New music: World round-up – September 2016
Featuring Noura Mint Seymali, Metá Metá and Pat Thomas
Noura Mint Seymali: Arbina (Glitterbeat) ●●●●
When Noura Mint Seymali played Glasgow's Counterflows festival in 2015, she instigated a full-blown Scottish-Mauritanian ceilidh, the audience dancing wildly in a circle to her band's psychedelic desert-rock. Her second album Arbina wisely eschews guests and gimmicks to focus on the essentials: Seymali's soaring, intricate vocals, and the warm storm of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly's guitars, backed by a fluid rhythm section steeped in funk, reggae and rock. Chigaly burns through hypnotic riffs and serpentine coils of quarter-tone flash, while Seymali declaims majestically, a true 21st century griot.
Metá Metá: MM3 (Jazz Village/PIAS) ●●●●
2016 has been a strong year for Brazilian avant-rock, with septugenerian Elza Soares receiving deserved acclaim for her searing The Woman At The End of the World. Metá Metá might be from a younger generation, but their 'samba sujo' (dirty samba) pulls off a similar trick of fusing the melodic delicacy of Brazilian song with the energy of punk. Metá Metá guitarist Kiko Dinucci was a key player on that album, and he's an equally vital force here, bringing jagged post-punk riffs, spacey textures and bouyant Afropop licks to the rhythm section's chunky grooves. Saxophonist Thiago Franca plays a largely melodic role, making his occasional forays into squawking free-jazz all the more exciting, while Juçara Marçal proves a compelling vocalist, gracefully poised between tenderness and fire.
Pat Thomas: Coming Home (Strut) ●●●●
Pat Thomas, aka 'The Golden Voice of Africa' released his first international studio album last year, a self-titled effort with the Kwashibu Area Band. Featuring the legendary Tony Allen on drums, the album found the great Ghanaian singer in fine voice. This compilation fills in the back story, taking us from the highlife of the late 60s, through to the Afrobeat classics of the 70s. Highlights include the remarkable electro-disco banger 'Gyae Su' and two fierce collaborations with the mighty Ebo Taylor.