Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Music in Brief

The new Golden Afrique Vol. 3 (Network Medien) isn't quite in the company of the first two volumes in the Golden Afrique series, which focused on West Africa and the Congo, and which proved to be among the greatest collections of any type released in the past few years. But the South African music that volume three spotlights has always been better compiled than songs from the rest of the continent, thanks to the Indestructible Beat Of Soweto series, so the new Golden Afrique disc is an advanced class rather than a beginners' bonanza. There's plenty of township jive here (Miriam Makeba and The Soul Brothers provide highlights) but the collection is at its most illuminating with the S.A. jazz of Chris McGregor and Hugh Masakela & Letha Mbulu. Disc two spreads the compilation's terrain by roping in cuts from Zambia (Dolly Rathebe's blues is especially delightful) and Zimbabwe (Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, Devera Ngwena)… B+

The Berlin label Bpitch Control is run by Ellen Allien, one of the top DJ-producers in the worldwide techno scene, and a fervent champion of her hometown. So it's hardly surprising that BPC Camping Compilation 03, the label's third collection, leads off with Jahcoozi's "BLN," which features a faded keyboard hook and a frisky rap comparing the German city with London. The rest of the album honors Berlin by showcasing a variety of the city's best-loved styles: Tomas Andersson's plinky electro, clicky-sticky microhouse from Sascha Funke, the Detroit-style techno of Zander VT, Modeselektor's blurting ragga. Nice enough, though it tends to fade from the ear as it goes… B


New York's Piranha label specializes in latter-day variants on traditional Eastern European styles; its albums are where you go after Beirut has whetted your appetite for the real stuff. So Piranha Jubilee Vol. 1: Brass Attack, a combo platter of the label's wares, is well-timed. It's also well-chosen: crisply dramatic horns dominate, and the rhythms throughout are a lot trickier than the quick-stepping so much klezmer and Gypsy music is known for. The bulk of the tracks are split between the ruminative Boban Markovic Orkestar, the dazzlingly frisky Fanfare Ciocarlia, and Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars. The anomalies belong to Nubian master drummer Mahmoud Fadl (though "Halo Aleina" fits in surprisingly well) and The Klezmatics, whose nine-minute blues track is with Joshua Nelson is the sampler's only real misstep. B+