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globalFEST 2012: A World Of Amazing Discoveries

The Silk Road Ensemble (left), Yemen Blues (top right), M.A.K.U. Soundsystem.

hide captionThe Silk Road Ensemble (left), Yemen Blues (top right), M.A.K.U. Soundsystem.

Ryan Muir for NPR

Twelve bands, 17 different countries, three stages, one frenzied night: That's the promise of globalFEST, a yearly showcase for international musicians who come from around the world to New York's Webster Hall. There, they introduce themselves to American club bookers, festival programmers, band managers and, of course, music fans. If you pace yourself well, there's just enough time during the evening's six hours to get a good taste of each band — and this year's amazing array of talent was fresh and surprising, from the funked-out psychedelic grooves of Ethiopia (by way of Boston's Debo Band) to the Silk Road's joyously rollicking cross-cultural collaboration, to the atmospheric and haunting sounds of Wang Li, a solo Chinese jaw harp player.

For this week's edition of All Songs Considered, NPR Music's Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR contributor and Afropop.org senior editor Banning Eyre, and Rob Weisberg of WNYC (who also hosts WFMU's Transpacific Sound Paradise) join Bob Boilen to revisit some of the highlights and favorite discoveries from this year's globalFEST.

globalFEST 2012: Full Sets

  • Debo Band

    Debo Band
    Ryan Muir for NPR

    "The band is based out of Boston, but that's a bit misleading because the (group leader) is from Ethiopia and he has a tremendous affection for this kind of lost music of Ethiopia's past — this funky music of the '70s, when all kinds of traditions were coming together." --Banning Eyre

    Hear And Download Debo Band's Full Concert

  • M.A.K.U. Soundsystem

    M.A.K.U. Band
    Ryan Muir for NPR

    "Younger bands digging into some cultural roots, but not in a reverent way. They're very contemporary bands. This band is based out of Queens; they're a mixture of Colombians, kids whose families come from Colombia, and other kids, and they do a span of Afro-Colombian music and '70s soul. A very electric, psychedelic band." --Rob Weisberg

    Hear And Download M.A.K.U. Soundsystem's Full Concert

  • Wang Li

    Wang Li
    Ryan Muir for NPR

    "This was the most sacred of sounds I heard (at the festival). It's very electronic in its sound. He's playing a Jew's Harp, through some effects, but that implies lots of delay and other stuff. But what you hear here is the pure sound of a Jew's Harp and (Wang Li's) breathing technique and his mouth opening and closing, through maybe a little bit of reverb." --Bob Boilen

    Hear And Download Wang Li's Full Concert

  • The Silk Road Ensemble

    The Silk Road Ensemble
    Ryan Muir for NPR

    "This is a multi-member, sort of shifting consortium of artists from across the world, founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. You've got Western classical musicians, you've got Chinese pipa (lute), Middle Eastern percussion, you've got all kinds of people coming together." --Anastasia Tsioulcas

    Hear And Download The Silk Road Ensemble's Full Concert

  • The Gloaming

    The Gloaming i i
    Ryan Muir for NPR
    The Gloaming
    Ryan Muir for NPR

    "One of the odd musicians in what would otherwise basically be a Celtic band is Thomas Bartlett, who people know as Doveman. Doveman's known for working in the avant garde scene in Brooklyn; he's got his own records we've done on All Songs Considered. It's a darker sound. So you get this piano sound with a darker tone mixed with reels and jigs. It added an undertone to the lilt of Irish music." --Bob Boilen

    Hear And Download The Gloaming's Full Concert

  • Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

    Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino
    Ryan Muir for NPR

    "This is an amazing band. They represent something that's gone on a lot in Europe since the '70s, and that's revivals of traditions. Younger generations that were not at all interested in folk music, but in the '70s, there started to be a wave of young musicians with interest. And even more so now. This is a band that started in the '70s and it's (now) in its second generation. This is very different Italian music than what a lot of Americans are used to. It's not mafia music." --Rob Weisberg

    Hear And Download Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino's Full Concert

  • Yemen Blues

    Yemen Blues
    Ryan Muir for NPR

    "This is a really interesting band based in Israel. The lead singer is a Yemeni Jewish guy who likes to channel Prince more often than not — his style, between the falsetto and hip-wriggling. A ton of fun to watch. Their music references everything from funk to traditional Middle Eastern sounds and just sort of a huge gamut." --Anastasia Tsioulcas

    Hear And Download Yemen Blues' Full Concert

  • SMOD

    SMOD
    Ryan Muir for NPR

    "(SMOD) is the initials to the names of the members of this band: the son of Amadou and Miriam, a Malian singer, and the other members." -- Bob Boilen

    "There's a kind of melodicism; quirky sounds, light strummy acoustic guitar. There's a vibe to it you spot instantly. But (this set) is very stripped-down. The strength of the act is very much their vocal sound. And it's not that any of them is a brilliant singer, but they're just so together. A mixture of rapping and singing. Beautiful melodies." —Banning Eyre

    Hear And Download SMOD's Full Concert

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