[EVENT ~ WORLD MUSIC ~ INT]
Botanic Park, Fri 6 Mar.
WOMADelaide’s small stages have always hosted the more niché like acts. They’re more intimate, quieter, and tend to feature more ethnically pure music of the kind that was much more prevalent in its early days.
So, I spent my first evening going from Ghana (Moreton Bay stage) to Reunion (stage 7) to Rumania (from Park Pavilion), and finally to medieval Spain (back at the Moreton Bay stage).
King Ayisoba and his band hail from Ghana. The band is a six-piece and five of them play percussion – draw your own conclusions! The only non-percussive instrument, which King himself plays is the kologo, has just two strings and is played mostly as a percussive instrument as well so the primary effect is rhythmic.
King has a growling and gruff vocal style and it does at times feel quite intimidating but the rhythms are strong and the crowd is up dancing and there is mercifully no electronica interfering with the traditional rhythms.
Down the other end of the park on stage 7 Destyn Maloya from Reunion was offering a more varied repertoire of melody and rhythm. Reunion is not far from Madagascar and WOMADelaide has previously hosted the beautiful polyphonic melodies of Justin Vali, and some of their material had that similar feel. But like so many African groups their happy place is rhythm based and Destyn Maloya soon had the malleable crowd jumping like rabbits and joining in a Conga line.
Nearby in one of WOMADelaide’s newer venues an Australian based group who play Romanian music and who curiously call themselves Super Rats gathered around their featured instrument, the cimbalom. The cimbalom is large dulcimer with 145 strings and sounds like a cross between a piano and a xylophone. Apparently the pronunciation of the words Super Rats sounds like ‘the irritated ones’ in the Romanian language. This music is relatively low brow in its original context – played in bars and cafes where people drink and do shady deals – but in the context of a WOMADelaide performance there is nothing shady about this music. The pieces are tight, rhythmically complex and driven by a dominant double bass. Accordion and fiddle are great accompaniment for the cimbalom in these entertaining traditional dance tunes.
So then back in time to The Middle Ages. Artefactum play Spanish music from the 12th – 14th Centuries and it is exquisite. Led by the drone like sounds of one of the strangest instruments ever made, the hurdy-gurdy, this music is full of delicate melodies and intricate vocal harmonies. Music from Medieval times has such a beautiful melodious quality. It’s almost as if music was breaking free from the confines of a restricted past and celebrating a wondrous joy.
A perfect end to the day. It seems there may have been a drift away from the ubiquitous ‘global funk’ that has tended to dominate the WOMADelaide program in the last few years, but it is early days….
WOMADelaide continues at Botanic Park from 11am until Mon 9 Mar.
Book at womadelaide.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
All images courtesy of Michael Coghlan