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.
Liking this French documentary a lot detailing the rise of the new wave of Colombian bands one foot in their folklore and the other foot firmly in the digital era. Love the fact that it’s so inclusive of some of the foreign producers like Quantic and Sidestepper that have been influential…none of the pointless arguments about who did what first and who is more authentic, seen so often in UK cultural phenomena like garage or grime. Just pure inclusive joy in making new music.
One of the things I like about writing a music blog is I only have to write about the things I love. Periodically I get asked to do reviews of music for people but I find it really hard if I’m not personally really excited about the music. In short I’m better at gushing than dispassionate appraisal. This is the latest thing to have blown me away. I don’t know anything about Abou Diarra but this combination of immaculately produced Malian music combined with blues harmonica is just perfect. I can’t really think of much else to say about it. From the uptempo stuff to the downtempo it’s an amazing album from start to finish.
Got a promo this week that I really have to shout about. The KutiMangoes second LP is called Made in Africa and it’s one of the best I’ve heard all year. The story of the band appears to be that a group of hip Danish jazz musicians decided that there wasn’t enough music in world fusing the afrofunk genius of Fela Kuti with the melodic jazz of Charlie Mingus. Fair point. I mean we’ve all thought that at some stage haven’t we? Anyways. Their first LP Afro-Fire won all kinds of stuff and now they’re back. I’ll admit this is the first I’ve heard of them but it’s really really good. I remember reading an interview with World Circuit records don, Nick Gold where he said the challenge for releasing world music LPs was finding things that crossover and appealed to people that didn’t understand a word of what was going on lyrically. This is the first proper listen from start to finish albums I’ve heard in a while. And it’s remarkably varied. There are several uptempo afrofunk bangers that will be lighting up dancefloors near you soon like This Ship Will Sink, BIC or Adjoa. There are also more subtle but effortlessly funky tunes like Red Rain, Hunting and Bamako by Bus. Seriously it’s all great. Released Nov 4th.
OK people. This is the big one. Rambunctious Social Club’s biggest night of the year…our annual Dia De Los Muertos celebration. Get the party started with your dearly departed. Two bands including the incredible Balkan gypsy fuelled mayhem of ‘Gypsy Hil’ who tore the roof off at Port Eliot this summer and support from the lovely Manushka. Four DJs including two special guests, Inko and Larry SKG from Carnibal Records in Greece and your residents Hodguez and Senor Griff. We are heading rapidly for a total sell out so get your tickets fast.
We still urgently need face painters so if anyone wants a free ticket and the opportunity to make a bit of money then contacted Lee Hodges or myself.
Hard to believe it’s been 15 years since St Germain’s epic LP Tourist gave us Rose Rouge, and some other seriously well produced jazz house tunes that still sound fresh as a daisy. Would you believe it, french producer Ludovic Navarre is back with a third LP called simply ‘St Germain’, and it’s every bit as slick as his previous work. The signs were clear in ‘Tourist’ that he loved the blues, after all the tune ‘Sure Thing’ featured John Lee Hooker. This time he’s followed a well trodden route taking the blues back to the supposed Malian source. Ali Farka Toure and Tinariwen have already made careers out of exploiting this link, but it’s a rich vein and a long way from being tapped out. Navarre manages to add his own trademark slickness to the production and some straight up dance music stylings that take the Malian blues thing into new territory. So many fusion experiments fail by reducing the styles being fused to a pastiche. I’m thinking of some of the appalling attempts to fuse Jazz and hip hop in the early nineties, which ended up being neither jazz nor hip hop. Navarre doesn’t do that here though. This works though and for anyone that loves Malian music already it will be a joy to listen to. In addition to the Malian vocalists, the LP features kora, balafon, n’goni and some sublime guitar. In short I love it.