Thursday, October 13, 2016

CD Review: Luisa Maita's 'Fio Da Memoria'

Luisa Maita
Fio Da Memoria

Brazil's Luisa Maita is not new to the world music scene with a few previously-released albums to her name over the last several years. On Fio Da Memoria, Luisa continues in her bossa nova, samba, and contemporary music stylings with some of the best stuff to date. One of the few English songs on the recording, "Around You," is an especially intriguing and catchy song that employs a berimbau-like tone with seductive hooks and breathy vocals for a truly enjoyable experience. The light guitar and percussion work on the jazz-tinged "Ole," suggests the sound of a 1970's James Bond film soundtrack. Luisa's great vocals match the equally-great instrumentation. Each track is different, but sports her characteristic breathy vocal delivery. Fans of Brazilian music with a contemporary edge and classic ambiance will love Luisa's latest offering. ~ Matthew Forss

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

CD Review: Alsarah & And The Nubatones' 'Manara'

Alsarah And The Nubatones
Wonderwheel Recordings

Alsarah's latest wanderings through the Middle East and North Africa are appropriately-displayed on their latest recording, Manara. The recording is alive with dancing ouds, throbbing ngonis, punchy trumpet, bubbling bass, and great percussion. The rather contemporary recording contains a good mix of melodies and tones. There is a slight electronic element to some of the songs, but this is not an electronic album. It is pure world music with influences reaching across the Middle East. The Arabic vocals and rollicking percussion are very dance-friendly. In fact, it is difficult to sit still while listening to anything from Alsarah And The Nubatones. For Manara, this is especially so. Fans of a variety of Arabic-infused recordings will love Alsarah And The Nubatones! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Lorraine Klaasen's 'Nouvelle Journee'

Image result for nouvelle journee albumLorraine Klaasen
Nouvelle Journee
Justin Time Records

Hailing from South Africa, Lorraine Klaasen releases a new album of South African music, aptly-titled, Nouvelle Journee. The vibrant album artwork is only the beginning. The music is equally vibrant and rich in musical textures, harmonies, and instrumental arrangements. Lorraine's commanding vocal tone is melodic. The instrumentation is nothing short of amazing, as the accordion, bass, guitars, percussion, piano, and organ provide a slew of catchy arrangements. The rippling guitars on "Ke Tshepile Bafatsi," showcase Latin and Congolese influences. The R&B influences are not forgotten either, as "Home Sweet Home" conjures up images of Southern blues, gospel, and jazz. Though, upbeat music is Lorraine's specialty. Nouvelle Journee is a very classic, and contemporary album that touches the human spirit with a legendary and unforgettable voice. ~ Matthew Forss    

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Song Reviews: Galliano Sommavilla's "Elektro Country" and "Breathe"

Galliano Sommavilla
"Elektro Country" and "Breathe"

"Elektro County" is a rollicking instrumental treat with ambient and spacey electronic sounds backed by keyboard accompaniment and atmospheric guitar work. The swishy percussion is accompanied by spacey tones and intergalactic noises that propel the track into a third dimension, or another galaxy. The guitar-like tune is upbeat and melodic with a slight country presence that is not particularly intrusive. The end of the song is a culmination of the musical elements from rock, new age, instrumental, and filmic worlds. The nearly four-minute song is aptly-titled, "Elektro Country," because it symbolizes a country edge with a modern twist of lush, electronic overtones. The music brings together a good mix of sounds that connote contemporary new age creations and electronic wizardry that does not lose its intensity or appeal. Overall, Galliano continues to amaze us with inventive songs new ways to discover some of the best instrumental music in the world. "Elektro Country" does not disappoint and Gary Ritchie's electric guitar work is perfect.

"Breathe" is a five-minute musical journey that is very magical and melancholic with subtle doses of acoustic and electric guitar work. The atmospheric washes and light vocal additions accentuate the song's delightful qualities. The cascade of sounds are steeped in lullabye-like arrangements that are meditative and dreamy. There is a host of new age-isms that come to mind, but everything is creative and memorable. The vocal additions are almost non-descript, but their sounds are very indicative of an early Enya recording. Compared with "Elektro Country," "Breathe" is a longer, more majestic tapestry of aural colors that only reinforces Galliano's amazing ability to create meaningful and vibrant songs with little in the way of instrumentation. From the opening, neo-classical arrangement to the electronic medley of sound, Galliano does not shy away from experimentation. Fans of world music, instrumental, jazz, new age, ambient, and related forms of music should be quite satisfied with Galliano's latest offerings. ~ Matthew Forss  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

CD Review: Baird Hersey & Prana with Nexus's 'Chiaroscuro'

ChiaroscuroBaird Hersey & Prana with Nexus
Bent Records

With an album title implying contrasting dark and light imagery, one can quickly determine that this is going to be a wonderful musical journey. From the onset, the deep, meditative tone of the harmonic singers and spacious, resonating tones of vistaphone, xylophone, vibraphone, drums, gongs, glockenspiel, marimba, and a few others, make the album shine beyond belief. Whether one calls it new age, meditation, world music, or some other moniker, Chiaroscuro is highly-textured and mystically magical throughout. It is seemingly inconceivable to compare to anything else, because it is that good. The final three tunes are reserved for mostly vocal medleys without much instrumentation. The beautiful sounds of the instrumental and vocal tracks remind one of a solemn film score. Perhaps, even the film, American Beauty (1999), comes to mind. Still, the album stands alone and above the rest with fanciful, deeply-enriched, and meditative tones that intrigues, as much as it inspires. Great for fans of film scores, meditation music, yoga, throat-singing, and new age concoctions. Excellent! ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

CD Review: Kimberly Haynes' 'Awaken Me'

Kimberly Haynes
Awaken Me
Wise Old Owl Recordings

California singer/songwriter, Kimberly Haynes, brings us eleven songs infused with delicate musical arrangements, graceful vocals, and spacious melodies on Awaken Me. Kimberly knows how to create beautiful songs with a soul. The music arouses new age leanings, world music fusions, Middle Eastern panache, and South Asian traditions for a truly unforgettable musical journey. The meditative opener and album title track, "Awaken Me," is a perfect introduction to the album, as it sets a steady tone amidst hang drum, frame drums, bass, bell, synth, and guitars. The Middle Eastern-influenced tune, "The Dreams," adds a more upbeat element with strings, guitars, and a gopichand. "The Light Of My Soul" strengthens Kimberly's pop presence with light percussion, fluid bass-lines, and excellent vocals throughout. The contemporary edge is rather reduced overall, but some songs are more pronounced and melodic. Kimberly's voice is akin to Canada's Susan Aglukark, but Donna De Lory and Natalie Merchant are similar influences, too. Awaken Me will cause everyone to wake up and listen to a small portion of beautiful music contained in this world. Let Kimberly be your guide to open that world for you! ~ Matthew Forss  

Monday, August 22, 2016

CD Review: Simrit's 'Songs Of Resilience'

Songs Of Resilience

Born in Greece and raised in South Carolina, Simrit Kaur invokes the sounds of South Asia and Africa on her latest release, Songs Of Resilience. The eight-song album incorporates a mixture of new age, lounge, and world music-inspired tunes that include harmonium, kora, conga, log drums, bass, slide guitar, piano, acoustic guitar, and mellotron. The rather spacious arrangements are very cinematic, thought-provoking, and infectious. The electronic elements are reduced, but the results are very magical. The kora arrangements are reminiscent of Rokia Traore's songs on Tchamantche (Nonesuch, 2009). The vocals are fluid, emotive, and breath-taking throughout. The yoga-inspired traditions of the world are accentuated here. There is even a Native American element that fits nicely with the rest of the album. Simrit incorporates a mix of English and Sanskrit vocals with new age instrumentation indicative of Katie Melua's contemporary songs and similarities to Zero 7 and Dala Girls are certainly represented here. Get ready for a guilt-free romp through a yoga-filled journey of music with Simrit. This is simply one of the best recordings of the year. ~ Matthew Forss

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CD Review: Galliano Sommavilla's 'Vol. 30 Ambient and Mellow'

Galliano Sommavilla
Vol. 30 Ambient and Mellow

Galliano Sommavilla, hailing from Australia, has released his latest compilation of songs borne out of a-song-a-day-project. Having released several albums of songs created each day over one year as part of his 365 project, Galliano continues to amaze listeners with his instrumental splendor on keyboards, guitars, percussion, and piano sounds. The latest album, Vol. 30..., contains fourteen tracks that are found in no particular order and titled "song/day". The whole feel of the album encompasses a more down-tempo theme that is serene and exploratory with a blissful side.

"Song/Day 110" begins with a sauntering piano-like melody with piercing atmospheric washes, and jazzy percussion that incorporates a sexy brass sound. The rolling bass and fluid, yet uppity tune, conjures up images of a smoky jazz lounge or a down-tempo gem that will not get out of one's head after listening to it the first time. Mesmerizing electric guitar sounds are rather solid near the end of the song. The twinkling piano keys and fluid bass-line with a sporadic blurts of trumpet make "110" a necessary listen.

"Song/Day 317" opens with a blurby, electronic-tinged intro with sweeping atmospheric sounds, punchy sounds, and horn-driven noises amidst a lush bass-line and percolating guitar strums. The song moves along with new age elements and a jazzy beat that is very calming, but equally enigmatic and engaging. The horn-like sounds and dizzying cascade of swishy whirs makes the song come alive.

"Song/Day 151" contains a breezy flute, light percussion, and jazzy atmospheric opener with a cheery foundation and soundtrack-esque qualities that seem to float effortlessly on sound waves. The song is more structured than other songs on the album, but it still retains a unique blend of improvisational quirks that make it one of the best songs on the album. Over two-minutes into the song, the jazzy chorus shines on in utter beauty without faltering.

"Song/Day 55" opens with a light, sauntering jazzy side with atmospheric washes and a glowing, smooth keyboard style. The smattering of percussion, driving beat, and atmospheric elements arouse an inventive element that is not to dissimilar than a good Zero 7 instrumental. A few trumpet sounds give the track a sultry side. The horn-driven, electric guitar sounds awaken the track with a little psychedelic panache. Overall, the song is another jazzy masterpiece in-line with Galliano's best works.

"Song/Day 40" begins with a soft, yet majestic arrangement of atmospheric washes, stark piano keys, and neo-classical elements that are thought-provoking and timeless. There is a percussive element about one-minute into the song. The poignant piano sounds and wash of cymbals melds nicely with the mellow foundation. The hand-percussion sounds give the song a more organic feel overall. The sweeping piano sounds and atmospheric washes cement the tune into another solid recording from Galliano.

All in all, Galliano Sommavilla satisfies new age tastes, down-tempo lovers, and instrumental connoisseurs with a knack for neo-classical, alternative jazz, and electronic music. Honestly, Galliano excels with another excellent compilation of songs to come out of the 2013 to 2014 project. Collect all the recordings by one of the most talented musicians in the down-tempo and electronic genres. Review by Matthew Forss

Monday, August 8, 2016

Edmonton Folk Music Festival 2016

The 2016 Edmonton Folk Music Festival happened August 4-7 and I was there to take in the sights and sounds. I was thrilled to see a few of my favourite acts this year, Like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dar Williams, Calexico, and LP. Here is my write up at

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Sunday, July 17, 2016

CD Review: Ciro Hurtado Releases 'Selva'

Ciro Hurtado
Inti Productions

The Peruvian-born and California-based, Ciro Hurtado, brings to life the sounds of his homeland, which are eloquently captured throughout the new album, Selva. Ciro's roots are found in the album's title, which is Spanish for 'jungle.' The album artwork is as colorful as the music. Ciro's wife, Cindy Harding, provide some vocals, while the music is mainly steeped in Latin fusion, light jazz, and acoustic forays. The pleasant music is never boring or uninspired. In fact, it encompasses some of the best instrumental sounds from the region. There are even classical Indian elements. The album is rather contemporary in its approach, making sure not to veer off too far in any one direction (i.e. rock, folk, fusion, etc.). However, there is a nice mix of lounge melodies, new age concoctions, and simply beautiful sounds that run the gamut from Amazonian, pre-Columbian, and cumbia-inspired tunes. Ciro's guitar and charango work are outstanding throughout. Simply put, this album is perfect for any occasion and any person. This is one of the best 'Latin' albums to ever come out. Own it now! ~ Matthew Forss

Inquiries via Email

Please send all inquiries regarding music coverage to: Send any promos and full-length releases in CD or LP form to the address below. Thanks.

Matthew Forss
c/o Inside World Music
840 Lorinda Ave.
Omro, WI 54963

Saturday, April 30, 2016

CD Review: Laraaji's 'Ambient 3: Day of Radiance'

Ambient 3: Day of Radiance

Ambient 3: Day of Radiance was originally released in 1980. Producer, Brian Eno resurrected the album conceived by Laraaji, a masterful zither player, dulcimer connoisseur, pianist, and keyboardist. This recording displays the timelessness of Laraaji's electronic and ambient styles. The melodies are atmospheric, spacious, and scintillating. The zither and autoharp sounds are very magical and entrancing. The album is divided up into two sections: The Dance and Meditation. The three tracks of The Dance contains more upbeat, dreamy, and melodic ambient tones, while the last two songs of Meditation contain a more spacious, atmospheric tone. As a whole, Ambient 3: Day of Radiance possesses a great selection of instrumental gems that are relatively repetitive, which is not a negative here. The nature of ambient, electronic, and atmospheric music is varied, but ever-changing. Whether the true quality of music is indeed ambient, Laraaji knows no bounds when creating beautiful works. Oh yeah, and the production credits of Brian Eno don't hurt either. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: M.A.K.U. Soundsystem's 'Mezcla'

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem

The New York-based, Colombian-infused musical adventures of M.A.K.U. Soundsystem are eloquently showcased on their latest album, Mezcla. The steady, Latin-beat is full of funky percussive sounds, Spanish vocals, and an Afro-beat-meets-Klezmer influence likely absorbed from their New York home and Colombian heritage. The result is a frenzied, funkified, and psychedelic romp through the Central American jungles and the subways of New York City. The music brings in a certain amount of jazzy elements, electronic undertones, and a vibrant rhythm section to electrify the music for an unforgettable forty-three-minutes. The tracks and vocals represent a high-energy product that is danceable, thought-provoking, and lyrically-strong. All in all, nine tracks round out the album. The positives are marked with indelible beats, catchy rhythms and melodies, and a hint of nostalgic elements encompassing Afro-beat, psychedelic rock, funk, jazz, dance, and electronica. Fans of Latin-beat, Afro-beat, cumbia, and related genres will not want to miss Mezcla. ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

CD Review: Silva's 'Jupiter'

Six Degrees

Brazil's Silva brings us pop-infused tunes with R&B, electronica, tropical, Latin, and urban qualities on a new album that celebrates his love of Jupiter. As a child, the planet Jupiter has been a fascination. Hence, the album artwork illustrates this point from the beginning. The music is not spacey or atmospheric, as one would expect from an otherworldly image or album title. Instead, Silva's ethnic-infused concoctions showcase the lounge side of pop, jazz, and dance. The punchy rhythms and bubbling bass accompany traditional percussion and electronically-tinged arrangements with such ease and grace the album is sure to be a favorite of all who listen. Silva's vocals are soft and mellow, but very compelling. Fans of contemporary Brazilian music will love it. Everyone should get on-board with Silva's latest release. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Estonia's Maarja Nuut's 'Une Meeles' (In The Hold Of A Dream)

Maarja Nuut
Une Meeles

Estonia's fiddler and singer, Maarja Nuut, releases her latest musical venture full of minimalist delicacies, mysterious electronic soundscapes, and light melodies with an experimental vibe. The vocals are akin to Vaartina in parts. However, the musical structures are similar to other artists from Scandinavia. The atmospheric sounds and somewhat industrial or metallic sounds on a few tracks showcases Maarja's creativity. For instance, the sound of a cell tower is the focus of "Kiik Tahab Kindaid." Maarja's classical Indian music studies shine through on some of the fiddle compositions, such as "Siidisulis Linnukene." Interestingly, some of the plucked string compositions reflect a North African sound not normally observed in Estonian music. Fans of Scandinavian folk and experimental music should find it very satisfying. Also, the vocal arrangements are not too far from Icelandic or Greenlandic influences. This is a very engaging and solid release. ~ Matthew Forss

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Single Review: Rene Lopez' "Restless"

Rene Lopez
Song: Restless

New York-based, Nuyorican musician, Rene Lopez, turns heads and gets feet movin' with the smooth, electro-latin-soul song, "Restless". Rene is a talented songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer that has explored an intimate palette of aural magnificence originating from his passionate vocals, tropically-tinged songs, and an ever-present, contemporary or urban presence. The song begins with a steady, synth melody, clap-like percussion, soaring strings, and background vocals with a gospel edge. There is an uplifting element of the song near the end of the song with louder vocals and more background accompaniment. In fact, Rene's vocals at the end of the song resemble Bruce Springsteen. However, the song is not a rock anthem, nor a hip hop party track. Instead, the song is a trip hop, lounge standard with classy vocals and a steady, yet creative beat. Fans of Craig Armstrong's earlier works will find similarities here. At any rate, everyone should check out "Restless" by Rene Lopez. 5 Stars (out of 5) ~ Matthew Forss    

Thursday, February 4, 2016

CD Review: Folkbeat RF's 'In Mixt'

Folkbeat RF
In Mixt
Sketis Music

The vocal quartet, Folkbeat RF, features the music of four Russian women, Svetlana Ivanova, Maria Zibrova, Svetlana Shestopalova, and Alyona Minulina on an incredible, contemporary release, In Mixt. The vocal harmonies are a bit like Finland's Varttina in parts, while some of the more popular arrangements are evocative of urban beatbox. However, the beatbox stylings are very appropriate and intriguing. There is a historic quality to the vocals, which stems from the ancient Russian influences. Sacred and choral music of Europe can be heard as a strong influence here. There are various electronic programming touches that bring about a new age and alternative presence. The songs are based on folkloric foundations, but the contemporary appeal reaches across genres and geographic boundaries with tunes that everyone can relate to. Fans of Russian vocal music, rap, dance, folktronica, and world fusion will find In Mixt to be a 'mixt' bag of wholly likable hits! No complaints here. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Opycham's ''

Sketis Music

Opycham's latest release,, was recorded in Tuva, which is spearheaded by drummer and percussionist, Rasputin (of Yat-Kha-fame). The meditative and monastic eight-track release celebrates various religions including Russian faiths, Buddhism, and Shamanism. The album contains a backdrop of various rain sounds, fire, birds, insects, and water-flows for a very earthy element. The pensive instrumentation is rather light and alternative and comprises the cello, djumbush (like a Turkish tanbur), guitar, and hand-percussion. The music is vocal, but very entrancing overall. The subtle inflections of earthy elements and hypnotic vocals make Opycham's latest release well-worth a listen. Fans of shamanic, alternative, new age, Russian folk, and European music will love it. It's a great way to unwind! ~ Matthew Forss  

CD Review: Aziza Brahim's 'Abbar el Hamada'

Aziza Brahim
Abbar el Hamada

Based in Spain, Aziza Brahim is a popular singer originally from Western Sahara. Her music is borne out of the Saharawi culture of Algeria/Morocco/Western Sahara. The rousing, upbeat, "Calles de Dajla," is a catchy tune that melds the vocals of Malouma (from Mauritania) and the guitar/percussion of Mali's Tinariwen. "El canto de la arena" encapsulates a softer side of Spanish music with jaunty guitars, breezy percussion, and an effortless, yet breathy, flute. "El wad" continues the Saharawi rock idioms with great vocals and arrangements. The title track represents the plight of the refugees camps along the border of Algeria and Western Sahara. Abbar el Hamada is a rather upbeat album with great vocals and a spacious, rock beat bringing together Spanish, North African, and North American arrangements. Fans of Tinariwen, Toumast, Tartit, Malouma, Mariem Hassan, Dimi Mint Abba, and other musicians from the region will find this album to be a welcome addition to the collection. In general, music from Western Sahara is rarely heard outside the region. Do yourself a favor and discover the music of Aziza Brahim today! ~ Matthew Forss

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

CD Review: David Broza & The Andalusian Orchestra Ashkelon's 'Andalusian Love Song'

David Broza & The Andalusian Orchestra Ashkelon
Andalusian Love Song
Magenta/Eight Note

Hailing from Israel, David Broza rocks the world with a delightful, Andalusian album that bridges the music of Spain, the Middle East, and North Africa into one indelible result. The seventeen tracks are sung in English, Spanish, and Hebrew with instrumental influences arranged in classical, folk, pop, and roots medleys. The vocals are strong and timeless. The edgy percussion, soaring strings, and multi-layered instrumental arrangements make Andalusian Love Song a very pleasant listening experience. The diverse influences and instrumentation provide a more balanced result that is not boring or redundant. The sweeping, "Dangerous Autumn," contains beautiful instrumental parts, alongside heady vocals in Hebrew. It is impossible to pick one of the best tracks, as all of them are unique and worthy of number one. Fans of North African, Middle Eastern, and European orchestral music will find the album to be a perfect ten! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Idan Raichel's 'At The Edge Of The Beginning'

Idan Raichel
At The Edge Of The Beginning

Israel's Idan Raichel has the rare ability to create meaningful and beautiful melodies that transcend not only borders, but time, as well. This is especially relevant on his latest release, At The Edge Of The Beginning. The album opens with a sweeping piano medley with mixed instrumentation in a great arrangement worthy of repeated listens. The rest of the tracks contain vocal tracks with an array of instrumentation, including kamanche, trumpet, bass, guitars, baglama, sax, tuba, accordion, piano, and various programming. Special guest and sintir player, Hassan Hakmoun, lends his talents on "Be'Chamesh Shniyot." Idan's "Delet Mistovevet" is one of the best tracks on this album. All things considered, Idan creates a moving, contemporary, and authentic mix of ear-candy that contains a plethora of melodies and moments that should not go unnoticed. The title touts Idan may be at the beginning of something really great. Actually, he has been great since he started and he will not let you down here. ~ Matthew Forss