AQUARIUS RECORDS…. AFRICA

album cover ORCHESTRA BAOBAB African Classics (Sheer Sound) cd 14.98
This collection of sure-shot classics from this veritable Senegalese institution has been making us seriously crave hammocks and sunshine. All you’re gonna want to do when you hear these songs is rock back and forth ever so gently as the wind blows and the sun shines and you forget all your worries at least for just a little while. The way Orchestra Baobab mix their Senegalese musical roots with elements of Latin, Caribbean and Cuban musical styles meshes so perfectly. Soulful vocals, call and response delivery, and a masterful use of horns. So good! All too often horns are brash and upfront and nothing but a shiny annoyance, but Orchestra Baobab know how to use horns, subtly and seductively, making them ring in our ears with such delight. The perfect lazy Sunday afternoon record for sure. Highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: « Liiti Liiti »
MPEG Stream: « Ndeleng Ndeleng »
MPEG Stream: « On Verra CA »

album cover ORCHESTRA BAOBAB N’Wolof (Dakar Sound) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Seeing as how Orchestra Baobab had just released a brand new album, we thought we’d pick up their first album (recorded between 1970 & 1971) for kicks and it’s so damn good we’ve decided we ought to just list it. Orchestra Baobab’s namesake is derived from the club (its interior decorated like the trunk of a gigantic baobab tree) where the group backed up a fluid collection of vocalists who would sing for drink and cash. Unlike the group’s later recordings, the tracks on N’Wolof have a much more subtle Latin influence with the exception of a few numbers (the vocal chorus for « Cheri Takama » sounding a great deal like « La Bamba ».) At times, during the longer, contemplative numbers, they sound strikingly like Mali’s Rail Band (itself the house band at a Bamako hotel) during this same period. Which should probably not come as much of a surprize considering Mali shares Senegal’s Eastern border. It’s these longer tracks — some 7 and 8 minutes — where Orchestra Baobab really shines; the vocals dropping out, leaving rhythm guitar, bass & drums to play unbelievably sensuous back up for laid back sax and guitar solos. And it’s the guitar solos (by the amazing Barthelemy Attiso, who still plays with the group) that are truly *gorgeous*. It’s that unmistakable African pop electric guitar sound: hollow body electric guitar with lots of reverb & tremolo. But then, on top of that, there’s these insane psychedelic, fuzzed out solos with heaps of echo that fairly raises the hairs on your skin. It’s almost painful when these tracks end, and you’re awoken from your opiate like reverie. And it was all recorded live (sans audience I’m pretty sure) at the Club Baobab. The surviving tapes and albums — originally released on the club’s own Bao label — are in varying states of decay — you can distinctly hear some tape drop out more than once (but I personally love that such analog anomolies will forever survive in the digital realm.) But fidelity schmidelity, this album is absolutely fucking essential!
RealAudio clip: « N’Diaye »
RealAudio clip: « Aduna Jarul Naawo »
RealAudio clip: « Lat Dior »

album cover ORCHESTRA BAOBAB Pirates Choice (World Circuit) 2cd 23.00
Orchestra Baobab was formed in 1970 in Dakar, Senegal to inaugurate the opening of The Baobab Club. The band was made up of musicians from Dakar’s Star Band (formed in 1960) and numerous other big players in Senegal’s fertile music scene played parts in the group as well. The music of Orchestra Baobab and much of the Dakar scene was heavily influenced, ironically enough, by Latin songs and rhythms. Three of the songs on Pirates Choice are reworkings of Cuban songs and much of their music is sung in Spanish as well (so, it’s very recommended to Buena Vista Socail Club fans). Kit drums and percussion lay the backbone of the Baobab sound, a deep and muted bass fills the room while a warm and reverberant guitar plays laid back solos, betraying even the fastest of the band’s numbers. Occasionally a saxophone will add its two cents as vocalists sing in Wolof or Spanish. Though the Latin influence is always present, the songs here are much less drum taut, more likely to swing with an off the cuff ease. The tracks on these two discs were recorded in 1982, but only the six tracks which comprise the first disc were ever released on lp or cd. Lovely.
RealAudio clip: « Utrus Horas »
RealAudio clip: « Soldadi »
RealAudio clip: « Ngalam »

album cover ORCHESTRA BAOBAB Specialist In All Styles (World Circuit) cd 17.98
Brand new recordings from Senegal’s legendary Orchastra Baobab. The group, which got its start over 30 years ago, had a huge comeback with the reissue of their 1982 release « Pirate’s Choice ». It seems that the global attention the band received via this trip to the vaults inspired the band to reform, tour, and finally, to cut a new album of songs. Those fearing a watered down, world beat shadow of the band’s legacy should sigh a heavy sigh of relief. « Specialist » could well have been recorded 20 years ago as much as it was several months ago. It’s nice to know that the grubby little paws of Peter Gabriel and other homogenizers of music still can’t destroy everything. Orchestra Baobab still stick to the same instrumental arrangements: airy & echoey electric guitars, deep & warm bass, saxophones, drums (along with congas, maracas & timbales) and vocals. The Latin influence in their rhythms and melodies is still ever present and, thankfully, they still opt for a live sound in their recordings, as they have since their earliest recordings. A fine return from a great band.
RealAudio clip: « Dee Moo Woor »
RealAudio clip: « Hommage A Tonton Ferrer »

album cover PATTON, CHARLEY Screamin’ And Hollerin’ The Blues: The Worlds Of Charley Patton (Revenant) 7cd 160.00
This is seriously one of the most amazing packages we’ve ever seen. And lucky for us the music easily lives up to the breathtaking packaging. This is the ultimate Charley Patton collection, finally giving props to the man who was tearing it up when Robert Johnson was still a kiddie. 5 discs of every issued and unissued track by Patton and his sessionmates Son House, Willie Brown, Louise Johnson, Henry ‘Son’ Sims, Bertha Lee, Delta Big Four, Buddy Boy Hawkins, Edith North Johnson as well as talent scout HC Speir. Disc 6 is Pattons contemporaries: Ma Rainey, Howlin’ Wolf, Poor Boy Lofton, Kid Bailey, Walter Rhodes, Rube Lacy, Blind Joe Reynolds, Tommy Johnson, and Pops Staples. Disc 7 is all interviews with Pattons associates: Staples, Wolf, Speir, and Booker Miller. Also included is a 128 page book John Fahey wrote about Patton in 1970, as well as liner notes from Fahey, and a host of blues scholars, lyrics, full size reproductions of 6 original 1929 ads, a full set of 78 record label stickers and tons more. But it’s the packaging that’ll knock your socks off. A huge green fabric 78rpm-style hardcover (something like 14″ x 11″) slipcase, complete with a pocket for Fahey’s book, and all 7 cds mounted on faux 10″s, in old fashioned 10 inch sleeves, which along with the liner notes are all bound on one side just like old multple set 78s. So unbelievably nice. For those unfamiliar, Patton was one of the founders of Mississippi Delta blues. With a palpable anger just below the surface, Patton combined gruff gravelly vocals, heavy handed guitar style, amazing bottleneck slide, and lyrics made up on the spot, into some of the most important music in our history.
RealAudio clip: CHARLEY PATTON « Pony Blues »
RealAudio clip: CHARLEY PATTON « A Spoonful Blues »
RealAudio clip: CHARLIE PATTON « Down The Dirt Road Blues »
RealAudio clip: SON HOUSE « County Farm Blues »
RealAudio clip: UNKOWN CONVICT « Blues »

album cover PEKOS / YORO DIALLO s/t (Yaala Yaala) cd 14.98
First release from Drag City sublabel Yaala Yaala, a new Sublime Frequencies style series of West African musics culled from field recordings, found sounds and tapes purchased at flea markets. And much like Sublime Frequencies, these mostly low fidelity recordings are allowed to remain mysterious, no liner notes, very little information about the artists, just a brief bit of text, mostly about the discovery of the music itself, and one can only assume, no system in place for providing the artists with royalties. A sticky situation for sure, one we can only hope the label will eventually address and make right. In the meantime though, these recordings are so fantastic. Raw and intense, gritty and gorgeous.
Yoro Diallo is from Mali and is a well known singer and here is paired up with Pekos, who plays a guitar-like lute, an instrument whose sound is absolutely mindblowing, a fierce buzzing rhythmic riffing, crunchy and heavy, warm and resonant and so so powerful. Strummed and struck, picked and rubbed, weaving a totally hypnotic groove, on the first track it takes the form of a raw blues jam, the melody looped and repeated mantra like while Diallo, wails over the top, his voice deep and intense, as powerful and raw as the music beneath it. The two trade verses, Pekos offering up a never ending patter, almost scatting, while Diallo swoops in every few measures and destroys, his delivery a super intense almost toasting. The first track has been stuck in the cd player on repeat since we first got this in. All the intensity and emotion of Konono No.1 and the same sort of festive vibe, as well as the same song structure, a looped cyclical jam that could go on forever and ever and oh how we wish it would. The second track is like a slowed down back porch version of the first. The strings weaving a loping laid back backdrop, with simple percussion, and the same vocal interplay, Pekos more subdued, Diallo a gorgeous intense roar.
Besides the first track, the other highlight is probably the track, a sprawling midtempo jam, way in the background, simple metallic rhythms and softly strummed guitars, while over the top, another guitar is pounded in and out of tune, warbling drunkenly, intertwined with the vocals, eventually dropping most of the melody and becoming another percussion instrument, emitting occasional squalls of tangled melody before returning to its motorik pulse, until eventually evolving into an almost James Brown like detuned funk jam, with the crowd watching going wild. So intense and emotional. One of our favorite ‘new’ recordings, we can hardly wait for the rest of the series…
MPEG Stream: « Untitled 1 »
MPEG Stream: « Untitled 3 »
MPEG Stream: « Untitled 4 »

album cover PHIZMIZ, ERGO The System Of A Down Sessions Vol. 1 (Mukow) cd 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The return of the truly genius and truly wild and weird Ergo Phizmiz. You may have read about him in the most recent issue of the Wire. Or you may have picked up one of his cd-r’s that we listed here in the past, including a disc of interpretations of The The songs. Well, if you dug that one here’s another one for you. Tweaked and twisted versions of songs by nu metallers System Of A Down! Fear not, the songs are barely recognizable, in fact a couple of times it made us laugh out loud these « versions » were so bizarre. Jungle rhythms, soaring soundtrack strings, skipping exotica records, creepy holiday music, and bleating trombones are smeared wildly over sliced and diced chunks of the original songs. Sounds like something that would be right at home on Tigerbeat 6 or Violent Turd.
MPEG Stream: « Chop Sue Me »
MPEG Stream: « Fucked Kirkus »

album cover PSYCO ON DA BUS s/t (Platform) cd 16.98
The press release for this record claims that it attempts to « fill the gap between the 70s and the new millenium, blending gospel & soul vocals, Afrobeat rhythms, jazz & funk licks with wicked electronics », but uh… they forgot to confess it’s *bad*. This is just limp throwaway material, too fragmented and half-thought-out to warrant a cd release, too spaced out to be funky, too loungey to be anything more than cocktail party background mood music at some yuppie watering hole. Legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen deserves better than that, doesn’t he? Granted, the album was made between a tour that Allen, Doctor L, and various other guys embarked upon in 2000, and it was probably hard doing stuff on the bus or in living rooms in between soundchecks. But that’s no excuse for releasing this when it sounds so obviously halfbaked (or totally baked, if you know what I mean). Sorry, I’d recommend you pass on this and pick up Tony Allen’s recently reissued older albums — No Accommodation For Lagos / No Discrimination and Jealousy / Progress — which are certifiably great Afrobeat classics.
RealAudio clip: « Afropusherman »

album cover RAGAB, SALAH & THE CAIRO JAZZ BAND Presents Egyptian Jazz (Art Yard) lp 25.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Now available on vinyl!
Wow! What an artifact. Here’s some Egyptian jazz from the late ’60s-early ’70s courtesy of of the man who founded the first jazz big band in Egypt and later accompanied Sun Ra on tour in Egypt, Greece, France and Spain. We’re pretty sure you must be damn curious by now, so we should tell you that beyond those enticing facts this is some seriously fine jazz played by a band made up of some of the best musicians in Egypt during that era. Five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, piano, bass, drums and percussion all coming together to form a super rich and tasty sound. Incorporating Middle Eastern melodies and mystique into its sound, this is the kind of jazz that’s pretty impossible not to fall for. Like the best instrumental Ethiopiques tracks, Sun Ra’s big-band era and Randy Weston’s multicultural approach to hard bop. Incredibly pleasing!
MPEG Stream: « Dawn »
MPEG Stream: « Oriental Mood »

album cover RAGAB, SALAH AND THE CAIRO JAZZ BAND …Present Egyptian Jazz (Art Yard) cd 23.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Wow! What an artifact. Here’s some Egyptian jazz from the late ’60s-early ’70s courtesy of of the man who founded the first jazz big band in Egypt and later accompanied Sun Ra on tour in Egypt, Greece, France and Spain. We’re pretty sure you must be damn curious by now, so we should tell you that beyond those enticing facts this is some seriously fine jazz played by a band made up of some of the best musicians in Egypt during that era. Five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, piano, bass, drums and percussion all coming together to form a super rich and tasty sound. Incorporating Middle Eastern melodies and mystique into its sound, this is the kind of jazz that’s pretty impossible not to fall for. Like the best instrumental Ethiopiques tracks, Sun Ra’s big-band era and Randy Weston’s multicultural approach to hard bop. Incredibly pleasing!
MPEG Stream: « Dawn »
MPEG Stream: « Oriental Mood »

album cover REFAT, MAHMOUD Miramar (100Copies) cd-r 14.98
We like a label that is totally upfront about their intentions, no beating around the bush, a label like 100 Copies, who are simply and succinctly letting us know, that this is in fact, a drastically limited release, and once we run out, we will not be able to get more. So be warned, we tried to order a ton of these, and ended up with a little more than a dozen. So why should you care? Well for the 12 or 13 of you who are quickest on the BUY IT NOW button, the work of Mahmoud Refat is a series of soundscapes crafted from the sounds of daily life in Egypt, conversations, calls to prayer, street musicians, portable power stations, the sounds of children playing, the bustling market, all woven into fuzzy glitchy dronescapes, some dark and lugubrious and barely moving, others skittering and looped sounding, while still others are funky jazzy Autechre-ish jams. Chopped up voices, sampled instruments, soft indistinct drifts of ambient sound, ultra minimal abstract glitch and rumbling cavernous whirs all woven into a gorgeously mesmerizing whole, from the distinct sonic threads of people’s lives, halfway around the world.
LIMITED TO 100 COPIES (duh) and we have less than ten…
MPEG Stream: « Wrong Information 1 »
MPEG Stream: « Mirimar »

ROGIE, S.E. The Palm Wine Sounds of… (Workers Playtime) cd 15.98

album cover SOM IMAGINARIO s/t (Rev-Ola) cd 16.98
Oh how nice! Want to feel the glow of summer’s warmth no matter what it feels like outside. Som Imaginario have got the golden rays for all of us to bask in. Brazil, 1970 — and yeah start thinking Os Mutantes and the Tropicalia revolution of sound. While they never got the wide attention that some of their peers would end up receiving, their music was just as dazzling, delightful and adventures as those whose names are now much more known (Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, etc). Som Imaginario were a six piece who initially came together to back up Milton Nascimento for his short lived Brazilian TV show. This their debut was never released outside of Brazil until now, and with Os Mutantes launching a reunion tour this spring, the time is ripe for other wonderful sounds from that scene to finally resurface. Equal parts sun soaked pop, fun-freak-out and an underlying irreverent spirit make this one of those reissues that doesn’t just sound cool in theory but you actually want to listen to it over and over.
MPEG Stream: « Super-God »
MPEG Stream: « Tema Dos Deuses »

album cover TARTIT Abacabok (Crammed Discs) cd 16.98
There is no doubt that we have a big soft spot for so much of the music that comes out of West Africa and Mali in particular, so we were not sure how we missed the first album from this great Mali outfit called Tartit, but we are more then pleased to jump on their fan wagon with their new outing Abacabok. Recorded in the northern Mali desert by Congotronics producer Vincent Kenis, this is a record that keeps you captivated from start to finish. Call and response vocals, handclaps and percussion creating the perfect back-beat, three-string lute and one string fiddle, a few moments of electric guitar. It all comes together to form a record that feels so coherent, hypnotic and grounded to the salt of the earth. Fans of Tinariwen and Ali Farka Toure will be thrilled to hear this record. And just about everyone here at AQ has caught the Tartit fever with a fury! This is really great!
MPEG Stream: « Eha Ehenia »
MPEG Stream: « Tihou Beyatene »

album cover THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE QUEEN s/t (Virgin) cd 13.98
Damon Albarn has quietly emerged from the shadows of 90’s MTV fame with Blur’s hit (No. 2 Song) to become one of the more interesting musical figures in the more mainstream realms of modern rock. From his travels to Africa that resulted in the great Mali Music album, his collaborative efforts in The Gorillaz, and even the last Blur record, Think Tank which was pretty much a solo endeavor and contained some really smart and somewhat somber pop songs. He’s also been running a great record label Honest Jons who have released some amazing records old and new from the likes of Moondog, Candi Staton, Tony Allen, Las Malas Amistades, etc. The Good The Bad & The Queen is his latest project and he’s assembled quite the all-star cast including Clash bassist Paul Simonon and legendary drummer (of Fela Kuti fame), Tony Allen, with production duties handled by Danger Mouse. Together they’ve created a really nice album of subdued pop songs with layers of warmth and an expansive and moody disposition. At times it even made us think of a more polished version of Three Mile Pilot’s Another Desert Another Sea, and this for sure should appeal to fans of Pinback and Radiohead. This keeps growing on us listen after listen, revealing something more each time. For sure one of our favorite major label records in quite a while.
MPEG Stream: « Kingdom Of Doom »
MPEG Stream: « Behind The Sun »

album cover TINARIWEN Amassakoul (Harmonia Mundi) cd 17.98
About time we listed this, people have been raving about this North African band for a while, and this new domestic cd came out last fall…we’ve been selling ’em pretty steadily but our review slipped thru the cracks until now. So here’s the lowdown if you haven’t yet heard about these folks. The members of Tinariwen are Tuareg, nomadic people from the borderlands of Libya, Algeria and Tunesia. Formed in 1982, the group can probably boast the most interesting circumstances under which they met: in a rebel training camp of Colonel Ghadaffi’s while fighting in an insurgency against the Malian government! So it may or may not seem odd that the most distinctive sound they share with another is the lilting electric guitar of Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure. After 22 years Tinariwen have fused shades of Taureg music with Bo Diddley like rhythms and traditional instruments with electric bass, guitar and drums. Andee thinks the rhythm they keep returning to throughout the album sounds a lot like 50 Cent’s « In The Club »!
MPEG Stream: « Amassakoul ‘N’ Tenere »
MPEG Stream: « Aldhechen Manin »

TURNER, OTHA & THE AFROSSIPPI ALLSTARS From Senegal To Senatobia (Birdman) cd 14.98
‘Mystical goat dancer’ is an apt describer of Otha Turner, an ageless creation of the Mississippi earth whose musical mastery is over a simple fife carved out of a bamboo cane fishing pole. Together with his Rising Star Fife & Drum band, Turner has for years fashioned shrill whistles around the militant snare march of the drum core, reconstituting the rhythmic hypnotism of lost slave songs. This album is a much more sedate outing for Turner as he has been joined by a handful of Senegalese musicians, beautifully linking the two divergant African sounds. Turner’s domineering presence is neccessary for the success of these fusions, but at times, he seems to wander off (to feed the chickens? after all this was recorded at his farm) on two tracks which snap back to traditional Senegalese rhythms. Regardless, an excellent document.

album cover V/A A Place Called Africa (Trojan) 2cd 19.98

album cover V/A Africa Raps (Trikont) cd 16.98
When we first ordered this, we imagined it would be a compilation of rapping in African music, or more like the roots of modern rap in Africa, but instead this is a collection of some of the most popular contemporary rap groups in Africa, and it’s pretty great. It’s interesting to hear how the music, while obviously reminscent of American hip hop, incorporates all sorts of traditional African musics as well as modern music (especially Mbalax or African commercial pop), as well as rapping in French and Wolof and a heavy political/religious bent as 90 percent of African rappers are Muslim. As a simple hip hop compilation, this stands up pretty well. Fans of MC Solaar and the Le Flow hip hop collection from a few years back will love this. But as a musical and sociological document, complete with Trikont’s excellent liner notes, this is essential.
RealAudio clip: BMG 44 « Xam »
RealAudio clip: POSITIVE BLACK SOUL « Boul Ma Mine »
RealAudio clip: TATA POUND « Badalia »
RealAudio clip: PEE FROISS « Jalgaty »

V/A Africafunk: Return to the Original Sounds of 1970s Funky Africa (Harmless) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

V/A Africafunk: The Original Sounds of 1970s Funky Africa (Harmless) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

V/A African Rap: Rappers, Rebels and Ragamuffins (Rough Guides) cd 14.98

album cover V/A Afrika Underground (Counterpoint) cd 19.98
A collection that only begins to scratch the surface of the rarely heard of underground jazz scene in South Africa. Compiled by Jake Behnan, « Afrika Underground » covers « jazz funk & fusion » stuff from the mid-seventies to the early eighties, from the musicians who were instrumental in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Artists compiled: Movement in the City, Dick Khoza, Zacks Nkosi, Jabula, George Lee, Mike Makhalemele, Pacific Express, Harari and Lionel Pillay. You’ll have to look elsewhere if you want to know if the anti-apartheid movement had its own version of Black Power free-jazz improv like in the USA, ’cause this is definitely on the electric, easy listening, funky side of things. « Rare groove » fans are probably fiending for the original vinyl of this stuff. Lively, danceable and fun despite the social and political circumstances under which this music was made.
RealAudio clip: MOVEMENT IN THE CITY « Lament »
RealAudio clip: DICK KHOZA « Chapita »
RealAudio clip: PACIFIC EXPRESS « The Way It Used To Be »

album cover V/A Afro Baby – The Evolution Of The Afro-Sound In Nigeria 1970-79 (Sound Way) cd 19.98
In addition to reissuing their Ghana Soundz collection, Sound Way has put together an additional 12 rare tracks of afro-beat from Nigeria. Included along with mainstays Fela Kuti and Orlando Julius are several lesser known (this side of the pond anyhoo) groups like The Mebusas, The Don Issac Ezekiel Combination, The Martins Brothers Dance Band and more. Like Ghana Soundz, this CD comes with a thick booklet of info, including artist bios, and album art repros.
MPEG Stream: THE MEBUSAS « Son of Mr. Bull Dog »
MPEG Stream: DR. VICTOR OLAIYA’S INTERNATIONAL ALL STARS « Omelebele »

album cover V/A Afro Cuba: Drums Of Cuba: Afro-Cuban Music From The Roots – Grupo Oba-Ilu (Soul Jazz) cd 21.00
There aren’t many instruments that we would want to hear a whole record of. But drums are an exception. Drums seem to be the unifying instrument for all music lovers. Whether it’s hip-hop, Japanese noise, krautrock, funk, afro-beat, etc. we all love hearing the drummer get wicked! There is something so mystical and powerful about the sound of drums that its no wonder that they have often been used as the main instrument in so many mystical & spiritual settings. Recorded by Soul Jazz in Cuba at the ICAIC studios these recordings demonstrate the African-influence on the drumming used in Cuban religious cults and ceremonies. Much like the amazing Voodoo Drums, and Spirits Of Life comps Soul Jazz put out a few years ago this is another great collection of frenzied drumming for a higher calling.
MPEG Stream: « Yuka »
MPEG Stream: « Guiro »
MPEG Stream: « Makuta »

album cover V/A Afro Cuba: Drums Of Cuba: Afro-Cuban Music From The Roots – Grupo Oba-Ilu (Soul Jazz) 2lp 24.00
There aren’t many instruments that we would want to hear a whole record of. But drums are an exception. Drums seem to be the unifying instrument for all music lovers. Whether it’s hip-hop, Japanese noise, krautrock, funk, afro-beat, etc. we all love hearing the drummer get wicked! There is something so mystical and powerful about the sound of drums that its no wonder that they have often been used as the main instrument in so many mystical & spiritual settings. Recorded by Soul Jazz in Cuba at the ICAIC studios these recordings demonstrate the African-influence on the drumming used in Cuban religious cults and ceremonies. Much like the amazing Voodoo Drums, and Spirits Of Life comps Soul Jazz put out a few years ago this is another great collection of frenzied drumming for a higher calling.
MPEG Stream: « Yuka »
MPEG Stream: « Guiro »
MPEG Stream: « Makuta »

V/A Afro Funk Explosion (Explosive Entertainment) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Yet another collection of classic 70’s afro-funk. Subtitled « Motherload From the Motherland », the 13 tracks here are certainly a goldmine of afro-funk. Some are in the vein of Fela Kuti, some are bizarre interpretations of the James Brown sound, and some are akin to the instrumental tracks you might find in a seventies film score. Featuring cuts by the likes of Manu Dibango, Matata, Dick Khoza, Assagai, and much more. All the tracks were mastered directly from vinyl sources, so along with the usual surface noise anomalies you get a couple songs where the lp’s hole was punched off center and the track is a bit warbled. Rather charming, I think. The bad or, to be sure, truly sucky thing about this compilation is its complete lack of liner notes whatsoever — you get a track listing and that’s it. I’m not opposed to quasi-bootleg re-issues, but if someone’s going to go through the trouble of archiving the tracks they should at least give a little background info as to their origin, maybe even some bios on the more obscure artists.
RealAudio clip: AFRO FUNK « Afro Funk »
RealAudio clip: ASSAGAI « Cocoa »
RealAudio clip: MFALME « Maku Penda »

V/A Afro Funk Explosion (Explosive Entertainment) 2lp 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Yet another collection of classic 70’s afro-funk. Subtitled « Motherload From the Motherland », the 13 tracks here are certainly a goldmine of afro-funk. Some are in the vein of Fela Kuti, some are bizarre interpretations of the James Brown sound, and some are akin to the instrumental tracks you might find in a seventies film score. Featuring cuts by the likes of Manu Dibango, Matata, Dick Khoza, Assagai, and much more. All the tracks were mastered directly from vinyl sources, so along with the usual surface noise anomalies you get a couple songs where the lp’s hole was punched off center and the track is a bit warbled. Rather charming, I think. The bad or, to be sure, truly sucky thing about this compilation is its complete lack of liner notes whatsoever — you get a track listing and that’s it. I’m not opposed to quasi-bootleg re-issues, but if someone’s going to go through the trouble of archiving the tracks they should at least give a little background info as to their origin, maybe even some bios on the more obscure artists.

V/A Afro-Rock Volume One (Kona) cd 16.98
Kona records presents a new collection of Afro-Soul and Funk tracks taken from the late sixties to the early seventies. 11 tracks from 11 groups that arose out of the Pan African identity movement in the 60’s, hailing from Sierra Leone, Kenya, Zaire, Ghana and elsewhere. Super tight, ready to explode afro-funk tracks that will make your butt shake are what you can expect when you put this disc on. Though the comparisons to Fela Kuti are inevitable and maybe even appropriate, many of the artists here were contemporaries of Kuti and were as much a part of shaping the sound that became associated with Fela (there are plenty of classic afro beat horn sections, electric piano & organ solos and funky wah wah guitars here), but there are also tracks like Super Mambo 69’s « Sweeper Soul » which takes a lot more cues from American soul and R&B than most, and the spaced out & psychedelic « Mabala » by the Yahoos which is unlike anything else. All in all this is quite a nifty collection, certainly one of the best compilations of Afro-rock/funk/soul/beat that we’ve heard in ages. Features a couple tracks, one previously unreleased and the other only ever before available on cassette. Recommended.
RealAudio clip: JINGO « Fever »
RealAudio clip: SUPER MAMBO 69 « Sweeper Soul »
RealAudio clip: YAHOOS « Mabala »

V/A Angola 60’s (1956-1970) (Buda Musique) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
First in a new series from the same label that brought us the Ethiopiques compilations. Influenced by such elements as Congolese highlife and music from Brazil & the Caribbean, some of the musicians here have even worked with such Pan-African stars as Rochereau, Sam Mangwana and Franco. The Zairian style is evident here: lots of lush hollow body electric guitar with tons of reverb. And yet both the Portuguese & Caribbean influences are equally apparent in the melodic lines, and the language – all in Portuguese.

V/A Angola 70’s (1972-1973) (Buda Musique) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Second in a new series from the same label that brought us the Ethiopiques compilations. Influenced by such elements as Congolese highlife and music from Brazil & the Caribbean, some of the musicians here have even worked with such Pan-African stars as Rochereau, Sam Mangwana and Franco. The Zairian style is also evident here: lots of lush hollow body electric guitar with tons of reverb.

V/A Angola 70’s (1974-1978) (Buda Musique) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Third in a new series from the same label that brought us the Ethiopiques compilations. So far, *this* installment might be the best of the bunch. Lovely, fun, ’70s African pop.


album cover V/A Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain & Bush (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
We’re pretty damn excited about Nonesuch’s decision to reissue the entire Explorer Series on CD. The series was spearheaded by Nonesuch chief Teresa Sterne who ran the label from 1965 to 1975 (when she was canned by Warner bean counters who had just acquired the label and its parent Elektra.) Sterne earned her stripes through her championing of modern American composers Edgard Varese, Elliott Carter, George Crumb and Scott Joplin. The Explorer Series was another undertaking entirely, and was the first time anything close to a thorough collection of recordings of world music had been attempted for commercial release. Dating as far back as 1966, with David Lewiston’s recording of Balinese « kecak » chant, the entire series is nearly 100 discs in total! Broken up into 8 regions there are recordings from Africa, Indonesia/South Pacific, Tibet/Kashmir, Latin America/Caribbean, East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and India. Quite and undertaking. All the discs include the original liner notes that were included with the LPs so, as the editor warns at the beginning of each booklet: « general cultural perceptions or specific factual information may have occurred since then. » Each release comes with a handsome outer sleeve, the liner notes are accompanied by nice black & white photographs and though the lengths of the CDs are generally between 30 & 40 minutes, the nice price fairly makes up for it.
More fuckin’ weird animal sounds? Fuck Yeah!!! You must have noticed by now that we here at Aquarius go a little nuts when we get a good recording of some animals kicking out the hella mad squeals, growls, hoots, clicks and snorts. And when their sounds are unlike anything we’re likely to hear on a walk through the Marin headlands or in Tilden Park, we get pretty excited. What’s more, many of the animals on this collection — for those who haven’t heard them before — sound nothing like what one’s intuition would suggest. For instance, who would think that the rhinoceros, weighing in at 2000 pounds and capable of goring any one of us like a twinkie with its horn, would have a larger vocabulary than a series of menacing snorts? But au contraire, the rhino — as captured here — has, in its mating call, one of the cutest inquisitive mewls you’ll likely ever hear. It sounds almost like it’s on the phone giving positive reinforcement to the hippopotamus on the other end complaining about the way the lion has been acting of late. Or how about the Hyrax, a small East African mammal about the size of a rabbit (and a distant relative of the elephant of all things), that makes a loud growling noise not unlike someone trying to start a chainsaw. But that’s not all, you get the Vervet monkey with its complex vocabulary announcing to all its mates that a leopard is on the prowl. And not to seem biased towards the primates’ side of the story, the producers also included the leopard’s growling complaints about the monkeys’ behavior. And that’s just the beginning! You also get Zebras (they sound a lot more like coyotes or dogs than horses), Wildebeest (think frogs), Lion (say no more), Hyena (god, hyenas are freaks! no matter how many times you hear them, they never lose their charm), Wild-Dog (someone scrubbing a plate glass window clean with a gerbil), Silver-Backed Jackal (parrot?), Elephant (elephant), and last — but certainly not least — the hippopotamus (on the other end of the line with the rhino.) Originally released by Nonesuch as part of their Explorer series in 1973, it’d take the most tenacious DJ to find a copy of this on vinyl so pick it up on disc today. Absolutely essential!
RealAudio clip: « Hyrax »
RealAudio clip: « Rhinoceros »
RealAudio clip: « Hyena »

V/A Azagas and Archibogs (Original Music) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Nigerian dance band highlife with a wild edged jauntiness and a go-for-the-jugular instinct for mixing local rhythms and melodies with jazz tinged horn solos and Congo-influenced guitar work.

V/A Bilongo (Comet) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The third volume of unearthed African music treasures from the 1970s, tracks so rare that they originally only appeared in TV shows or in library archives. Yum! Of the three volumes of this stuff that Comet has reissued, this the jazziest of the lot, filled with boogieing organ and piano. This is true « rare groove » for people who get off on using phrases like that (you know who you are). Here we have music from Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, etc, and includes a great track with the Art Ensemble of Chicago!!
RealAudio clip: EKO « Kilimanjaro My Home »
RealAudio clip: SERGIO OTANAZETRA « Gislaine »

V/A Bilongo (Comet) 2lp 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The third volume of unearthed African music treasures from the 1970s, tracks so rare that they originally only appeared in TV shows or in library archives. Yum! Of the three volumes of this stuff that Comet has reissued, this is the jazziest of the lot, filled with boogieing organ and piano. This is true « rare groove » for people who get off on using phrases like that (you know who you are). Here we have music from Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, etc, and includes a great track with the Art Ensemble of Chicago!!

album cover V/A Bongo Flava: Swahili Rap From Tanzania (Out Here) cd 16.98
Hip hop, called Bongo Flava in Tanzania, has had an odd inverted development in relation to its US mentor. Unlike the US where the genre started in the streets, only to be picked up by the middle class as its popularity spread, it was the children of the wealthy and elite in Tanzania who would bring back western hip hop initially that eventually would trickle down to the poor in Dar es Salaam. But it was the poor who put the creativity and effort into making a full-fledged Bongo Flava scene — though the production resources are still in the hands of the few, which results in an industry not disimilar to Jamaica’s burgeoning music industry in the early seventies. What’s more, while the faces of American rap stars grace the walls of clubs (there are some nice photos of such included with the accompanying booklet) and music stalls are pasted with their promotional posters, it’s the local Bongo Flava stars that top the charts in Dar es Salaam, not the Americans. This is partially out of a sense of national pride, but also to the fact that the Tanzanian listeners can understand the Swahili lyrics of the local singers, which makes them a great deal more compelling to listen to than someone they can’t understand. Part of this sense of national spirit can be attributed to former president Julius K. Nyerere, the first president after the country acheived independence, who sought to unify the country, which included making the official language of Tanzania Swahili. Now, despite the derision of elder Tanzanians who see the music as hooligan’s music, the Swahili spoken Bongo Flava can be heard almost everywhere in Dar es Salaam. The production on these tracks shows just how far the digital age and software based home recording studios have made it possible for those of minimum means to approach the production standards set by the well heeled studios of the west. CD comes with a thick booklet detailing the history of Bongo Flava and short bios on the included artists.
MPEG Stream: JUMA NATURE FEATURING PROFESSOR JAY « Umoja wa Tanzania »
MPEG Stream: LWP MAJITU « Usinichanganye mi »
MPEG Stream: X-PLASTAZ « Dunia dudumizi »

album cover V/A Booniay (Afrodisiac Records) cd 12.98
The first release from Afrodisiac Records, Booniay is a really fun comp of funk, afrobeat, and highlife from ’70s West Africa. There’s a lot of James Brown « heuh! » exclamations, a lot of Fela-style horns, a lot of smokin’ groovy organs, and ridiculously groovy bass. The shining gem here is over ten minutes long, « Body and Soul » by William Onyeabor, who is also featured (w/ a different track) on the excellent Nigeria 70 comp that we also carry. And that’s about all we know, cos Afrodisiac doesn’t include ANY info about the groups at all, not even what countries they were from. There are some photos of the covers the tracks were taken from, but let’s hope Afrodisiac follows Strut’s good example by doing at least a little token research about the music. We’re interested!
RealAudio clip: WILLIAM ONYEABOR « Body and Soul »
RealAudio clip: GYEDU BLAY-AMBOLLEY « Akoko Ba »

V/A Booniay (Afrodisiac Records) 2lp 16.98
The first release from Afrodisiac Records, Booniay is a really fun comp of funk, afrobeat, and highlife from ’70s West Africa. There’s a lot of James Brown « heuh! » exclamations, a lot of Fela-style horns, a lot of smokin’ groovy organs, and ridiculously groovy bass. The shining gem here is over ten minutes long, « Body and Soul » by William Onyeabor, who is also featured (w/ a different track) on the excellent Nigeria 70 comp that we also carry. And that’s about all we know, cos Afrodisiac doesn’t include ANY info about the groups at all, not even what countries they were from. There are some photos of the covers the tracks were taken from, but let’s hope Afrodisiac follows Strut’s good example by doing at least a little token research about the music. We’re interested!

album cover V/A Burkina Faso: Rhythms of the Grasslands (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
Originally released in 1983 as « Rhythms of the Grasslands: Music of Upper Volta, Volume II », as the companion volume to the release now known as « Savannah Rhythms ». The music on this album, even more than most others in the African portion of the Nonesuch Explorer series, is dominated by percussion instruments: calabash, metal objects, hand clapping, and all manner of drums. Which isn’t to say that there are no melodic instruments contained here. A jirkil (a one string lute) makes its appearance quite often, as do the occasional thumb pianos and, of course, voice.
RealAudio clip: « Alhamdulillaahi »
RealAudio clip: « Bwaba Drum Solo »

album cover V/A Burkina Faso: Savannah Rhythms (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
Originally released in 1981 as « Rhythms of the Grasslands: Music of Upper Volta », the change to the more poetic « Burkina Faso » (meaning « Land of Upright Men ») was bestowed upon the nation by its Marxist leader a year after this album was originally issued. Performed in ritual — the editor stresses this music as being performed « ‘with’ people, not ‘for’ them » — from everyday activities such as harvesting in the fields to special events such as weddings, the music on this disc is as varied as the events it accompanies. The disc begins with a couple of great xylophone (or marimba) ensembles performing during a wedding celebration, but also featured on this disc are tracks including mouth harp and flute, fife and drums, chorus, one-stringed lute and calabash, gourd clarinet and rattles, and more xylophones. One little detail purchasers may note is that there apparently was a bit of a track listing screw up whereby four cuts don’t match their corresponding descriptions, but determined buyers can easily figure out which tracks go with which descriptions (and who knows, this problem may be fixed in subsequent pressings.)
RealAudio clip: « Lemendi Gyeba »
RealAudio clip: « Hfaf Finien Kien Lo Lay-Nu »

album cover V/A Burundi: Music From The Heart of Africa (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
We’re pretty damn excited about Nonesuch’s decision to reissue the entire Explorer Series on CD. The series was spearheaded by Nonesuch chief Teresa Sterne who ran the label from 1965 to 1975 (when she was canned by Warner bean counters who had just acquired the label and its parent Elektra.) Sterne earned her stripes through her championing of modern American composers Edgard Varese, Elliott Carter, George Crumb and Scott Joplin. The Explorer Series was another undertaking entirely, and was the first time anything close to a thorough collection of recordings of world music had been attempted for commercial release. Dating as far back as 1966, with David Lewiston’s recording of Balinese « kecak » chant, the entire series is nearly 100 discs in total! Broken up into 8 regions there are recordings from Africa, Indonesia/South Pacific, Tibet/Kashmir, Latin America/Caribbean, East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and India. Quite and undertaking. All the discs include the original liner notes that were included with the LPs so, as the editor warns at the beginning of each booklet: « general cultural perceptions or specific factual information may have occurred since then. » Each release comes with a handsome outer sleeve, the liner notes are accompanied by nice black & white photographs and though the lengths of the CDs are generally between 30 & 40 minutes, the nice price fairly makes up for it.
Recording the musical practices of other cultures is often extolled as a way of preserving those practices, as they seem to always inevitably become wiped out due to some form of « modernization » within the culture. Most often it seems that it’s the multinational media conglomerates, the loud mouth of the United States, that has a bigger and bigger effect on culture everywhere as more and more people have television and radio. But sometimes it’s something more directly horrific that has this detrimental effect on a culture and that makes the music that has been archived almost un-nerving to listen to. Such is this recording from Burundi made in 1974. Even at the time of the recording ethnic fighting had already resulted in the death of 200,000 Burundians. The Hutu of the Northwestern part of Burundi, where these tracks were recorded, that had not fled their country, have most likely been killed in the ensuing nearly 30 years of bloodshed. So the seemingly happy music contained on this disc belies the more sinister reality of its existence. No fewer than five of the tracks are tributes to then Tutsi president Michel Micombero, which were to be performed during rural political gatherings. Having said that, I hope that doesn’t depress anyone enough not to pick this up. There’s a great variety of excellent tracks on this disc ranging from beautful songs accompanied in various forms by ikembe (thumb piano), flute, drums as well as other stringed instruments (like the inanga which sounds like a stringed bass) to heavy drum corps songs. In particular, the song « Take Me Back To Mabayi » in which and old man accompanies himself on inanga and incorporating vocal effects reminds me of the late great Camerounian songwriter, poet, playwrite Francis Bebey. I wonder if Mr. Bebey picked up any tricks from Burundian musicians during his travels?
RealAudio clip: « Yes, I love Micombero »
RealAudio clip: « Take Me Back To Mabayi »
RealAudio clip: « Warriors Of The Drum »

album cover V/A Bush Taxi Mali: Field Recordings From Mali (Sublime Frequencies) cd 14.98
Given the sheer volume of commercially available music that’s come out of Mali (to say nothing of its west African neighbors, and the rest of the continent), one would think there would be a lot more field recordings of street musicians and the sundry other less commercially viable artists who don’t attract the attention of the mainstream world music market. There certainly were labels such as John Storm Roberts’ Original Music (R.I.P.) which had been hard at work on just that task many years ago, but recent years — what with « world beat » becoming a commercially viable genre targeted to the lowest common denominator — there’s been less and less new, raw, unadulterated sounds to be had from the region. The first, in what is hopefully not the last, attempt from Sublime Frequencies to ameliorate this oversight comes from Tucker Martine. And what a nice collection of tracks it is. Recorded in the Fall of 1998 with, if we may say so, some incredibly nice field recording equipment, Bush Taxi Mali is like a really nice panoramic snapshot of music and sounds. The tracks range from miscellaneous street sounds, the dulcet tones of the kora (a bridged 21 stringed lute with a large calf-skin covered gourd resonator), fife and drum music, children singing and clapping, gorgeous acoustic guitar, and an absolutely frenetic wedding celebration with distorted bull horn amplification.
MPEG Stream: « Morning In Djenne »
MPEG Stream: « Bambaran Wedding Celebration »

V/A Central Africa: Banda Linda Horns (Buda Musique) cd 16.98
Fans of that magnificent « Orgues A Bouche » mouth-organ music from Bangladesh cd might be interested in checking this disc out, as it features some pretty darn cool horn music polyphony from the Banda Linda people of the Central African Republic, who sort of do with their horns what the Bangladeshi musicians do with their reeds: repetitive, minimal drone-trance music, although this is perhaps a bit livelier and « danceable ». The Banda Linda make their horns, some of them over 6 and a half feet long, from the trunks of kapok trees that have been hollowed out by termites. With upwards of twenty members to an ensemble (which consists mostly of kapok horn players who can only play one pitch, plus a few higher pitched antelope horn players capable of two pitches along with trills), the combined trumpeters mete out an eerie polyphony. Also included on this disk are several tracks by the Banda Linda of percussion ensemble music.
RealAudio clip: BANDA LINDA HORNS « Dangaye »

V/A Club Africa 2 (Strut) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Another stunning collection of mid-’70s Afrofunk, culled from well-loved albums to impossibly rare 7″s and lost treasures. Raw, fiery, melodic, sheer exuberance in sound! From such countries as Lagos, Cameroun, Guadeloupe, South Africa, Nigeria. From famous musicians such as Hugh Masekela (his track is one of the most gorgeous pieces of sunshine I’ve ever heard), Roy Ayers (who toured with Fela for a spell), and the legendary percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, to lesser knowns such as Letta Mbulu (who caterwauled that amazing opener « What is Wrong with Groovin' » on the equally excellent « Ouelele » comp) and Max B. Recommended.
RealAudio clip: MAX B « Bananaticoco »
RealAudio clip: HUGH MASEKELA « A Long Ways from Home »
RealAudio clip: LETTA MBULU « Mahlalela »

album cover V/A Congotronics 2: Buzz ‘N’ Rumble From The Urb ‘N’ Jungle (Crammed) cd + dvd 16.98
You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last year to not know about Konono No1, but for those of you who have been, let’s recap shall we? Konono No.1 formed over 20 years ago in Kinshasa (the capital of Zaire) and have been performing their own version of Bazombo trance music, incoporating into their sound, more out of necessity than any avant garde aspirations, home built amps and microphones, hand made instruments, all assembled from old car parts and batteries, pieces of wood and various found bits of scrap material. Performing in the city and thus forced to compete with the din of cars and people and city sound, they built their own PA and speaker system, making their sound much louder but also lending it a buzzing distorted sound that became as much a part of the music as the insturments themselves.
The main instrument though, and the one which defines their sound, is an amplified likembe, a sort of thumb piano, which when run through the homemade pickups and ramshackle PA speakers buzz and distort and the melodies end up sounding like some strange sixties psych fuzz guitar. So those distorted melodies atop a wild festive bed of tribal percussion, hand drums, whistles, call and response vocals, it’s like African highlife music but infused with all manner of, well like the title suggests BUZZ and RUMBLE.
But it would be naive to think a band like Konono No.1 developed in a complete vacuum. And one would assume that the music scene in Kinshasa would at least in some ways be like any place else, with loads of bands, all playing together, swapping members, that sort of thing, and this record demonstrates that for sure. While Konono No.1 ended up being the worldwide ambassadors for the Kinshasa sound, they are most definitely just one of many groups creating an amazingly vibrant scene. In fact some of the groups on Congotronics 2 take some of our favorite parts of Konono’s sound and take them even further!
All of the bands on Congotronics 2 sound at least similar, employing the same basic song structure and same basic instrumentation. Cyclical repetitive rhythms, bells and hand drums locked in dense pulsing frameworks, loose but definitely the backbone of the music, the vocals are festive and wild, a single voice joined by a chorus. Each track is typically one part, maybe two, repeated and repeated with subtle variations, being as that it is an offspring of trance music, this hypnotic quality definitely defining all of these bands, a buzzing looped joyful noise, the sort of music that makes people want to dance and sway and move, eyes closed, getting lost in the mesmerizing repetition.
All of the bands also seem to employ the electric likembe as well to different effect. Sobanza Mimanisia up the distortion, their thumb pianos practically growl, super percussive and blown-out, definitely the heaviest band of the bunch. Whereas the Kasai Allstars employ their likembes as a swirling delicate percussive background, not at all distorted, gentle, liliting and pretty, sounding the most like traditional high life music. The one way in which many of the bands differ from Konono is their use of guitars, the interplay between a distorted thumb piano and a distorted guitar can be beautifully dizzying.
While all the bands are different, those differences are subtle enough that this could very well be a record by a single, albeit quite varied band, almost as if Konono No.1 decided to expand and explore a little for record number two. If you loved Congotronics, then this will for sure hit the spot, and actually the more we listen the more we think this might be even better than the first one. Konono No.1 have a SOUND, and that sound is amazing and beautiful and practically perfect, but they truly traffic in trance music, every song a subtle variation of the song before, almost like they have ONE hour long song that just happens to be split into parts, which we love, like most droning repetitive music, if there was a way to have each track last for six hours we would, but by the same token, one has to be in the right frame of mind to bliss out and trance out. So while this collection is still most definitely trancey, it’s a bit more varied, with more instrumentation (one group even incorporates accordion!) and thus ends up being a bit more engaging, especially to the casual listener.
And as if another disc of buzzing rumbling joyful trance music wasn’t enough, there is also a DVD featuring live footage of 6 of the bands, including Konono (so for those of you who missed their recent visit to the US, here’s your chance to see what you missed). Each band performs live, surrounded by throngs of families and children, often performing in houses, on street corners, people dancing, smiling, embracing, this is truly happy joyful music. And the footage is amazing, allowing us a glimpse not only of these amazing bands, their individually customized instrumentation, sardine cans, milk crates, springs, lengths of PVC pipe, hubcaps, film canisters, wooden boards, tin cans, thier costumed and face painted dancers, their dramatic introductions to performances, but also a look at the people, and the city, and the houses, and the streets of Kinshasa, and the culture that inspired such an amazing music.
MPEG Stream: SOBANZA MIMANISA « Kiwembo »
MPEG Stream: KISANZI CONGO « Soif Conjugale »
MPEG Stream: BASOKIN (FEAT. MI AMOR) « Mulume »

album cover V/A East Africa: Ceremonial & Folk Music (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
Originally released in 1975 as « Africa: Ceremonial & Folk Music », this collection of recordings comes to us from Northern Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania and is extremely varied in the tracks contained within. From the insane Aluar Horns which feature a group of horn players each with a horn capable of playing merely one pitch (reminiscent of the « Orgues A Bouche » in that sense) accompanied by a chorus of singers and a troupe of drummers, they mete out a teeth gnashing fanfare unlike about anything we’ve heard this side of Test Dept.’s « A Good Night Out. » This track is immediately followed by the soft seven stringed enanga which accompanies a vocal duet as pretty as you can imagine. The rest of the disc is just as good, with both haunting and beautiful ceremonial music caught on tape.
RealAudio clip: « Aluar Horns »
RealAudio clip: « Enanga »
RealAudio clip: « Samburu Warrior’s Initiation »
RealAudio clip: « Wagogo Soothing Song »

album cover V/A East Africa: Witchcraft & Ritual Music (Nonesuch) cd 12.98
Recorded in 1975 by David Fanshawe, Witchcraft & Ritual Music is a collection of recordings made throughout Tanzania and Kenya of medicinal music. Fanshawe explains that, in this recording he had « tried to capture the spirit of a musical heritage now nearly extinct. The music on this album comes from a part of East Africa whose musical traditions remain largely unknown to the rest of the world. Particularly fascinating is the manner in which music and medicine are combined in the indigenous practice of witchcraft; music becomes associated with the healing sound of drums, interwoven with beautiful threads of melody. » Most of the music utilizes vocals, individual and chorus, in addition to percussion and several tracks include stringed instruments and some of the most odd and amazing horn playing you’re likely to ever hear. Most notable is the buzzing melodies of the Kenyan bung’o horn weaving its melodies throughout a choral accompaniment.
RealAudio clip: « Ngoma Ra Mrongo »
RealAudio clip: « Kayamba Dance: Giriama Wedding »
RealAudio clip: « Nyatiti »

album cover V/A Echoes of Africa: Early Recordings (Wergo) cd 17.98
Interesting collection of early recordings from throughout the African continent. Rare recordings dating as far back as 1929 and on up to the early 50’s give us a peek into the germinus of modern popular music on the continent. Inundated by Christian missionaries, Europeans looking to make a buck and an increasingly urbanized lifestyle new forms of music had been developing even long before the introduction of the phonograph to Africa. There’s a wealth of proto-African pop on here in the form of string bands, concertina and/or accordion groups, guitar, brass bands and vocal ensembles.
MPEG Stream: WEST AFRICAN INSTRUMENTAL QUINTET « Bea Tsin No. 2 »
MPEG Stream: SITTI BINTI SAAD « Njia Ungurusumbwe »
MPEG Stream: LAGOS MOZART ORCHESTRA « Ore Mi Kini Se »

Laisser un commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion / Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Google+

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Google+. Déconnexion / Changer )

Connexion à %s

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :