CD Review: SONGS OF THE VOLCANO (Bob Brozman and Papua New Guinea Stringbands) - WORLD MUSIC 25-Dec-05
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SONGS OF THE VOLCANO (Bob Brozman and Papua New Guinea Stringbands)

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25 December 2005

Songs of the Volcano
Untainted Guitars of Papua New Guinea

By WMC News Dept.

San Francisco (California), USA - Bob Brozman collaborates with Papua New Guinea Stringbands on Songs Of The Volcano (Riverboat Records/World Music Network TUGCD1040). Guitarist Bob Brozman traveled to Papua New Guinea, one of the last places on the planet to have guitars arrive from afar to capture a sound largely untainted by outside influences; a raw, unique sound developed in isolation. The energetic and distinctive blend of voice and instrument performed by the Rabaul community's local string bands reflects their unfailing optimism in the face of adversity, be it war or the volcanic eruptions that have destroyed the town twice in one century, making this album truly Songs of the Volcano.

For this album, he traveled to Papua New Guinea to perform with five different Tolai stringbands of Rabaul, located in the far-flung province of East New Britain. Produced by an indomitable group of island musicians and one of the world's greatest guitarists, Songs of the Volcano features several fascinating string band styles. Gilnata Stringband, on `Tavurvur', play in an early style using more than ten vocalists and only a handful of instruments. Their sound is similar to early Hawaiian music with bass lines echoing Charley Patton's blues. Similarly, Eagle Voice Band use a few guitars and numerous vocalists on `Tomaimo', to produce a sound more influenced by Fijian music. Lions 2000 Stringband and Drop Sun Band, both from the north coast, play in the contemporary style developed in the villages around Rabaul, using a higher ratio of guitars to singers.

Songs of the Volcano brings together nearly fifty musicians over five different bands that range in style and musical complexity. Featuring unique bass lines, local `five-key' tuning, phrasing and distinct male vocals, the music carries a beauty perhaps reminiscent to what guitar music may have sounded like in Hawaii in 1860. This album is an incredible array of soulful and uplifting music, portraying a strong quality of innocence rarely found in music today.

In addition to the album, this package features a full length, behind the scenes DVD documentary of the making of the album. Songs Of The Volcano was filmed during two trips in 2003 and 2004, on location in and around Rabaul, East New Britain. Featuring remarkable footage of the individual recordings with the five different stringbands involved in the project, the DVD also includes solo Bob Brozman blues performances on his steel National guitar. As well as exploring the highs and lows of the musical journey, Songs Of The Volcano also provides historical, political and geographical background to the island and the ongoing effects of the volcanic eruption.

The DVD portrays some of the joys and difficulties fine volcanic ash, extreme humidity, power cuts, monsoon and a dearth of functioning recording studios of producing the album. It was also hoped that filming and recording the performances for the album would partly assist the musicians in Papua New Guinea where there is hardly any musical infrastructure.

Bob Brozman - King of the National Guitar

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