MASTER MUSICIANS OF JAJOUKA FEATURING BACHIR ATTAR (Point Music) Talvin Singh works in the vein of electronic trance music. The Master Musicians of Jajouka are members of the Attar family who live in Jajouka, a village in the mountains of Morocco. The male members of the family do nothing except create music, and they’ve done the same thing for eons. Every now and then someone will visit the village and record the music. This time around Singh visited and produced the latest effort. While Bachir Attar, the group’s leader, might be pleased with the result, there are some difficulties. “The Truth Forever,” the disc’s second piece, is more than 10 minutes of caterwauling. Granted these men are known to play continuously for hours and hours, if not days, but enough is enough. Everything else will certainly induce a trance. The electronic enhancements only improve on what is an ever-changing tradition.
SHELLAC 1000 Hurts (Touch & Go Records) Shellac is that famous producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, the Breeders, the Pixies, PJ Harvey, etc.) creating his own music in a non-commercial manner. The CD begins with “Prayer to God,” a rant about death to a perpetrator of infidelity. This individual appears once again as Shellac reaches “Canaveral,” the seventh song. The female involved is less guilty than the male, or at least according to the first song. As things continue in between—in such a minimalist fashion that folk music is a better classification than rock—Shellac remains enraged. “Mama Gina” and “QRJ” do contain the big bang that made Albini’s former band Big Black such a sensation, but restraint is the key. A lot of little boys half Albini’s age attempt to project anger through lyrics and music, but 1000 Hurts is angrier than most while remaining subtle.
BIG SANDY AND HIS FLY-RITE BOYS Night Tide (Hightone Records) Robert Williams, a.k.a. Big Sandy, is a songwriter of some note—at least among the few thousand people aware of his existence. His latest songs, and the accompaniment of the Fly-Rite Boys, have a distinctly Western flair. Night Tide is what I’ll call a cowboy disc. There is a tribute to Spade Cooley titled, “When Sleep Won’t Come (Blues For Spade).” Even though Cooley was recognized as the “King of Western Swing,” he was also a contemporary of singing cowboy Roy Rogers. Dark songs, harmonies, the familiar voice of Big Sandy, Ashley Kingman’s guitar, Lee Jeffries’ steel—all the elements are in place.