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Reviews

Released: 19th November 2001.

Various Artists - AfricanizeAnd so continues Gut Records' lesson on world cultures. With "Arabesque" and "Latinize" already in the shops, part three of the series takes a whistle-stop tour of music with a distinct African sound. Okay, so it sounds boring already. But then again, the accompanying information does urge us to 'abandon our prejudices and preconceptions,' and so that's exactly what I'll do.

If it's catchy tunes you're looking for, then you can probably stick to your usual selection of artists, though "Africanize" does have its own more popular-sounding tracks. A good example is the nice 'n catchy "Yolele" by Papa Wemba, which would fit in alongside many modern soul records fairly well. However, as you can imagine, the majority of the tracks sound like a cross between Ladysmith Black Mambazo and modern street soul. One thing's certain though, and that is the very distinct, traditional Africa sound throughout.

Some of the songs are, in my opinion, rather uninspiring. The "Lagos Communique" perhaps wasn't the best choice for an opening track, being one of the least memorable songs here, but it really depends what you want from this CD. If the aim was to create a record that would popularise traditional African music, then it's probably failed. But if it was to provide an introduction to the culture and its music, it has been much more successful.

Other stand-out tracks include the upbeat, positive "Tekere" by Salif Keita and the lovely downbeat, swaying "No Sant" by Wasis Diop and Lena Fiagbe which the record company call 'magical' and I can only agree. Also included are a number of dance tracks such as the final track "Shadowman".

Overall, the album is successful in providing the listener with an insight into African music and, though it probably works best as background music to create an African sound, there are also a number of more contemporary tracks to balance this out.

* * * (DS)

All reviews for Various Artists