November 16th 2007
While it's still mainly Afrobeat and raw African Funk that I'm after,
I find myself increasingly intrigued by music that I wouldn't be able to play in a club and normally would have ended up in my trades box. Now I put them into my rapidly growing "home listening" crates...
Click on the image to listen:
00:00 Leon Keita -l'amour ne s'achete pas (Mali)
09:12 Samuel Tchomagni - makom ma bobe (Cameroon)
14:28 Wini & Fefe - ekue gblea nu (Togo)
22:45 Poly Rythmo - eke mi akbe (Benin)
26:34 Johnny Achille - kou na waze (Benin)
29:26 L'Harmonie Voltaique - killa naa ye killa (Burkina Faso)
32:00 Balla et ses Balladins - bedianamo (Guinea)
35:40 Johnny Achille - hovenou n'dje (Benin)
40:00 National Badema - nama (Mali)
50:54 Poly Rythmo - igbala (Benin)
57:37 Gnonnas Pedro -ma wonwo (Benin)
61:17 Ahissin le Philosophe - vi akue (Benin)
The mix starts out with Leon Keita and what could be described as at the same time deep albeit pop-flavored Mandingue. Maybe someone out there has a better way to define this, I'm still pretty much a beginner when it comes to these sounds. Whatever you want to call it, check out the amazing organ solo!
Samuel Tchomagni from Cameroon follows next and again, I had no clue what drawer to put this in. John b. eventually filled me in that this style is called "Bikutsi".
Wini & Fefe from Togo deliver some psychedelic, syncopated, trance inducing monster track that I enjoy more and more with every listen. Another typical example of extreme musical tightness delivered in such a loose, casual way that it reaches a whole new level of "cool". It's also pretty funky actually...
Why is it that I can't seem to be able to make any sort of mix without including one if not two tracks by Orchestre Poly Rythmo? I guess the reason is that the Tout Puissant Orchestre Poly Rythmo is the mightiest musical force of West Africa. Their output as far as quality, variety and quantity are concerned overshadows pretty much any other group of musicians or singular artist I have so far encountered in over 10 years of intercontinental record digging in Europe, the US or in West Africa. Here they bless us with a Sato, a traditional Rhythm from Benin that -as mentioned before, I in my humble opinion consider to be the root of all things Afrobeat.
On my last trip to Benin, I found another few 45s by Johnny Achille who already blessed us with his mighty "Mede Woui" a few mixes back. Again, I don't quite know how to call this... African Folk Blues perhaps? Really, if anyone out there knows, please school me!
Also on my last trip, while staying in Parakou, the daughter of the owner of Parakou's largest record store Disc-Adam, dressed up in her Sunday best, golden jewelery and all, brought me to the house of a car mechanic. The car mechanic, obviously under the influence of Sodabi (distilled palm wine kinda like moonshine in the southern US) wore a pair of oil soaked pants and nothing else. he proclaimed how he was a big fan of Franco and other Congolese stuff. For a little demonstration, he threw a record on the turntable, cranked up his stereo all the way and began to dance and actually lip-sync along with the song that judging from his mimics must have been along the lines "I really seriously love you and if you don't love me back, I'm going to have to kill myself". Disc-Adam's daughter who was sitting directly behind the performer grew increasingly concerned about having her floral patterned Sunday dress stained with motor oil and said something like "hey, watch out, don't fall on me" when our host responded "non... si je tombe sur toi, c'est bon!" Anyway, I found three copies of a 45 by L'Harmonie Voltaire from Burkina Faso with the incredible and slightly spooky Afro Jazz track "killa naa ye killa".
Just because it matches nicely this is followed by Balla et ses Balladins with "bedianamo". This is an old find from back in the days of Mr. Mafa's Record Store
Another haunting blues by Johnny Achille follows next. I really hope I'll find more stuff by this man. His later records seem to be more Rumba which I really don't like but his early material is just amazing... check out the drum break!
National Badema's "nama" is a pretty well known Mandingue classic from what I heard but what is it about this weird distorted electronic sound that starts cutting in about a minute and a half before the end? Did they do this on purpose? What the hell is this? Is this also on the re-release versions of this song?
Sorry about the noisy, brittle sounding and crackling quality of Poly Rythmo's "igbala". The record is actually shiny and clean, maybe even unplayed. That's a rough African pressing quality for you.
We continue with a slow tearjerker by the great, early Gnonnas Pedro.
Ahissin Le Philosophe and "vi akue" is Beninoise Folklore at its finest and ends this little voyage into the deeper regions of West African Music.
I recently saw a re-issue of the National Badema LP from the 80s that has the following information on the back cover:
Friday, November 16, 2007
November 16th 2007