About the Site:
World Listening Post showcases music from around the globe in the form of album reviews accompanied by video clips. It encompasses a wide range of contemporary and traditional styles and encourages listeners to go beyond their own comfort zones by crossing national and linguistic frontiers.
As of July 2023, the site has posted reviews of albums from 95 countries and territories and has had more than 150,000 page views from readers in more than 200 lands.
WLP was launched in New York on June 17, 2015.
About the Host:
I used to think that seeing the world and hearing its music were separate interests. In my twenties, I journeyed around the globe twice without really connecting them. I listened to music in India and Sri Lanka, in Lebanon and Israel, in Madagascar and Mozambique and, for a brief while, I sang American folk and country songs in a nightclub in Kyoto, Japan. But I didn’t have a musical worldview. By the time I reached my thirties I was going to concerts to hear the local music wherever I traveled and also discovered that attending familiar Broadway shows (West Side Story in Swedish, Jesus Christ Superstar in Russian, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Spanish) could give me a local theater experience essentially without a language barrier.
It all came together one night—I was in my forties by then—in Paris. I was in a poster shop, killing time before a nightclub show, when I realized I was walking in step with the captivating music from the store’s sound system. “Whose voice is that?” I asked a shop clerk, and she looked at me as if I was a tourist in Memphis who had never heard of Elvis. “That’s Francis Cabrel,” she said. At that moment, as I absorbed the sound of Cabrel’s classic Repondez-moi, I became hooked on the greatest French singer-songwriter of his generation. And the more I thought about it, I also realized that of all the great songs in the world, the vast majority are sung in languages other than English—and that most English-speakers never hear them.
Ever since then, seeing the world and hearing its music have become inseparable concepts for me. Whenever I visit a country, especially for the first time, I wait for my Francis Cabrel moment, when a song from a taxi radio, a street busker or background music in a store, tells me that I am now in sync with not only the time zone but also the music current. I am also more systematic now in my search for a country’s music. Immersing myself in a musical culture before a trip and listening to the music after I get home can make a one-week journey last much longer. Sometimes the trip is permanent: I met my wife at a performance of fado music in Rio de Janeiro.
This is the background and organizing principle of World Listening Post. There’s a world of music out there that I no longer cut myself off from. Much of it is beyond my linguistic skills. This doesn’t matter to me and, I suspect, it won’t matter to many others if they open themselves to the experience.
This site is also an extension of my more than 40 years in journalism. The search for music worth sharing is similar to the quest for stories worth telling. I don’t pretend that the site offers a comprehensive look at the world’s music—if such a thing is even possible. Rather, it reflects my own taste, as well as my determination to ignore all borders in compiling the ultimate playlist.
If you read through my posts, you’ll likely notice a dearth of negative reviews. Every year I sample more than 1,000 new albums, and give a thorough listening to at least 300, but in the end I only review about 50. My pans, as well as a lot of music I find good but not great, don’t make it into print.
If you have comments about my choices, want to make recommendations or just share ideas about music, please use the Contact Form below.