19 February 2007

Monday's mp3: Saving West Papua

Map of Papua and West Papua Province (before t...Image via WikipediaMerdeka: Artists from around the world unite in support of the independence movement in West Papua (CD Review)
Dancing Turtle Records -- release date 5 March 2007

I really wanted to love this album. Really I did. Among the 20 tracks are a couple from artists I really enjoy: Norwegian yoikers Vajas and Gypsytronica troupe Shukar Collective. Digging into the album, however, I found the musical selections from 17 nations to be disjointed. Irish singer Laura Baker's "In Our Hearts" has a great message, but its smoothness jars after the wonderful island-guitar vibe of Modeste Hughes Randriamahitasoa's Malagasy "Celestina." I won't give you a track-by-track accounting; suffice to say that other juxtapositions cause a similar disorientation. And there's no justifying text in the packaging explaining why the tracks/artists were selected, or any translations of the lyrics.


That said, I don't want to discourage you from checking out this compilation. It does contain good music -- not least Zambian Dominic Kakolobango's "Ubukwa" and Ohayo-Samba's "Brazil Yori." And the whole thing is for a great cause: the independence movement in West Papua. West Papua -- also known as the Indoensian province of Irian Jaya -- lies in the western part of the island of New Guinea, and its indigenous people have been struggling against Indonesian occupation, which has resulted (the notes say) in "one of the world's worst cases of ethnic cleansing" with more than 400,000 West Papuans killed since 1963. All proceeds from CD sales go directly to refugee support programs.

So yeah, it's a great cause. And in the face of the social/political /military situation I feel petty for nit-picking about the tracklist. I just wish the flow of the album was a little more natural. I would even have suggested two discs: one of music from West Papua, one of musicians from elsewhere who support the cause. You can find out more about the album and hear song samples at the Dancing Turtle Records website.

[mp3] Zambian Dominic Kakolobango: "Ubukwa"
from the album Merdeka

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