Latitudes: The International Music You Must Hear In August

By Anastasia Tsioulcas  |  NPR

Mauritanian singer and instrumentalist Noura Mint Seymali.
Mauritanian singer and instrumentalist Noura Mint Seymali. Ebru Yidiz for NPR

This month’s offerings for what you have to hear from Asia, Africa and Europe are a mixed plate. There are some new summer songs to catch up on, including a fabulous party tune, a very pretty number used in one of this summer’s most talked about films and a video I just can’t stop watching from an emerging duo. I’m also playing a quick round of “Where Are They Now?” with two acts I’ve been following for a while; both use fantastical, psychedelic sounds, but to very different ends.

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Latitudes: The International Music You Must Hear In August

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Artist: Ibeyi
Album: Oya
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Ibeyi: River
Artist: Ibeyi
Title: River
Album: Oya

I'll admit it: I am head over heels for the Cuban-French sister act Ibeyi, who released their first EP earlier this month and premiered the video for this song here on NPR Music. Their other single, "Oya," references both the harmonies and textures of medieval church music and earthshaking West African drumming. Still, it's "River" that haunts me.

DJ Sanj ft. Mani Kaur and Jay Status: Jorri
Artist: DJ Sanj ft. Mani Kaur and Jay Status
Title: Jorri
Album: Jorri

This reworking of an old Punjabi song — Snehlata and Didar Sandhu's "Jori Jadon Chobare Charh Di" — is sheer danceable fun. With singers Mani Kaur and Jay Status, producer DJ Sanj has blown up "Jorri" with big, disco-y brass and hip-hop throwbacks. It's a track that's been a hit this summer in the British Asian scene.

Noura Mint Seymali: Tzenni
Artist: Noura Mint Seymali
Title: Tzenni
Album: Tzenni

A bunch of folks on the NPR Music team were blown away by Mauritanian vocalist Noura Mint Seymali's performance at globalFEST 2014, so it's a special pleasure to hear her first international album, Tzenni. This singer comes from local musical royalty, as the stepdaughter of Dimi Mint Abba and daughter of a composer. Yet Seymali and her band — which includes her guitarist husband — take their multicontinental explorations further with their totally electrified take on Moorish tradition. The hints of psychedelic rock and funk in their shows have become even more pronounced on this album.

Imam Baildi: Mistirio (Mystery)
Artist: Imam Baildi
Title: Mistirio
Album: Tria

Last year, I tapped a band named after a delicious vegetable dish — Imam Baildi — for our "Austin 100" list of bands to look out for at SXSW. Their new album, Tria (Three), features their signature modern riffs on old-fashioned Greek rembetiko music; it's now No. 3 on the chart in their native country. On this track, they're joined by a Greek MC who goes by Eisvoleas.

Moreno Veloso: Verso Simples (Simple Verse)
Artist: Moreno Veloso
Title: Coisa Boa
Album: Coisa Boa

A son of tropicalia legend Caetano Veloso, singer-songwriter Moreno Veloso is back — after a 13-year absence — with the album Coisa Boa (Good Thing), being released in September on Luaka Bop. If you've seen the Richard Linklater film Boyhood, you've already caught three of Moreno's songs in passing, including this very charming tune.