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World Music CD Reviews Europe

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By Marty Lipp
Published February 17, 2006

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF THE ALPS
World Music Network

While this collection doesn’t make a case for an “Alpine sound,” it does present some intriguing music from a diverse set of countries that overlap this mountainous region. Switzerland’s Laurence Revey starts things off with a simple, but arresting tune sung in the old, Gallo-Romantic dialect of Patois. Alpine Experience, also from Switzerland, does some new-agey yodeling, while the loosely knit group Arco Alpino from Italy spins out a sweet melody carried principally by a mandolin. The excellent, if too short, liner notes, give thumbnail bios of the disparate artists, explaining the studied silliness behind the selections from Austria’s Klaus Trabitsch and Germany’s Ringsgwandl, or the significance of the work of Corin Cuschellas, who modernizes an old tune in Romansch, a dying minority language that dates back to the Roman Empire. The disc constantly surprises, the first being “He’u,” by Austria’s neo-traditional group Attwenter, which sounds like a cross between zydeco and polka. Then, to show the influence of the modern, there is Zabine, an Austrian pop star who mixes traditional aspects into her heavily electronic dancefloor tunes.