Episode 13: Non-English Language Part 1

I can trace back my love of other languages in music really easily. It’s all to do with the album ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon from 1986. This album got played heavily when I was a kid and introduced me as a 6/7 year old overtly to African instrumentation and other languages or more accurately, non-English languages. Clearly it was distilled through the filter of Western music but that’s fine, I reckon. It was the epitome of a gateway drug and all that really meant was that music with other instrumentation or that was sung in a language other than that which I understood was fair game. I had a context to it and that was all I needed.

Skip forward 30+ years and I continue to love music with lyrics I can’t understand (and, of course, the actual construct of the instrumentation and arrangement itself). In fact, I’ll go one step further and say that there’s a freedom incomprehension brings - I don’t need to worry about the lyrics being not very good if I can’t understand them. Although there’s always the fear that I’m supporting messages I don’t agree with… Ignorance truly appears to be bliss in this case…

A word on some of the music included in this episode. It’s not supposed to be exhaustive. It’s not a tick list of languages or countries. There’s no bias other than it’s music that I love and that flows in a way I feel is enjoyable to listen to and is interesting and even challenging at times. And, as always, a degree of creative licence runs through it - it’s music that is predominantly in languages other than English. You’ll see what I mean, I’m sure.

This is part 1 of 2 so far.



Tracklisting w/ links to purchase, if I can find them (these are directly related to the artists where possible but not always). Also, I take no responsibility for the links. Just trying to help… 

Nai Palm – Wititj (The Lightning Snake Pt. 1) taken from ‘Needle Paw’ (2017) https://www.7digital.com/artist/nai-palm/release/needle-paw-6822919

Jerome Sydenham & Kerri Chandler feat. Vera Mara - Orixás on Ibadan (1999) https://sydenham-chandler.bandcamp.com/album/sauda-o-aos-orix-s-feat-vera-mara

Salome de Bahia – Outro Lugar on Yellow Productions (1999) https://www.7digital.com/artist/salome-de-bahia/release/cabaret?h=2&d=1

Dubtribe Sound System – Equitoreal on Jive Electro (1999) https://www.beatport.com/track/equitoreal-original-mix/6433428

The KLF – Dream Time In Lake Jackson taken from ‘Chill Out’ on KLF Communications (1990) https://www.discogs.com/The-KLF-Chill-Out/master/13456

Susumu Yokota – Uchu Tanjyo taken from ‘Sakura’ on The Leaf Label (1999) https://susumuyokota.bandcamp.com/album/sakura

Issa El Saieh – Nan Pwen Lavi Anko (or Nan Point La Vie Encore Oh!) taken from ‘Voodoo Drums In Hi Fi’ (1958) https://www.7digital.com/artist/issa-el-saieh/release/voodoo-drums-in-hi-fi

Kiki Hitomi – Yellow Song taken from ‘Karma No Kusari’ on Jahtari (2016) https://jahtari.bandcamp.com/album/karma-no-kusari

Conquering Lion – Code Red (94 Remix) on Congo Natty (1994) https://www.junodownload.com/products/conquering-lion-code-red/1783179-02/

Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express – Junun taken from ‘Junun’ on Nonesuch (2015) https://www.7digital.com/artist/shye-ben-tzur-jonny-greenwood-and-the-rajasthan-express/release/junun-4973908?f=20%2C19%2C12%2C16%2C17%2C9%2C2

Asa-Chang & Junray – Hana taken from ‘Jun Ray Song Chang’ on The Leaf Label (2002) https://asa-changjunray.bandcamp.com/track/hana-2


Spotify episode playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/rosscale/playlist/3RRXVWOFoFdccZVRu1dALP?si=fOhtRgf1TXa25bJqzrC9CQ

Threadwork is presented by Ross Cale.

Huge thanks to Bod for production support.

Huge thanks to Bettina Langlois for the Threadwork soft sculptures. Check out some of her other work here: https://www.instagram.com/bettenoire93/


Twitter: @rosscale