Various Umalali: The Garifuna Women's Project

For the past five years, Belizean artist/producer Ivan Duran has been on a mission cataloguing the largely uncelebrated musical traditions of the Caribbean’s dispersed Garifuna population, the culmination of which rests in this luminous collection of emotive torch songs from the culture’s matriarch caretakers. The record’s deep, rootsy rhythms and plaintive, life-worn melodies, pieced together from sessions with the progressive Garifuna Collective musicians, provide a noticeably modern backdrop to the raw, harmonious female voices highlighted here. Heavily textured, multi-instrumental percussive attacks provide both subtlety and drive to the equally rhythmic guitar, bass and horn inflections that unite and strengthen the already powerful and evocative vocals in their conveyance of both pleasure and pain. Duran’s Umalali project gives a proper showing to the combination of distinctly African rhythms and noticeable funk, rock and Latin influences that characterise Garifuna music, and will hopefully attract some much-deserved attention to the region in the future. (Stonetree)