Kiran Ahluwalia – Sanata: Stillness

Kiran Ahluwalia - Sanata: Stillness

My recent review of Kiran Ahlulwalia’s Sanata: Stillness for RootsWorld Magazine:

“Kiran Ahluwalia’s sixth release further explores the intersection of Indian and Pakistani grooves, jazz and Saharan blues. Sanata: Stillness draws on the foundation of her previous album and continues incorporating guitar-driven cyclical patterns into her compositions.”

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Son Palenque – Afro-Colombian Sound Modernizers

Son Palenque - Afro-Colombian Sound Modernizers

My recent review of Son Palenque’s Afro-Colombian Sound Modernizers on Vampisoul Records for RootsWorld Magazine:

“Few groups have had a larger impact on Afro-Colombian music than Son Palenque, the vibrant ensemble that helped develop palenquera music and ushered in the popular champeta musical genre and dance.”

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Anansy Cissé – Mali Overdrive

Anansy Cissé - Mali Overdrive

Originally published in RootsWorld Magazine:

Anansy Cissé’s debut release, Mali Overdrive, offers a fresh take on West African blues, where the young guitarist, vocalist and composer mixes both electric and acoustic in an interesting way. With an ensemble comprised of ngoni, bass, calabash, soku, acoustic guitar and percussion, Cissé sings clearly, floating over his heavily distorted electric guitar. Influenced by traditional Fulani and Songhai music as well as classic and psychedelic rock bands, his playing is simple but effective. Although the guitar often takes center stage, there is no mindless noodling or intense soloing on this album.

When Cissé was living in Diré, he recorded local artists, providing a studio and backing tracks for young musicians. After militant Islamists invaded Northern Mali, he was forced to move south to Bamako. While there, he ran into calabash player and percussionist Philippe Sanmiguel. The two struck up an acquaintance which lead to Sanmiguel encouraging Cissé to make his own record with a cast of talented musicians. He assembled an impressive roster including Zoumana Tereta, whose soku playing is one of the highlights of Mali Overdrive. The lineup also features Djimé Sissoko and Oumar Koïta on ngoni, Abdramane Touré on bass, Oumar Konaté on acoustic guitar, and Mahalmadane Traoré and Sanmiguel on calabash.

The opening track, “Baala,” was submitted to World Music Network’s online ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition, which secured Cissé a recording contract. The tune sets the tone for the album with layered, distorted electric guitar phrasing and sweet vocals over a solid foundation of ngoni, bass and calabash. On “Baala,” Zoumana Tereta adds great texture with his soku fiddle, functioning almost as a second voice. This song praises hard work and honesty, reminding folks that nothing in life comes easy.

Perhaps the greatest sequence on Mali Overdrive is found between the third, fourth and fifth tracks. “Aïgouna” is an upbeat, driving song dedicated to the Fulani people. Cissé’s looping guitars are matched by a terrific bass line. “Sekou Amadou” is a tribute to the leader and founder of the Fulani Empire of Macina. It’s a slow, reflective track centered around a repeated ngoni riff, which is intensified by Cissé’s passionate singing. His high-pitched voice nearly cracks with emotion throughout this beautiful song. It closes with a clip of Nelson Mandela’s speech from his defense at his 1964 trial. “Wamassiheme” follows and changes the pace again with another positive number meant to comfort friends in times of sadness by dancing their troubles away.

“Horey” will sound familiar to some listeners. It’s built on the infectious takamba rhythm, popular in Gao and Timbuktu. The slow groove simmers on calabash and offers a nice nod to Songhai nobility.

Mali Overdrive is a promising first step for Anansy Cissé. The entire album has a laid-back feel, so it might be nice to hear a little more variety in approach and tempo next time. Still, it’s refreshing to hear a distorted, guitar-driven record that isn’t overbearing, with great instrumentation and pleasant vocals. Without a doubt, Cissé is a talented young musician with lots of potential.

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Splinters & Candy 01/12/15 WVKR



Splinters & Candy 01/12/15 WVKR by Splinters & Candy on Mixcloud

Splinters & Candy airs every Monday from 4-5PM ET on independent radio 91.3FM WVKR Poughkeepsie. Live streaming at Each week Alex Brown presents an eclectic collection of music from around the world.

Hear the majesty of global musicality. Listen to sounds from Mali, USA, Thailand, Egypt, Mauritania, Brazil, Ethiopia, China, Cuba, Madagascar and beyond.


Benyoro – “Kulanjan”
Dao Bandon – “Lam Plearn Kiew Sao (Courting Lam Plearn)”
Omar Korshid and His Group – “Alf Lelila We Liela”
Noura Mint Seymali – “El Madi”
Mac Rybell – “The Lantern”
Debo Band – “Medinanna Zelesegna”
Wu Man, Luis Conte & Daniel Ho – “Shosholoza”
Khun Narin Electric Phin Band – “Sut Saneaen #2″
Hongthong Khanonglam – “Yung Phen Soed (I’m Still Available)”
Daniel Tombo – “Taraka”

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Splinters & Candy 01/05/15 WVKR

...and now I rap

…and now I rap

Splinters & Candy 01/05/15 WVKR by Splinters & Candy on Mixcloud

Splinters & Candy airs every Monday from 4-5PM ET on independent radio 91.3FM WVKR Poughkeepsie. Live streaming at Each week Alex Brown presents an eclectic collection of music from around the world.

Hear musical diversity from around the globe. Featuring sounds from India, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey, Nigeria and beyond. Tunes from here, there and everywhere to kick off the new year.


Debashish Bhattacharya – “Aanandam”
Omar Souleyman – “Lansob Sherek (I Will Make a Trap)”
Tabu Ley Rochereau ft. Mbilia Bel – “Esw Yo Wapi”
Kanda Bongo Man – “Mazina”
Selda Bağcan – “Almanya Aci Vatan”
Sérgio Mendes ft. Carlinhos Brown – “Simbora (Let’s Go…)”
Anoushka Shankar – “Monsoon”
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – “Black Woman”

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Splinters & Candy airs Mondays from 4-5PM ET on 91.3FM WVKR. Live streaming at Each week Alex Brown presents an eclectic collection of music from around the globe.