This is just the merest sampling of the huge amount of music available east of NATO territory... I can hardly claim that this is a comprehensive, or even representative, sample of what's available. Nonetheless, these are some of the albums which have leapt out at me over the last few years -- hopefully you will find these records as striking as I have. And keep checking this site for more reviews-- it is sure to expand over time. This is the first page covering the letter "O"...
Ondekoza "Kyoten Dochi" (Tropical Music, 2004)
It's difficult to capture the power of Japanese taiko drumming through any recorded medium -- if you're not right there in the room with your bones vibrating as the big drums pound in unison... Well, it just ain't the same. That's one reason, along with the eventual need to innovate, that taiko albums often have crossover elements woven in alongside the drumming. This long-lived Japanese ensemble, formed in 1969, roves far and wide on its latest record, incorporating traditional shamisen lute and the shakuhachi bamboo flute on some numbers, a wild, free-jazz saxophone on others, some vocals, and a tune or two from the West. There are also several songs with pure, fast taiko drumming -- rippling, dense, creative arrangements that must be thrilling to see live, but sound pretty nice on disc as well.
Oojami "Boom Shinga Ling" (CIA, 2006)
Fun, brainlessly upbeat modern bhangra from this lively UK ensemble. I can't make up my mind whether I find the English-language lyrics distractingly banal, or a way to make the culture even more accessible. But I do known that every track on here kicks in with a killer melodic hook, and even if the hip-hop elements aren't to my liking, the rest of the mix is a lot of fun. Pretty enjoyable, even if it ain't immortal art.
Asian & Islamic Albums: Letter "P"
Asian Music Index
World Music Index