golden dwarves: Electronic, Cape Town, South Africa
Like the glitchy soundtrack to your video game dreams. Cinematic when it hits you and least expect it. “Gary Reuben Morris makes music under various names as well as his own and lives in Cape Town.” Bandcamp. SoundCloud. –HN
Nihiloxica: A Darker Take on Traditional Bugandan Drumming
In the constitutional kingdom of Buganda – located in central Uganda in the heart of East Africa’s Great Lakes region – the people used to hold the drums in higher regards than the king. Drums were the most widely played instrument of the region and were a marker of one’s identity; you could tell a drummer’s clan by how he or she played a specific rhythm. A drum was used in nearly every activity, ceremony, and dance, and drums were played for every birth and funeral. The drums of the Kabaka, the Buganda king, were considered holy. And when women were finally allowed to play drums, it was the sign of a strict patriarchy loosening its grip. The kingdom has since embraced the sound of globalization, but the drums still serve as a sort of beloved mascot of its past.
Nihiloxica, an Afro-techno fusion group via Kampala’s Nyege Nyege Tapes label, celebrates the drum’s special place in Uganda, but with a twist. On their self-titled EP, Nihiloxica (Nii-lox-ee-ca) present indigenous Buganda drum patterns juxtaposed with blossoming techno synths. At first, the mix seems like a quaint showcase – something like a hip-hop artist sampling Johnny Cash as a gimmick rather than color – but these drums and electronic patterns soon grow louder with each other. They fight, bite, and blend into clouds of glitch. Eventually, there are no drums or synths; there is just the sound of frenzy, and suddenly, a Buganda village becomes a Leeds rave.
The result is dark, more human, and wonderful in an otherworldly way.
“A darker take on traditional Bugandan drumming. Comprised of seven percussionists, one kit drummer combined with an analog synth player. Recorded live in single takes at Boutiq Studios in Kampala, Uganda between the 26th and 29th of August 2017.”
Blick Bassy: Cameroon-raised, France-based musician further explores “Folk Afro Blues”
During his recent Bruxelles Ma Belle session, Cameroon-raised, France-based musician Blick Bassy sounds like the wind. He performs “Ndjé Yém” live with only a string man and a trombone player, both only coming in when absolutely needed. Bassy fills the air with his whistle and voice, at times gentle, humming, and even furious. He is a wondrous singer.
Bassy’s latest album is 2015’s Akö, and more info can be found on his website.
“Blick describes the music on Akö as “FAB” or “Folk Afro Blues” music. It’s a title which perfectly explains the roots of the music, though does not hint at the inventiveness within. This is no attempt to simply emulate blues music. On Akö, Blick is proposing a completely new variant of the style. There are hints of gypsy swing on “Wap Do Wap”, beautiful atmospheric harmonies on “Aké” and the Malian folk music of Ali Farka Toure on tracks like “Tell Me” and “Mama”. Then there’s the final track, “Ndjel”, a sparse guitar motif overwhelmed at times by cello for a mesmerizing, menacing and truly original finale.”
Lokal Affair: Experimental Sound System Music from Tunisia
Lokal Affair is a Tunisian producer with a new EP call Seremunia out now via the experimental sound system label Boomarm Nation. This short collection is something I can put on and get lost in – random sounds are sampled over steady, groovy beats that take me to Tunisia.
The EP is getting some rightfully good traction, especially with a shout out by Tiny Mix Tapes: “[The EP] contains the soothing everythingness of daytime city noise, and the echoes of the blacklight nighttime stars blotted out by the rising sun during the walk home from the club.”
“Ethnic – Hypnotic Sounds – spiritual – Melodic – MultiCultu – Downtempo”
Mobraibrahim: Trap music from Nigeria
I like my trap music with as much sweet melody as possible, and Nigerian rapper and producer Mobraibrahim delivers. The secret weapon here is that I hear a bit of R&B groove in a song that could otherwise just be in-your-face trap. The simple production and the new artist’s singing elevates the song into something I wish I could hear more of. New EP Capiche is out this Friday, October 27th.
“A rapper and R&B artist and a music producer who grew up on the beats of Michael Jackson, 2pac & Heartbreak, [he] came out from Nigeria with a relaxed style that connected the dots between Young Thug [and] Drake.”
Olvido Records: Preserving Kenyan “Omutibo” Acoustic Guitar Music
Olvido Records is a US-based label that restores and circulates obscure music from around the world – a dream label for anyone wanting to discover older sounds from cultures outside of America. A recent release of theirs that I’m really enjoying is Usiende Ukalale: Omutibo From Rural Kenya, a collection of acoustic guitar music from Kenya. To me it’s like listening to old John Prine or Mississippi John Hurt records – just a guitar and voice is all you need to tell a good story.
“‘Omutibo’, a uniquely Kenyan style of acoustic guitar music, was invented by George Mukabi in the late 1950s, and quickly adapted by his neighbors in a region that proved truly fertile for guitarists. In 2016, Cyrus Moussavi (Raw Music International) set out along the banks of the River Yala to document the songs of the old days. Recorded on location in homes and yards, these are the songs and stories of a golden era Kenya on the brink of Independence, beautifully resurrected by the songwriters themselves, over 50 years later. Featuring performances by, and interviews of: Johnstone Ouko Mukabi, Shem Tube, Fanuel Amimo, Jimmy Bongo, Sukuma Bin Ongaro, Peter Akwabi, Zachariah Omufumbwa, Omari Machio, and Johanias Kiunya.”
Travi$ Harvey: “Indigo Golden Soul” from Namibia
I’m not too well versed in Namibian hip-hop, but if Travi$ Harvey reflects any scene, I’m all in. “Hip-Hop Back” takes me back to Jay-Z’s original Blueprint era with a large, cinematic sound that highlights his wordplay. Harvey calls this “Indigo Golden Soul,” and I like the moody way that music looks. The Walvis Bay artist, poet, songwriter, and producer is also one-half of New Breedz. According to The African Hip Hop Blog, Harvey’s upcoming solo release will be out sometime this month.
Jo Tongo: Parisian Funk via Cameroon
The latest Africa Seven release is a collection of old and new tracks from Parisian funk great Jo Tongo. Active for many decades, Tongo is apparently working on new music to come out soon. Give this new collection a spin to hold you over and get your daily fill of high-quality afro-funk.
“Our hero, Jo Tongo (born Joseph Ekambi Tongo Mpondo) was born and raised in Douala Cameroon. In 1964 he headed off to Paris to begin Pharmaceutical studies. Somewhere along the way the music in his soul eventually won out and he embarked on a life of music. In the latest of our series of “Funk Experimentals” LPs we dig for the funk. Not necessarily the artists greatest hits but most definitely the funkiest ear benders. We proudly compile together tracks from 1968 to 3 new brand new exclusive tracks from present day 2017. And yes, they all have the funk. In spades.
The album opens up with stunningly catchy Jangolo. Jo’s awesomely funky bass and percussive “jangly” guitar. The track is underpinned by African drums, funky stabs and 70s nascent synthesiser string machines. Next up we take a trip to 1979 and “Funky Feeling” from Jo’s “Those Flowers” album. Here the beats are big, the strings are sweet and the clavi is into overdrive. We then jump back to 1976 for the evergreen, horn-puncher, funk stomper “Piani”. Before the sweet smooth funk of “Those Flowers”.
Next up is “American Lady” with the bright strings, jangly guitars and driving keys. All locked on to maximize the groove. We then take a trip back to 1968 for Jo’s second single the ever so funky and ever so ahead of its time, “Dig It Babe”. Soul, horns, groove and punch all in two perfect packages. Part 1 and Part 2. Next up it is the funk boogie afro swingers “Ewande”.
Bringing things up date we jump forward to 2017, present day. Jo has been making music more or less non-stop and here we are lucky to premier three brand new tracks. The drums are punchy, the guitars ooze the funk and the locked on keys tie the tracks together in one tight-as package. Jo is on the production and at the controls for the mix. “Lion Roar” is first with its driving clavinet and all-out-assault funky drums. The brass is big and this song is Bold with a capital “B”. “It’s The D Day” is next with swinging soul style groove before “Mystic Power” features a ballsy brass-laden beat and jazz funk overtones.
Many thanks Jo for choosing the music. Nearly 50 years at the top of the game.”