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Various Artists: Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea

Primitive musical culture is an ever-more endangered species, as Westernization sweeps around the globe. That gives added significance to a project like Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea, a three-CD set that documents the musical and sonic life of the indigenous people in the shadow of the volcanic Mt. Bosavi, on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea. Bosavi scholar Steven Feld has studied the people for a quarter century and was previously involved in the 1991 album Voices of the Rainforest. Here, the three CDs give a composite portrait of the people, and give an impression of the way in which songs, rituals and daily life are inextricably intertwined in the Bosavi experience. The disc entitled “Sounds and Songs of Everyday Life” documents work songs and environmental soundscapes recorded in the field. “Sounds and Songs of Ritual and Ceremony” captures ritualistic singing and funerary “weeping” that have all but disappeared from the culture since the ’80s. The disc entitled “Guitar Bands of the 1990s” is the most startling, a collection of tunes in which guitar-wielding Bosavi musicians meld their own musical heritage with that of Western folk music. It sounds strangely familiar, and strangely alien, simultaneously-a new “world music” in the making.

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