards based on our reviews sections, as well as the World Pioneer and Newcomer Awards chosen by our editorial team. So read on and find out who’s won this year…

You can also listen to editors Simon Broughton and Jo Frost introducing and playing music from all of this year’s winners, on the Songlines podcast, available as a free download on iTunes.

Featuring 20 tracks from the nominees in the five geographical categories, the Songlines Music Awards 2017 compilation album is now available on CD exclusively from Amazon.

Click here to buy your copy.

To find out more about the winners, pick up a copy of the June (#128) edition.


 Words by Nigel Williamson

Best Artist
Baaba Maal 
(The Traveller on Marathon Artists)

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In the 15 years between 2001’s acoustic set Missing You (Mi Yeewnii) and 2016’s The Traveller, Maal released just one album, 2009’s bland and insubstantial Television. It seemed that his extra-curricular activities as a spokesperson for the United Nations Development Programme and a global ambassador for Oxfam, plus his involvement in campaigns for HIV/AIDS awareness, debt relief and other vital causes, had left him little time for making new music. So it was an unalloyed joy when The Traveller turned out to be a stunning comeback, a mature but exhilarating set in which his activism and his music intertwine into a single purposeful journey. He brought on board some intriguing collaborators, including Johan Hugo of The Very Best as producer, various members of Mumford & Sons and the British-Ethiopian poet Lemn Sissay. But substantial as their contributions are, the real triumph here belongs to Maal. From the irresistible dance floor Afro-pop of ‘Fulani Rock’ and the title-track to the haunting ‘Gilli Men’ and the deep, sombre blues of ‘Jam Jam’, the potency of his voice and the humanity of his vision combine in thrilling fashion to create one of the most satisfying albums of his storied career.

Best Group
Afro Celt Sound System (The Source on ECC Records)

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After a lengthy silence, the return of the Afro Celts seemed something of a risky proposition: would the group’s trademark global dance hybrid that sounded so cutting-edge when first unleashed in 1996 appear outdated some two decades on? Instead 2016’s The Source found the Afro Celts reinvigorated and sounding bigger, better and bolder than ever. Since the last Afro Celts’ album in 2005, a split among its founding members for a time resulted in two rival editions of the group fighting over the name. Happily that dispute has now been settled and it is the Simon Emmerson-led line-up heard on The Source that officially inherits the Afro Celts’ legacy.

With a core membership that includes long-serving kora and balafon player N’Faly Kouyaté, the thundering dhol drumming of Johnny Kalsi and the Scottish Gaelic rapper Griogair Labhruidh, there is much that is reassuringly familiar in the swirling mix of African rhythms and Irish jigs and reels. But the sound has also smartly developed, the electronica of earlier incarnations more muted and the acoustic textures more nuanced as the traditional African instruments vie with the pipes and flutes of Celtic heritage, underpinned by bhangra drums, and with vocal decoration ranging from the shamanic voice of Ríoghnach Connolly to Guinean devotional chanting. 


Newcomer
Kefaya (Radio International on Radio International Records)

Kefaya - Radio International Cover

Formed by the Italian guitarist Giuliano Modarelli and keyboard player Al MacSween, the music of the London-based collective Kefaya has been called ‘guerrilla jazz,’ ‘contemporary world-fusion’ and ‘global protest music.’ The clumsiness of the terms are in stark contrast to the fluidity of their music but is indicative of how Kefaya’s eclectic sound transcends boundaries to defy definition. Recorded during travels and collaborations across India, Palestine, Spain and Italy, the group’s debut seeks out the common ground between folk traditions from around the globe, radical politics and sound system culture, delivered with a fizzing energy and commitment rooted firmly in the 21st century.

Themes such as internationalism, freedom of movement and immigration are reinforced by the presentation of the album as a pirate radio station, tuned in to the struggle for equality and liberation and broadcasting stories of resistance and empowerment, with radio samples weaving together the musical and political intentions behind the concept. ‘We are all immigrants,’ the band state. ‘The chains of nationalism seek to restrain us within borders and boundaries, within checkpoints and separation walls. But to embrace our fellow traveller in the spirit of internationalism is to embrace the journey of human experience.’


Africa & Middle East
Derek Gripper (Libraries on Fire on Derek Gripper)

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“Absolutely amazing,” was Toumani Diabaté’s reaction when he first heard Derek Gripper’s transposition of music composed for the 21-string kora to the six-string guitar. When Gripper finally met Toumani in Bamako in 2016 (see #117), the world’s greatest kora player dubbed him “my white twin,” which was about as high a commendation as you could get. The classical guitar maestro John Williams was another who could not believe that it was possible to replicate the sound of the kora’s multiple strings on a simple six-string guitar and assumed that it must have had been achieved by studio trickery and multiple over-dubs. When he learned that Gripper performed the music live and solo, Williams invited him to play at a series of guitar concerts he was curating at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at London’s Globe Theatre.

Libraries on Fire, Gripper’s latest solo album, features breathtaking arrangements of kora pieces mostly associated with Toumani Diabaté, and is a richly deserving award winner. Gripper has since followed it with the equally fine Mali in Oak (a Top of the World review in #127), based on a collaboration at the Globe with the British kora and cello player Tunde Jegede. “The beauty of this music is its simplicity and its complexity, all coming from one instrument,” Gripper says.


Americas
Calypso Rose (Far From Home on Because Music)

Calypso Rose Songlines Music Awards 2017 Winner

‘No man alive or dead could take the crown off mi head,’ sings Calypso Rose in typically sassy style on Far From Home. Feisty singer, storyteller, feminist pioneer and Caribbean cultural icon, it’s more than 40 years since Rose was first crowned calypso queen in Trinidad and at 77 she continues to reign supreme. Co-produced by Stonetree Music’s Ivan Durán and Drew Gonsalves from Kobo Town, with Manu Chao sprinkling his magic on several tracks, Far From Home is a joyous, turbo-charged update on calypso tradition for a 21st-century global audience, Rose garnishing her sweet-and-spicy calypso/soca sound with rhythms and melodies from Africa, Central America and across the Caribbean.

The upbeat dance tunes and carnival anthems also pack a powerful message with lyrics about subjects such as domestic violence and women’s rights. “Calypso is for partying but it’s also for storytelling, like being a reporter,” she says. “You can dance but you must also listen to the words.” Other songs are peppered with pugnacious personal observations about her long career. ‘They say I reign too long, forgetting my constitution is strong,’ she sings, making it clear that she has no intention of giving up her crown. This was evident at the Victoires de la Musique ceremony in Paris in February where she received the Best World Music Album award and declared “I am the Queen of France right now!”

Asia & South Pacific
Anda Union (Homeland on Hohhot Records)

Anda Union Songlines Music Awards 2017

This nine-strong ensemble from Inner Mongolia are on a mission to preserve and popularise the culture of the vast empty spaces of their native steppes in a melodic and accessible style that has universal appeal. Playing traditional horsehead fiddles, lutes and flutes and drawing on a repertoire of ancient music that was in danger of extinction, they first came to international attention with the album The Wind Horse and a memorable WOMAD appearance in 2011. Their second album is even more impressive, mixing atmospheric instrumentals and solo and harmony vocals with bursts of growling, eerie-sounding throat singing.

Their subject matter takes in nature, mythology and history, tempered with laments for those in exile from their homeland and the fight for the survival of an endangered way of life. ‘Our music draws from all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified. We all have different ethnic backgrounds and we bring these influences into our music,’ they explain. The engaging simplicity of their folk traditions is smartly enhanced by the sophisticated co-production of multiple Grammy award-winner Richard King. The band members have recently completed a two-month-long US tour and have returned to Hohhot as lecturers at the Inner Mongolia Arts University.


Europe
Fanfare Ciocărlia  (Onwards to Mars! on Asphalt Tango)

Fanfare Ciocarlia - Onwards to Mars! Songlines Music Awards 2017

One of the world’s most exhilaratingly raucous brass bands, Fanfare Ciocărlia celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2016 and marked the occasion with a groundbreaking album of energy and ingenuity that dug deep into their rural Balkan Gypsy heritage while reflecting a range of other genres and styles that they have absorbed on their nomadic travels around the globe. Hailing from the remote village of Zece Prăjini in north-east Romania, the 12-piece band learned their craft at the feet of their fathers and grandfathers, but their music remained a well-kept secret until Henry Ernst, a young German music fan, wandered into the village in 1996 and discovered a living tradition rooted in the ancient Ottoman tradition of brass bands, which had long died out in much of the rest of Romania. By the following year, Fanfare Ciocărlia were touring Europe and thrilling audiences with their earthy brass grooves played at breakneck speed. On Onwards to Mars! they mix riotous new versions of Balkan standards with a cover of ‘I Put a Spell on You’ sung by Gypsy blues singer Iulian Canaf, seven tunes written by Koby Israelite and even a spicy flavouring of cumbia


Fusion
The Gloaming (on Real World)

The Gloaming Songlines Music Awards 2017 Winner

The term ‘supergroup’ is over-used, but it’s hard to think of any other word to describe the felicitous teaming of Irish trad fiddler extraordinaire Martin Hayes, American guitarist Dennis Cahill, sean nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, who plays the droning ten-string Hardanger d’amore fiddle, and the adventurous New York pianist Thomas Bartlett (known as Doveman in his indie-rock incarnation). These five master musicians, each with highly successful individual careers, first came together in 2011 for a sold-out show at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, attended by Ireland’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny. International touring followed and their self-titled debut was voted album of the year in 2014 beating off competition from Hozier, Aphex Twin, Sinead O’Connor, U2 and Damien Rice to win the RTÉ Choice Music Prize (the Irish equivalent of the Mercury).

Their second album is an expansive set rooted in the rich traditions of Irish folk music but delivered with a contemporaneous, experimental and highly personal sensibility. Haunting and emotionally charged, the intuitive ensemble playing is topped by Ó Lionáird’s ethereal vocals, recently featured in the movie Brooklyn and first heard more than 20 years ago with the Afro Celt Sound System. 


World Pioneer Award
Francis Falceto

Francis Falceto Songlines Music Awards 2017

When Francis Falceto curated the first volume in the Éthiopiques series on the Buda Musique label in 1997, most of us knew very little about Ethiopian music. In the two decades that have followed, Falceto has single-handedly been responsible for putting Ethiopia on the world music map as our appreciation of artists such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke and Tilahun Gessesse has grown along with the series of releases. Falceto released the 30th volume – by Girma Bèyènè & Akalé Wubé – this year (reviewed in #127) and the impact of Éthiopiques has extended far beyond the core world music audience – Jim Jarmusch used a track for the title music of his movie Broken Flowers and the likes of Jamie Cullum, Robert Plant, Brian Eno, Simon Reeve and David Harrington all selected music from the series for their Songlines playlists. For Falceto, it has been a lifetime’s passion since he first heard a Mahmoud Ahmed recording in 1984 while working as a concert promoter in Poitiers. He was soon making regular trips to Addis Ababa, tracking down master tapes from the most important labels and producers of the music’s ‘Golden Age’ in the 60s and 70s. From the programming and remastering to Buda Musique’s packaging, presentation and attention to detail, new standards have been set and made Éthiopiques the ultimate brand in crate-digging excellence. 

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Songlines Best Albums of 2016

Posted on November 24th, 2016 in News, Recent posts, Reviews by .

Best Albums 2016

Songlines’ editors Jo Frost and Simon Broughton select their favourite albums of 2016

Jo Frost and Simon Broughton have handpicked their ten favourite albums of the year from over 700 featured reviews. These are the albums they found themselves returning to over and over, and the discs that made a lasting impression. Here are their choices for year’s greatest albums, but be sure to pick up a copy of the new issue (January/February 2017, #124), on sale December 9, for a full rundown.  

Subscribe to Songlines today and discover the best music from around the world. Find out more.


Anda Union  – Homeland
(Hohhot Records, will be reviewed in #124)
These are distinguished songs about nature, history and identity from this nine-strong Inner Mongolian group, featuring horse head fiddles and growly throat singing.


Bollywood Brass Band & Jyotsna Srikanth – Carnatic Connection
(Bollywood Brass Band, will be reviewed in #124)
An energetic and cinematic journey south, with fuel provided by Jyotsna Srikanth’s Karnatic violin. Renditions of AR Rahman compositions appear alongside South Indian musical gems.


Calypso Rose – Far from Home
(Because Music, reviewed in #120)

With the help of Manu Chao, the Calypso queen represents her home country of Trinidad and Tobago, covering a range of social and political issues with a contemporary Caribbean flair.


Roberto Fonseca – ABUC
(Impulse!, reviewed in #123)
A raucous, dizzying journey back and forth through Fonseca’s Afro-Cuban musical heritage. An ambitious and convincing offering from the young maestro.


Derek Gripper – Libraries on Fire
(Derek Gripper, reviewed in #119)
With great aplomb, the South African takes on the compositions of the great 21-stringed kora players on his classical guitar. Gripper’s delicate transcriptions deliver beautiful results.


Kefaya – Radio International
(Radio International Records, reviewed in #122)
This debut album fizzes with the energy of the international collective’s acclaimed live shows and is hard hitting with its political commentary.


Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo
(Cumbancha, reviewed in #117)
Lakou Mizik’s debut is a passionate tribute to the people and culture of Haiti. Formed in the aftermath of the country’s 2010 earthquake, the collective deliver a project of celebration and hope.


Leyla McCalla – A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey
(Jazz Village, reviewed in #119)
An outstanding sophomore album from the young cellist and banjo player. Three years on from her stellar debut, McCalla once again draws from her Haitian heritage and Creole influences.


Vaudou Game – Kidayú
(Hot Casa Records, reviewed in #122)
Vaudou Game take a magpie-like approach to African music styles, uniquely blending Afrobeat, Ethio-jazz and highlife for an album that is unpredictable and fresh from start to finish.


Various Artists, featuring Musicians of the Calais ‘Jungle’ – The Calais Sessions
(Sessions of the World, will be reviewed in #124)
An extraordinarily and moving collaborative album. The resilient testament to the human spirit will reduce you to tears, but also uplift your heart.

 

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Now listen to this… Kefaya, Aziza Brahim and Fumaça Preta

Posted on February 12th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .

Songlines Playlist

Here at Songlines Towers we’re always on the lookout for the most exciting music from around the world.
Check out our playlist of tracks that we’ve been listening to.

Kefaya – ‘Indignados’
The London-based collective Kefaya (‘Enough’ in Arabic) who were a recent hit at Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. Looking forward to their debut album, Radio International, due for release this summer.


Aziza Brahim – ‘Calles de Dajla’

Saharawi singer Aziza Brahim releases her third album Abbar el Hamada next month – her first since 2014′s Soutak. ‘Calles de Dajla’ was announced on Glitterbeat Records’ official SoundCloud profile – a beautiful taster of what’s to come.


Fumaça Preta – ‘Fumaça Preta’

The track from their eponymous debut in 2014. The thrilling psychedelic rock band return with their new album Impuros Fanáticos in March.


Zeca Pagodinho – ‘Deixa a Vida Me Levar’

A delightful samba oldie about the appreciation of life, ‘Deixa a Vida Me Levar’ (Let Life Take Me) is the title-track on Brazilian musician Zeca Pagodinho’s 2002 album.


Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Buffalo Soldier’

Last Saturday would have been reggae legend Bob Marley’s 71st birthday. The anniversary sparked celebrations in his home country of Jamaica, who have hosted special concerts and charity events in his honour.

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