World Music Round-Up: June 2009

First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2009, Volume 16, #6

Written by Douglas Heselgrave

Mon June 22, 2009, 04:30 AM CDT

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The Idan Raichel Project - Within My Walls

The Idan Raichel Project
Within My Walls

(Cumbancha)

Within My Walls, the second album from Israeli keyboard player/composer Idan Raichel, follows the same formula as his groundbreaking, self-titled debut. Once again, Raichel essentially acts as a facilitator. To craft the endeavor, he asked artists from all of the cultural and ethnic regions of his country to join him in the studio to create music that is full of optimism and hope. Reflecting a mťlange of styles that ranges from traditional Jewish folk songs to Ethiopian trance music, Raichelís compositions successfully balance the diverse influences of the gathered musicians to produce songs that succeed on their own terms.

Of course, Raichelís approach inevitably means that some of the tracks on Within My Walls work better than others. While he must be commended for the inclusiveness of his ego-free style, there also is a tendency on a few of the albumís cuts for his encompassing keyboard melodies to drift into the realm of new-age fare. When Raichel has his mojo working, all the pieces come together. Some of the cuts, such as the brilliant Todas las Palabras (All the Words), are exhilarating.

In the troubled region of the Middle East, Raichel has become an icon whose cultural relevance is at least as important as his musical status. His work represents and demonstrates tolerance, hope, and compassion. If everyone shared Raichelís global vision, the world would be a much happier place. starstarstar Ĺ

Purchase: Barnes & Noble

Lee "Scratch" Perry - Repentance

Lee "Scratch" Perry
Repentance

(Narnack)

Over the past 40 years, Lee "Scratch" Perry has done a lot to change the sound of modern music. As a result, whenever he releases a new album, it inevitably is judged on the basis of everything else he has accomplished. Repentance, Perryís latest endeavor, is a collaboration with up-and-coming producer Andrew WK. Unlike many of his recent efforts, which seem to be collections of random thoughts, Repentance feels as if it has been carefully planned. It is absolutely breathtaking how the material on the outing runs the gamut from roots reggae to disco and from soul to techno.

After several prolific decades in the business, Perry stunningly remains capable of conjuring rhythms that are out of this world. He is at the top of his game throughout Repentance, and itís wonderful to hear him actually give everything he has to his vocals instead of relying solely on the stream-of-consciousness raps that have become his trademark. Repentance demonstrates that itís too early to count Perry out. After all, how many other septuagenarians not only could sing "Pussy come/Pussy go/Jesus Christ is eternal" with immense passion but also make it work in a song? starstarstarstar

Purchase: Barnes & Noble

Midival Punditz - Hello Hello

Midival Punditz
Hello Hello

(Six Degrees)

Midival Punditz is a New Delhi-based electronica duo that successfully merges aspects of traditional Indian fare with modern techno music to achieve a sound that is increasingly its own. Formed in 1997 by recording engineers Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj, Midival Punditz initially garnered attention by touring with Bill Laswell and Zakir Hussainís collaborative project Tabla Beat Science as well as with Karsh Kale. Over the years, the group has refined its jagged, hard-edged persona, making room alongside its synthesized beats and vocals for classical Indian textures, such as bamboo flutes and dhols.

Midival Punditz seems to delight in its approach, and this, in turn, lends a joyously playful air to all of the tracks on its latest set Hello Hello. The best song on the album is the bandís enthusiastic, beat-infused cover of Led Zeppelinís Four Sticks. Here, the faux-Indian melodies that originally were conjured by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have been carried to their logical conclusion. The results are dizzying. Other standout songs include the gentle, chill-out soundscapes explored in Naina Laagey and Drifting. Tunes like Desolate and Sun Mere Sanam are equally enjoyable because of how well the group bends its style around modern dance music. For certain, Hello Hello is Midival Punditzís most compelling outing yet. starstarstar

Purchase: Barnes & Noble

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Of Further Interest...

Broken Spindles - Fulfilled/Complete

Pouya Mahmoodi - Mehr

Sinead O'Connor - Theology

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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