I wish Wonderwheel Recordings would slow down a little. I can’t quite keep up with all the amazing music they are churning out at the moment. Take this Lagartijeando remix project. This artist started out on groundbreaking Buenos Aires record label ZZK. Having started on the heavily electronic cumbia tip, they’ve moved further and further towards the digital Andean folkloric side of things. Like Label mate Chancho via Circuito they still tend to keep it fairly downtempo although there are some promising signs of higher energy creeping into the music in this collection. They certainly deserve to be up there with other leading lights in this scene like Nicola Cruz and El Buho. It’s hard to pick out highlights from the album as it’s that rare beast…a start to finish listen. I went through it three times in a row last night. (It’s great to work to by the way!) I love Camino En Llamas (Steffen Kirchhoff revision). El Buho pulls it out of the bag again with a midtempo ‘Antofagasta de la Sierra’. Weirdly he has two remixes of the same tune in this collection and they’re both lush. The other highlight is Chilean producer Matanza’s remix of ‘La Memoria del Viento’. Kind of Andean electro-reggaes with vocals.
Woop. Headsup. One of the most prolific (and generous) DJ/producers in the global music world has released another bumper set of remixes on Bandcamp for a dollar! Not all of his music hits a chord with me but I appreciate his constant experimentation and fresh approaches to remixing. Highlights here for me are tracks 13 and 14: Extra Musica and Lokassa Ya Mbongo. Straight into my Afro-remix crates. Cannot wait to drop them on Rambunctious dancefloors everywhere.
Mr Bongo are continuing their ‘Original Sound of…’ series with ‘The Original Sound of Burkina Faso’. I kind of like the ethos behind the series in which they are trying to dig right down to original movers and shakers within the music scene from each country. The Original Sound of Mali uncovered several artists I’d never head of before and the Burkina Faso one doesn’t disappoint either.
As an ex funk DJ the undoubted highlight is a tune called ‘Aminata du The’. As good a James Brown cover as you’ll ever hear it’s basically an uptempo version of Cold Sweat. It will be played at the forthcoming Jelly Jazz 25th birthday party for sure. But the rest of the LP is a balanced mix of afrofunk, highlife and one cuban inspired salsa workout called ‘Whisky et Coca Cola’.
Wonderwheel recordings are absolutely on fire at the moment. I got sent a prerelease headsup yesterday about a band called Gitkin and their new LP ’5 Star Motel’. Don’t know anything about them but I like what I hear from the initial tune on the teaser. Sounds a lot like really well crafted Peruvian chicha but with a more modern polished feel to it. Watch this space. You can pre-order here. https://wonderwheelrecordings.bandcamp.com/track/canci-n-del-ray
Analog Africa continue to surprise and delight. Their latest offering comes from an artist known as Camarao from north east Brazil. Forro is a form of dance music from this region, and is typically made by a trio led by a virtuoso accordion (sanfona) player, a triangle and a bass drum called a zubamba. Leading lights of the form have been artists like Luiz Gonzaga, Jackson de Panderiero, Sivuca, Oswaldinho and Dominguinhos.
Camarao was the first person to try putting horns into the Forro mix which has resulted in a strange combo sounding not unlike some Mexican banda music but with forro rhythms. At times this ends up sounding somewhat like music to westerns hence the title of this collection ‘The imaginary soundtrack to a brazilian western’. I love the range of musics from around the world that use accordion so it’s always great to hear new offerings. I’ve put a link to the Bandcamp page but also a Youtube clip of one of the other remarkable tracks that is on the compilation. Check out Sereia do Mar for the stripped down sousaphone bass banda sound but also Voce passa eu acho graca for a more full big band sound.
One of my musical highlights of last year was catching Bareto at Tropical Pressure festival in Cornwall last year. Chicha music has been experiencing something of a renaissance over recent years. Originally from the oil towns of the Peruvian amazon it fused surf rock psychedelia sounds with Andean huayno melodies and latin percussion. It quickly spread to the coastal cities where most of the population of Peru live. Pure huayno of the Andean Quechua/ Aymara speaking highlands tends to be a slower tempo with a shuffling dance step that’s quite hard to master if you haven’t been brought up with it. The additional of rock elements and latin percussion turned Chicha into a more accessible dancefloor orientated version of Andean music. I don’t think I appreciated this fully till seeing Bareto live last summer. It was a joy to see a whole festival crowd of several hundred people who had probably for the most part never heard Chicha before, instantly getting it. Full respect to whoever organised the tour as well. We get to see a lot of african music in this country relatively speaking, but not enough contemporary latin music. It’s shocking for instance that Chilean veteran rockers Chico Trujillo recently played their first ever London gig. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more like this in future.
Jupiter Bokondji was raised in East Germany as his father was a Congalese diplomat. It’s given him a unique perspective on the relationship of Africa with Europe. He mentions being racially abused as a kid in East Germany by people that weren’t even free to cross the Berlin wall. He on the other hand crossed every day to get to school. “Who was more free?” His loud and angry message to young Congalese is to stop abandoning their cultural heritage to pursue the dream of getting to Europe.
Finding this video has set me on a new mission in 2018 to give a platform to some of the amazing video content that is coming in worldwide. The quality of some of the stuff coming out of Africa and South America is off the scale. And sadly it never really gets seen on anything except people’s phones and laptops. At Rambunctious Social Club we are about to invest in the kind of projector that can do these videos justice in a club setting. Serato has full video capability so I should be able to mix video into DJ sets. ‘Rambunctious tropical video show’ is on the way.
I stumbled across this little gem from 2014 today on Soundcloud. Dunno how I missed it first time round. I love the story behind it. Better known for his hip hop roots, David Webb aka Chemo uses the name Telemachus for his more leftfield instrumental projects. In 2014 he moved over to Morocco for a couple of months to surf and make an LP. It’s everything I wished I had done with my youth. In an echo of the sixties hippie generation that ventured to North Africa seeking inspiration, Telemachus has come back with something totally original and very 21st century. I love the goats and barking dogs and the whole field recording feel to it. Don’t be fooled though this is slick production. There are echoes of Pink Floyd and at times early nineties psych trip hop like Tranquility Bass. I’m totally addicted to it. Favourite tunes are the ambient ‘Petit etoiles’ and more upbeat ‘Mirleft’ and ‘Tiznit’. Great start to finish listen though.
LP Review: The Original Sound of Mali (Mr Bongo)
Mr Bongo has always had a special place in my heart ever since early Jelly Jazz days. Pre-digital age if you wanted the hottest new and second hand vinyl there were a couple of blocks of Soho that were packed with specialist shops like Soul Jazz and Mr Bongo. It was quite the pilgrimage from Plymouth. In those days Mr Bongo was a strange hybrid of hip hop, jazz and world music reissues. It has since gone from strength to strength and is now a record label releasing new music as well as being prolific reissuers of rare and sought after music from around the world.
Having said that I still associate Mr Bongo primarily with brazilian and caribbean music….mistakenly as it turns out, as fleeting investigation of the website reveals a treasure trove of rare african sounds. Nonetheless this latest offering is something special. I’ve been a fan of Malian music for years. Melodically, and rhythmically for some reason Malian music sounds distinct from that of almost any country on the continent. Some west african countries have had no stone left unturned with regard to their early musical heritage whether that be Ghanian funk or Highlife. For some reason I’ve not seen much early Malian music till now. This compilation was inspired by a mix on the Soul Bonanza blog (http://www.soulbonanza.com) called Le Monde a Change: A Tribute to Mali 1970-1991. It was compiled as a tribute to Mali and a call for peace by six of the top Malian music collectors worldwide. It’s a joyful romp through early and influential Malian artists such as The Rail Band (which produced Mory Kante and Salif Kaita, Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako, and L’eclipse de l’institute des Jeune Aveugles. The latter was a blind institute whose recordings were never released but which turn out to be the earliest recordings featuring Amadou and Mariam.
Highlights for me include pschedelic afrofunk tinged ‘Mouodilo’ by the Rail Band. Also worth a special mention is Zani Diabate and the Super Djata band with ‘Fandingna Kouma’. I have the incredible LP this is from and this typifies the driving hypnotic guitar over balafon rhythms. Long before Ali Farka Toure and the likes of Tinariwen became famous, Zani Diabate was already excelling at the kind of guitar lines that Mali has become famous for. Finally ‘Mali ni Woula’ by the Super Djata Band de Bamako is a slow psych funk masterpiece with a gorgeous guitar solo that drifts into wah wah guitar heaven.
All in all a must for Malian music lovers and available as a vinyl double gatefold LP with beautifully crafted booklet.
At the moment the Soundcloud page is set to private for another two weeks so I’ll link you to that when it comes through. For now here’s the link to the Mr Bongo website.
I’m absolutely buzzing about this one. Movimientos Records have just signed Mambanegra from Colombia last year and their LP is about to get released. Colombia’s two main musical heartbeats are cumbia and salsa. These guys represent the new wave of young Colombian upstart salseros. They call their style ‘Colombian Break salsa’ and it takes in various different influences along the way. One foot in the traditions and the other in the contemporary. That’s how I love my music. Expect to see them lighting up several UK festivals this summer.