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In this world music edition, we take a different approach to music. Instead of focusing on a musical genre or function, we look at its origin. Let me take you on an auditory journey from East to West.
Can’t be bothered to listen to each album separately? Scroll down to the playlist, which features one song from each artist featured in this edition.
Our journey starts in Japan, the mysterious melting pot of Western and Asian culture.
Genre: instrumental, beats, hip hop
Genre: chill out, funk, sampling, hip hop, soul
Political oppression breeds opposition in the arts. Russia is a prime example of this rule, as bands like Pussy Riot demonstrate. In their album “Herbs and Mushrooms”, Pizza Riot lament their country full of wounds, burdened with social drama, and situated in an economic hole. I couldn’t imagine a more apt description for Putinland.
Genre: hardcore, punk, rock
Situated by the Baltic sea, with Russia to its side and Scandinavia to look up to, Latvia, along with its neighbors Estonia and Lithuania, is consequently progressive, not least in its cultural development.
Genre: alternative, indie, lo-fi, dance
Further south, we run into post-communist Poland, which preserved great cultural wealth throughout its moved history. Famous for poets, composers of classical music like Chopin, and Pope John Paul II, Poland also has a lively modern music scene with strong influences from the West.
Genre: alternative, rock, punk, punk rock
Genre: funk, jazz, pop, rock, retro, hip hop, mixtape
We now move to the Balkan, which underwent great changes during the late 20th century, when former Yugoslavia fell apart. Now a politically stable republic and a candidate for joining the European Union, culture can process the recent past and flourish in peace.
Genre: indie, rock, post punk, punk
Genre: alternative, indie, rock, post punk
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Moving north from Macedonia, we soon land in Bosnia, another former member of Yugoslavia. Like their neighbors, the formerly socialist country has a disturbing recent past, which has left its marks everywhere. In his album Mein Kapital (my capital), Damir Avdi? reflects on the aftermath of the civil war, which led to nostalgia and political apathy in the present.
Genre: hardcore, punk, blues
The nation state situated between Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Italy had an eventful history. Formerly a part of the Roman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Yugoslavia, it is now part of the European Union. Like in most countries, the local folk music has a long tradition.
Genre: acoustic, folk
What comes to mind when you think of German music? Brass instruments, folk music, krautrock, electro, or techno? Few know that Germany has a strong hip hop movement. In the 90s, several bands made their way into the limelight and established German hip hop in the mainstream.
Genre: instrumental, beats, hip hop
This small kingdom in the heart of Western Europe arguably produces some of the best beer in the world, is the true origin of French Fries, and host of the EU headquarters. Heavily influenced by Dutch, German, and French culture, its music is a melting pot all the same.
Genre: instrumental, jazz, beats, hip hop
France stands for haute couture (high fashion), cuisine extraordinaire, and romance. Like the Gaul kicked the Romans’ asses, French hip hop beats French chanson over the head.
Genre: electro, blues, rock, hip hop
We’re slowly entering the Latin world, which is strongly tuned into rock, as this band from Spain demonstrates.
Genre: alternative, folk, rock, hard rock, stoner
Street soccer, beaches, carnival, and hardcore rock. Welcome to South America!
Genre: crossover, hardcore, rock, metal, trash metal, grindcore
Time to tango. You’ll notice, that Argentina contributes a disproportional number of albums in this edition. More importantly, the rock movement is strong, as the majority of albums collected over several months demonstrate.
Genre: alternative, indie, ambient, rock, post rock, noise pop, dream pop, shoegaze
Genre: indie, rock
Genre: electronic, bass, dubstep, reggae, hip hop
Genre: alternative, rock, hard rock, pop
Genre: rock, pop
Genre: experimental, rock, stoner, afrobeat
South America’s role model in terms of economic and social development, Chile is also known for its export of minerals, fruit, and vegetables. Outside its border, Chilean music didn’t achieve success. Here, the culture’s inherent diversity is represented by Siel, a group that mixes genres to produce a timeless sound.
Genre: alternative, ambient, chillout, folk, pop, rock
Moving further West and North, we meet Colombia, a megadiverse country that gained questionable fame through its production of cocaine and armed conflicts. Since the beginning of this century, the country has made progress in stabilizing its political and economic situation, moving away from drugs and towards oil production. In 2010, they also secured a spot the list of 10 most sustainable countries in the world, along with Iceland, Switzerland, and Costa Rica. The country’s diversity and European influences are also reflected in the music.
Genre: alternative, latin, folk, pop, rock, jazz
US America’s unofficial 51st state. Culturally, it appears that Mexico is equally influencing its big North American brother as it is being influenced vice versa. Like chocolate, guacamole, and tacos, rock, grunge, and punk spread across the world and also landed in Mexico.
Genre: rock, grunge, punk
Genre: indie, acoustic, folk, blues, bluegrass, jazz-funk, soul
Finally, the melting pot and home of rock music. What could better represent it than Spanish rock?
Genre: spanish rock
For a quick overview of the best from this week’s edition, start the playlist.
Welcome On The Other End
How did you experience the musical transition from East to West? Did you notice cultural spillovers? Any surprises? Please share your impressions in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: World Map via NASA