The 10 Best New Albums from Around the World (April 2023), featuring Moonlight Benjamin, Ali Farka Touré and Catriona Price | Songlines
Friday, April 14, 2023

The 10 Best New Albums from Around the World (April 2023), featuring Moonlight Benjamin, Ali Farka Touré and Catriona Price

New albums from Hagai Bilitzky, Juni Habel, Bengt Berger, Moonlight Benjamin, Ali Farka Touré and Catriona Price

Songlines Best New Albums April 2023

All of these albums are reviewed in the April 2023 issue of Songlines, with one track from each album included on the cover-CD with the April issue. Never miss an issue – subscribe today

1

Moonlight Benjamin

Wayo Ma Case

'On the opening title-track of Benjamin's third album, the guitar riffs explode like Led Zeppelin and the drums detonate like a cluster bomb over which Benjamin's deep, soulful voice wails like a woman possessed. The effect is so intense, so cathartic that you wonder how she can keep it up. Yet she does, with a force-of-nature muscularity that is remarkable...' Nigel Williamson

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2

Ali Farka Touré

Voyageur World Circuit Records

'A new album of nine unheard studio cuts from the Malian legend comes 17 years after his death, but slip on the first track ‘Safari’, and it feels like he and his music have never gone away. A lot has changed in music, and in Mali, since Ali succumbed to cancer in 2006, much of it for the worst – he was mayor of Niafunké, not only its world-renowned guitarist, and the broiling strife and violence unleashed across Mali would likely make him weep bitter tears...' Nigel Williamson

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3

Bantu Spaceship

Bantu Spaceship Nyami Nyami Records

'Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe has witnessed something of a musical freeing up since the death of the revolutionary turned tyrant in 2019. Reminting the past, the eponymous debut by Bantu Spaceship – producer Joshua Madalitso Chiundiza and singer Ulenni Okandlovu – is a stylish colliding of jit, chimurenga and Ndebele chants laced with ambient-chill electronica and glossed with adroitly-handled disco dance floor-filling potential. Not since the Bhundu Boys in the late 80s has jit seemed so alive and relevant, the package neatly repositioning Afrofuturism for an international audience...' Michael Quinn

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4

Catriona Price

Hert Orange Feather Records

'Orkney-based violinist, composer, vocalist and founding member of FARA, Catriona Price's new release is a suite for string quartet, vocal trio, harp, piano, flute, drums and bass, all centred round Price's Orkney upbringing and inspired by the writing and poetry of her fellow Orcadians...' Billy Rough

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5

Trina Basu & Arun Ramamurthy

Nakshatra SPINSTER

'Bringing new elements into a musical tradition that has a long history and strict sense of training and performance is very tricky to pull off. You either annoy the keepers of tradition or your innovations fall flat with people familiar with the other music you look to for new inspiration. However, this disc is very much the wonderful exception that proves the rule. US-based violinists Trina Basu and Arun Ramamurthy have come up with one of the best albums I have heard in a long time, and what is amazing is that, for the most part, it is just the sound of two solo violins...' Maria Lord

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6

Bengt Berger

Cool Funeral Beer – Day 1: The Creation of the Final Ancestor Shrine Country & Eastern

'This is the first instalment of a remarkable three-part project of music inspired by traditional funeral ceremonies in Ghana. The music may be African inspired but composer Bengt Berger draws on his vast experience of global music and jazz. As a drummer, Berger performed frequently with jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, who participated in the first outing of the Bitter Funeral Beer Band, which was started in the 80s. This newly recorded extended suite of music is performed by an orchestra of 24, which he describes as “most of my favourite musicians”...' Martin Sinnock

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7

Kożuch, Joanna Skowrońska, Róża Martyna Grabowska

Chłopi: Wesele Boryny (The Peasants: The Boryny Wedding) 
 Muzyka Zakorzeniona

'This is an extraordinary album recreating the sound of a wedding in central Poland in the late 19th century. The title Chłopi (The Peasants) comes from the novel written in 1908 for which Władysław Reymont won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924. The wedding (Wesele) depicted in this album is between the main protagonist Maciej Boryna and his wife Jagna...' Simon Broughton

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8

King Ayisoba

Work Hard Glitterbeat Records

'Recorded in 2020 and 2021 in Ghana and The Netherlands, Work Hard arguably presents Ghana's kologo maestro King Ayisoba (born Albert Apoozore) in his most eclectic, Afrofuturist setting to date. While the album's nine tracks are dominated by Ayisoba's signature vocal and instrumental style, each song is more deeply contoured by his collaboration with a featured guest. The list of Ayisoba's Work Hard colleagues includes dancehall specialist Ras Kuuku (‘Good Things God Knows’), older kologo player Awilo One (‘Bossi Lobome’), fellow kologo players Ayunne Sule (‘People Talk Too Much’) and (David) Atamina (‘Namba Sonne’), and Jamaican reggae singer Bush Man (‘Adinooma’). Dutch producer Zea (Arnold de Boer) recorded two tracks, mastered the album, contributed guitar licks and sang the falsetto refrain on ‘Kokoko Enter’...' Doug DeLoach

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9

Juni Habel

Carvings Basin Rock

'Norwegian guitarist and singer Juni Habel caused a quiet stir with her debut, with some quarters likening her to Nick Drake. In terms of intimacy and beauty, Habel certainly lives up to that comparison, but to leave it there would be to do this beguiling artist an injustice. Habel resides in a rural hinterland, with close ties to both family and nature. Carvings is, in part, a tribute to Habel's sister, who tragically died in a car accident. “Grieving is hard work,” she says, “we leave carvings in each other, shaping each other through life.”...' Chris Wheatley

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10

Hagai Bilitzky

New Sound of the Middle East Cruvit

'The album title certainly makes a brave claim, but in many ways the music lives up to it, for Hagai Bilitzky is an adventurous musician. A teacher at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, he's also a double-bass player with an intriguing history: he has worked with everyone from the Ladino exponent Yasmin Levy to Palestinian singer Amal Murkus, and the legendary Maurice el Médioni, the veteran Jewish musician who became a hero in Algeria thanks to his influence on rai...' Robin Denselow

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