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PHILOPHON

Releasing an album into the world is a special moment for any artist but when you're an artist who grew up in remote northern Ghana with no schooling, spending a life herding cows and goats, building your own instruments and teaching yourself to sing, then there's a particular sense of occasion and celebration in finding recognition and an audience for that music.

This is the case for Guy One, an utterly unique artist who is writing and performing Frafra music, a style that originates from a small area in the north of Ghana. Whilst Guy One is already loved and adored locally by now - building up a fervent following in local villages in which no funeral or wedding would take place without his soaring voice and deeply rhythmic playing, before then transforming into an award-winning, TV appearing artist in Ghana - his music is now to find a much wider audience through Max Weissenfeldt's Philophon label (Jimi Tenor, Hailu Mergia, Alemayehu Eshete) on this Berlin meets Bolgatanga release.

Guy One's international debut #1 is an album rooted in tradition as much as it is the contemporary ("Frafra music Made in Germany" says drummer producer Max Weissenfeldt if he's forced to put a label on it) but given the fact that the traditionalism of Frafra music itself is a largely unknown force, the results are more even more potent and stirring in their creations. Choirs, trumpet, organ, bass, drums, synthesiser, vibraphone, saxophone and piano, the album is as bursting with instrumentation as it is ideas and innovation.

The album's perfect positioning between the old and the new and in taking that middle ground and launching it into completely new territory is enough to completely unglue the definitions of what music can be.





STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Upbeat and soulful, Guy One provides the best feel-good atmosphere. Reading the story behind how he writes music in itself is powerful and compelling. A must listen!

Following in the fine tradition of central Europe's exo/eso forefathers (check out 'Tropical Drums Of Deutschland' - Patch) Berlin's Philophon continue to bring us local musics from all across the globe, often reinforced with a little magic from their homeland. This time round their special guest is North Ghanaian Kologo master Guy One, who breezes through the A-side with "Everything You Do, You Do For Yourself", a heavy and heady bit of modern highlife with intricate plucked strings, a stomping beat and boomng bass horns. On "Estra", the first lady of Frafra-Gospel, Ms Florence Adooni, joins the ensemble, wrapping her gorgeous vocal around sinuous synthwork and Max Weissenfeldt's hot horn arrangements, before taking a backseat as Mr Guy One does his thang. One record, with two excellent tracks - we truly are living the highlife. 



Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids

Tinoge Ya Ta'a Ba, Pt. 1 & 2 (feat. Guy One)

2016 was the year for Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids: their album "We Be All Africans" (produced by Philophon and released on Strut Rec.) vaulted them among the global top acts of the current Spiritual Jazz renaissance. The strength of the group is its deep connection to Africa: not just that their music is inspired by the spirit of Africa, they actually founded themselves on an extended trip to the Motherland in 1972.

On that trip Idris Ackamoor visited the tiny town Bolgatanga in Northern Ghana to play with local Frafra musicians - an experience which changed his life. Now, after 45 years, Idris dives once more into the magical music of the Frafra people by teaming up with master musician Guy One, the no. 1 Kologo artist of the vital music scene of Bolgatanga. On "Tinoge Ya Ta'a Ba" Guy One sings about the power of unity - a unity you hear clearly on this Afro-Euro-American cooperation: a driving rhythm, a eulogizing saxophone, a gripping voice and in total a journey into another dimension.

Back in 2005, schoolfriends Bajka and Max Weissenfeldt were travelling under the name Goldenes Zeitalter and dropping spiritual heat on Jazzman on an Alice Coltrane tip. Fast forward a decade and Bajka has found her way back to her musical family and joined Philophon - the perfect environment for her unique voice, with this double A-side of intoxicating, ethno-inspired funk. Driven by the heavyweight drumming of Max and soaring with the iridescent voice of Bajka, "The World" is a reflection of nature's splendour, painted with dreamy vibraphone and eastern strings. On the flip side, "Invisible Joy", Bajka gives her own interpretation of Philophon's own label anthem, which was already the title track of The Polyversal Souls' celebrated debut album. Veering between jazz and exotica like a happy drunk, the invisible joy is a fitting tribute to everyone's first love.

Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids

Rhapsody In Berlin Part 1 And 2

After the reissue of their three private pressed albums from the 1970s, followed by the release of a new album, The Pyramids - led by multi-instrumentalist, multi-talented artist - Idris Ackamoor - seem to have revived the burning fire that once gave birth to an ecstatic musical concept. The Pyramids' honest love for music, their firm belief in its social impact have shaped their story and style: after studying with free-jazz icon Cecil Taylor, the Pyramids left for a journey through Africa in 1972 where they connected with their cultural roots and developed their own musical vision.

On "Rhapsody in Berlin" this vision is still vibrating: a melodic horn theme interplays with a Pygmy flute, some driving riffs and a heavy funk rhythm. The music will walk you through an enchanted jungle that seems somewhat quiet at first - despite the sense of its hidden power. Suddenly but elegantly the music explodes and the saxophone takes off and flies freely before merging with a singing violin into an ecstasy of percussion.

This Philophon release is produced by Idris Ackamoor and Max Weissenfeldt at Ru-Ting Clan Sound Lab, Berlin.


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