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Weekend: Culture - World CD of the week.

Byline: Reviewed by Peter Bacon

Lo'Jo -Ce Soir La (IRL/Emma IRL 015) The staid town of Angiers on the banks of the Loire is not the first place you'd look for an eccentric and unpredictable counter culture band like Lo'Jo.

But that's exactly where they come from, led from the keyboard by Angier's own eminence grise, Denis Pean.

It was only a matter of time before they would release a live album. Their concert performances are celebrated throughout the world, recently gaining a five-star rating from one national newspaper for their London gig and raising goosebumps on a lot of skin at the Warwick Arts Centre late last month.

This disc was recorded during a tour of France last year and comes after a triumphant recording from the Festival of the Desert in Mali, a festival they have helped to organise for the last few years.

Those two diverse locations -the Loire valley and the Sahara desert are both audible in their music, an amazing melange which incorporates chanson, afro-pop, impressionistic piano, reggae beats, dub-funk, Arabic cadences and some very tasty woodwind section playing.

The harmony vocals of Nadia and Yamina Nid El Mourid lead the more exuberant songs, while Pean's gruff recitative fills the foreground of quieter ones.

Overall there's so much going on yet it all ends up sounding remarkably cohesive and unmistakeably the sound of Lo'Jo. Gives world fusion a good name. HHHHVarious -Nu Europe (Manteca MANTDCD224) Various -The Rough Guide to Italia Nova (Rough Guides RGNET 1120 CD) Having apparently worn out their sandals tracking down every brilliant musician in Africa, Asia and South and Latin America, the world music A&R types have decided to stay closer to home.

Naturally Lo'Jo feature on Nu Europe, a double disc which takes a tour around the new sounds of the old world, as do Ojos de Brujo from Spain, Mariza from Portugal, Belgium's Think Of One, Sicily's Banda Ionica and London's Oi Va Voi.

The music that is most successful comes from those who have fed a good helping of local music and tradition into their naturally cosmopolitan influences.

Thus, Mariza's fado and Ojos de Brujo's flamenco fare better than Think Of One's entertaining but geographically confusing brass extravaganza.

The one keeper of the English folk flame is Jim Moray, whose interpretation of the traditional Gypsies is enhanced by his electric guitar and opening brass fanfare.

Altogether an enlightening sampler of music we should all know a lot better than we do.

Imagine a Europe where all this stuff was in the charts instead of those plastic trinkets we have to endure at the moment. Ah, well, I can dream. . .

The Rough Guide presents a wild and diverse bunch of young Italian bands. There's no way in a blindfold taste I'd be able to place a lot of this music in Italy, aside from the language used. It ranges from Latin beats to manic violin and tambourine against buzzing synths, and taking in flute funk and orchestral ballads along the way.

The bits where edgy street sounds mix with sugary strings and soaring choirs are sometimes the most entertaining -and most kitsch Italian -of all.

As with all the Rough Guides, well worth the asking price and quite enlightening. HHH each.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 29, 2004
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