artist site : buy CD/hear samples
To fully appreciate Bob Brozman's latest musical journey, you need to start without him. Start by getting the Smithsonian Folkways 3-CD anthology Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea. Pull out the disc called Guitar Bands of the 1990s. Listen to the raw guitar and voice music, the result of missionaries' introduction of guitars, ukuleles, and Western harmonies into the area starting in the 1970s.
Whether a result of time or Brozman's influence, the arrangements on Songs of the Volcano are more polished, though still earthy, his addition of slide guitar giving the impression of some long-lost Polynesian tribe. I was sorry to note that there's no overlap in bands between the two albums - a direct comparison would have been very enlightening. Volcano is certainly more accessible and more melodic, while retaining some of the late-night-campsong quality of the group vocals. This album is fascinating, and Brozman deserves kudos for his efforts to preserve and strengthen PNG's musical traditions. But even with the included DVD, Volcano doesn't erupt with as much appeal as his past collaborations with single master musicians Debashish Bhattacharya, Rene Lacaille, and Takashi Hirayasu.