Deep Forest- Nashaz- Techung
Big in the mid '90s, French ethnic electronica group Deep Forest has not been heard from much lately but group originator Eric Mouquet wanted to perform live again and with Deep Africa he now has new material to take to fans. Mouquet uses vintage synthesizers to whip up the lush music beds that Deep Forest is known for, then with a host of African singers contributing vocals in their native languages, alternately crafts dance floor bangers and sublime club anthems straight outta Dakar, Abidjan, and yes, Timbuktu. Listeners will notice the African-ness of Deep Africa more so than the dancers; they'll be too busy digging the grooves to wonder about the exotic sounds. - Preview and purchase it here.
Nashaz is the brainchild of jazz guitarist Brian Prunka but for this set of Arabic world music he plays only the oud, a Middle Eastern instrument related to the lute. Prunka's oud work is a big part of what gives the effort its distinct sand-and-sheiks bent and his picking on "Andalus" conjures a mellow evening-with-the-harem mood. But a big part of the exotica comes from the rest of Nashaz; trumpet player Kenny Warren and reeds man Nathan Herrera blow the top off the minaret on the frenzied "Qassabji's Nightmare" and on "Khartoum" the whole band sizzles like a freshly-lit hookah bowl stuffed with the finest hash, bringing smiles to all who venture to the most thrilling corner of the souk. Whether you inhale or not, here's a delightful hour-long flying carpet ride. - Preview and purchase here.
Lam La Che (On the Road)
Techung is a Tibetan singer and multi-instrumentalist living in exile in California who performs songs in both contemporary and traditional Tibetan folk music styles. All of the music on Lam La Che was written by Techung and he opens the album with a live take on "Lok Dro," a song about the desire of exiled Tibetans to go home, either physically or spiritually. With bass, keyboards and drums accompanying his (partly in English) vocals, "Lok Dro" has a dreamy folk arrangement that sounds not unlike what many Americana artists specialize in. But a more exotic sound is favored on about half of the album where instruments like the dramnyen, piwang and lingbu, along with various percussion instruments and the hammered dulcimer, create sounds that are distinctly Himalayan. Guest Keb'Mo' sings and plays guitar on another of the album's best vocal cuts, the haunting "Lam La Che." - Preview and purchase here.
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