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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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.

Moldova~Flows

Looks like Italy, smells like Romania .. it’s Moldova!  A small, sparsely populated nation with a history of artistic censorship, but as usual there are musical delights that shine through the ages.  This week’s Moldovan soundscape features underground rock from the Soviet era, father-daughter folk & pop, Balkan-punk, hip hop, and amore.

Moldova: Yes, we've got castles

Moldova: “We’ve got big castles”

Here’s a sneak peak that comes with an odd slice of trivia.. the youngest pop star ever, Cleopatra Stratan:

I’m not even ashamed to say it; that’s a seriously catchy tune.

Hear the Moldovan Special HERE (part1) and HERE (part 2).

And also from this week’s broadcast, one of the most sublime re-issues of the year – 70s Zamrock band Salty Dog, hitherto unheard outside of Africa:

Climb the Black Mountain

Not so sinister, is it?

Not so sinister, is it?

This week we visit the 3rd youngest country on Earth, and also one of the smallest (born prematurely, or perhaps Serbia smoked during pregnancy) … Montenegro!  It’s still a mystery why the place is called ‘Black Mountain’, or why the rest of the world still uses the Italian name (real name: Crna Gora).  No matter, we have come for the music!

Montenegro as a nation-state is barely 7 years old, but the coastal Balkan nation has a discrete history that extends to a time well before its incorporation into the former Yugoslavia– heck, they even had a king.  It’s a bit complex (brain-draining) to get into the specifics of nationhood and identity, so let’s just say that the borders have changed but the musical masters have stayed.  Therefore, we shall not confine our soundsplash to post-2006 independence.  We would miss the formative years of Rambo Amadeus!