Various Bosavi: Rainforest Music From Papua New Guinea

Here it is, your one-stop source to the sound of Papua New Guinea. Forgive the almost-cynicism, but it's intended as a compliment to the excellent job the Smithsonian has been doing with reissuing and updating their considerable archives. This beautiful, colourful package of three CDs covers two reissued discs, Sounds of Everyday Life and Songs of Ritual and Ceremony, and adds a disc of guitar bands from the '90s. The Bosavi people live in the southern part of New Guinea and only began to be culturally documented in the '60s. These recordings include aspects of the Bosavi people's culture that have since disappeared. Sounds of Everyday Life is a fantastic ambient recording of a people interacting with their environment. Every task is accompanied by a self-generated rhythm. Conversations with birds are carried on as rich dialogues. The headroom of the rainforest makes for a mind-expanding listen on a good stereo. Sounds of Ritual... features extreme grief and sorrow being transformed into songs of mourning by both men and women. The new entry to this series is the disc of the "new jack" guitar bands of the '90s, which sounds more like Appalachian music of the '30s. There are 19 tracks on this disc and 19 different tuning approaches for a stringed ensemble. These guitar bands are an occasionally catchy blend of traditional melodies, as represented on the other two discs, with Western song structures and instrumentation. (Smithsonian Folkways)