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On the CD sleeve Manny Ansar writes: “The healthy meeting of cultures is the oldest weapon and today the most appropriate in the face of the violence and intolerance that increasingly immerse our world.” This CD records the 2012 Festival Au Desert, which included a potpourri of talented musicians who believe in the power of music as an instrument of peace. War may have come two days after this festival, resulting in the tragic postponement of future festivals, but this CD exists to prove that heartfelt music cannot be silenced.
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou – “Volume 3: The Skeletal Essences of Voodoo Funk” – [Analog Africa]
West African afro funk band Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Contonu are the kind of music that makes you wanna get funked up and shake your ass until it hurts!
Sedated Saharan lounge jazz firmly rooted in local traditions but looking forward to the future. The Orchestra was established in 1968 by the nation’s first president to have something to show off to foreign delegates. At the time, this desert nation was trying to establish itself as a major cultural center of West Africa, at the far tip of the continent and bordering sub-Saharan regions. Some established musicians were recruited, like Hiddu player Saidou Ba, Mohamed “Neyfara” Fall Ould on the namesake flute, and 17 year old Hadrami Ould Meidah to lead the band with his passionate vocals. They trained in Guinea where Western music was banned but certain instrumentation was still adopted, incorporating horns and the electric guitar, which voices their African modalities beautifully. Their only official recording was a 7″ of the middle 2 tracks on side A released in 1973. Check out “La Mone” for some seductive call-response work between vocals and flute and sultry electric guitar wah-nderings, along with a rhythmic breakdown or two. The band disbanded with the coup d’etat that followed a series of droughts and their recordings were almost destroyed under the military regime, saved by a rogue radio engineer who hid them in his house for decades. The cultural pluralism of this early era has largely been lost under the current impoverishment and Islamic focus of today’s Mauritania, but these recordings hearken back to years past when they dreamed of building a “Paris in the sands.”
Guitar music from the Western Sahel – A selection of field recordings taken by Christopher Kirkley between 2009- 2011. Recorded on site at locations near the riverside of Niger to the North Malian Desert. A guitar is hard to find in this part of the world, the instrument is often battered, fixed in makeshift ways and passed down from hand to hand over many years. The guitars on this recording have a gorgeous, unique tone.. they are either tuned to each other or to themselves.. The songs here are those of a communal fireside jam, dedicated to the passage of time, with the voices of musicians or listeners talking in the background or reacting to the music. The musicians here are listening to each other, conversing using their instruments, with a free and easy sense of rhythm that makes me want to sit out in the sunshine, sip on something, kick back and listen. The guitar here is often accompanied by other instruments, and always a soulful voice singing in french. Sounds like a combination of improvised jams and group songs which have been practiced many times by a circle of friends. The last song on side B is probably one of the best renditions of the Police’s Message in a Bottle you are likely to hear. Drop the needle anywhere, there is no going wrong. -Surfer Rosa
Oh Almighty Mississippi/Change Records, you have done it again!?? This wonderful collection of Ethiopian pop/rhythm and blues from 1969- 1974 showcases some of the best of the time.?? This is the third vinyl release that Mississippi/Change has undertaken to rerelease the Ethiopiques CD collection of this music, and it is a sure fire hit, or else you are dead.?? Funky soulful rhythms set the??backdrop to those amazing Ethiopian vocals.????Seemingly traditional in??vocalizing style with bends and twists to the modern ’70′s, it turns into the perfect blend of two different approaches to music making something new and, dare I say, happy.?? The vocals at times almost sound out of tune/off key yet that is the ignorance of the western ear.?? It is astounding.?? And danceable.?? I challenge you not to move to this.?? It’s music from a house party long ago where couples may have held each others hands as they shimmied and shaked around the living room.???? Pure bliss.
This 2-CD set is truly a treasure, all performed by Kyle Littlefeather, about whom it is difficult to find information. That is perhaps best, as that requires a deep listening to the music, especially CD 1, which is “War Dances, Ceremonial Folk Songs & Chants” in traditional, authentic form. Be sure to read the track titles for inspiration. CD 2 is “Reconstructions & Remixes,” offering a new-age musical environment for the vocalizations and shakers, tambourines, and instruments. Each CD is special and worthy in its own way. Brother Thoth would love this, especially the unconquered spirit theme.
Thirteen track album of respected ngoni player Bassekou Kouyate and his band Ngoni Ba, with a plethora of other musicians sprinkled in on different tracks. Bassekou’s two son’s play in the band, and there’s even a collaboration with Taj Mahal (track 12).
All tracks are seemingly feelgood songs, but more deal with the harsh reality of an overthrown government (which literally happened right before they sat down to record, a half mile from the studio), and ask for peace in Mali. They are well recorded, and well mastered, but still have a jammy feeling, you can tell they’re just chilling playing their music in a living room.
Detailed liner notes, there’s an explanation for every track, of which I dug: 1,2,4,7,8,11 and 12. Check it out for yourself, first.
Take a magical journey through the Ivory Coast during their most prosperous decade since post colonialism. Abidjan was the capital of the Ivory Coast at this time, and served the Pan-Africanism ideal for many artists. Musicians from all over West Africa including Mali, Zaire, Senegal and Nigeria descended upon Abidjan creating a rich melting pot of music and culture. Prior to the 1970′s much music was imitated from western popular music from France, Spain and the United States. Some of the most influential composers and arrangers of the Ivory Coast are compiled here including Ernesto Djedje who invented and popularized the ziglibithy sound (fusion of traditional bete folk rhythm and funk soul arrangements). Fela Kuti inspired Afro-beat is displayed on several tracks including A1 featuring Pierre Antoine and B3 with Ernesto Djedje. Jimmy (inspired by Jimmy Hendrix) Hyacinthe’s Yatchimiinou‘s funky disco jam will take you back to tight white jeans and silky shirts as will Nguessan Santa’s (inspired by Carlos Santanta) Mammy Nia . Ali Ibrahim’s deep soulful La Ilaha Illalahou features tight horn section and sweet female back vocals. There is plenty of funk to go around featuring Prince Dgib who is better know in his homeland as the Ivorian James Brown. Hypnotic grooves, chants, raw breaks frenetic rhythms fill the tracks from Jean Guehi and Kassale Etles Ziglibitiens. True Love by Rato Venance is a spacey , jazzy, disco instrumental with some fine keyboard play. Thanks to a painstaking journey of nearly three year’s retrieving and restoring the original vinyl, we can now enjoy these 13 tracks dripping with sweet soul, silky grooves and funk all around.
Erkin Koray is a Turkish guitarist and baglama player who is considered the first person to bring rock and roll to Turkey. Playing since the late 1950′s and still a formidable force in Turkish music today, Koray is known for mixing traditional folk songs with rock music. Being well versed in a variety of styles, his guitar playing is highly praised. The selections from the Pharaway Sounds 2 CD release cover his first psychedelic single “Anma Arkadas”, his biggest seller “Saskin”, several covers including the Moody Blues’ “Tuesday Afternoon”, as well as many of his 1960′s and ’70′s releases on 45′s. Koray’s interest was, and still is in psychedelic and prog rock and this is displayed repeatedly in the fuzz guitar, extended guitar solos and elaborate arrangements of these pieces. CD 2 gets more tripped out but both CD’s are excellent samples of this Turkish godhead.
Rare groove magazine WaxPoetics highlighted this LP in their July 2009 Brazil Issue. Its hard-as-hell-to-find [except for a $50-$100 price tag on the web] 1969 original press quickly became a minor grail for beat diggers around the globe in terms of Brazil’s deep bass groove-driven, garagey guitar-infused Tropicalia movement of the late-60s (perhaps sparking this 2012 Swiss re-issue distributed by Light in the Attic). Beatdiggers also love it for its bongo-pellas and Clyde Stubblefield-esque stank-funk, on-the-one open bass and drum parts (there’s a butter ass guitar/bass/drum loop in the middle of the Hey Jude-ish Espiral, side B track 3, that’s dying for a longer edit and I would be surprised if Kenny Dope hasn’t already done it). As a whole, it is an acid licking Brazilian sweatbox of bugged out fast funk and swarmed up psychedelics and sometimes almost folk rock (especially on the vocal tip) laced with some jazzy arrangements and subtly dusted space echo freak-outs as well (peep: Modulo Lunar, side A track 3). Be it Tropicalia, all of this rests on a foundation of samba and bossa nova characteristic to the country’s soul style but with a rawer edge than others I’ve heard from this genre such as Jorge Ben and Os Mutantes (Os Brazoes cover both here). I hardly understand Portuguese but one gets the feeling that the lyrics are sardonic and arcane like a Frost Amphitheater convo (peep: Volksvolswagen Blue, side A track 4). Still there is more than just a side dish of US soul persuasion here as well, and it is greasy. Mann The General
“Turkish Freakout 2″, on Bouzouki Joe Records, is Bouzouki Joe’s second volume of Turkish psych and folk rock from 1970-1978.
Battisti (1943-1998) was an Italian singer/songwriter who was popular in his native country for three decades and considered a major influence on Italian pop music. This is his self-titled 1969 release, mostly upbeat and catchy, although there are some moments that are kind of moody and evocative of something. All vocals are in Italian. Strings and horns and other musical flourishes were added but the record doesn’t seem overproduced; it strikes me as a typical pop record of the period. Side A ends with a bit of a jam… was that a backwards guitar? I believe Battisti generally wrote the music and worked with various lyricists over the years. He got more into “concept albums” in the 1970s and some of these tunes sound as though they may be part of something bigger; but I don’t understand the language so I couldn’t say. The record ends with an unexpectedly heavy rocker. All in all, a worthy addition to KFJC’s International library.
Sanjo translates to Scattered Melodies. It is a stylized form of improvisation developed in Korea during the 1890s. These recordings range from 1925 to the 1950s. The stringed instrument here is the Kayagum, a smaller cousin of the Japanese Koto.. the Kayagum’s tone is not quite as bright as the Koto’s and it sounds like it could have one or two strings, though the instrument certainly holds over a dozen. Accompanying the Kayagum is an hour glass shaped hand drum called Changgo, and the occasional sound of a human voice barely coming in from a distance. The music here is improvised and quite arrhythmic, that is almost wholly melodic, with an ever present wavering vibrato. Notes slide and bend into half tones, quarter tones and everything in between on the far eastern scale. The music breathes, expressive in its building tempo changes and fleeting moments when the beat sets in… all of this dipped in the pops and scratches of the old, original vinyl. Sublime Frequencies.. always delivers. -Surfer Rosa
All tracks on this album were recorded in Afghanistan by ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin in 1968. This was before the Soviet invasion and Taliban and the resulting wars. Music of the Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Pashtun, Herati, Kazakh, and Turkmen people includes a variety of lutes, bowed instruments, percussion, flutes and other wind instruments, and vocals. Most recordings were done live in public places so talking and laughter is sometimes heard. To my ear this is very beautiful and complex music, completely enjoyable in itself, not just a novelty snapshot of traditional music. Liner notes are excellent for background and track by track information.
-Thurston Hunger (with a mighty merci to Monsieur Benoit and Uncle Jim)
Released in 1974 as a very limited- edition promotional item intended for radio stations, this album was originally dropped by Shin’s record label. This power trio consisted of Shin & the Yup Jun-” In Korean, yupjun literally means a brass coin,” Shin explains. “However, during that time it was used as slang to describe a sense of unpleasantness and dislike. Since I was so unpleasant and dissatisfied [in my career], I told myself, `Ok, fine, I am just a yupjun,’ and named my band with a rebellious attitude.”??Shin started this musical exploration by renting a room in Seoul’s Tower Hotel for 6 months and collaboratively wrote songs and created music with his band for this amazing and powerful release. Strong funk , psychedelic and catchy guitar riffs envelop you with the opening track ” Beautiful Woman” and Shin’s vocal intensity duets with bell ringing on “I love You”. Monster grooves and bar raising lyrical approaches can be heard all throughout this museum- worthy masterpiece . A must have for all music lovers!
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