The Rough Guide to the Music of Sudan

Various Artists

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The Rough Guide to the Music of Sudan Review

by Rick Anderson

This overview of modern and traditional music from Sudan, a huge desert region just south of the Sahara, offers an interesting mix of urban studio tracks and rural field recordings, along with tracks that seem to fall somewhere in between. At one extreme are the eerily lovely voices of the Omdurman Women's Ensemble, singing a naughty song of political commentary titled "Daloka Bet el Mal," and the even eerier and lovelier unnamed solo vocalist who sings a lament titled "Ee Wayi, Wayi, Hauya Agreement Tilaloni." The sound quality is dodgy on these two tracks, but the music is more than powerful enough to compensate. At the other extreme is Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier who has become a rock star in his native country by combining American hip-hop with indigenous Sudanese musical elements. Somewhere in between are Joseph Modi's reggae-inflected "In Kadugli," Mohammed Wardi's energetic "Azibni," and the somewhat overlong "Kabbas" by elder statesman Abdel Karim el Kabli. Overall, this album probably won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't enjoy at least some of it very much.

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