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The best music of 2012: Global pop


You have to admire artists that go with their instincts regardless of whether there's an audience waiting for them on the other side.

For nearly a decade, American-Israeli group Balkan Beat Box have fused what no band have fused before, and with their fifth album, Give, they've refined their songwriting skills to the point where the result matches their ambitions.

Young Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca's debut, Yo, suggested influences as diverse as Erik Satie and Abdullah Ibrahim. It rarely puts a foot wrong. Vinicio Capossela has been described as Italy's Tom Waits, but his concept album Marinai, Profeti e Balene signposted the fact that he is very much his own man. Incorporating as many styles as there are songs, and utilising everything from orchestra and choir to the most idiosyncratic percussion instruments

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, Mama Rosin continued to believe they had Cajun blood running through their veins. And with Bye Bye Bayou they came as near as they'll ever come to convincing the rest of us that this is the case.

Closer to home, may I introduce you to London band Tigercats, whose debut album, Isle of Dogs, is a strikingly original concoction of late 1970s post-punk, brightened up by jangly Congolese-style guitar. It found itself on my CD player more than anything else in 2012