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Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective - Wa'tina

2008-12-24 09:28
Fans of the most digestible and well-traveled "world" musicians (think Angelique Kidjo’s covers collection, or the Soundtrack to Buena Vista Social Club) will find this both pleasant and challenging, but if you’re looking for real Garifuna sounds, then Ivan Duran’s dumbed-down guitar lines and restrained production treatment of the opening two tracks might initially lead you to think this has been tailor-made to explain itself to westerners, not express itself freely. Case in point, the very groovy Cuban-flavoured "Miami", and haunting "Baba", which should be familiar to Putumayo’s 'music that makes you feel good' addicts from other compilations.

Then again, these are both solid tracks, and the album is called "I called out", not "decipher me". True to its promise, it calls out beautifully; teaching touchingly with themed pieces that are a kind of introduction to a culture many people haven’t even heard of. Andy and co call for unity on "Lidan Aban" ("Together"), risk losing you with the very traditional "Yagane" ("My Canoe"), and get into a groove with "Aguyuha Niduhenu"… which turns out to be a song sung at a traditional nine-day wake to lament the passing of loved ones. Sometimes reading liner notes can be a bit of a downer. Or inspire you to attend more funerals in Guatemala. It all depends on whether you’re an occasional “world” music tourist, or a regular traveler. Either is ok.

Because it’s often the more fusion-oriented releases and misunderstood musical gems that point music lovers in the direction of desperately overdue discoveries of music that really needs to be popularised if it is to survive.

- Jean Barker

Wa'tina is a call out to many scattered traditions. Though blended with some western musical flavours, the album is still Garifuna – listen for scratchy and very present instrumentation of guitars base and drums, vocals (including voice effects), and Garifunaian percussion instruments. Garifuna music, for those who didn’t take anthropology at school, is part of a fast-disappearing cultural tradition of African slave-descendents who scattered along the central American coast and intermarri

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