Anti-Corpos: feminist lesbian hardcore via São Paulo
The original goal of a genre like hardcore punk has always been to change things, fight injustices, and give a voice to those who are oppressed. However, it feels like with time, the hardcore scene has become a niche built for white males, with many live shows turning into a gym for violent people, a phenomenon that has inevitably pushed others away from the scene and from its great potential. It’s in this context that the importance of Anti-Corpos, who define themselves a feminist lesbian hardcore band, becomes evident. They epitomize the original spirit of hardcore.
Anti-Corpos are from São Paulo, Brazil, and they might be the angriest band you’ll ever hear. No triggered double-kicks, pompous guitar riffs, or carefully faked screams. Only real and necessary anger. Their urgency is evident in the strident vocals of singer Rebeca Domiciano: she needs to scream and to get things off her chest. It feels like her voice, while refusing to precisely follow her band mates fast-paced tempos, can actually make a difference.
Their latest full-length, released in 2015, is a great example of political hardcore. It’s titled ‘Forma Prática de Luta’ (‘Practical Way Of Fighting’) and contains eight short and intense tracks that talk about police brutality, patriarchal abuse, and finding ways to resist to any kind of oppression. The lyrics are in Portuguese, but they barely need to be translated, seeing how energetic and heartfelt everything sounds. In their live shows, this anger is even amplified while male chauvinist violence is not tolerated. It’s what hardcore should simply be like, now more than ever.
Al Massrieen: Arabic funk via the essential Habibi Funk Records
Al Massrieen, this gem of a band, came onto my radar when I was introduced to Habibi Funk Records, a Berlin sub-label of Jakarta Records that specializes in reissuing Arabic funk and jazz music from the ’70s and ’80s. Al Massrieen was an Egyptian band that played groovy Arabic funk from 1977 until the group’s end in 1988.
The full release, titled ‘Habibi Funk 006: Modern Music,’ will be released online April 28th.
From Habibi Funk’s SoundCloud:
“[This] was one of the first bands I learned about once I discovered the tape format. They were really popular in Egypt in the 1970s and the more of their music I found on either tapes or Arabic pirate mp3 sites, the more I was becoming a fan. Only very few bands from the region can match the band’s versatility as well as their strive for innovation. Hany Shenoda is the man behind the [band]. He is a reknown figure of the Egyptian music scene and has worked with everyone from Abdel Halim Hafez to Mohamed Mounir. Al Massrieen was his attempt to introduce his ideas of modernizing Egyptian music, heavily encouraged by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt’s only winner of the Nobel Price for literature) after discussing his ideas with him.”
Kikagaku Moyo: “feeling good music” that channels sitars and Krautrock
On April 21st, Kikagaku Moyo‘s self-titled 2013 debut will be reissued via Guruguru Brain Records, a Tokyo label that focuses on the Asian underground. And for all my fellow Brooklynites, the band will be at Rough Trade on May 4th via Aquarium Drunkard.
From the band’s Bandcamp:
“Kikagaku Moyo’s debut album exerts an elemental power. Enlivening their sound with sitars, percussive drums, theremins, wind instruments and ethereal vocals, the band manages to sound powerfully spacious and lazily serene all at once. Their songs can be light as air, or heavy as earth. Many evolve out of intense experiences of engagement with the natural world. The album’s first track, ‘Can You Imagine Nothing?’ was written over a night spent jamming on a suspended footbridge in remote mountains. As the song progressed the bridge began to sway, making band members feel as though they were floating weightless in midair.
Kikagaku Moyo started in the summer of 2012 busking on the streets of Tokyo. Though the band started as a free music collective, it quickly evolved into a tight group of multi-instrumentalists. Kikagaku Moyo call their sound psychedelic because it encompasses a broad spectrum of influence. Their music incorporates elements of classical Indian music, Krautrock, Traditional Folk, and 70s Rock. Most importantly their music is about freedom of the mind and body and building a bridge between the supernatural and the present. Improvisation is a key element to their sound.”
‘Togo Soul 70’: Hot Casa Records takes us to ’70s West Africa
‘Togo Soul 70,’ released via the Paris-based Hot Casa Records that specializes in afro-Cuban soul and tropical funk, is a collection of rare Togolese recordings from the ’70s. The music is consistently groovy in its faster and slower moments and includes some excellent guitar work.
From Hot Casa’s website:
“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 thirteen 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 included international stars like Bella Bellow ( who even performed to Maracana stadium in Brazil ) to Roger Damawuzan compared as the James Brown from Lomé to forgotten tapes and brilliant songs in Mina, Kabyié and Fon language. 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 and soundtrack of the documentary Togo Soul 70 directed by Liz Gomis & Dj Julien Lebrun!”
Dem Juju Poets: bringing life, and a few DJ tricks, to Afrofunk
Dem Juju Poets, aka David Hanke, is a breath of fresh air for anyone who likes the idea of retro-sounding Afrofunk but finds that most modern takes are too bland to remember. The German DJ has been making solid Afropunk-inspired cuts since 2008, and his new album, with a lively flow that actually makes you wanna get up and dance, will further establish his name worldwide. The debut LP will be released April 21st via Matasuna Records.
From the Bandcamp bio:
“What initially started as idea for a DJ-duo project quickly turned into a new production outlet for German producer David Hanke. He is well known for his Northern Jazz, Funk and Afrofunk productions under various monikers ever since his first release back in 2008. The most recognized surely is his Renegades Of Jazz-alias.
After starting to fully embrace the Afrofunk vibe with his 2016-released Renegades Of Jazz album ‘Moyo Wangu’ as well as two Dem Juju Poets singles in the same year it’s now about time to release ‘Liberated Thoughts’ – the longplay debut for Dem Juju Poets which is scheduled for April 2017.
Having spent an influential part of his childhood in Arusha, Tanzania and engrained the music of East Africa, his sound combines these influences with modern, more club-orientated electronic Afrofunk productions which defines the core sound of Dem Juju Poets.
With ‘Liberated Thoughts’ Hanke refines his Afrofunk vision for 2017 informed by his experience as a DJ in venues all over Europe which naturally led to a more floor functional production approach.”
Cienfue: “a smoke-filled tour of eighties influences and tropical neon leisure rays”
Cienfue is a Panama artist who makes the perfect beach music for college-me who used to go somewhere warm for spring break.
“‘Mounstro’ comes from collaborations between Rasta Lloyd, a prolific urban reggae producer in Panama, Makako and Cienfue. Cienfue’s fourth full-length studio album is a smoke-filled tour of eighties influences and tropical neon leisure rays.”
Yazz Ahmed: British jazz meets the Persian Gulf
Bahrain-born, UK-based multi-instrumentalist Yazz Ahmed, like Kamasi Washington in the United States, is reintroducing a new generation to modern jazz. Ahmed has worked with These New Puritans and Radiohead (she plays flugelhorn throughout ‘The King of Limbs’), and in her solo music, she combines her British and Arabic roots through jazz and electronic experimentation. Even if you’re not familiar or terribly interested in jazz, Ahmed’s music deserves your attention, and she’ll most likely make you second guess your thoughts on jazz.
From Ahmed’s Bandcamp bio:
“[Yazz Ahmed’s] new album ‘La Saboteuse’ [out May 12, 2017] is a deep exploration of both her British and Bahraini roots. Ably assisted by musicians including Lewis Wright on vibraphone, MOBO-winning new jazz kingpin Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and Naadia Sherriff on Fender Rhodes keyboard, it’s composed of undulating rhythms, Middle Eastern melody and Yazz’s sonorous trumpet lines. The record sounds like the passage of a desert caravan, bathed in moonlight. The theme of ‘La Saboteuse’ is the sense of self-doubt that Yazz feels when she is creating, personified in a female saboteur, an anti-muse that spurs her into action.
‘La Saboteuse’ will be released in four chapters incrementally, unraveling the story, before the full version is available. Each chapter has its own cover, with beautiful illustrations by Bristol artist Sophie Bass.”
49 Morphines: the unpredictable tension of South Korean post-rock
Sometimes music can be so vivid and graspable that it allows the listener to create a visual representation, like listening to a record soundtrack a movie that doesn’t exist. ‘Partial Eclipse,’ the only full-length release by 49 Morphines, is one of those albums.
This post-punk five-piece started playing in Seoul, South Korea in 2003. In spite of a 14-year-long career, their discography only consists of one EP from 2004 and the aforementioned LP released in 2008.
49 Morphines play an impeccable mix of screamo and post-rock, similar in a way to their Japanese neighbors, Envy – yet this sound is more complex and particular. The contrast between soft and explosive is less balanced and predictable. At first, an Explosions In The Sky-like tenderness leaks through quiet and poignant guitars that never feel comforting, as the violence that comes before and after is unprecedented. The rhythm gets fast, crammed with ever-changing drum tempos and frantic guitars equally inspired by hardcore and metal. The listener’s awareness of the upcoming tempest is enough to turn even the softer moments in a vortex of tension and anxiety.
It’s been nine years since the release of ‘Partial Eclipse’, and meanwhile, some of the band members have started new bands; Noeazy plays a particularly furious type of metalcore while Jambinai mixes post-rock with traditional Korean folk instruments. Yet 49 Morphines still play a couple of shows every year, and they might even release something new in the near future according to an interview from last year.
This is Kologo Power: the kologo lute and the sound of Northern Ghana
‘This is Kologo Power!,’ another winning compilation from sahelsounds, takes us to Bolgatanga, Ghana. Here the instrument of choice is the kologo, a type of lute from Northern Ghana that’s most popular in Bolgatanga. The instrument is small – two strings played on a thin neck – yet it holds a sort of tension that’s capable of a fierceness and blueness comparable to the banjo.
You can read more about the album via sahelsounds – the compilation still holds up almost a year after its release.
From the Bandcamp bio:
“A BOLGATANGA GHANA COMPILATION’. This compilation is an African initiative. King Ayisoba once told Makkum Records: ‘I want to make the world love kologo music like Bob Marley made the world love reggae music.’ Most of the tracks on this album were recorded in studios in Ghana. Some are sung in Frafra, others in pidgin English. Some are with a live band and some feature just solo kologo and voice. But all the songs represent a force and unveil a very strong musical power. The connection between kologo music and (delta) blues has been made more than once and that resemblance is not written on ice; the personal and the social messages, the strong rhythms, the push that this instrument -with only two strings spanned over a goatskin on a calabash- can give to people to make sure they don’t ignore the dance floor, all that makes it worth the effort of putting together at least one kologo compilation.”
Adorno: ’90s emo and post-hardcore mixed with Portuguese Saudade
Between 2007 and 2012, Lisbon-born band Adorno released twenty songs spread across two EPs and six splits, like a book whose chapters came out quarterly on the pages of a newspaper. And just like a book, these twenty songs tell the story of a friendship expressed through uncompromised emo that is not detachable from the political values it was born with.
“We will be aware of our own contradictions and we will make mistakes. Don’t need regret,” they sing on their sixth song, “Life. Love. Don’t Need Regret”. It’s only one of their many incurably optimistic anthems, sundering the band from the stereotypes of their motherland Portugal, often associated with Fado music and sadder feelings, and showing traces of their necessary internationality. In their first year, the band couldn’t resist doing a full European tour after just seven shows between Portugal and Spain. And the fact that now the band members live between New York, Barcelona and Lisbon confirms such spirit.
Though, when describing the band’s lyrics, optimistic might not be the right term, as they are more motivational in quite an hardcore-inspired way rather than plain happy. But the sonic framework is different, certainly influenced by ’90s emo and post-hardcore but made more exotic by the particular ability of the band to create their own personal style. Tapering rhythms and beaming guitars steal the show, while the vocals went from the coarse screams of their first EP to the hearty and amicable imperfection of their latest works. Add a little bit of saudade, the nostalgic/melancholic emotion that is typical of the Portuguese tradition, and it’s enough to turn Adorno into one of the most memorable emo bands Europe have ever seen.