latin . african . world


Genre pick of the week Cover of From Kinshasa by Mbongwana Star.
Mbongwana Star is a newly formed band from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Made up of a sprawling network of shanty-towns and night shelters, day-to-day life in the city is far from easy, but the band don't want sympathy. Tired of pre-conceptions around African music, Mbongwana Star (‘Mbongwana’ means ‘change’) are creating their own identity, fusing traditional Congolese rhythms with post punk and electronics inspired by life in the townships around them, "making magic out garbage” says producer and band member Doctor L (who produced Tony Allen's ‘Black Voices’ album). The result is revolutionary. So this isn’t what you would expect from a Congolese band or even an African sound. Like the weird Congo Astronaut that haunts their first video, ‘Malukayi (feat. Konono No.1)’, Mbongwana Star is a naturally occurring, smashed-together combination of things that’s both unexpected and somehow inevitable, too. It’s made from bits of the past and points toward a strange but exciting kind of future, but more importantly you can tell that it’s just loving the present.

This isn’t an African band per se. It’s a trans-global barrier-busting sound machine. 

One of last 2013's heaviest and most summery records, "Coule’Ba" gets reworked by Heidelberg’s groove ambassador, Move D, and Razor-N-Tape boss, JKriv. Move D's version blends the Analog Players Society’s West African instrumentations and soaring vocal talents of Missia Saran Diabate into a chugging atmospheric dub, rich with Move D's textured atmospheres and ethereal radiance. JKriv's boogie rework fits so naturally, so snug, and so smoothly that you'd be forgiven into thinking that it was the original version. Tight guitar chops, big squelchy boogie bass and your typical early 80s groove informs this most excellent version, possibly surpassing the original (sorry APS!) and definitely one for fans of the current wave of afro-boogie, Letta Mbulu et al. Essential stuff! 

Daymé Arocena

Nueva Era

At just 22 years old, Daymé - a singer, arranger composer, and choir director is already a veteran presence in Cuban music, and is fast gaining international profile. She says she has sung all her life and recalls her four-year old self performing on every block in her neighbourhood. She has been performing semi-professionally since the age of 8, and became lead singer with the big band Los Primos at 14.

Daymé first came to the attention of François Renié, Communications Director at Cuban rum maker Havana Club and founder of the Havana Cultura platform. He recalls “Gilles and I met Dayme for the first time on Gilles' first trip to Cuba, improvising a rumba session at a friends place. She started to sing and we were amazed. She was just a teenager". Considered too young to appear on the early Havana Cultura recordings, she nonetheless stayed on Gilles’ radar on his subsequent trips to Cuba.

Recorded in just a few days in London and Havana Daymé’s debut album is a work of elegant maturity, showcasing Daymé’s mix of influences. Her background as a choir director is in evidence on the wonderful layered vocals on tracks like 'Nueva Era', 'Niño' and 'Madres'. The lead single 'Don’t Unplug My Body' shows off Daymé skill at writing an easy-on-the-ear pop tune, whilst there is humour in 'El Ruso' (about her mother being forced to learn Russian in the Soviet supported Cuba of the 80s) and in the lament 'Dust' (inspired by Daymé visit to Canada - she was horrified by the dust in the houses, compared to Cuba where everything is kept meticulously clean).

A strong jazz influence is clear throughout the album - Daymé was advised by her teachers to explore beyond her classical Latin music training and listen to more jazz. Beautiful ballads like 'Come to Me' and 'Sin Empezar' complete a confident and well balanced longer player. The switching between Spanish and English lyrics hinting at an ambition to reach a worldwide audience with her music. Daymé is backed by a truly world class London band (percussionist Oli Savill, Robert Mitchell on piano, and Neil Charles on bass). Production duties are split between Gilles Peterson, his longtime collaborator Simbad and Daymé herself.

Various Artists

Bosphorus Breaks Vol. One - CD Mix By Dom Thomas

Dom Thomas' NN Tapes goes digital with a series of strictly limited CD versions of his previously cassette-only compilations. Limited to just 30 copies for the World!

For the label's fourth CD release they deliver 'Bosphorus Breaks Vol. One' which runs for an hour bridging the gap from sun drenched psychedelic folk to the untapped disco music of Turkey.

Various Artists

Discoid Bombay Vol. One - CD Mix By Dom Thomas

Dom Thomas' NN Tapes goes digital with a series of strictly limited CD versions of his previously cassette-only compilations. Limited to just 30 copies for the World!

Beginning with two mixes from the hotspots of warped seventies sonic plagiarism; Bombay and Istanbul. 'Discoid Bombay Vol.1' features 55 minutes of acid drenched disco rock from India.

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