world . african . latin

WEEK STARTING 12 Aug

Genre pick of the week Cover of Afro Psych (Journeys Into Psychedelic Africa 1972 - 1977) by Various Artists.
Whilst the continents contribution to the global funk, boogie and disco canon has been well documented for decades, the strong presence of rock and psychedelia in 1970's African music has been a more slowly evolving story over the years.

Pockets of young Africans, turned on by Hendrix, the Doors, Santana and more, started to add heavy guitar riffs to rumbling, ever present funk, and built an afro psych scene that is still turning up gems to this day.

With Lagos an epicenter for the emergent scene, in 1972, local headquartered label Afrodisia was born near to the eye of the storm, and provides many of the tracks on this latest attempt to capture a bit of afro-psych magick.

Iconic Lagos twins The Lijadu Sisters' 'Bayi L'ense' (1977) opens proceedings in LP defining style : the Yoruba vocals, pattering percussion and cooly strutting funk bassline are eventually joined by soaring, scything fuzz guitar, and we're off on a six and half minute head journey.

From there, tempo's and moods shift throughout. The Oriental Brothers International free-wheeling 'Tax Drive' is underpinned by tight playing and insistent grooves; Saxon Lee and the Shadows International combine James Brown style brass with what sounds like long, improv'd hammond sections across the near 10 minutes of 'Mind Your Business'.

Gears are quickly shifted as Warhead Constriction get straight up heavy on Graceful Bird, and Aura easily integrate early synth work outs on Ariya (at about the same time Kraftwerk were starting to hit wider audiences, 1976). Celestin Nyam's 'Mbembe' takes no prisoners, as free jazz sax workouts, horns, hammonds AND squalling Hendrix style guitar riffs all make welcome appearances, before Christie Azumah And The Uppers International, again combine deep funk with hammonds, choppy guitars and insistent vocals on 'Aja Wondo'.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Hard funkin' afro-psyche, deliciously obscure and painfully grooving! Reminds me of those Analog Africa records we used to get in. There's not a duff track on the record!

TRACK LISTING

1. The Lijadu Sisters - Bayi L'ense
2. Oriental Brothers International - Tax Drive
3. Bunzu Soundz - Bokonor
4. Saxon Lee And The Shadows International - Mind Your Business
5. War-Head Constriction - Graceful Bird
6. Lucas Tala - Moghie Nu Te Eka Tse Mu
7. Aura (Aspiritual Emanation) - Ariya
8. Celestin Nyam - M'bembe (feat. Voices Of Darkness)
9. Christie Azumah And The Uppers International - Aja Wondo

Bianca Binky only ever made a handful of records, the majority of which have long been forgotten by all but the most dedicated fans of late-‘80s European synth-pop and crossover house. ‘Tabu’, her final solo single from 1990, is different: a gorgeous, tactile chunk of piano-sporting Balearic house from the time when dancing under the stars at Amnesia was a rite of passage for clubbers from all over Europe, has undoubtedly stood the test of time. Something of a sought-after classic, with keen collectors willing to spend hundreds of Euros on an original 12Inch single, ‘Tabu’ remains a loved-up, life-affirming dancefloor gem.

It also happens to be a firm favourite of NuNorthern Soul founder Phil Cooper, who has gone to great lengths to produce a deluxe reissue of the hard-to-find Balearic anthem. Original producer Felix B Mangione, head of Blanco Y Negro Records, had long since lost the original master tapes, so Cooper flew from Ibiza to Barcelona to pick up one of of the only mint copies still available, before forwarding high-quality digital transfers on to Robin Lee for remastering.

The results speak for themselves. The original mix, a breezy, sun-soaked fusion of synthesized marimba melodies, spine-tingling piano riffs, dreamy chords, Chicago-style TB-303 bass and Binky’s sensual spoken word vocals, naturally opens proceedings, and is joined on the A-side of the 12” by the original, alternative ‘House Mix’ – more club-friendly version that beefs up the beats, emphasizes the undulating bassline and offers occasional blasts of spacey synth.

This reissue edition also includes an exclusive, never-before-heard re-edit of the legendary ‘Caribbean Dub’ – first featured on the flip-side of the original release – from Manchester’s finest, Ruf Dug. Tough, effects-laden, bass-heavy and positively epic, Ruffy’s version is arguably the ultimate version of a piano-laden, TB-303 driven Balearic house classic: ten minutes of rising and falling, saucer-eyed dancefloor bliss that’s surely destined to be one of the most-played tracks of summer 2022.


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Is Ruffy on a roll or what? Seems like every week he's delivering either a top drawer remix or a killer new OG. It's the former here as he gets to grips with a rare-as-hen's-teeth Balearic-house monster. Of course the original is included too as part of this unmissable package curated by Phil Cooper.

TRACK LISTING

A1. Tabu
A2. Tabu (House Remix)
B1. Tabu (Ruf Dug's Extended Caribbean Dub)

Los Corraleros De Majagual

Esta Si Es Salsa!

    The record is high on collectors' want lists for many reasons, not least of which is its excellent sound quality and the diverse repertoire infusing its grooves, ranging from expected coastal tropical Colombian rhythms like paseaíto, paseo and pasebol (all related to cumbia and vallenato), to more exotic modes like sonsonete, casatschok, and the Cuban genres of descarga and charanga.

    Etuk Ubong

    Africa Today - Night Dreamer Direct-To-Disc Sessions - 2022 Repress

      Hailed by none other than Seun Kuti as “one of the best things to come out of Lagos”, Nigerian trumpeter, composer and bandleader Etuk Ubong has developed an original style he calls “Earth Music”.

      Weaving together a unique combination of not only afrobeat, highlife and jazz, but also the ritualistic drumming of Ekombi, the result is urgent and highly energetic, yet spiritual; his compositions reflecting his heritage and life philosophy of goodwill, peace and love for humanity. Ubong’s music is so vibrant and propulsive that one can easily make comparisons with leading lights of the UK scene, such as the Shabaka Hutchings-led Sons of Kemet, but at the same time it is distinctly Nigerian.

      Ubong was invited by Night Dreamer to record at Haarlem’s Artone Studio, home to an enviable collection of vintage mastering and recording equipment and situated right above a pressing plant. He assembled an international ensemble of the highest calibre to record his compositions direct-to-disc, avoiding the interference created by widely adopted recording techniques and capturing his enigmatic live performance in its most natural and explosive form. Ubong is joined by another Lagos-based musician, Michael Awosogo, also on trumpet, and a hand-picked group of UK and Netherlands-based musicians who finally after an impromptu show the night before, recorded the whole album in just one sitting on the last day of the five-day session.

      Much of the music is incredibly fast-paced, and politically charged, particularly on titles such as “African Struggle” and “Mass Corruption'', with Ubong featuring on both trumpet and lead vocal, leading a five-piece brass section over the percussion-heavy rhythm section and soulful keys supplied by Vels Trio’s Jack Stephenson-Oliver. Etuk uses music to address not only injustice but also humanity and spirituality, most notably on “Spiritual Change”, a deep cut on which Etuk reflects on Africans need for internal change before they can address the problems around them, stands-out among the rest of the album.

      Born in the Akwa Ibom State in southern Nigeria, but raised in Lagos, Ubong picked up the trumpet at the age of 14 and never looked back. He went on to study at the Peter King College of Music, Muson School of Music and the University of Cape Town, and aged just 16 was recruited to join the band of the late-great and recently passed highlife musician Victor Olaiya, through whose ranks also passed a young Fela Kuti & Tony Allen before inventing afrobeat. This led to him joining and touring with reggae sensation Buchi, before a fruitful stint with Femi Kuti’s Positive Force, performing frequently at the New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, and dates with the visionary South African pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini, recently signed to Blue Note Records.

      Already greatly in-demand at home in Lagos, and across Nigeria and Africa, he has launched his own venue, “The Truth”, the most prolific in the Nigerian capital since Fela Kuti’s Shrine, performing himself three nights a week. At the same time, Etuk’s following in London & the UK has exploded after numerous performances including a mesmerising and widely-discussed session with acclaimed London-based artist collective, event and music community Steam Down, residencies at Jazz re:freshed & the Royal Festival Hall and a storming set at the inaugural edition of Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here Festival. Ubong’s connection to the UK scene, particularly Steam Down and musicians such as Theon Cross from Sons of Kemet, draws attention to exciting parallels. The intensity, the political edge, the crossing of barriers and pursuit of spirituality.

      Night Dreamer has captured Etuk Ubong, live-and-uncut, at a pivotal point: a highly accomplished musician who has absorbed his home’s musical heritage, created his own sound and already made an impact not only in Lagos but also within the exciting UK and South African jazz scenes. An essential record that transcends the labels of jazz or afrobeat. Let’s call it earth music.

      TRACK LISTING

      A1 - Ekpommommom
      A2 - African Struggle
      A3 - Africa Today
      B1 - Mass Corruption
      B2 - Spiritual Change
      B3 - The Purpose Of Creation

      Various Artists

      Brazilian Chill

        Relax in the comfort of the "Chill" vinyl selection.
        It's time to get away from it all; from the acoustic Bossa Nova ballads of Sergio Mendes to the electronic sounds of DJ Cam and the samba of Seu Jorge, this "Brazilian" volume is full of sunshine and will take you from the beaches of Copacabana to Ipanema.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Honshu Lo Fi - Morning
        2. Os Brazões - Carolina, Carol Bela
        3. Seu Jorge - Chega No Suingue
        4. Quantic - Mishaps Happening (Prins Thomas Edit)
        5. Sérgio Mendes - Oba-La-La
        6. Maysa - Água De Beber
        7. Laura Villa - Corcovado
        8. José Padilla - Bossa Rosa
        9. David K Feat. Rolando Faria - Mas Que Nada
        10. DJ Cam - Birds Also Sing For Anamaria
        11. Tom & Joyce - Para Bailar
        12. Reminiscence Quartet Feat. Salomé De Bahia - Onde Anda Meu Amor


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