Explorer Series Africa: Music from the Nonesuch

Various Artists

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Explorer Series Africa: Music from the Nonesuch Review

by Chris Nickson

When the Nonesuch Explorer Series first appeared, it was something of a revelation in world music, making global sounds -- albeit largely of an ethnomusicological, rather than popular, variety -- available to non-academic consumers. They broke new ground. Now, as the series is reissued beginning with 13 volumes on Africa, this compilation offers tastes from those discs. To be fair, some -- like the recordings of animals on the savanna -- are or lesser interest, but in the others, the music is superb. One of the highlights is Hamza El Din performing "Song With Tar" from his classic Escalay: The Water Wheel album, which is in the series. From mbira (thumb piano) to highlife, the music is all wonderful. There are sacred rituals, village performances, almost everything you could wish for, and together like this they offer a snapshot of Africa (rural Africa, anyway) at the time. This album is intended to be a teaser for the series, and anyone listening would seem almost certain to want to delve deeper into at least one or two areas.

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