Spinning The Globe – March 2023

Music Features
Spinning The Globe – March 2023

Spinning The Globe is a new monthly column here at Paste that takes stock of the amazing music being released or reissued by artists that fall well outside the Western pop landscape. Each edition will highlight a diverse array of performers, from names that will be immediately familiar to longtime listeners of so-called “world music” and those lesser-known figures and groups keeping the traditions of their home country alive or pushing traditional music in new, exciting directions.

Gabriel da Rosa album cover

Gabriel da Rosa: É o que a casa oferece (Stones Throw)

Though he grew up in southern Brazil, musician and DJ Gabriel da Rosa didn’t truly connect with the sounds of his home country until he had relocated to Los Angeles. It was there that he bonded with Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf over their mutual love of samba, tropicalia and bossa nova records and began working with Pedro Dom, an artist who has collaborated with legends like Seu Jorge and Mario Caldato (aka Mario C). Those connections have culminated in É o que a casa oferece, an album that speaks to both Brazil’s storied musical past and how folks like da Rosa can help carry these traditional sounds into the modern age. The material da Rosa and Dom built feels lush and languid, as warm and soothing as a cool seaside breeze. But underneath it all is a liquid core that seeps into material like “Interlude (that’s a shame)” and “Idiossincrasia” with psychedelic colors that forewarns a darker sensuality.

Baaba Maal album cover

Baaba Maal: Being (Marathon Artists)

Since his arrival on the international music scene in the late ’80s, Senegalese artist Baaba Maal (pictured above) has enjoyed pushing creative boundaries even as he continues to embrace the traditional instruments and sounds of his native Africa. That approach helped him get welcomed into the circles of Western artists like Mumford and Sons, and Ludwig Göransson who made great use of Maal’s singing in both Black Panther films. For his latest album Being, Maal works once more with Johan Karlberg, one of the creative forces behind global pop outfit The Very Best. The backdrop for these songs are an explosive clashing of traditional African percussion with drum loops and scorched electronic soundscapes. The star of the show remains Maal’s voice, which bursts from each track like a sonic boom. And true to form, Maal helps lift up some younger African artists, passing the mic to a vocalist by the name of Rougi on the explosive “Boboyillo,” and the Mauritanian rapper Paco Lenol on the trap beat-inspired “Mbeda Wella.” (Being will be released on March 31.)

Guldasta album cover

Jaffar Hussain Randhawa: Guldasta (honiunhoni)

Though he has been playing professionally since the age of 16 and his work has been circulated through a series of roughly made cassettes, somehow it took until just this past year for someone to properly record Pakistani artist Jaffar Hussain Randhawa. The 62-year-old musician is a rarity in his home country for playing raags and classical Hindustani music on a clarinet. That choice of instrument has brought him fame and plenty of work, however, as he has been a fixture on TV and radio in Pakistan. For this release, honiunhoni founder Daniyal Ahmed captured Randhawa playing live on the roof of his home in Shahdara. The five pieces on this album are patiently made, with Randhawa and Muneer Hussain on harmonium tangling their melodic lines and drones together for a few minutes before the tabla player Riaz Ahmed slips into the stream with scattered bits of rhythm that only seem to serve to keep the other two players on track.

Maroulita de Kol album cover

Maroulita de Kol: Anatélo (Phantom Limb)

Like some of the other artists discussed in this month’s column, Maroulita de Kol looks to pluck the threads connecting the ancient music of her Greek homeland with the current school of sound. In this case, de Kol is working with textures of ambient electronic music and molding them around melodies and lyrics written as early as the 9th century B.C.E. The EP’s closing track “Καίγομαι και Σιγολιώνω,” for example, arranges a work that originated in the region known as Epirus with delicate vocal lines, piano and a hushed soundscape worth of Seefeel. Earlier on this, her debut release, a spiraling line played on violin is slowly overtaken by clouds of synth drones before fighting its way into the clear again. That track, “Το Πέρασμα,” is an epic musical battle told over the course of just two-and-a-half minutes.

Karjalan Jouhikko album cover

Santeri Dobrynin / Egor Masaltsev / Olga Plekhanova: Karjalan Jouhikko: Karelian Instrumental Music (Antonovka)

The three musicians on this release — two artists from Karelia who moved to Moscow and one who took the opposite path, leaving Russia’s capital for the region bordering Finland — all play the jouhikko, an unusually resonant bowed lyre that has been used in traditional Finnish and Karelian songs. Many of those centuries’ old melodies make up the tracklist on this collection of instrumentals, with each member of this trio tackling a handful of the songs on their own. Just as impactful are the pair of originals, written and performed by Olga Plekhanova, that share a sharp dissonance found on the rest of this album but carry a wistfulness and a calm that is often missing from the traditional tunes.


Balklavalhau: Balklavalhau (self-released)

A fine example of just how far and wide music can reach people around the globe can be found in the work of Balklavalhau, a quartet of artists playing Balkan music while residing in Portugal. The players themselves come from various different ports of call, including Chile, Poland and Italy, but they have all bonded over their love of the spirited energy of the music from this particular region of southeastern Europe. This five-track collection, released last month on Bandcamp, is, then, not a sedate one. Greta Wardega drives each track with her hand percussion, keeping the combination of trumpet, clarinet and accordion from tumbling into a complete frenzy of sound.

Dur-Dur Band International

Dur-Dur Band International: The Berlin Session (Outhere)

The original Dur-Dur Band were superstars in their native Somalia, applying the rhythms of Western disco and funk to the melodies and lyrics plucked from their country’s traditional songs. The political turmoil and conflicts in the country forced the band to scatter around the globe, but their legacy has been taken up by other members of the Somali diaspora living in London still performing today as Dur-Dur Band International. This recording, however, was captured in Germany in 2019 following a successful concert where the group backed up some beloved singers from Somalia like Xabiib Sharaabi and Cabdinuur Alaale. Props to producer Daniel Nentwig for recording this uplifting session with a rawness that connects it immediately to the hissy, self-released cassettes that the band circulated in their home country. No matter how rough it sounds, the grooves and joy burst right through the haze.

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