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!

From the top of the world to thee

This week we explore sounds from the highest nation on Earth.  Welcome to Nepal!


Sandwiched between two giants (China and India), Nepal offers a diverse sonic palette potent enough to cure even the worst case of altitude sickness.  We bring you a sampling of Nephop, classic pop, rock’n’roll, thunder drums, murchunga mastery, and a funkified yak attack!


Mengen in de Netherworlds

On the northern edge of the Amazon rainforest lies a small nation of Dutch-speaking Asian and African voyagers who make swingin’ Indo-Caribbean music.  Nope, you can’t make this stuff up..

90% jungled since 20,000 BC

90% jungled since 50,000 BC

Welcome to Suriname, the land of alien toads and human experimentation.  With only half a million people in this former Dutch colony, the Surinamese have slipped under the international radar to become the most ethnically and religiously diverse nation in the Americas.

More than half the population is of Asian ancestry, coming mainly from North India and the Indonesian island of Java as contract workers over a hundred years ago.  The rest of the inhabitants are of mixed West-African descent, with a small minority of indigenous peoples (3.7%) still watching over the rainforest.  The Dutch seem to have disappeared almost completely, leaving behind their language and wooden shoes.

The greatest sonic blend of traditions is revealed in a wonderfully rhythmic style called Kaseko – a hybrid of early jazz music, calypso, and Creole drumming/chanting.  In other words, a pan-Caribbean groove monster!

Many influential Surinamese musicians (including Lieve Hugo — the undisputed king of Kaseko) went on to live and perform in Holland, spreading African rhythms further around the planet.  Truly mind-bending, the musical influence that Africans have had on other cultures over the past hundred years…

There is also very authentic Indian Classical music and Javanese Gamelan music being played in Suriname.  Yet the different ethnic groups remain relatively segregated in this country, and we are still waiting for Afro-Indian Gamelan funk-hop to emerge from the ether of Paramaribo.  But for now, some vintage Surinamese disco-funk:

Check out a great Surinamese music blog here.
Our weekly Global Mix here.
And our Suriname Special here.  –including classic Kaseko, 70’s rock, classic Indian folk, hip-hop, reggae, soul, and so on..