Well some people on my friend list might have noticed that I have the tendency to share links with bands playing usual(so to speak) music from unusual places. It is not that I go out of my way to hear bands from Backanistan or anything, though it does always peak my interest when I see a band that is advertised as anything beside Death or Black Metal or Pop coming from places like Pakistan or Bangladesh. It's even better when they sing in their native tongue. I find very few things as annoying as a non-English speaker singing in a faux-American accent with horribly cheesy lyrics, most often then not rhyming Fire with Desire, Madness with Sadness, Oranges with Blancmanges... And so on and so forth. It is not enough of course just to be unusual or from what can be relatively called unusual location, the musicians have to have the talent to actually play the music. Good intentions are all well and good, but those good intentions turn into waste of times if not done correctly.Even better I find is finding usual(so to speak) music blended with whatever the ethnic music making is. For example Tengger Cavalry are from China, they play fairly consistent heavy metal a la Iron Maiden and Judas Priest but in with it they blend Buddhist Throat singing and a Mongolian Instrument that bears the very savoury title Horse Head Fiddle. And it sounds great. It sounds like it should fall apart any moment but it never does. Which of course is the mark of a good band. Tengger Cavalry manage to evoke so many feelings and emotions it is hard to believe, in their native tongue as well. I have no idea what they are singing about but I like to imagine that it involves the Mongolian Expansion across Asia on horseback. Galloping, slaying, freeing, consolidating, resting and repeat.
The Nine Treasures hail from Mongolia, and they do sort of the same thing as Tengger Cavalry, except the play more like speed metal with lots of native Mongolian instruments. They also did what has become my favourite version of Whom The Bell Tolls.
My current favourite Avant Garde band is Thy Catafalque, who hail from Hungary. Well it's a one man project by a guy called Tamas Katai(Or Katai Tamas, if you want to be pedantic). So far Tamas hasn't released, as far as I can tell, a bad album. Even his 'solo' album Erikas Room, is superb. Thy Catafalque is intense, supremely intense and close knit. Where as Erikas Room sounds loose and mellow. Thy Catafalque, is angry, the first albums were furious, but the last two Roka Hasa Radio and Rengetag are still angry, but supplemented with gorgeous interludes.
So far I've talked about bands that sing in their native tongues. Here's one that sings in English, and don't sing with silly lyrics. Ka Mmen, hail from Ukraine. The play what has been described as Post-Metal/Prog-Rock. They are most definitely proggy. But I wouldn't put them in Post-anything personally. They have got a very unusually sound, almost indie like. They again sound great. Love their latest album, The Sands. The singer has a very unusual singing voice, but it fits. As far as I'm aware they've only released one album, so they are worth watching out for.
One instrumental band to be aware of is The Phoenix Paradox. From Mexico. Who are, well, happy. Very happy. In fact they've would have been perfect as an alternative soundtrack for Grim Fandango. Again they fall under the Progressive Metal, and they are very progressive. And happy. They sound like a good mixture between the instrumental songs by Iron Maiden like Losfer Words and The Ides of March played with Combo De La Muerte
Maybe it is because I am from Iceland, and every time some band or singer from there is featured in a magazine outside of Iceland it is mark of unusual music. Though annoyingly it somehow is always compared to either Björk or Sigur Rós. Which is completely unfair of course. Kontinuum for example sound nothing like either, but put out one of the best metal albums I have had the joy to listen to last year, Earth- Blood - Magic. Though it somehow gets lumbered with Black Metal. It is epic and alternative, it swings from feeling to emotion, it is simply a brilliant album. According to Last.fm I've listened to their songs 198 times, though I'm sure that is an understatement. They have only released one album but the main guys are veterans of the Iceland Metal scene and got fair few albums between them. One thing that is quite good about the Icelandic scene is the size. It is small which does result in a lot of mixture and side projects.
So, if you'll excuse me. I'm just going to do some Buddhist Throat Singing to get rid of this phlegm.