Thursday, May 21, 2009

Luaka Bop!

As open as I am to world music, sometimes it’s hard to sift just through all of the diverse American music, never mind the stuff being made halfway around the globe. That being said, it’s always welcome to find an American label like Luaka Bop that does the heavy lifting for me to bring sounds from around the world that I might not hear otherwise.

For those of you not familiar with the label, as well as for those of you who’ve heard the name but don’t know much about it, Luaka Bop was formed by former Talking Heads founder David Byrne back in the 80’s. Besides being an outlet for his solo work, it also has helped introduce American listeners to such diverse world musicians as Los Amigos Invisibles (Venezuela), Zap Mama (Belgium/European/African), Os Mutantes (Brazil), and many others. Byrne has also revived interest in and the careers of several artists through the label, artists like Tom Zé, Shuggie Otis, and the previously mentioned Os Mutantes, as well as broken contemporary artists in the US like Nouvelle Vague. In its twenty-one years, the label has gone through its share of growing (and shrinking) pains, but it's stuck to what it does best: digging and highlighting some great music from countries far and wide.

And as it enters its twenty-first year, Luaka Bop has released Twenty First Century Twenty First Year, a compilation of fifteen songs released by the label since its birth. This isn’t the first compilation the label has done. In fact, they’ve released a fairly steady stream of compilations that have done a commendable job of bringing together the various artists from its diverse roster onto single discs of music to better introduce listeners to the many flavors of music they might have missed on their own. Their latest is no exception and serves as a primer for those who would like to explore the world of world music that is available.

Of course there is no way to neatly package a description of the music contained on the compilation. With the songs here coming from all corners of the globe (including some from here in the US), the only unifying theme here is diversity. That being said, I’ll share two that I enjoy and hope they trigger an urge in you to check out the rest and musically explore the world without the need of a passport. The first comes from a relatively unknown Malian artist, Moussa Doumbia, and lays down some serious afro-funk grooves. The second is some Venezuelan acid jazz modern retro funk from the previously mentioned Los Amigos Invisibles that doesn't need to be in English to get you to move.

Visit the Luaka Bop website and become their friend on MySpace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

New Zap Mama album "ReCreation" out on May 26th!