Mountain Dwellers of the North Caucasus

dagestan-folk

Strummin’ on the Kumuz

Where the Caspian sea meets the Caucasus mountains lives the Republic of Dagestan.  The most ethnically diverse corner of Russia, Dagestan is a place rarely explored by outsiders and only minimally administered by the national government.  As ethnic Russians make up less than 4% of the population, Dagestan is a mix of dozens of different cultures and languages singing and fighting for respect.

The rocky terrain impedes modernization and helps preserve these traditions, but also provides shelter for guerrilla groups, whose drawn-out battles for independence have haunted the region for decades.  Here we explore the many colours of Dagestani music, incorporating Central Asian and Middle Eastern melodies with a view to the north and the west.  May these myriad rhythms help bring the people together, and make it known to the government that diversity should be celebrated.

lezgins

Lezgians have learned to levitate in the thin mountain air

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Breaking Sound Barriers: Persian Flamenco!

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Just when you think there ain’t nothing new..  Presenting Farnaz Ohadi, whose sublime new spin on Flamenco is a world of its own.  Farnaz sings in Farsi and incorporates Persian instrumentation, yet her music still remains faithful to the Spanish roots of Flamenco.  Hear an exclusive interview with Farnaz, as she shares brand new music from her debut Bird Dance LP, out October 1st (along with an album release show):

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Matato’a band of Rapa Nui flyin’ high

Also on the program – a tropical trip to Rapa Nui aka Easter Island!

The Devil Went Down to Tbilisi

Downtown Atlanta: this is not

Downtown Atlanta: this is not

Orient your cochleas towards the Caucasus, here drifts a wave of sublime sounds from Georgia.  Not the southern American state, but rather the magical country on the far east of Europe – or if you prefer, the western fringe of Asia (continents are surprisingly nebulous entities).  The rugged Georgia-Russia border is only a few dozen kilometres from the current Sochi Winter Olympic Games taking place in the deep south of Russia, but Georgia is still light years removed from the global cultural spotlight.  And so we dive…

Sonically speaking, Georgians are best known for their age-old mastery of polyphonic vocal harmonies.  This is a technique that has spread to all corners of the planet, yet Georgians have been doing it for so long that they still seem to do it better; this effortless layering of voices has found its way into non-traditional genres as well.. like throw-back choral swing!:

Stream the Georgian broadcast [[HERE]], featuring some of the world’s most potent vocalists, with sides of prog, folk, hip hop, and mystery beats.

Man Oman, the land of hidden jams

This week we visit the Sultanate of Oman, a rocky coastal nation with a keen interest in seafaring exploration.  Friends of many, enemies of few, sneaking just below the international tabloids… for simplicity’s sake let’s call it Switzerland of the Middle East.  Heck, they even manage the feat of having positive relations with both Iran and the United States.  They don’t choose sides.  Omanis are easygoing like that.  They have a Sultan after all.

As for the music, there is a vast and complex history of intermingling to draw upon.  Many Swahili rhythms have seeped into the Omani soundscape, as the Omani empire once stretched down the East African coast as far as Madagascar.  There is also the potent influence of Arabic neighbors to the north, as well as the instruments of the Baloch people of Pakistan.  Music is a part of everyday public life in Oman, not often recorded for posterity, and thus many of the sublime sounds from the ground are not readily available to our far-off ears.  We can imagine..  And extrapolate from the few recordings that we have at our disposal:  some gritty hip hop, vocal acrobatics, drums of thunder, and ambient oud sketches..