To fuse or not to fuse…. Day 2 at Womex

wpid-wp-1382733664370.jpgThere are endless routes into a showcase evening but I doubt many can be as riotous as the collaboration between Trans Global Underground and the Fanfara Tirana,the brass band from Albania. Balkan brass meets dance trance in the first of many fusions (a word I’ll later learn is no longer in vogue) of the evening. It is, quite simply, a blast. My only regret… I didn’t get in their earlier and the mosh pit down the front simply didn’t do the band justice.

wpid-wp-1382734387185.jpgHeading for the main auditorium I’m stopped in my tracks. From Spain, fusing traditional sounds with beats and electronics Budino burst out of the bar stage and had me transfixed. In many ways a Spanish companion band to kan the night before they were spear headed by the man who lends the band his name (on gaita/ flutes) and Garcias exuberant violin. It’s difficult not to be carried away by the fiery performance… And i promise that wasnt just the sherry talking

wpid-wp-1382740600394.jpgMeanwhile back in the tent Lau demonstrated effectively how a showcase sometimes does not work in your favour. This was the view …as it were …from the stalls. You might ask where are the band? And you`d have a point. When your playing music as sublime as Lau`s does it really matter? Well if the level of audience noise is anything to go by the answer is yes… and it wasn’t helped by the fact the sound system did the music no favours. Why on earth this brilliant band weren’t in the seated auditorium is beyond me.

wpid-wp-1382742078410.jpgBack to the studio to a band which captures in one room the melting point that is London. In essence an ensemble (keys, guitar, bass, drums, guitar. Tabla, brass and vocals an ensemble of 10 in all) which should not work. But it does – brilliantly. Mixing the street sounds of London with Cuba and Bangladesh Lokkhi Terra achieve a synergy which is utterly joyous and uplifting

In the break between shows I’m told by people wiser than I that fusion is no longer the in word. Genre busting too is, apparently off kilter so let’s just say I get excited when cultures ,musical systems and traditions collide. Sometimes the result is a car crash of epic proportions but  so many times the result is the kind of synergy which crosses boundaries and electrifies a room.

And so back to the main house of the WMC for Gjazalaw a band which explores the commonality between Indian Ghazal and its welsh folk. Hearing essentially the same refrain sung in the Indian tradition and then in the welsh is surprisingly effective, revealing affinities which go right to the music’s heart. I loved seeing the two guitars on stage playing utterly different lines, one from each tradition. The welsh tradition lends Ghazalaw lyrical beauty, the Indian tradition a devotional, meditative feel. It’s a potent if, maybe yet, unfinished mix.

And then it was off to Glee Club for the womex DJ’s I’m left in the hands of Mr Toubab, Cucurucho and dear ol` Auntie Flo!

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