Recorded and mixed in Lagos this album is from 1985. The record has no delineated tracks. Sunny Ade’s style is very traditional for Nigerian juju. He was adamant that Island Records which released 2 earlier, Grammy winning records, not “over Europeanise and Americanise” his music. Ade and Island parted ways – to his detriment IMHO. AArbor
Africa: Music From The Nonesuch Explorer Series – “Africa: Music From The Nonesuch Explorer Series” – [Nonesuch Records]
A wonderful collection of short tracks in many styles and showcasing a variety of African instruments, from all over the African continent – perfect for dropping in here and there in a show. Don’t miss the Rhinoceros on track 16 – I had no idea what a Rhino sounds like – and now I do. AArbor
The first time we (at KFJC) ever heard of Mdou Moctar was on the 2nd volume of Music from Saharan Cellphones – which was how his music went viral in the first place. In fact he also has a track on the 1st volume and on the remix album. Moctar (b. Mahamadou Souleymane) is a Tuareg songwriter and musician from Agadez, Niger. He plays a left-handed Fender Stratocaster. This is his 5th album, recorded with a full band which increases its psychedelicness. [We also own a new 7” released this year.] If you like the other Sahel Sounds releases you’ll like this one too. Moctar also starred in the world’s 1st feature film in a Tuareg language (the English name is) The Color of Blue with a Little Red in it. It’s about a struggling Tuareg musician who rides around the desert on a purple motorcycle. AArbor
The legendary Adnan Othman has long been a driving force in the Malaysian rock scene. As early as the 1960s his groundbreaking songs in the style known as Pop Yeh Yeh (rock and roll sung in Malay) attracted fans from across Southeast Asia. Recently, he has gained many new fans around the globe due to a renewed interest in rock music from this region. Adnan first rose to fame during the groovy Pop Yeh Yeh era (1964-1970) in Malaysia and Singapore and he continued to evolve as a musician and composer throughout his exciting career. He made his first recordings in Singapore in the early 1960s, when he was invited to record with a highly popular backing band, The Rythmn Boys. He produced innovative material well into the 1970s, but always stayed true to his Rock-and-Roll roots, even when many other artists were turning towards more predictable disco influences. This album draws from all eight of his solo EPs.
If, like me, you’ve never heard of Violeta Parra before, you, my friend, are in for a real treat.
Violeta Parra was a Chilean singer-songwriter, folklorist, and ethnomusicologist. She traveled across Chile, collecting over 3,000 traditional folk songs of her country which she was able to share with the world. Her enthusiasm for her country’s folk music evolved into her pioneering a roots revival they called “New Chilean Song,” effectively traditional chilean folk music with strong political themes of the time.
She traveled through Europe between 1955 and 1957, sharing some of the music she collected as well as her own songs. She later lived around Europe from 1963-1965, this time with two of her children and her granddaughter. for a few years with her children in the 1960s. During this time she became the first Latin American artist to independently exhibit their artwork at the Louvre.
Surprisingly, since she is basically a household name in Chile, this is the first Violeta Parra release for KFJC.
Although these songs were the last she recorded, they are among her most well-known, “Gracias a la Vida” being the absolute gem here. The songs are very much in the Chilean folks music vein, with strong percussion and use of multiple types of guitars, including the charango, a tiny-bodied, 10-stringed guitar. Parra’s vocals are absolutely stunning. Her voice is hauntingly full, echoic, and strong, yet sweet and smooth. This was recorded and released in late 1966, a few short month before Parra committed suicide in 1967.
Unquestionably unparalleled. Do not miss this.
Saba Alizadeh is an Iranian composer of electronic and experimental sounds. He curates a website called Noise Works and a concert series called Aural events. On this record Saba plays kamancheh ( Persian bowed luted related to the rebab), kalimba (thumb piano) and laptop. This is not traditional Persian music – it almost reminiscent of Muslimgauze – Bryn Jones – definitely worth a spin!
1982 soundtrack single from the Tamil film “Pillaiyaar” Call it Kollywood? I ain’t no expert but definitely a fan! Anyways this has four beautiful pop numbers.
A1 – Super bouncy tabla guides this track, flute flying like a crazy bird while Rajalakshmi Sulamangalam soars ever higher above that.
A2- Male and female voices coasting and cavorting, shenai (?) slithers in and tries to stir up some trouble, but the joy-love vibe is too pure. Prominent violins rise in a closing bridge. P. Susheela hits notes like a shining sun in the sky.
B1- Killer vocal trills to start, male and female trading off while stark guitar adds a little tension, that soon launches into galloping tabla with great wandering vocals.
B2- I should learn the name of this style, it feels related to the Qawwali kind of devotional singing, irrepressible beat and T.K. Kala’s voice circles around it, like sliding a magnet through your brain. A lot of charge and pull.
This little 33 rpm record is a gem and amazing, as is the internet where I could find the actual film (some sort of Ganapathi origin story verily). Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzrZ8mE_wtk
songs are at A1-6:30 A2-56:30 B1-78:50 B2-37.40
Let this clear all obstacles from your path. Enjoy!
Sometimes you got to go out and find your own sublime frequencies. A 2019 trip to Singapore opened a portal to the past via Red Point Record Warehouse and sends us back spinning Indonesia in the 70’s. This choice “Selection” (Pilehan) of pop beauties showcases Muchsin’s velvet crooning over amazing orchestrations, percussion is at the driving heart, but swirling about it are flutes, melodica/harmonium, fuzzed out guitars, penting (like a mandolin). Extremely catchy, and the duets are superb. The two with Titiek Sandhora are a harmonious union that produced more than music, but a family as well. The album starts with a playful cat and bird duet with Anna Bahfen, “Jangar Gusar” (“Don’t Be Upset” – the album has plenty of “Cinta” (“Love”) and “Bahagia” (“Happy”) but it does flit thought the sweet and the sour on tracks like on this track and “Ku Berdosa” (“I Sinned.”) The guitar on both “Jangan Gusar” and “Magdalena” adds a “nice funky feeling” (as Mr Ong from Red Point said), and both songs have these little tantalizing trills that zip between the steady swing of the drums. Muchsin’s voice should not be overlooked, listen to his gentle wavering on the verses to “Semoga Bahagia” and then he soars on the choruses. I’m limited to google translating, but the conflict of desire comes through loud and clear.
PS : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVENdMtc3t8 Mr Ong interview
[Cah-Yay Treh-seh] is a Puerto Rican band and this is their 2nd release from 2010. The band consists of 2 half brothers and their step sister. The lyric style is sarcastic and satiric. Poverty is a topic discussed in the lyrics here. The sounds include cumbia and Eastern European stylings. This was a very popular album and won a Latin Grammy. AArbor
Siti Muharam is the granddaughter of Siti Binti Saad, an early 20th century singer who pioneered a new style of taarab featuring female singers. Taarab had been formal court music that combined Arabic and Swahili lyrics paving the way for a new generation of female taarab singers. In this her debut album, Muharam further reimagines the taarab tradition into a style very comfortable to modern Western ears. Zanzibar is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean just east of Tanzania and South of Kenya. Unguja is the large island just north of the Zanzibar archipelago. Historically these islands have been meetings place of cultures: the Indian spice trade/the African slave trade… Muharam’s music, which includes Western instruments along with traditional ones (oud and tablas), it reflects the Eastern Indian and African influences resulting in a smokey, delicious sound. AArbor
An outstanding 2019 release from Strut which showcases the popular music of Madagascar during a heyday of Malagasy popular music. Most recordings from Madagascar are traditional instruments and music, this one is not. Salegy is a fast tempo local dance based on 5/8 and 12/8 rhythms [tracks 1, 4]. Soukous is from the Congo, brought into Madagascar’s music in the ‘60’s via the radio, along with music from Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique. At that time the newer styles and instruments replaced many of the traditional ones. Be sure to check out the Behind the Scenes Alefa Madagascar! Video on Youtube. The liner notes give a very rich and well researched guide of music in Madagascar. AArbor
Mohamed (Mohd. for short) Rafi was one of the 4 top playback singers in Bollywood, the others being Asha Bhosle, her sister Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. Playback singers do the actual singing in Bollywood movies while the screen actors lip sync. These are some of his best known (and loved) tracks.
Trans-Global Underground (or TGU) are from England. They are (by their own admission) “notorious from mixing musical styles and rhythms with a total disregard for musical genres, technological barriers and common sense. They create a unique space where cross-cultural musical diversity thrives.” Here the sounds are electronics with Asian and African music styles. This release is from 2001 and features Zulu vocalist Thobekile Doreen Webster [2,4]. Two British-born Asian musicians: sitarist Sheema Mukherjee and percussionist Gurjit Sihra are a part of the band’s lineup on this release. Natacha Atlas was off doing her own thing at the time of this recording.
The song of a life of crime, tunes of prison life, music of the Mafioso.
This music here has been passed down for many generations. It was recorded and sold at open-air markets, which most Italians found offensive because it glorified mafia life. Kind of similar to the public outcry toward gangsta rap in the ’90s. At first listen, these songs feel like whimsical sometimes optimistic folk tunes, drifting from the beaches of Sicily, over the mountains of Calabria, to the gulfs of Campania.
Once you take a look at the lyrics sheet, however, you find yourself in back alleys, jail cells, and funeral processions. Whether singing of honor, family, or grief, these songs take you into an underground world filled with death and glory. The instrumentation takes on several forms, with any combination of guitar, accordion, tambourine, scacciapensieri (better know to us as a jew’s harp, a staple in traditional Sicilian music), and more.
Do not miss the liner notes with this release, if only for the translated lyrics. Enjoy!
This is music primarily from Tanzanian artists recorded in Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is in East Africa, south of Kenya. Mt. Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania. The music has elements of both East and West Africa. 5 artists are showcased here: Ndala Kasheba [2,6,9,12], the Achigo Band [4,7], Garikayi Tirikoti [3, 10], the Yekete Beat Band [1,5,8], and Delphin Mununga . These outstanding musicians are “composers” although they are primarily working musicians. Tirikoti is a mbira carver – an artisan, who has created new tunings for his instrument. The label, Limitless Sky Records is about releasing and promoting music recorded in Tanzania. Check out the variety of sounds and enjoy! AArbor
Larson, Dr. Pete & His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band – “Dr. Pete Larson & His Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band” – [Dagoretti Records]
Dr. Pete Larson is an epidemiologist who now resides in Ann Arbor, MI. He went to Nairobi,Kenya from 2014-2017 to work on public health issues and immersed himself in the music scene there. He also was enchanted by the Nyatiti -an 8 string lute/lyre played by the Luo people in West Kenya and learned to play it. Before going to Kenya, Larson was a guitarist who played in various rock and noise bands. The heart of this music is Larson’s Nyatiti which offers circular melodies for the other musicians to play with, around and in. “There is no beginning and end in traditional Kenyan music,” says Larson, so the performances are improvised pentatonic jams, not practiced sets. “You set the tempo and the rhythm pattern, and other musicians join in.” AArbor
King Kwela is Spokes Mashiyane, a master of the Penny Whistle from South Africa. As a young child he tended his father’s cattle and to fend off boredom became a master of the reed flute. When he moved to Johannesburg to work as a domestic servant, one of his first purchases was a penny whistle which he mastered as well. While jamming on a street corner he was spotted by a talent scout. Don’t hesitate to play this – all tracks tuneful and worth a spin. AArbor
Mdou Moctar, c’mon even his name rocks! Mdou (aka Mahamadou Souleymane) was introduced to KFJC by this same fantastic label on the Music From Saharan Cellphones Vol 2 collection, let that be an inspiration to anyone worrying about how the pandemic will impact music, sound will always survive, silicon chips swirling around the desert! Along those lines, apparently this single was to be a limited edition 2020 tour offering, but fortunately this record and songs are unstoppable. The Agadez sound often leaves listeners agog, side A of this does not disappoint, dizzying spin start by Mdou alone, the band then jumps on board – spirited singing doubled by rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drives Mdou up higher both in voice and on the guitar later in the song, possible dual lead but I suspect it’s Mdou overdubbed and double-fuzzed.
Side B follows that lead with an anthemic, surging number. No vocals
on this one, so a good chance to appreciate the rhythm section, drummer
Aboubacar Mazawadje strikes that snare launching each spiral;
then Mazawadje and Michael Coltun on bass tumble through to the next
round. But make no mistake, Mdou is the Prince here, hammer-on/hammer-off guitar trills reign in a bluesy way, with touches of red.
Pretty amazing that he built his first forbidden guitar, and these days it seems like Agadez is ground-zero for Fender.
Driving modern psych from Niger by way of Sahel Sounds.
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