CD Review: SONGS OF THE VOLCANO (Bob Brozman and Papua New Guinea Stringbands) - DAILY TELEGRAPH UK, 29-Oct-05
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CD Review: SONGS OF THE VOLCANO

DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK)
29 October 2005

Papua New Guinea Stringbands
with Bob Brozman: Songs of the Volcano


By MARK HUDSON


A densely forested wilderness where millennial inter-village feuds are carried on with the aid of plentiful Kalashnikov rifles, Papua New Guinea is one corner of the planet which has to date made absolutely zero impact on the world music scene.

But here ethnomusicologist Bob Brozman travels to the remote, volcanic East New Britain region to play with local guitar bands whose joyous jangling music – though of relatively recent origin – is already starting to die out.

While Brozman has made a number of ambitious collaborative albums in far-flung places, here he restricts his role to playing along in communal music on which everybody generally plays and sings simultaneously.

His swooning glissandos sit perfectly with the New Guineans’ pleasingly bittersweet vocal harmonising and plinking, piano-like guitar sounds.

While there’s clearly a strong traditional element, the music has an almost Beatleish singalong familiarity. And although its risky to assign qualities such as ‘naturalness’ and ‘innocence’ to other people’s music, there’s an invigorating sense of wholeness to these jaunty, easy-rolling melodies that you feel somehow better for experiencing.

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