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ALMA NEGRA RECORDS

James Stewart is the host, resident DJ and co-promoter of monthly night 'Black Atlantic Club' at Le Sucre in Lyon. Borrowing the term 'Black Atlantic' from renowned scholar Paul Gilroy's 1993 book, Stewart presents 'black music' as a transnational, incredibly diverse cultural exchange. An avid lecturer on the subject and founder of the Blog Afrosouldescarga, he merges an intellectual approach with the musical and creative side of things: as an active conga player and percussionist, member of Voilaaa Sound System and showhost at Radio Nova.

The EP begins with the empowering hi-life that is "Cotounou" - named after the Benin captial and decorated with congas and plucked guitar lines. "Mugara Ndega" features Martha Thom & Jacob Mafuleni as sees a heavy b-line flooded with delayed guitar lines and a Fela-esque vocal delivery. "La Danse D'Achille" contains a plethora of traditional percussion instruments, African vocal chorus and more thin, picked guitar lines. A rambunctious and highly rhythmic affair before last track, "Juju Chil" concludes proceedings with an anthemic Afro-beat number with funky organ keys highlighting the cerebral and groovy nature of the track. Top stuff! 


STAFF COMMENTS

Sil says: Who could venture back in the 90s that cultural studies god Paul Gilroy was going to somehow end up on vinyl. Well, here it is, the irrevocable importance of black culture in music is ever present in these brief compendium in the form of a killer four-tracker. Truly good, truly essential.

The third release on Alma Negra Records is dedicated to the music of Eritrea, a small (in African terms, that is) country nestled in between Sudan and Ethopia on the south end of the Red Sea. Drawing from its native spiritual roots as well as the christian and islamic influences of conquering factions, this multiethnical country is home to an amazingly diverse plethora of cultures and musical styles.
The Swiss outfit showcase the music of the Saho People from the Region of Zula, which is located in between the coastal lowlands close to the Dahlak archipelago. The word "Saho" roughly translates (translated?) as "Nomad", pointing towards a lifestyle where tradition and culture is being passed on orally over generations. The exact source for these edits of the Saho Sound are thus lost to the murky depths of history, as they are based on traditional folksongs.
Complete with that global clarion call of partying it up, the ululate trill (google it), A-side offering "Haleto Late Lalo" is a spiritual house stomper which sees a call & response vocal pattern ride a somber backing track. Exploring a deeper, jazzier mood, the crew added moody piano chords and a balafon, with a subtle but big bassline and some hefty 808-thud holding everything together. The B-side packs a previously unreleased edit of the band SOL.The cut starts life as a minimalist percussion belter, driven along by an eerie vocal-loop which ratchets the tension throughout. Finally a male vocal introduces a main melody that eventually bursts into a full call & response chant with a female choir. Never underestimate the power-combo of nothing but drums and vocals. No more words needed, feel for yourself.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Stunning, stomping and spiritual, the third edition of Alma Negra's new series is nothing but Afro-house fire. Certain to sell out, I'd recommend you nab a copy asap.

Lindigo & Salem Tradition

Mayola EP - Lma Negra Remixes

After the blink-and-you missed it Afro-house banger that inaugurated Alma Negra's eponymous record label, the Swiss trio turn their attention into the midst of the Indian Ocean with a 12" dedicated to the folk traditions of the Réunion island. If you copped the Ziskakan LP earlier in the year (my most played record in recent months - Patch), then you'll know all about Maloya, a traditional Réunion style which dates from the dark days of the slave trade. The release revolves around two contrasting Alma Negra re-workings of Lindigo's "Tany Be". The first takes a classic call & response structure in 12/8 and 6/8 rhythms, adding a driving bass line and guitar licks. A solid 909-kick locks things in step, along with a sax flourish and FM synths. Their re-imagining of African and Tamil influences for modern dancers is a triumphant manifestation of the music's origins. With the main reworking focusing on a rolling dance floor groove, the dub mix concentrates on trance-inducing aspect of Maloya. Using a modular set up to pick apart layers of percussion, it is a dense and heady trip into the spirit world. The B side focuses on Christine Salem, one of today's stars of the Maloya scene. Without wanting to squeeze the soul from her deep tones, "Kabaré" is slowed down a notch, with drums added sparingly. This sensitive treatment gives the track just enough weight and tension to punch in on today's dance floors without losing the intent of the original. The source material for this EP has been road tested from the very beginning of Alma Negra's journey. The collective have gone to great lengths to ensure the original creators are on board.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Swiss trio Alma Negra have long been favourites of Piccadilly, and this latest release is perhaps the most soulful and sophisticated offering to date. Pulling off the gas a little and taken some thump out of their trademark drums, they ensure the focus is on the groove, paying a fitting tribute to the music of La Reunion.


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