I have a deep-seated fear of the accordion, probably rooted in some ancient childhood trauma. I dislike string quartets, even those by Beethoven, and have little or no interest in Tango. So how come I like the music of Argentinean guitarist Tomas Gubitsch so much? There’s guitar there obviously, which is much more up my street, and there’s that gitano thing that certain musicians can tap into, but that can’t explain everything. I love the virtuosity of course – who wouldn’t – but if I had to nail it I think it has a lot to do with the element of surprise. Watching and listening to this you’re never quite certain of what’s going to happen next, and there’s a sneaking suspicion that some of the musicians don’t either. Fascinating music with that rarest of qualities these days – playfulness.
In a world crammed full of earnest, competent singer-songwriters strumming acoustics and bumming us out with their personal ups and downs one of the few that really stands out is the Canadian Sarah Harmer. With four albums in 12 years she’s not exactly a prolific recording artist, and as far as I know not much in the way of recorded work has been heard from her since 2010’s excellent Oh Little Fire. But what she has done stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Her website’s currently down, which is a shame, but judging by her busy Twitter account she’s heavily involved making music in support of environmental issues. And God knows, Canada’s environmental movement can use all the help it can get at the present time.
Ladino, otherwise known as Judeo-Spanish, is the language of the Jews of Spanish origin which developed after their expulsion from Spain in 1492, and this is the language heard in many of the songs sung by Mor Karbasi. Born in Israel of Moroccan and Persian heritage she is clearly a mesmerizing singer and performer. She writes original material as well as collecting and arranging songs from Andalucian, Hebrew and Arabic traditions, and apparently there’s a new album due out soon featuring top flight flamenco musicians.
The guitarist is Joe Taylor, himself an interesting musician and producer of Mor Kardasi’s debut album The Beauty and the Sea.
Tomas Gubitsch: The official website
Sarah Harmer: The official website (currently down)
Mor Karbasi: The official website