Howard Male: The best World albums of 2008

‘Soha’s debut album is a fizzing cocktail of tango, hip-hop and soul’
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The Independent Culture

Strangely my current favourite world music band hails from Denver, Colorado.

But 'A Mad & Faithful Telling' by DeVotchKa is a sublime collection of tunes that embraces Balkan Gypsy music, punk rock and Ennio Morricone-style spaghetti western soundtracks.

'A Town Called Addis' by Dub Colossus is also a curious hybrid – with 1970s Ethiopian funk placed in a dub reggae context. The end result doesn't sound contrived because band leader Nick Page actually went to Ethiopia to find his collaborators, rather than just pasting a bunch of samples together on his laptop.

Both the Brazilian collective Sonantes and Mali's Issa Bagayogo also produced laptop confections which avoided the sterilising effect that can occur when music hasn't been performed live at any point. Bagayogo's 'Mali Koura' should finally see him getting the recognition that other West African stars such as Amadou and Mariam have received. Whereas Sontantes, a recent side project of new singer Ceu actually overshadows her own recent debut. This is smoky, off-kilter music awash with spy-movie atmospherics.

Finally, French singer Soha's debut 'D'Ici et d'Ailleurs' is a fizzing cocktail of tango, hip-hop and soul. Soha speed-raps one minute, and sounds like Billie Holiday the next, and it's breathtaking stuff.