Various Artists

The Rough Guide to the Best African Music You've Never Heard

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The always reliable Rough Guide turns in another gem with The Rough Guide to the Best African Music You've Never Heard. While the label has offered up a number of more specific African compilations in the past, this one, while generalized, has the advantage being a sort of homegrown set with all of the featured artists having been applicants in parent company World Music Network's Battle of the Bands competition. As a result, many of these acts are relative unknowns working independently in their respective regions. Standouts like desert blues guitarist Annansy Cissé's enchanting "Bala" and Tani Diakite & the Afrofunkstars' feverish "Nungulunba" showcase some of the continent's more vibrant and stylistic offerings, while the dreamy kora/guitar duet by Giuliano Modarelli and Sura Susso tells of its more pastoral side. A bonus disc, Sotho Sounds, showcases the weird, wily, junk band folk-funk of a group of shepherds from the Kingdom of Lesotho. This is easily one of Rough Guide's most enjoyable collections to date.

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