Matt Ingram is dead right about those nasty Putumayo covers – Isabel actually owns Gypsy Caravan and the sleeve has always been a bit distressing. In other ways the label is a bit more innovative – their ‘Playground’ series of world music for educationalists and kids is a sound idea and they’ve placed the CDs in various toyshops etc. (The ‘African Playground’ CD is pretty good musically too, a very simple pop selection – no idea what a child would make of it but it’s kept me entertained.)

I’m also sympathetic to Matt’s doubts about how ‘World Music’ labels select their music – where are the Nigerian casio experimentalists we’re not hearing, he asks? I only keep a tenth of an eye on the World sections in my record shop but I sometimes snap up things that look like they might be hip-hop or electronica-influenced; musics with a global reach which must surely be inspiring some fantastic local mutations. Most ‘world music’ selectors intuit that those kind of musics aren’t what their buyers back home want to hear (and they might be right), maybe because of issues with what constitutes ‘authentic’ ethnic music, maybe because some of these people will have “got into world music” after being turned off by pop’s turn to the programmed/digital.

(Case in point: if anyone can sort me out with a CD of Brazialian ‘funk’ – baile funk as I think it’s known – I’d be very grateful.)