Ahead of Womad later this month Scott Kara reviews a selection of sounds from around the world

Back in the heady days of 1970s Nigeria, when Afro-beat and High Life music was almost exclusively dominated by men, it must have been at least a little strange to hear the lighter and more joyous sound of the Lijadu Sisters. But hearing twin sisters Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu today, they just sound refreshing and thrilling.

And though their songs might not be as pent-up, they still pack a rump-shaking punch and intensity thanks to the dizzying mix of styles - from traditional Nigerian rhythms and Afro-beat through to reggae, pysche, disco and soul. Best of all is the resolute lope of Bayi L'Ense, with a deliciously dirty, fuzzy guitar throughout, and then there's the reggae-meets-Calypso-infused Sunshine and dreamy six-minute dance floor anthem Come and Dance.

The 13 songs here - taken from the sisters' four albums from the 1970s, including 1976 debut Danger - are magical and moving.


The Original Sound of Cumbia will also get you shaking - and, given the vast scale of this 55-song collection, it will take a bit of thinking about too. When they say "The history of Colombian Cumbia and Porro" on the cover, they really mean the full history covering from 1948 to 1979.

Compiled by Will "Quantic" Holland, the main man behind Quantic Soul Orchestra and a Colombian music expert and collector, these songs are from "lost" 78s, 45s, and albums he has found over the last five years while digging in Colombia's rich record crates.

The first disc covers the very early origins of Cumbia, and the second charts its evolution with songs like the flighty flute celebration of Cumbia Bogotana by Anibal Velasquez. It's almost a little too overwhelming. But once you start playing it the charm of rousing, enchanting, and always toe-tapping tunes like accordion-driven A Baranoa and the scratchy, beautifully muted La Galta Del Pato takes hold.

The latest pick and mix of tracks put together for this month's Womad festival is more like a souvenir to the event than an essential collection of songs.

Because on the surface it really is a ramshackle bunch with only seemingly the world music connection - and the shared concert billing - holding them together. However, there are some fine tracks here from the friendly and energetic opener Moziki by Congolese paraplegic street band Staff Benda Bilili, Ivory Coast singer and dancer Dobet Gnahore's Deka starts off like Paul Simon before escalating into something more powerful, and the refinement of Senegal superstar Baaba Maal on Fanta proves why he is one of Womad's biggest drawcards. It's also surprising how well the transition from Lo'Jo's smooth French folkie funk of Je Prends La Nuit and the exotic intensity of Palestinian oud-players Le Trio Joubran on Nawar sit effortlessly alongside Neil Finn's Pajama Club and the thrumming groove and heartfelt serenades of TNT For 2.

So this collection does enough to make you think there will be some gems to be had at the three-day festival in New Plymouth starting March 16. Best get your tent, tie-dye pants and fire pois ready, then.

The Original Sound of Cumbia
Stars: 4/5
Verdict: History lesson in Colombian music.

The Lijadu Sisters
Afro-Beat Soul Sisters (Soul Jazz/Southbound)
Stars: 4.5/5
Verdict: All hail the first women of 1970s Nigerian music.

Womad 2012 (Cartell)
Stars: 3/5
Verdict: Your guide to this year's festival.