Great albums from around the world - country by country and genre by genre | Songlines
Monday, April 27, 2020

Great albums from around the world - country by country and genre by genre

Musical genres around the world


Korean New Wave

Black String

Mask Dance (Act Records, 2017)

This lively quartet led by Heo Yoon Jeong won a Songlines Music Award in 2018. It’s an interesting line-up of geomungo (zither), janggu (drum), daegeum (flute) and electric guitar. This album is a compelling one with powerful pansori-like vocals alongside the rhythmic instrumental tracks. They return for the K-Music Festival on November 18. A Top of the World in #125.


Yeominrok (Ponycanyon, 2015)

Ryu Kyung-Hwa is the zither player behind this extraordinary fusion group. She plays the rarely heard chulhyungeum (iron-string zither) alongside various wind, bass and percussion players. The album begins slowly as she reveals the instrument to us, sounding something like a slide guitar. It’s a unique and appealing sound-world. E-Do appeared in the K-Music festival in 2018. Reviewed in #119.

Romanian Roots

The Balanescu Quartet

Maria T (Mute Records, 2005)

Alexander Balanescu turns to his Romanian roots here. Maria T refers to the singer Maria Tănase (1913-1963) often described as ‘the Romanian Piaf’. In ‘Life and Death’, Balanescu weaves ecstatic countermelodies around her signature song ‘Lume Lume’. 

Fanfare Ciocărlia

Queens & Kings (Asphalt Tango, 2007)

These Gypsy brass players are one of the busiest bands in the Balkans. Here they play host to a selection of Roma stars including Esma Redžepova, Šaban Bajramović, Mitsou and manele (Gypsy pop) star Dan Armeanca. A Top of the World in #43: ‘surely the most irrepressible Gypsy disc of the year.’ 

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