world . african . latin

WEEK STARTING 24 Mar

Genre pick of the week Cover of Analog People Digital World by Arp Frique.
Arp Frique returns with a new album after a string of releases, leaving the cratediggers and dancefloor tastemakers with underground classics like "Nos Magia", "Voyage" and "Nyame Ye". On ''Analog People Digital World' he embraces the digital coldness of Yamaha’s classic DX7 synthesizer to create a refreshing listening experience using only the FM synthesis-based sounds from this machine to find new heat for an analog world, reflecting on the digital revolution we are living through. The album features Ghanaian songstress Mariseya (Omampam, Jah Kingdom, Digital World, Roi Salomon), Cape Verdean OG Americo Brito (Go Now Wetiko) and Surinam funkstar Sumy, who joins the record on the opening track “Spiritual Masseuse”. Arp Frique closes the album with “Duncan Truffle”, a very intense and wobbling instrumental echoing Bootsy and Bernie Worrell on a solo exercise. Expect an analog-digital exploration of lofi funk, highlife, zouk and reggae. Does that DX7 sound hot or cold to you?

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Arp Frique's synth-laden touch turns its hand to a variety of musical genres - zouk, highlife, reggae, disco etc - with quite dazzling results. There's both cohesion and flamboyance in equal measure across the LP. A technicoloured trip into sound!

TRACK LISTING

Spiritual Masseuse Feat. Sumy
Omampam Feat. Mariseya
Jah Kingdom Feat. Mariseya
Digital World Feat. Mariseya
Go Now Wetiko Feat. Americo Brito & Mariseya
Roi Salomon Feat. Mariseya
Duncan Truffle

Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer & Shahzad Ismaily

Love In Exile

    Vocalist Arooj Aftab, the first Pakistani to win a Grammy, wows audiences worldwide with her mesmerizing live shows; MacArthur genius and Grammy nominee Vijay Iyer is one of today’s most influential pianists; multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily’s sensitivity and technical acumen has made him a legend among musicians like the late Lou Reed for whom he was a session player. Together the three players merge to create a singular, gorgeous sound. Their new collaborative album Love In Exile asks you to step inside its sense of time, to stretch out alongside these delightful and unhurriedly unfolding songs. Profound impact is achieved with minimal instrumentation: Vijay Iyer on pianos and electronics, Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Moog synth, and Arooj Aftab’s exquisite Urdu vocals. Subtle musical interrelationships build into moments of deeply felt drama. Shimmering keyboard melodies and stirring vocals, earthy basslines, and hypnotic drones: together they create an album of stunning gravitas and beauty.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. To Remain/To Return (9:19)
    2. Haseen Thi (12:09)
    3. Shadow Forces (14:11)
    4. Sajni (8:15)
    5. Eyes Of The Endless (14:50)
    6. Sharabi (13:42)

    Mulatu Astatke

    New York - Addis - London: The Story Of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 - 2023 Repress

      Vibraphone and keyboard player, master arranger and bandleader, Mulatu Astatke is one of the all-time greats of Ethiopian music and the creator of his own original music form, Ethio jazz. Through the acclaimed Ethiopiques album series and through featuring on the soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers, his music has belatedly reached a global audience and a new, younger generation of fans. In November of last year, he recorded an inspired new album with London psych jazz band The Heliocentrics for Strut’s ‘Inspiration Information’ studio collaboration series. Now, Strut are proud to present, for the first time anywhere, the definitive Mulatu career retrospective covering his landmark ‘60s and ‘70s recordings.

      Mulatu is a true pioneer of African music. He was the first Ethiopian musician of his generation to travel extensively and to record abroad – he studied in the UK in Wales and at Trinity College Of Music in London, cutting his teeth on the buoyant London jazz scene of the early ‘60s. He became the first African student to attend Harvard and he lived and recorded in New York, developing a unique sound that fused Western jazz with traditional Ethiopian melodies.

      Tracing the progression of his Ethio jazz experiments with full access to all of the labels for whom he recorded, Mulatu Astatke: New York-Addis-London is the essential Mulatu. Covering his first recordings in the UK during 1965, his groundbreaking fusions for the small Worthy label in New York and his key ‘70s recordings back in Addis on Amha, Phillips and Axum, the album features comprehensive sleeve notes by Miles Cleret, boss of the excellent Soundway Records imprint, and rare, previously unseen photos from Mulatu’s personal archive.

      TRACK LISTING

      A1. Yèkèrmo Sèw
      A2. I Faram Gami I Faram
      A3. Shagu
      A4. Emnete
      A5. Mulatu
      B1. Yègelé Tezeta
      B2. Asiyo Bellema
      B3. Ebo Lala
      B4. Fikratchin
      B5. Yefikir Tizita
      C1. Dèwèl
      C2. Yèkatit
      C3. Girl From Addis Ababa
      C4. Mascaram Setaba
      C5. Ené Alantchie Alnorem
      D1. Nétsanét
      D2. Kasalèfkut Hulu
      D3. Wubit
      D4. Lanchi Biye
      D5. Tezeta

      Coastlines

      Coastlines 2

        Balearic believers rejoice! Japanese tropical-fusioneers Coastlines are back with the worldwide vinyl release of Coastlines 2. The follow-up to their classic debut, this is the sound of Coastlines's global influences. If the dedication to intricate sonic details is particularly Japanese, the overarching feel captures the sprawling grandeur of the international balearic community. As they put it, Coastlines 2 presents "a more precise and beautifully polished magic hour." If that isn't Balearic, we don't know what is.

        Takumi Kaneko and Masanori Ikeda don’t radically alter their sumptuous template with this second LP; and we wouldn't want them to. Yet with a more focused flow from first track to last, both Coastlines and Be With feel this is an even stronger album than their first. One thing that hasn't changed is the use of instrumentals instead of words to express their themes; namely, "the emotional expression of being soaked."

        Opener "Tenderly" is appropriately titled, a gentle Latin shuffle easing you back into the Coastlines sound. An organ-heavy synthy exotica that's in step with Lovelock's contemporaneous "Washington Park". Their über-horizontal take on Hawkshaw & Bennett's "Mile High Swinger" (from Synthesiser And Percussion, reissued by Be With!) evokes cocktails-by-the-pool as the sun slowly sets. The blunted deep jazz-funk swing of "Alicia" is a rearranged reimagining of the Gabor Szabo song from his classic Jazz Raga LP. This here sounds like an outtake from The Chronic.

        As the sun goes down, "Combustione Lenta" soundtracks the relaxing slow burn of an idyllic bonfire on an isolated beach. Displaying a beautiful new side of Coastlines, we're treated to Moments In Love vibes and melancholic guitar arcs. The piano-laden early morning wonder of "Night Cruise" started life as a completely different song, but the duo found a particularly good loop from the initial sketch and reconstructed it into this sophisticated 80s instrumental soul groove. "Waves And Rays" is all undulating acid waves and lighthouse light. A chopped and screwed steel drum G-Funk with soaring synths and nods toward the squelchy machine soul of Mtume and Jam & Lewis. Yes, *that* good.

        The bouncy futureboogie cosmic chug of "Sky Island" represents the beginning of the sunrise, casting images of 80s Japanese fusion and definitely one to play out early doors to get the crowd stepping. "Area Code 868" is the strutting staccato sound of Joe Sample waking up in the Caribbean to craft his piano funk drenched in sunshine. Accordingly, the tentative, naive melodies of "Sand Steps" represent that vivid feeling first thing in the morning, as you step on to the sandy beach in the sunshine and take a deep breath. The world is yours.

        The emotional, organ-piano-steel drum-driven "Song For My Mother" is a slo-mo show of sincere gratitude to all the great mothers. "Yasmin's Theme" is Coastlines's Brazilian homage, recalling for them that early summer feeling. It's propelled laconically by the carnival beat of batucada`s big bass surdo drum and complimented by sweeps of warm keys and radiant vocal harmonies. Blissful beatless closer "Asafuji" conjures a scene from a wonderful morning spent with the people of Shizuoka, the symbolic mountain of Japan, Mt Fuji and its inhabitants. It sounds like Dâm-FunK jamming with Sabres Of Paradise.

        Coastlines 2 was painstakingly crafted, across the pandemic, at Masanori's rented place in Tokyo and then brought back to his home studio and worked on slowly and repeatedly. With limited time to see each other, the duo became more united in their "consciousness with natural progress."

        Mastered by Simon Francis and cut by Cicely Balston at Air Studios, this magnificent double LP has been pressed by the good people at Record Industry.


        TRACK LISTING

        A1 Tenderly
        A2 Mile High Swinger
        A3 Alicia
        B1 Combustione Lenta
        B2 Night Cruise
        B3 Waves And Rays
        C1 Sky Island
        C2 Area Code 868
        C3 Sand Steps
        D1 Song For My Mother
        D2 Yasmin's Theme
        D3 Asafuji

        Manu Dibango

        African Voodoo

          African Voodoo, Manu Dibango’s rare and unknown treasure !

          1971 : Manu Dibango records the precious album African Voodoo in line with its twin Africadelic. Twelve masterful Afro Soul, Jazz, Funk or Latin nuggets without a ripple for more than fifty years, which are taking us deeply into Manu Dibango’s brilliant dicography.

          The authentic material composing African Voodoo, modestly qualified by the maestro as « a bit spicy mood music », was promised to another destiny before representing one of the most emblematic albums of Manu Dibango’s discography.

          Recorded in 1971 at Mondiaphone label studio, this album was not meant for sales. It followed a request of Afro-Urban sounds dedicated to French TV and radio shows seeking atmospheric background music.

          Barely entered the studio, the eight musicians recorded it all in three days, without having planned anything !

          « It was up to you to play what was coming through your mind, to broaden your imagination ! » entrusted Manu to Jacques Denis in 2008.

          The one we call today « The Old Lion » did not take up this challenge lightly, or chose his musicians by chance ! The cream of the time formed his Afro-French-Carribean band :

          Yvan Julien (Trumpet), Slim Pezin (Guitar), Jacques Bolognesi (Trombone), François Jeanneau (Saxophone), Lucien Dobat (Drums), Emile Boza (Percussions), Manfred (Bass Guitar), and Manu at Vibraphone, Marimba, Saxophone, Organ and Piano.

          The same band who played by his side since 1967, in particular in the Television show « Pulsations », in which Manu conducted his very own orchestra. He was moreover the first musician to manage his regular orchestra on TV !

          And the result of these recordings was mind boggling !
          The freshness of the sound and groove emanating from it are undeniable, and straightaway place this album like a standard of the genre while listening to the first notes !
          The very rhythmic Groovy Flute generously opens the album with its solar and constant flute melody. Our ears then savor an African Pop Session with a heavy and imposing rhythmic, or a Ba-Kuba with a slow and mesmerizing tempo. More rhythmic and percussive tunes like the wild Wilderness reminding us Isaac Hayes shaft, or the swinging Soul Saxes Meeting, one more time show the ingenuity of the composer and the extreme variety of styles he was able to play. The African and Latin tones are almost omnipresent all along the disc. Jungle Riders and its electric guitar and flute solos - as melting as jazzy - supported by Coconut and its very Caribbean rhythmic, or the transcendent Walking to Waza, bear witness.

          As sublime as surprising, African Voodoo perfectly illustrated the « Afro Somethin’ » invented by the maestro during a time interview with Rolling Stone Magazine. Barely published, these words were then used by all medias. Simple description, and undoubtedly efficient, of the genres crossing Manu Dibango embodies through his music and his universal speech ; a REAL word citizen for whom music has no color.

          TRACK LISTING

          SIDE A
          1. Groovy Flute
          2. Soul Saxes Meeting
          3. African Pop Session
          4. Walking To Waza
          5. Out Of Score
          6. Ba-Kuba
          SIDE B
          1. Zoom 2000
          2. Aphrodite Shake
          3. Wilderness
          4. Jungle Riders
          5. Iron Wood
          6. Coconut

          The Free Music & Najib Alhoush

          Free Music (Part 1)

          Blisteringly groovy collection of completely off-the-radar songs by Libyan composer / producer Najib Alhoush's group The Free Music, circa 1976. Releasing an astonishing 10 albums, all impressively strong and equally infused by soul, funk, disco and reggae, The Free Music created a distinctly infectious groove that unfortunately didn't make an impact outside of Libya due to the complex political situation at the time. There is a reason it says "Part 1" in the title.

          Avid Habibi Funk listeners may be familiar with Libyan composer / producer Najib Alhoush, who's track "Ya Aen Daly" - the Bee Gee's "Stayin Alive" cover - was included in our second compilation. While the original track never excited us, Najib's version managed to strip it from its pop approach that had taken over disco during the genre's peak. At that time, disco tracks mostly were aiming to appeal to the widest audience possible. Najib had turned the original track into something different and very unique. Upon further research we found that Najib was actually the singer and founder of The Free Music band alongside Fakhreddin, Salim Jibreel, Abdulrazzak 'Kit-Kat', Mukhtar Wanis and Mohameed Al Rakibi.

          Initially, we only licensed Najib Alhoush's "Ya Aen Daly" from Yousef Alhoush, Najib's son, who was pleased to hear that there was interest in his father's music form someone abroad. In the process of exchanging and learning about Najib's music and career, our understanding was that The Free Music only recorded the one album. This couldn't be further from the truth, in fact, there were ten albums produced by the group, all impressively coherent with a clear influence from disco, soul, funk and reggae.

          The Free Music album was probably the longest it ever took us to gather information, photos and musical source material in a good enough quality to be reissued. This is largely due to the complicated political situation in Libya, compounded by the fact that Libya is still largely cut off from international payment systems, so getting an advance payment to the right person can be a process that takes weeks. The same goes for getting master tapes to a studio abroad and afterwards back to Libya.

          When we look for music that works under the umbrella of Habibi Funk, we often come across albums where bands experimented with influences from Soul, Jazz, Funk, Disco and more, usually on a single track or two but then they often go down to a different path for the rest of the album. This was not the case for The Free Music. All their albums are fully dedicated to their unique blend of Disco, Reggae and Funk and it feels that when we made the selection for this album, we could have chosen a completely different number of tracks and the album would be been equally strong.

          The lead-off single is the stupendously groovy "Ana Qalbi Ehtar" out February 3rd along with LP pre-order to capitalize on Bandcamp Friday. From the outset, the rhythmic strumming of the funkified guitars give way to the galloping drums and bass, opening up to anthemic vocals and rounding out with a blistering guitar solo, a certified disco-funk classic through-andthrough.
          Second single, out February 17th is the disco slammer "Hawelt Nensa Ghalaak." Guitars, harmonized horns, synths and bouncing bass and drums collide w/ spaced out vox to make the track a dancefloor sureshot for any party.

          Third single is "Mathasebnish," a pure disco-funk slammer if there ever was one – with stabbing horns, funky bass riffs, a riding rhythm guitar and anthemic vocals, rounded out with stunning flute and guitar solos – the track will surely be on repeat along with the arrival of warmer weather.
          Album focus track "Men Awel Marra" is another standout disco-infused tune, showcasing the immense creativity out of Najib and The Free Music. This past summer we finally had the opportunity to get together with Yousef face-to-face at a coffee shop in Istanbul's central Istiklal road together with our friend Anas El Horani. Yousef told us the whole story of how his father got into music, the start of the band and his father's continued conflicts with the Gaddafi regime that probably kept his career from becoming even bigger. As always, both vinyl and CD come with an extensive booklet featuring background on The Free Music and Najib Alhoush, including words from Najib's son, Yousef, as well as unseen photos, cassettes and more.

          Alhaji Waziri Oshomah And His Traditional Sound Makers

          Vol. 1

            On the heels of his already critically acclaimed (yes, already!) retrospective, World Spirituality Classics 3: The Muslim Highlife of Alhaji Waziri Oshomah, Alhaji Waziri Oshomah — the Oyoyo King, the Godfather of Afemai Music, the Etsako Super Star, Mr. Please Please Please, Mr. Dynamite — returns with Vol. 1.

            Along with the other four volumes of the series, Vol. 1 is now available—for the very first time!—as part of a complete set (in a box): Vol 1 - 5 (1978 - 1985) (November 4, 2022).

            Waziri hails from a small part of Edo State in southern Nigeria called Afemailand, known for being a harmonious region where Muslims and Christians live—and dance—together. And there, as a devout Muslim and an exemplar of religious piety in his community, Waziri’s music fuses Etsako/Afemai folk styles with pan-Nigerian highlife and pop to create a sublime vehicle for his Islamic philosophy that gets everyone—Muslims, Christians, whoever—on the dancefloor.

            Vol. 1 focuses on Waziri’s illustrious mid-career output—the music he created during the years leading up to and after he performed his first hajj. Every song here (one of which you might recognize from The Muslim Highlife) strikes his signature balance of traditional music, highlife, and funk, as he entreats you to stay on the straight and narrow, though there’s nothing straight about his beat.


            TRACK LISTING

            1. Forgive Them Oh God Amin -- Amin
            2. Emoi Khakiegwi Aghumheile
            3. Igwegi Baba
            4. Iyuchele Opomumhe 

            Nkono Teles

            Love Vibration

              The pioneer of West African electronic music was known for being tapped by over 100 other musicians to produce or arrange their music, from King Sunny Adé, Guy Lobe, even Steve Monite's album "Only You" and more. Having already appeared on Soundway's best-selling compilation "Doing It In Lagos", here more of Nkono's limited solo work is carefully remastered and reissued on vinyl for the first time. One of a small handful of pioneers of the Nigerian electronic music scene in the 1980s (alongside the likes of Jake Sollo & William Onyeabor), Teles was known for being tapped by over 100 musicians to feature on, produce or arrange their music. The list of '80s Nigerian records that his sound and style embellished is seemingly endless: Steve Monite (he arranged and produced the music on the Only You album recently re- issued by Soundway), Dizzy K, Peter Abdul, Odion Iruoje, Steve Black, Rick Asikpo, Feladey, Charly Boy, Majek Fashek & Sonny Okosuns, to name just a few, all engaged his enigmatic production and keyboard services throughout the 1980s. He became known as the first person in Nigeria to push the use of the drum machine into popular music and created a unique and original boogie-funk sound combining these new beats with guitars and an array of new and affordable synthesiser sounds that started appearing in the early 1980s.

              TRACK LISTING

              Martin Street Special
              Love Got A Hold Of Me
              Hometown Weather
              Martin Street
              Love Vibration
              Party Beats

              Various Artists

              Tudo Ben (Jorge Ben Covered)

                Jorge Ben is surely one of the world's greatest all-round musical artists He is internationally renowned and vastly influential as a vocalist, musician, performer and phenomenal songwriter. Famed for penning 'Taj Mahal', which was the source for Rod Stewart's 'Do You Think I'm Sexy?', and also 'Mas Que Nada', one of Brazil's most iconic anthems, Jorge Ben is a powerful musical force. A simple glance at his impressive back catalogue reveals a master of his craft, with a depth and quality that is seldom paralleled. For 'Tudo Ben' we take a side-step, focusing on Jorge Ben's songs that have been performed by other artists. Complied by Mr Bongo, Greg Caz and Sean Marquand, this collection features the Brazilian legends Elza Soares, Claudette Soares, and Wilson Simonal, alongside prodigious artists such as Marijô, Os Brazoes, and Doris Monteiro to name but a few. The selection covers a wide range of genres including samba, bossa nova, MPB and batacuda workouts. Many of the songs featured have become staples in Mr Bongo DJ sets over the years and are some of our most loved classics. As with many of history's great songwriters, Jorge Ben's songs transcend genres and styles, they can be covered and reinterpreted, yet the quality of the writing holds up to the standard of the original. In the dark days of the mid to late 2000s when the end of vinyl seemed inevitable, Mr Bongo released 'Tudo Ben' on CD only. Years later, they finally get to put this right and present it for the first time on vinyl with alternative artwork by Mr Krum.

                TRACK LISTING

                Tracks: Salinas - Tenha Fé, Pois Amanhã Um Lindo Dia Vai Nascer
                Elza Soares - Pulo, Pulo
                Sonia Santos - Speed
                Osmar Milito - Rita Jeep
                Wilson Simonal - Zazueira
                Osmar Milito - Quem Mandou
                Doris Monteiro - Se Você
                Quiser Mas Sem Bronquear
                Wilson Simonal - Que Pena
                Osmar Milito - Morre O Burro, Fica O Homem
                Os Originais Do Samba - Lá Vem Salgueiro
                Os Brazões - Carolina, Carol Bela
                Wilson Simonal - Crioula
                Claudette Soares - Eles Querem É Amar
                Os Incríveis - Vendedor De Bananas
                Wilson Simonal - Brasil, Eu Fico
                Cyro Aguiar - Rei Do Maracatu
                Wilson Simonal - Resposta
                Elza Soares - Mas Que Nada
                Wilson Simonal - País Tropical
                Os Originais Do Samba - Cadê Tereza
                Marijô - Fio Maravilha
                Os Originais Do Samba - Tenha Fé, Pois Amanhã Um Lindo Dia Vai Nascer
                Os Brazões - Que Maravilha
                Os Mutreteiros Grilados - Cosa Nostra
                Os Originais Do Samba - Falador Passa Mal


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