It's a transglobal affair

World Beat is embracing a new music chart, and the Top 10 is a doozy

Dona Onete – Rebujo. Dona Onete – Rebujo album cover

The summer festival season in Europe, North America and Japan draws to a close this month as bands rest up from touring and take a break before the end-of-year festive season. Those bands that have put out summer releases hope that their albums reach the various charts and get decent airplay; others, meanwhile, have waited for the end of the season to release their new music, so we have a mixture of hot releases from the summer and new ones just released.

World Beat is switching from the European Broadcasting Union's World Music chart to the Transglobal World Music chart, mainly because the contributors -- journalists, critics, writers and DJs -- are drawn from a wider catchment area the EBU's version. World Beat is also in the process of applying to contribute to this chart. As far as I'm aware, there is no such chart for anywhere in Asia, not even in Japan.

Eighty-year-old singer and composer Dona Onete (real name: Ionete da Silveira Gama) tops the Transglobal chart for September with a magical, super-danceable album, Rebujo.

Known as the "Queen of the Amazon", the singer did not release her first album, Feitico Caboclo, until she was 73; prior to that she was a teacher and folklorist. She conducted research into the traditional music and customs of the Amazonas and founded many groups. A singer since her early teens, she developed a hybrid sound called carimbo chamegado. Her breakout album was the 2017 release Banzeiro. Her sound bubbles along samba rhythms blending seamlessly with regional genres like cumbia. Highly danceable music.

Grammy-nominated band Cimarron has risen to second place on the chart with an album of folk music that is both heady and vibrant. The band has taken Colombian roots music and enhanced it with elements from indigenous, European and African influences, the main elements that have created the music of South America. This is an important band for Thai musicians to consider as they seem to be able to breathe new life into the folk traditions of this region.

Balkan brass band, the Boban Markovic Orchestra of Serbia, is the highest-charting European release with there mad-cap album Mrak. The rhythms can get as frenetic as anything Ivo Paposov used to play with his Bulgarian wedding music and it is music that certainly gets the feet moving.

Portuguese fado singer Misia is also riding high on the charts with her updated and sometimes controversial take on fado music Pura Vida. If you like fado then Misia is an interesting artists to consider as she tends to push the boundaries into other genres that have, as she says, "a fado soul".

Africa features in the Top 10 with albums from Refugees for Refugees and Amina, which I mentioned earlier this year. Damon Albarn's collaborative series of African releases has culminated with his best effort to date, Egoli, the fourth release in the series. This one sees his musical collective decamp to Johannesburg to record with local singers such as veteran of the Mahotella Queens singer Hilda Tloubatla on the funky City In Lights songs. Albarn's best release in this series so far.

Bubbling just below the Top 10 are some interesting releases that readers might want to check out. Here's a quick checklist: The Garifuna Collective (from Belize and Honduras) with Aban (Stonetree); Alma Afrobeat Ensemble, Monkey See, Monkey Do (Slow Walk Music); Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan, Times Of Maharajas (ARC Music); and Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi, There Is No Other (Nonesuch).

The latter album is yet another amazing piece of work from one of my favourite current US musicians, Giddens. Longtime readers will remember my enthusiasm for her work with the wonderful Carolina Chocolate Drops (their two albums are essential listening) but of late she has been branching out and extending the boundaries of her music. This one sees her team up with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi to explore the neglected influences of African and Arabic music on European and American music. The result is a fascinating journey into the linkages between music on the three continents.

Meanwhile, some local news. The Thai-Dutch music collective Apichat Pakwan has released Esantronics on the Animist label. Lead by the Dutch musician Olivier Schreuder, the band has been performing electronic music that is blended with traditional music from Isan. I haven't got the album yet but look forward to reviewing it in the near future.

Finally, those readers who like to jump around and dance to tropical pop should head to Studio Lam this Friday, where I will be changing into my DJ alter ego, DJ Por Yai, to join DJ Dangdut Banget on his Basa Bongo night. We'll be spinning music from the "banana belt" with the emphasis on dance beats from Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Bring your dancing shoes; the music begins at 9pm and goes on until late.

John Clewley can be contacted at


Transglobal Music Chart - September 2019

(Artist, Album, label)

1. Dona Onete – Rebujo - AmpliDiversão / Mais Um

2. Cimarrón – Orinoco – Cimarrón Music

3. Mara Aranda – Sefarad En El Corazón De Turquía – Mara Aranda

4. Boban Markovi Orkestar – Mrak – Fonó

5. Angelique Kidjo – Celia – Verve / Universal Music France

6. Mísia – Pura Vida (Banda Sonora) – Galileo Music Communication

7. Oumar Konate – I Love You Inna – Clermont Music

8. Africa Express – Egoli – Africa Express

9. Lajkó Félix & Vołosi – Lajkó Félix & Vołosi – Fonó

10. Refugees for Refugees – Amina – Muziekpublique

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