Mar 29, 2017

Orlando Julius & The Ashiko - Love, Peace & Happiness


Official reissue of one of the hardest to find albums by the Afro Soul maestro, a pure Afro Funk spiritual grail from 1978!

Born in 1943 in Ikole-Ekiti in Ondo State, Nigeria, Orlando Julius Ekemode (“Orlando was really a nickname, taken from the Nigerian actor, Orlando Martins“) had started in music from an early age, becoming the school drummer and learning flute, bugle and other instruments at St Peters Anglican School in Ikole-Ekiti. Nigerian musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is credited as one of the first musicians to fuse US R&B into traditional highlife music, creating his own influential Afrobeat sound during the mid-‘60s. From his time playing in the USA during the 1970s onwards, he is credited with bringing African music to a broader audience and famously co- composed the song ‘Going Back To My Roots’ with Lamont Dozier.

In 1978 , Orlando Julius Ekemode decided to produce himself this amazing session, originally recorded between Maryland and West Virginia (USA ) and released in limited quantity in Nigeria by the obscure label Jungle records .

6 stunning monster Afro Funk tracks , recorded by 8 musicians based in Oakland. Fully licensed with the artist and remastered by Carvery. Essential!



Mar 28, 2017

Vincent Ahehehinnou - Best Woman

 

In early 1978, Vincent Ahehehinnou left the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou without explanation. He had been one of their principal vocalist since 1968 and had helped transform them from a hard-charging nightclubband into a musical powerhouse and Africa-wide sensation. By the end of 1977, after an explosive performance at the pan-African arts and culture festival (Festac77) in Lagos, the band had reached the very pinnacle of their success.

For nearly forty years, the reasons behind Vincent’s sudden departure have remained a mystery. Until now. In an interview included with Analog Africa’s new reissue of Best Woman – Vincent’s first post-Poly-Rythmo album, which has been out-of-print for close to four decades and nearly impossible to find outside West Africa – the great singer finally breaks his silence. He didn’t leave … he was pushed.

Poly-Rythmo were already popular in their native Benin but, in the aftermath of Festac ’77, the band were poised for break-out success throughout Africa. One of the people who stood to benefit most was the band’s manager Adissa Seidou, whose label Albarika Store had released most of the band’s recordings. However Adissa’s vision for Poly-Rythmo didn’t always line up with that of the musicians and, more often than not, it was Vincent who spoke up for the band.

The two men grew increasingly estranged until one day – at the funeral for Adissa’s father no less – Adissa gave Vincent an ultimatum of sorts. In Vincent’s own words: ‘I asked him if there is a way we could sort out our differences to which he replied that the only solution was for me to leave the band, adding, “if not I will kill you”’. And so Vincent found himself forced out of the band he had helped build. He tried his hand at various business ventures, but soon realised that the pull of music was too strong. On a business trip to Nigeria, Vincent met with Ignace de Souza of Benin’s Black Santiago band, who agreed to arrange Vincent’s songs, assemble musicians, and book a session at the legendary Decca Studios in Lagos.

With everything in place Vincent returned to Cotonou, gathered together all the money he had saved over the years and set out again for Lagos. But the simple bus journey to Nigeria turned into a nightmarish odyssey of military corruption … and had it not been for the random kindness of an unknown woman on the bus, this album – along with Vincent’s subsequent solo career – might never have existed. Vincent tells the full story in the liner notes to this LP.

But Vincent did make it to Lagos and the sessions went ahead. The nine-piece band, handpicked by de Souza, learned the songs and set them to tape in the span of only a week … but the results are as timeless and essential as anything to emerge from West Africa in the late 1970s.

Vincent’s afrobeat credentials are in full evidence on opening track ‘Best Woman’ (English) whose driving beat, focussed horns and intricate vocal melody recall the raucous intensity of Poly-Rythmo. But the deep funk of the title track turns out to be only a warm-up for album-highlight ‘Maimouna Cherie’ (French), a moving expression of love and longing which kicks off with a hi-hat and wah-wah guitar workout but shifts gears mid-way into a more concentrated and contemplative groove.

The funk and afrobeat gems on Best Woman are balanced by songs that draw upon Sato, one of the many Vodoun rhythms of Vincent’s native Benin. Side one concludes with ‘Vi Deka’ (Mina), an epic slow-burner propelled by some of the record’s most soulful vocals, while album closer ‘Wa Do Verite Ton Noumi’ (Fon) all but dares you not to lose yourself in its sublime hypnotic trance.

Best Woman was released on Nigeria’s Hasbunalau Records in 1978, and original pressings are now highly-prized collector’s items. With this reissue on Analog Africa’s Dance Edition imprint – newly mastered by Nick Robbins, cut by to vinyl by Frank Merritt at the Carvery, and approved by Vincent himself – Best Woman makes a welcome and long-overdue return to turntables around the world.

hhv

Mar 24, 2017

New album: Big Mean Sound Machine - Runnin' for the Ghost


“BMSM might be one of my favorite bands on the planet. With a horn section to kill for, a drummer that can put me in a beat coma instantly, and a knack for hitting grooves in a pantsless stride, they aren't easy to ignore,” -Joel Frieders, SYFFAL.com

For a band with no lead singer, Big Mean Sound Machine has character in spades. When assembled from a selection of the finest, well-lubricated, musically brilliant components, the resulting machine is the sonic equivalent of a positive feeling. “The embodiment of feeling… delicious,” writes Frieders. People dance when a rhythm moves them, and there’s no defying instinct when Big Mean Sound Machine is on stage. Anyone who has experienced the band in action knows that their performances are the heaviest and sweatiest. “Incorporating Caribbean, African and Latin sounds, and everything in between, these musicians sound as though they’ve been playing together since the sandbox days. They transition effortlessly from a collective... to riveting soloists, and when [they’re] not playing simultaneously, those... stepping aside are jamming out as if they were in the crowd with the rest of us,” writes Mary Mistretta of UpstateLIVE. A polyrhythmic monster with a crisp, constant, unrelenting groove, the band brings together many musical traditions in a unique blend that reinterprets and reanimates live dance music unlike any other band playing today.


THE ALBUM

Their fourth studio album, "Runnin' for the Ghost" captures the essence of the band’s renowned energetic and transcendent live shows into a concise, portable experience wherever it may be desired -- in the car, at home, work, or in the club. After over seven years of rigorous touring and three acclaimed, full-length studio albums, Big Mean Sound Machine is proud to present a rich sonic journey through their freshest material, their self-stated, "best album to date." With this record, the band hopes to continue building on the success of their previous releases and with your contribution, this world-class album can achieve the exposure it truly deserves.

bigmeansoundmachine.com
bigmeansoundmachine.bandcamp.com



Mar 12, 2017

Nigerian Boogie: Livy Ekemezie - Friday Night



Here it is.., a reissue treatment for one of the most sought after Nigerian boogie albums. So groovy.., so good.. Afro-boogie lovers, you just got served! TIPPP!

Some words from Livy:

“I was just out of senior secondary school and I wanted to make an album,” recalls Ekemezie. “I was into disco and funk at the time and I was looking for a bassdriven funky sound. The entire idea was to make an album that sounded like something made in London or the U.S. I tried to sound “American” but we ended up with something else: a mix of American and Nigerian.” ‘Friday Night’ was recorded at Goddy Oku’s Godiac 24-track recording studio in Enugu, one of the best studios available in Nigeria at the time. “It took about 9 months to a year to make the album,” continues Ekemezie. “I financed it by myself so I had to resort to friends helping out with loans for session men and studio time. The original LP was released on blue vinyl and that idea came from William Onyeabor. We used his pressing plant and he sold the idea to me. It was different so I said ‘why not?’” The LP has been picked up by many in recent months as the demand for Nigerian disco originals has grown with the track ‘Delectation’ receiving an unofficial edit and DJs like Motor City Ensemble dropping the album into their sets. This first ever reissue of the LP remains faithful to the original issue, remastered and pressed on blue vinyl. It features full original artwork along with new interviews with Livy Ekemezie and contributing musician Jules Elong by Odion Livingstone’s Temi Kogbe. 

rushhour


Mar 10, 2017

The Original Sound Of Mali


‘The Original Sound of Mali’ compiled by Vik Sohonie and David Buttle. As featured as 'Compilation of the Week' on Lauren Laverne's BBC 6Music show.

Malian music is arguably deeper, more sophisticated and lyrical than any other form of African music. Those of us deeply entranced by Malian culture, and, in particular, the immense hypnotic beauty of Malian music, have put together a selection of songs from across the country.

mrbongo.com

 ---

Mr Bongo is proud to present 'The Original Sound of Mali', compiled by Vik Sohonie & David Buttle.
Malian music is arguably deeper, more sophisticated and lyrical than any other form of African music. Those of us deeply entranced by Malian culture, and, in particular, the immense hypnotic beauty of Malian music, have put together a selection of songs from across the country.

Compiled by Vik Sohonie & Dave 'Mr Bongo' Buttle, the story of this release began in 2015 when Dave happened upon the Soul Bonanza blog. A treasure chest of rare finds from around the world! One mix in particular stood out and totally enthralled Dave - le monde à change: a tribute to mali 1970 - 1991. He already knew of Malian legends such as the Rail Band, Salif Keita, & Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako, but this mix was something else! Deep & culled from the collections of some of the heaviest African music collectors in the world, legends like Vik Sohonie, Hidehito Morimoto, Philippe Noel, Gregoire Villanova, and Rickard Masip. Dave immediately contacted Vik and a journey of discovery tracking down the rights-holders began. He also turned to the font of Malian music knowledge, Florent Mazzoleni. Florent has written the definitive book about Malian music - 'Musiques modernes et traditionnelles du Mali'. He proposed some incredible tracks to include and provided the back bone of the sleeve notes and photos that are used in the album. No Malian album would be complete without a striking front cover photo, and ours is sourced from the late great Malian photographer Malick Sidibé.

On this album you will find well-known artists sitting next to rarer discoveries. The Rail Band, who are one of the best known of all the big bands in Mali, gave us the stars Mory Kanté and Salif Keita. Les Amabassedeurs du Motel de Bamako were another big act that had Idrissa Soumaoro, Kanté Manfila, and for a while Salif Keita in their ranks. Sometimes Salif would play in both bands in one night, quite a feat considering the bands were fierce rivals. As an albino Salif has had to face considerable prejudice from society, focussing on his musical career to help overcome this.

A major discovery on the album has been Idrissa Soumaoro et L'Eclipse de L'Ija. L'Eclipse de l'Institut des Jeunes Aveugles was a Blind teenagers institute and their record was produced by the German association that took care of blind Malian teenagers in Bamako. It was never properly released commercially and was the first recordings by the legends of Malian music Idrissa Soumaoro, Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia. Amadou & Mariam later got married and became household stars, including making an album with Manu Chao.

This album is a concerted global effort to showcase the most vital cornerstone of Malian culture in an attempt to preserve its reputation in the face of its current, grim reality. We hope our highlights of Mali's rich history of musical innovation will serve as a starting point for reclaiming an image tainted by unnecessary conflict. May peace and music return to Mali soon. Dedicated to Malick Sidibé.

deejay






TRACKLIST – CD
01. Idrissa Soumaoro et L’Eclipse de L’Ija — Nissodia (Joie de l’optimisme) 
02. Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako — Tiécolom-Ba 
03. Super Tentemba Jazz — Mangan 
04. Rail Band — Mouodilo 
05. Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako — M’Bouram-Mousso 
06. Sorry Bamba — Yayoroba  
07. Super Djata Band — Worodara 
08. Zani Diabaté et Le Super Djata Band — Fadingna Kouma 
09. Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako — Fatema 
10. Super Djata Band de Bamako — Mali Ni Woula 
11. Salif Keita — Mandjou
12. Alou Fané & Daouda Sangaré — Komagni Bèla 
13. Idrissa Soumaoro et L’Eclipse de L’Ija — Fama Allah

Mar 9, 2017

From Ghana: Worlasi - The Uncut (for free)



Supreme Rights has unleashed a 13 track compilation from Worlasi titled ‘The Uncut’

Worlasi drove us insane with his debut mixtape titled “Nuse” which had 14 tracks including the intro… His style of music gave birth to a new trend, and re-introduced Hiphop as it should be done in Africa. His debut mixtape earned him a lot of respect and rose his credibility as a talented and exceptional artiste.

‘The Uncut’ compilation are songs that couldn’t make to the “NUSE” Mixtape; and these are 13 exclusive songs which he produced and was mixed by Qube. This compilation featured other great talents like Krack Gyamfi, Emperaw, Laelaure, Kdxp, and BiQo. Just as the “Nuse” Mixtape, this compilation also talks about dreams, emotions and insights on life and a much needed discourse on black power, passions and owning our destinies.

Worlasi is here to make an impact and I can see Ghanaians embracing that “Weird” talent… He is not the regular kind of artiste you listen to daily, but he is yet to become that artiste you will always want to listen to after listening to him for the first time. Worlasi is not a stranger to us anymore; so we know what to expect on this one. Listen to greatness and deepness combined!


loudsoundgh.com


Track by Track

The undisputed revolutionary in the music scene is steadily filling us in with more of him and his originality. After the release of NUSE: STRENGTH WITHIN, his debut mixtape, he blesses us with a collection of tracks that couldn’t make it to the main album. THE UNCUT is a definite way of saying “here’s more, help yourself”.

MY WORLA prod by Qube begins with a pattern of chants in his native dialect. His dexterity in holding up a number of words in a thread on this tune was impeccable. MY WORLA talks of our need for some subject to be there for us-something to hold on to-and how we as individuals need to be that subject for others as well. With an amazing sound quality and great articulation, the message of disappointment in some others who wish only to reemphasize our failures because we failed to act their way is fully expressed in this track. A nice way to hit us with the realities of being a human being. The tune ends precipitously with an affirmation that we need someone to hang on to, regardless.

A narrative about his basic and secondary education and how ignorant we all are of the different forms an idea could take because we’re stuck, unwilling to open up our brains to other possibilities. “I be the John for your eyes but nigger that’s cool, I be the don for my eyes and that’s it, that’s it“, the tune speaks about how sad it is to have your potential underestimated while thinking outside society’s box of known concepts and norms. Self-produced, CARTOON certainly should have made it to NUSE. It has truths of finally embracing one’s weirdness to later discover that was only strength in thick disguise.

MOTIVATION ft Krack Gyamfi & Emperaw prod by Worlasi did as it had to and provided enough encouragement for anyone engaged in anything meaningful to take a mental trip into the joy at the end of that accomplishment and move on with it.

With a tune that one can easily vibe with, SATAN has a carefully chosen rhythm considering its concept. TOO LONG ft KDXP carefully follows with a lovely rhythm. The featured artist came in very, very, strong and delivered on the track, expressing why love should be reciprocal and enjoyed from both ends and the frustration that arises during the wait for the other party to feel up to it.

PLAY prod by Worlasi

With a Danceable rhythm, this is Just a jolly tune, one to be enjoyed when having a long day. It is A break from the rather too frank expressions on the harsh realities of life expressed on the tunes that come before it.

RIVER(Enya cover)

Worlasi clearly needs more space. Space to create. He speaks with rage on this solemn tune to those individuals who find their way into our lives to slow us down and grants them a chance to exit the same way they entered, stealthily. On this very soulful tune which flattered his voice he had an unusually, beautiful style of singing the words out, probably because they meant a lot to him, with emphasis on the words that mattered.

RAZZY ft BiQo prod by Worlasi

In every relationship there’s the one who rules. This could be either of the parties in that relationship. Razzy is the kind of a girl you fall in love with but realize you should have come “materially” prepared. The one who’s presence earns you respect from your friends, that is the kind spoken of in this song.

All 13 tracks were beautiful in their own rights. THE UNCUT is enjoyable, it provokes thoughts, raises excitement and finds you in the middle of the misunderstandings of life. So “here’s more, help yourself”!

unorthodoxreviews.com






GET IT FOR FREE HERE!


Mar 3, 2017

Togo Soul 70: Selected Rare Togolese Recordings From 1971 To 1981



 Hot Casa Records present Togo Soul 70 (Selected Rare Togolese Recordings from 1971 to 1981). A treasure-trove of rare and unusual recordings mostly recorded in Lomé during the 70's, a fusion of traditional voodoo chants, raw soul and Afro jazz. Finding these tracks and their rights holders hasn't become any easier even after few trips all over this west African country bordered by Ghana, Benin & Burkina Faso.

We, at Hot Casa Records, decided to select 13 tracks, a snapshot of some hundreds of rare and often forgotten tapes from the most prolific, professional and exciting phase of the country's recording history, including international stars like Bella Bellow (who even performed to Maracana stadium in Brazil), or Roger Damawuzan, compared as the James Brown from Lomé, and forgotten tapes and brilliant songs in Mina, Kabyié and Fon languages. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation highlighting how diverse the music scene in Togo was at the time, even if the political context influenced their creation.

A must have for all music lovers, also used as the soundtrack of the documentary Togo Soul 70, directed by Liz Gomis & DJ Julien Lebrun!


A fantastic little collection – and one that's way different than the usual Afro Funk compilation! Instead, this is an album that takes the "soul" in its title seriously – and goes for unusual tunes from the Togo scene of the 70s – almost all of which feature incredible vocals that soar out with boundless, righteous energy! There's definitely a bit of funk, too – but in modes that are very different than Nigerian sounds from the time, and very fresh, too – musical elements that are used in such compelling ways, we really want to dig deeper into the scene of this tiny nation. Titles include "Senye Na Na" by Aime Orchis Mathey, "I Tcho Tchass" by Akofa Akoussah, "Mais Dis Donc" by Toite Sandja, "Adome Nyueto" by Yta Jourias, "Loxo Nye" by Roger Damawuzan, "Woukunyeya" by Gabelo, "Mi Kpede Dunye" by Dk Pilo, and "Agbemenyawo" by Vewonyi DD.  


Hot Casa present Togo Soul 70: Selected Rare Togolese Recordings From 1971 To 1981. A treasure-trove of rare and unusual recordings, mostly recorded in Lomé during the '70s - a fusion of traditional voodoo chants, raw soul and Afro jazz. Finding these tracks and their rights holders hasn't become any easier even after few trips all over this west African country bordered by Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso. With Togo Soul 70, Hot Casa have selected 13 tracks, a snapshot of hundreds of rare and often forgotten tapes from the most prolific, professional and exciting phase of the country's recording history, including international stars like Bella Bellow (who even performed at Maracana Stadium in Brazil), or Roger Damawuzan, referred to as the James Brown from Lomé, and forgotten tapes and brilliant songs in the Mina, Kabyié and Fon languages. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation, highlighting how diverse the music scene in Togo was at the time, even if the political context influenced their creation. A must have for all music lovers. This selection was used as the soundtrack for the documentary Togo Soul 70, directed by Liz Gomis and DJ Julien Lebrun. Features: Akofa Akoussah, Napo De Mi Amor, Aimé Orchis Mathey, Toite Sandja, Gabelo, Wini & Fefe, Adamah & Agbote, Vewonyi DD, Dk Pilo and Yta Jourias. 


It is fortunately still pioneering in the reissue and compilation camps to be found. You can not talk about gold diggers. Most of the compilations that have unearthed historical tapes in Western and East Africa, in the Sahara or the Sahel, have certainly arisen not for profit but for love. To clear up the rendezvous is sometimes a detective game - you just have to try to get the rights for only one track. »Togo Soul 70« h from the house of Hot Casa is exactly for this reason already in advance. How wonderful it is that labelmaker DJ Julien Lebrun and the journalist Liz Gomis made a search and dug 13 songs. Togo, which lies between Ghana and Nigeria on the Ivory Coast, is, despite its vital capital Lomé, mostly underrepresented in cultural discourse. After Togo became independent of France in 1960, there was a social boost. And even when the autocratic president, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, was elected (and ultimately remained in power for more than 40 years), the economic situation continued. Lomé has become a cultural center in West Africa and countless bands have appeared. Between 1971 and 1981, this compilation is a monument. With stars like Bella Bellow or Roger Damawuzan, who was also known as the James Brown of Lomé. But also unknown pearls in Mina, Kabyié and Fon; Which besides French are still country languages. At Hot Casa you can see a post-colonial approach in your own work to reverse the distribution routes and not export music to Africa, but to import. So you can and should be back in the souly seventies.


Mar 2, 2017

From South Africa: B.C.U.C. (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness) - Our Truth


Biography

A stone’s throw from the church where Desmond Tutu organised the escape of the most wanted anti-Apartheid activists of Soweto, the BCUC band rehearses in a shipping container-turned-community restaurant, where their indomitable outspokenness echoes in a whole new way.

Make no mistake, this buzzing township has lost none of the creative, rebellious energy it had when the “Rainbow Nation”, with its now less-than-vibrant colours, emerged twenty years ago.

Like its elders, Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness sees its music as a hedonistic trance, but also as a weapon of political and spiritual liberation.

Artistic heirs to Philip “Malombo” Tabane and Batsumi, they seek to give a contemporary voice to the ancestral traditions of indigenous peoples. Jazz sounds of 1970s and ‘80s productions have been replaced by hip-hop influences and a punk-rock energy.

It all started about twelve years ago in a community centre workshop. The format of the band hasn’t changed much since that time, but its musical language has been greatly refined. While vocals and percussion have always driven their music, in the past they’ve explored “electronic”
avenues and for many years even included a rock guitar that swung between folk and free jazz.

BCUC found its magic formula in 2013, however, when they folded a frenzied electric bass into the simple drum-and-vocals mix.

And that’s the alchemy of “Africangungungu”, the name they’ve given to their “afropsychedelic” music. Both on stage and on this album (their first commercial production), their songs refuse to be formatted. Their “incantations” in Zulu, Sotho and English and their funky modulations
extend over twenty minutes in a whirlwind of sound reminiscent of Fela’s Afrobeat.

Nguni rhythms mix with Tsonga rhythms, the whistles of Bhaca and Shona miners meet the traditional Imbomu horn, while ancestral war songs and Ngoma busuku (night song) choruses mingle with the soul music of singer Kgomotso and the raging rap of Jovi and Luja.

“Yinde”, which opens “Our Truth”, means “the road”: a symbol of the distance left to cover towards a fairer South African society. Similarly, “Asazani” (“we don’t know one other”) pleads for a reconciling of all the components of the “Rainbow Nation”.

BCUC’s willingness to look these social and identity questions in the face has already led to the banning of one song from their only self-produced EP, which points the finger at a national idol. But neither this event, nor the criticism to which they are exposed by their refusal to belong to a specific movement, can change their minds. “Music for the people by the people with the people” – a people they refuse to box into one community, to circumscribe to one skin colour.

nyaminyamirecords.bandcamp.com



Profile of South African afro-psychedelic future pop sextet Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness



Foodzone is an eatery situated in Lakeview, Soweto, right next to the Rea Vaya bus station on the T1 route. Looking outside from the interior — Foodzone’s located inside a shipping container housing a variety of musical instruments in one corner and a stove where meals are prepared in another — one can see Regina Mundi church to their right and Thokoza Park to their left.


South African afro-psychedelic future pop sextet Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC or B-Cook work just as well) are not only part-owners of the venue, they also hold their rehearsals in here, on a floor space they clear up to make room for their instruments. The band consists of Nkosi “Jovi” Zithulele, Kgomotso Mokone, Thabo “Cheex” Mangle, Mritho Luja, Lehlohonolo “Hloni” Maphunye, and Skhumbuzo Mahlangu. Mosebetsi Ntsimande of the band Uju is a featured bassist.
Between them, they rap in eloquently-phrased Sesotho verse; they howl fire and brimstone to the tune of a thousand angels; they harmonize, play nose flutes, bang bass drums; they jiva ispantsula to the shy rhythm of the tambourine; and they do the ‘tribal thing’, you know, feet-in-the-air, indlamu, Zulu warrior, live-wrangling for the hood, the ‘burbs, and the outer-skirts thing?! Word!

Thrown into the mix: whistles (izimfijoli) commonly used by amaBhaca, but also found in Lesotho where mokhibo/moribo women use them to rally up the audience’s participation and liven up the song; and imbombu, an instrument roughly 3 meters long, invented by Shembe adherents with the Biblical trumpet as inspiration.

I first saw BCUC live at Oppikoppi festival two years ago. It was on a late afernoon, Saturday, and they were performing at Skellum — a stage neither big nor too small, perfect for a band whose reputation as live performers rests on their willingness to compete against and out-match the last live show they put on. They had everyone tripping towards dizzying heights, entranced by their Nazareth Baptist-style chants. Their manic, relentless, hard-hitting zeal and their head-bopping humdrum rock-n-roll attitude turns them into miracle workers on stage.

A few months later, we were all squeezed into rapper/producer Joint Pusher’s home studio in Cosmo City, north of Johannesburg. BCUC were working towards an album and decided to decamp to JP’s in order to test out a few ideas. It was hot outside, sweltering even, mid-Summer highveld vibes. Regular swigs from a cold water bottle were vital!

The room, fitted with a couch and not much else besides JP’s studio equipment, became a hub of activity. JP started the session by programming the drum pattern under Jovi’s guidance. After getting the basic groove, an assortment of percussive instruments the crew had brought along were added — shakers first and then, ultimately, Cheex’s nimble hands producing complex sounds as they caressed the twin congas.

Cheex comes across as quiet and reserved, almost reclusive, in person. He’s the antithesis to Jovi and Hloni’s hyperactive personas, almost in the same energy spectrum as Luja. Put congas in front of him, however, and these notions and comparisons cease to exist. He transforms. He becomes a beast, each percussive line feeding a style of playing so free and unhindered it sounds like he’s charting new territory, coursing along with jugular jungle styles while getting drunk in the punch of the conga gods.

The session’s well underway by the time Kgomotso adds harmonies atop the loop. At this point, BCUC’s signature imbombu, hand-crafted from the finest zinc by merchants at Kwa-MayiMayi in Durban, has also graced the song.

“When we started the band, we didn’t start it because we wanted to make money. We wanted to start the band because we felt like there is a voice that is not there, you know?!”

Jovi utters the words while cooling off under the tree shade following the second round of rehearsals for the day. Luja’s preparing food for customers who’ve just ordered and Mosebetsi, the featured bassist, has left for other missions in the city. The rest of the crew, along with a few friends, are seated on the same restaurant bench underneath the tree with Jovi, sweaty and hyperventilating.
The s’camto’s (conversation) about their roots. Back in the early 2000s, Jozi had a buzzing underground scene out of which noteworthy names emerged: Sliq Angel and MXO; Simphiwe Dana; Lebo Mashile; Tumi Molekane and his (former) band The Volume; and the now-defunct Kwani Experience — perhaps the closest to BCUC, at least in their militant, pro-black philosophies.

“We are older than most of them, obviously, in terms of how long [we’ve] been together, you know?! The difference between us and them: I reckon they wanted to make money with the music, and thina we wanted to make music and then money will follow, because obviously when you do music, then money should follow. We wanted to be this voice for the black urban [youth who] are culturally inclined [and] proud of [its] musical heritage,” says Jovi.

The collective wanted to become a bridge between what they call ‘muzik wa diplaas’ and ‘muzik wa ko kasi’ — essentially, an alternative to traditional music, and kwaito and house music. “Back then, we were annoyed by i-digital music, but now [it’s] got these guys who are using other machines, and they make it almost live now. You mention abo-Fantasma [and]Goldfish – at least you can respect that.”

The aim, therefore, was to play music that utilised instruments, and secondly to say something with substance.

What was the central message at that time, I ask.

“Black music, it hasn’t changed,” says Jovi and Kgomotso, almost at the same time. Hloni calls it ‘shebeen muzik’, the type you don’t get to hear on radio. It’s the type of music sung by everyone.

“I think we’re speaking about ourselves,” says Kgomotso. “Our ideology, B-Cook’s sense of consciousness is not about us going outside of ourselves to find enlightenment. It’s about finding out who we are within our families. Ko-ntlung (at home), what’s happening? How do you incorporate it with what happens in Cheex’s place? At Hloni’s place? At Jovi’s place? [It’s about] how we build bridges and how we educate each other to be better people. For us, that is the consciousness — just being good people and putting that positivity out there.”
africasacountry.com

Mar 1, 2017

The Macrotones - Unknown Outpost


Boston’s heavy instrumentalists The Macrotones release their fourth album, Unknown Outpost, on Oct. 21, 2016 through Music ADD Recordings and Publishing.

The fierce and driving Unknown Outpost was recorded with Boston Music Award-winner and Grammy-nominated engineer and producer Benny Grotto, and for the first time in the band’s history features guest vocals from rising star Iyeoka, Destroy Babylon’s Rob Carmichael and verses from multiple MCs. It continues the band’s progression from its traditional afrobeat roots to tighter, more hard-hitting funky compositions that settle into that four-minute, sweet-spot pocket.

CDs and downloads of Unknown Outpost can be found at Macrotones.com. Please email contact@macrotones.com if you would like a copy for review. The record can also be streamed on Spotify and Pandora.

Boston's premier afrofunk outfit, the Macrotones, have been launching explosive dance parties for nearly a decade. The 9-piece, horn-driven ensemble is steeped in funk, afrobeat, cinematic soul, ethiojazz, rock, reggae, and more, resulting in dark, interlaced rhythms and progressive arrangements. The band’s tightly-honed grooves and infectious sound has shared the stage with like-minded practitioners such as the Budos Band, Grupo Fantasma, the Funk Ark, Big Mean Sound Machine, Ikebe Shakedown, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, and Barika, and is in good company with fellow instrumentalists Brownout, Jungle Fire, the Menahan Street Band, and the Shaolin Afronauts.


Macrotones 
 


Tracklist

01. Extrajudicial
02. Brine
03. The Oneness of Life (feat. Iyeoka)
04. Grand Crew
05. The Doctors Are Here
06. The Farmer (feat. bcap)
07. 33° North
08. Eta Corvi (feat. Rob Carmichael)
09. Black Sea Strut
10. Had Enough (feat. Does Bros)
11. Icy
12. Nightshade
13. Darkness (feat. bcap)