01 September 2008
African Treasure Chest
Mi Ma Kpe Dje by Picoboy Band D'Aborney, from African Scream Contest (Analog, 2008) Izogie-Eronmwon by Sir Victor Uwaifo, from Ekassa (??) Oya Ka Jojo by les Volcans de la Capital, from African Scream Contest (Analog, 2008) I think I'm fairly good at ferreting out quality music wherever it's lurking, but OH SNAP, lately I've found some KILLERS! I'm going to be sharing a lot of music, so keep your eyes peeled here in the coming weeks. This week I'll start with some African stuff. The beauty of the digital world is that so much previously unavailable material is starting to surface. Super rare or local label only stuff is now much more available than ever before. The first wave of this phenomenon was with domestic US stuff like the archives of the jazz labels. More interesting for me was the second wave, where a ton of reggae and dub previously only available in Jamaica or the UK suddenly appeared. I'm still working my way through that treasure-trove... Now the same thing is happening for African music... and this could potentially be the biggest gold mine of all. Seems that in the late 60s and throughout the 70s, the continent was seething with small labels issuing discs of local musicians. And the music? Some was local African styles, totally fascinating and compelling... but even better in my eyes was the incredible fusion that was going on. The effect that James Brown had on the world cannot be understated, and when mixed with African music, some incredible shit was the result. Then there's the 60s mixes of traditional music and psychedelia. I usually shy away from that, but a kora line transposed to an electric guitar WITH acid-rock wah-wah effects? Damn... I'll keep it Sixties with this first African post with a ferocious workout. Mi Ma Kpe Dji starts out in the sonic lope of African rhythm, albeit electrified and echo-chambered, before a ferocious psychedelic guitar rips on to the scene. The rhythm guitar & drums battle it for supremacy until the end... so yeah, everyone wins. The next one, by guitar legend Sir Victor Uwaifo, shows the more traditional side of things. However, I love Izogie-Eronmwon not because of the guitar (although its lilting and sweet), or the harmonized vocals (although they are spot on)... it's that beat. This is like the missing link between Rasta Nyabinghi music and African music... and what a connection THAT is! And I need help with the label/release date on this one... the internet has no info. So if you know, tell me! And as a bonus, I throw in one more from the African Scream Contest CD that you really need to get.... Oya Ka Jojo. I love this one for two reasons: 1) further muddles the "where does rumba-type rhythms come from " question..., and 2) the brass section sounds totally drunk. Plus it just sort of starts carrying you along with it after a certain point, as often happens with African and Latin music.