Ghoula

Ghoula: techno glitchiness meets natural North African instrumentation

Ghoula

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Shouka is a French/Tunisian independent music label. Ghoula, who is on Shouka, is a Tunisian musician and producer who makes wonderful music that combines a sort of modern techno glitchiness with natural North African instrumentation.

From Ghoula’s bio on his website:

“This first solo album was mainly born as a result of Ghoula’s great passion for old North African vinyls. He would dig up vinyls from flea markets and the old Tunisian medinas, and then play various instruments over the original music. Gradually, he started sampling, to exhibit short particular sounds, which he used like bricks to build a brand new music genre. Thus, he immersed himself in a world apart, a world that he explored step by step through its various themes and lyrics. His ultimate goal would be to give a new life to this hidden musical heritage. With this in mind, and also to pay tribute to the nickname that he has always had, Ghoula decided to highlight the importance of his heritage even through the album’s title: Hlib el Ghoula.”

Ghoula: Website Bandcamp Facebook

 

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INFRACom!

INFRACom!: discover south Vietnam’s lost “Golden Age” of pop music.

INFRACom!

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INFRACom! is a Frankfurt, Germany-based label that for over 20 years has released 160+ globally-minded, eclectic productions. The label’s latest release is ‘Saigon Supersound Vol. 1,’ which celebrates south Vietnam’s lost “Golden Age” of pop music from the ’60s and ’70s inspired by soul, funk, and, for better or worse, America.

From the Bandcamp bio:

“Saigon Super Sound is the story of a musical era that was almost lost. The selection of tracks is limited to the period between 1965 and 1975, the so-called ‘Golden Era’ in the South of Vietnam, where – under difficult circumstances – a lively pop culture had developed.

The music of Vietnam in the sixties was shaped by three currents: Nhạc đỏ (“red music” or communist revolutionary music) had developed around the beginning of the 20th century in opposition to the French colonization of Indochina. It usually promoted independence, socialism and anti-capitalism in its lyrics and was the dominant genre in the communist North. These were mostly heroic songs celebrating the men and women who left their families to bravely fight against the French and, soon enough, also the US Army.

This collection focuses on the South, where under “imported” western influence a new kind of pop and rock music had developed: Nhạc Vàng (“yellow music” or “golden music”), Nhạc Trẻ (“young music”). Nhạc Vàng are poetic, often sentimental and sad love songs (Tình Khúc) as well as simple, easily accessible compositions which praised the beauty of the homeland (Quê hương).

This genre had also developed since the 1920’s under French colonial influence, namely the chanson that was much appreciated by the growing Vietnamese bourgeoisie. Latin rhythms and dances such as the Bolero, the Rumba, Tango and Cha Cha Cha as well as Slow Rock were also integrated into the standard repertoire…When the Americans entered the war, they also brought rock- ́n’-roll and soul music to Vietnam which became quite influential for local artists. “Young music” (Nhạc Trẻ) was performed by newly formed bands like Dew Drop, The Dreamers, CBS Band and The Strawberry Four.

There were all female bands too, such as the Blue Stars (of whom, unfortunately, no usable recordings have survived) who performed at the G.I. Clubs. They covered American rock and soul hits, translating or simply making up new lyrics in Vietnamese. Very few of these were even recorded, but many popular singers – including Hùng Cường, Mai Lệ Huyền and Carol Kim – added “imported” styles like Twist, Soul, Agogo, Surf and Mashed Potatoes to their repertoire of popular ballads.

The third, very popular form was Cải Lương, best translated into “theater music” in which pieces of music alternate with spoken word passages to form a kind of radio play. The last title of this collection, “7 câu vọng cổ chúc Tết“ gives you an idea of this genre. Its musical structure is based on a Vietnamese composition from the early 20th century, the Vọng Cổ which was (and is) very popular in Cải Lương as well as in Vietnamese chamber music.”

INFRACom!: SoundCloud Facebook Twitter

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Analog Africa

Analog Africa: the German label brings back retro jams from Burkina Faso.

Analog Africa

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Analog Africa is a label based in Überlingen, Germany that specializes in sharing tropical dance music from Africa. This year marks the label’s 10th anniversary, so I’ve been going through many of the old releases and discovering a bunch of great music. Read here to learn more about the label’s impressive history.

So far, my favorite Analog Africa release is 2011’s ‘Bambara Mystic Soul – The Raw Sound Of Burkina Faso 1974 – 1979.’

From the Bandcamp bio:

“For its commemorative 10th release, Analog Africa indulges in Burkina Faso, one of the jewels of the Sahel, a harsh and arid strip that straddles the southern Sahara, stretching from Dakar in the west to Djibouti in the east. Formerly known as Haute Volta, Burkina Faso’s sound was organized and nurtured during the country’s time as part of a vast patchwork making up French colonial West Africa.

The rise of a post-independence urban middle class willing to invest in the Burkinabe arts spawned a cadre of singers, bands, orchestras and, most importantly, competitive record labels who all played their part in ushering in a golden age of music in their landlocked nation during the 1970’s – a decade marred by political instability in the country and an era of artistic enlightenment empowering the whole of Africa.

The Sahelian climate fortunately bore no influence on the Burkinabé sound, which is cosmopolitan as it was raw. West Africa was and continues to remain deeply interconnected. In search of better gigs, well-to-do producers and sufficient recording equipment, Burkinabe musicians ventured across the surrounding region, returning home with a wealth of knowledge of their neighbors’ distinctive styles.

The raw sound of Burkina Faso combined Afro-Funk, traditional Islamic rhythms and subtle Afro-Latin sounds brought over by visiting Cuban ensembles. Mandingue melodies and guitar techniques from Mali and Guinea, however, were by far the most defining traits of a potent African mix that distinguished the Voltaic style between 1974 and 1979.”

Analog Africa: SoundCloud Facebook Twitter Website

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Svetlana Maraš

Svetlana Maraš: brilliant sampling work via Norient

Svetlana Maraš

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Svetlana Maraš excellent sampling work is the latest release from Norient, a Swiss online magazine that searches for contemporary music, sounds, and noises from around the world (just like us!).

From Norient’s Bandcamp:

“For her audio-visual cut-up composition MATTER OF FACT, Serbian composer and sound artist Svetlana Maraš has sampled, remixed and developed the interview material used in the Norient exhibition Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World.

Words and music, their fusion and their frisson, fascinate this artist, inspiring much of her work. She is less interested in word setting and more in exploring and distilling the sonic possibilities at the heart of spoken language and organized sound.

In this work, the ‘lyrics’ are entirely made out of snippets of interviews with people from all over the world; the recorded fragments divorced from their original contexts become rich in semantic ambiguity and ripe for alternative interpretations. This is the ‘me, me, me’ of the modern world and its’ egocentrism – dissected, juxtaposed, pilloried, criticized and sonified.

Commissioned by Norient and CTM for «Seismographic Sounds» exhibition at the CTM Festival 2016 Berlin, MATTER OF FACT premiered as an interactive installation.”

Svetlana Maraš: Bandcamp Website

Norient: Bandcamp SoundCloud Website Facebook Twitter

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Baharat

Baharat: vintage Israeli surf rock

baharat

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Baharat is one of the many exciting bands on Batov Records, a London based independent label with sounds from all over the world. I’m drawn to this Tel Aviv three-piece because the music sounds psychedelic but tight, a kaleidoscope sound that doesn’t get in the way of itself. If you like Tame Impala or any music that would fit well in an Urban Outfitters, you’ll especially like this group.

From Batov:

“In middle eastern cuisine it’s well known – ‘don’t forget to add some Baharat to the dish! It always brings the magic!’ We are very pleased and excited to add a special new spice to the Batov Records kitchen…a band of 3 of Tel-Aviv’s finest hipsters, mixing the flavours of middle-eastern sounds with the vintage vibes of surf music. This tasty EP was recorded at home with minimal equipment, superb musicianship, lots of humility, a tape machine and no drugs. It is still a hallucination of timeless tunes.. and if you don’t think we’re objective about it, you are definitely right.”

Baharat: Bandcamp Facebook

Batov Records: SoundCloud Bandcamp Facebook Twitter Website

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Babel Records

Babel Records: because moody Valentine’s Day songs still sound good in March

babel records

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Babel Records is a new Beijing label I’ve begun to keep my eye on, and so far I’ve really liked what I’ve heard. The label’s latest release is a four-track Valentine’s Day compilation that still holds up even though it’s March. My personal favorite is opening track “sweet,sweet tone” by sususu;Cattzim.

From SoundCloud:

“Whether you are lonely, missing, unrequited love or despair
It doesn’t matter, because we’re still before midnight
All beautiful things will take place in this quiet night”

Babel Records: SoundCloud Bandcamp Instagram

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Auntie Flo

Auntie Flo: for fans of Four Tet and Gorillaz

auntie flo

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Auntie Flo is Brian d’Souza, a UK artist who’s been praised by The Guardian for his insightful and educational fusion of electronic and world influences. Check out his diverse body of work here.

I had never heard d’Souza’s music before, but after hearing “The Soniferous Garden,” it feels like I’ve been waiting for this kind of mixture ever since this website began – something that immediately hits you but then reveals more texture and color on repeated listens.

From Bandcamp:

“Produced and arranged over an intense, collaborative two day session at the Santuri studio as part of the Ugandan Bayimba arts festival in Kampala in September 2015, the project draws on Senegalese Sabar drumming, the plaintive notes of the Adungu (a Ugandan 10 string harp) and the vocals of Gio Kiyingi, underpinned by d’Souza’s arrangements and drum programming for two tracks clocking in at a healthy quarter of an hour each.

The title ‘The Soniferous Garden’ is taken from the writings of Canadian composer and environmentalist R Murray Schafer, a concept he defines as ‘a garden or place of acoustic delights’ – an aural space of retreat from the oppressive overabundance of acoustic information that characterizes the modern industrial world.

The two compositions are a response to this idea – drawing the listener into meandering, ever-evolving themes that weave in and out of a rhythmic base that is equal parts traditional percussion and electronic production.

The title track showcases the virtuoso Adungu playing of erstwhile Burnt Friedman collaborator Hakim Kiwanuka, and vocals from regular Highlife World Series contributor Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi whilst Rainfall on red earth (inspired by the vivid colours of the landscape around the studio) pushes the talking drum of Mama N’Dieck Seck Thiam to the fore.”

Auntie Flo: SoundCloud Bandcamp Facebook Twitter

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Cocaine Piss

Cocaine Piss: Steve Albini teams up with one of Belgium’s best bands to beef up punk for 2017

cocaine piss

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Kurt Cobain once said that the only producer Nirvana could have accepted to work with was Steve Albini, because he was the only one who could give the band a great sound while keeping it natural and raw. And so it makes sense that a band like Cocaine Piss would choose to head to Chicago to work with Albini himself for their latest record, The Dancer.

Cocaine Piss perfectly epitomize the original spirit of punk; they’re loud, reckless, provocative and aren’t afraid of being hated. They come from Liége, Belgium, a city that has seen the growth of a large number of crust punk bands such as Hiatus, but they don’t seem to be influenced by dark tones or d-beat drum rhythms.

Instead, they try to retrace a certain musical primordiality that perfectly pairs up with the relentless wildness they show on the stage. It’s hard to figure out what kind of people they could be in everyday life, but every time their singer, Aurélie, grabs the microphone, she turns into a raving beast. Everything she does – consciously or unconsciously – ends up shocking the audience in an authentic yet unexpected way.

Her lyrics are savage and fun at the same time. Take “Average Romance” for example, where she mercilessly screams: “You got married sent résumés swallowed some pills still no fun!”. And it’s really hard to choose which of their songs is the most crudely realistic. Everything in Cocaine Piss is meant to shock and surprise the audience, and if you add a good amount of fun to all of that you have the perfect recipe to keep playing punk in 2017.

Cocaine Piss: Facebook Bandcamp

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