Various artists Planet ★★★✩
WHILE the boatpeople debate rages, refugees from war-torn and troubled homelands continue to assimilate into Australian society. Music plays a significant, if largely unheralded, role in the integration process, and it’s one that enriches the cultural landscape immeasurably. Initiated in 2005, Visible is a mentorship program in Melbourne that links newly arrived musicians with established local producers and artists. The compilation showcase of this year’s program,
Visible Seven, underlines the efficacy of this Multicultural Arts Victoria enterprise. There’s no finer example of multiculturalism at work than the polished reggae track Get Up and Live delivered by Ras Jahknow, a collective that teams musos from Sri Lanka, Guinea, Cape Verde and Tonga with Mauritius-born vocalist, drummer and sound engineer Jason Heerah, of Electric Empire fame. The latter’s musical and mentoring skills are evident in Timorese group Mystic Trio’s equally slick Give Freedom a Go and Ethiopian teenager Sinit Tsegay’s
Yemegemriaye. Heerah’s prowess as a producer shines in Bitsat Seyoum’s Ethio-jazz opener Alsemi Geba Belew. Nicky Bomba (Bustamento) works his mojo on Anbessa Gebrehiwot’s Hallelujah, in which the singer accompanies himself on traditional Ethiopian instruments masenqo (one-string violin) and kirar (lute). J-Azmaris, a seven-piece Ethio-jazz band recorded and produced by Damon Smith, pays eloquent tribute to Mulatu Astatke. Elsewhere, South Sudanese and Rwandan-born rappers M. Wol ( Africa) and Macc-Too ( Better
Future) benefit from the expertise of local producers Ptero Stylus and Ivan Khatchoyan.