The annual Rainforest World Music Festival took place 13 – 15 July this year.
The music festival celebrating world music once again took place in its home at the Sarawak Cultural Village with the spectacular backdrop of the legendary Mount Santubong. It was first established in 1998 to celebrate the diversity of music, ranging from traditional music to world fusion and contemporary world music. Renowned world musicians from all continents and indigenous musicians from the Island of Borneo did not fail to entrance the crowd in Kuching yet again. If you missed the great show, fret not. We’ve got you covered with a list of performers we found mesmerising during our trip there.
Hailing from The Republic of Mordovia in Russia, Oyme is one of the most outstanding ethno bands of Russia that has become almost a cult, performing ancient folklore of the Finno-Ugric people. Oyme combines rare female polyphonic singing, reconstructing age old rituals with traditional Mordovian instruments, heathen percussion rhythms and modern devices. Founded in 2012, Oyme travel around the world increasing awareness of their republic, culture, and music.
Arat Kilo, Mamani Keita & Mike Ladd
This explosive synergy by Arat Kilo, Mamani Keita, and Mike Ladd culminates in a groovy combination of French ethno jazz musicians, an African diva and the most infectious American slammer. The jazz band Arat Kilo derives its names from the Ethiopian historical monument erected by the country’s independence champion Addis Ababa. Since their formation, they have worked closely with many vocalists and musicians, but their recent collaboration with Malian songstress Mamani Keita and Boston-born Mike Ladd is their most fiery yet. To put their music succinctly: It is the soul of Addis Ababa interwoven with shiny brass, Malian vocals and peppered with rap.
Sada Borneo of Malaysia has somewhat of a cult following in Malaysia, not only due to their soothing music, but also for being the only Malaysian band to reach the semi-finals of Asia’s Got Talent, a feat they accomplished in 2015. Literally meaning ‘Sounds of Borneo’, their music is a fusion of traditional, modern, ethnic, and nature elements, fusing ethnic melodies with modern arrangements. In live performances, Sada Borneo’s instrumentation prominently features the sape and kulintangan, supported by bungkau, kompang, guitar, keyboard while adapting the sounds of nature into their music. Some of the reimaginings of nature elements are the sounds of rainfall and chirping birds to emulate ambiance of the rainforest.
The Raghu Dixit Project
Raghu Dixit’s unique brand of infectious, happy music transcends age, genre, and even language. His tunes are strongly rooted in Indian culture, well known for taking ancient Kannada poetry and presenting it with a contemporary global sound. Besides fronting a band, Raghu is also Bollywood film composer and has performed for Queen Elizabeth II of England and Prince Philip, at a Diamond Jubilee Pageant marking 60 years since her accession to the throne in 1952. During the RWMF 2018, Raghu collaborated ad hoc with fellow performers Slobodan Trkulja from Serbia and Mike Ladd of USA for a really unique experience.
Described as “Hypnotic Electric Chaabi”, Yallah Bye is a new electro side-project by Tunisian band Jawhar, named after the singing and song-writing lead man. This project brings about a new focus on electro and modern beats combined with folk and poetry, culminating in an edgy, slow, psychedelic performance. Yallah Bye is a groove machine with a soul.
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