Otava Yo: Do You Love

There’s more than a touch of Gogol in the Russian ensemble Otava Yo: There’s humor, symbolism and archetypal characters that serve as anchors for artistic brilliance. Group leader and co-founder Alexey Belkin explains that the band’s work reflects “not so much folklore as a twenty-first century attitude toward folk music,” brought to animation in layers of respect and self-parody, with instruments that run from traditional zithers and pipes to worldly violin … More Otava Yo: Do You Love

Yapunto!

Colombia ranks second in the Americas for forest cover and second worldwide in overall biodiversity, but the country is paying an unexpected environmental price for peace: The 2016 accord between government and guerrillas made more land accessible to exploitation, and as a result deforestation has increased dramatically. Government, community organizations and NGOs are battling to protect the trees; meanwhile, every popular movement needs … More Yapunto!

Carrie Newcomer: The Point of Arrival

In a recent social media post, Carrie Newcomer described an unexpected layover at O’Hare Airport: In a comfortable Starbucks booth she opened a book, but didn’t get much read because of a barista singing mini arias. “He was obviously a trained vocalist,” she wrote, “and a seriously fine baritone …. singing out orders in soaring melodies, lattes and … More Carrie Newcomer: The Point of Arrival

Juan Luis Guerra: Literal

Juan Luis Guerra and his band 4.40 forever altered the Latin soundscape with bachata and merengue flavored by salsa, jazz and rock infusions and vivid lyrics bearing everything from magical realism and social commentary to sexual metaphor and unapologetic romance. Thirty-five years after his debut album, the Dominican singer-songwriter remains one of the most influential Spanish-language artists of all time—also a wizard, able to evoke reverent … More Juan Luis Guerra: Literal

Maya Kamaty: Pandiyé

Maloya and the Creole of her native Réunion were the chosen causes of Maya Pounia’s musician father and storyteller mother—activists in the movement to preserve a music heritage long suppressed and a language long marginalized. The teenaged pink-haired Maya listened to rock and pop, wanted to be a stewardess and ultimately went to study in mainland France. But separated from her culture, she craved it, gravitating toward other students … More Maya Kamaty: Pandiyé

Nobuntu: Obabes beMbube

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country but in Nobuntu it may have found its waves—warm, rolling a cappella tides that wash over the soul. Nobuntu means “Mothers of Compassion” and Obabes beMbube (Women of Mbube) is the third—and perhaps defining—album by the female ensemble from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city. Their two previous records fused Afro-jazz, soul, gospel and folk, some songs featuring voice only, some backed … More Nobuntu: Obabes beMbube

Xabier Díaz & Adufeiras de Salitre: Noró

In an introductory prose-poem, Xabier Díaz identifies Noró as the north wind—with previous incarnations as stone and as woman—who fell in love with an Irishman peering at the cliffs of Galway. As wind, Noró dominates humankind because she controls the fine melodic threads we call air and entices us with music. The legend gives a binary … More Xabier Díaz & Adufeiras de Salitre: Noró

Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre: Allt

Ireland and Scotland may be separated by the North Channel but they are also linked by a stream of inter-Celtic partnerships, leagues, festivals and initiatives. Allt, a collaborative album by two Celtic music power couples, is a grand example of this movement, a collection … More Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre: Allt

Amira Kheir: Mystic Dance

The base camp for Mystic Dance, Amira Kheir’s third album, appears on the cover: The pyramids of Meroë, 200 kilometers (125 miles) down the Nile from Khartoum. The locale is an identity marker for the Sudanese-Italian singer-songwriter, a starting point for a musical fabric woven from classical Sudanese and ancient Nubian sounds laced with soul and jazz, rock and desert blues. On the dance-journey, Kheir, who now lives in London, visits traditional … More Amira Kheir: Mystic Dance

Balarù: Gravure

Do Baroque concertos composed for harpsichord sound as good with piano? Does a Languedoc cabernet sauvignon taste as good today as it did in 1850, before blight forced French winemakers to import American vine roots? For better or worse, music and viticulture face mergers, evolution, assimilation—and when taste is involved there are no right or wrong answers. But one fine day the four musicians of Balarù, from Piedmont in Italy’s … More Balarù: Gravure