These days, Hanad Kalkaba is a retired Army colonel and track and field athletics administrator in his native Cameroon. Yet back in the mid 1970s, he was a musician with dreams of potential super-stardom, trying to update traditional Cameroonian “Gandjal” music for the funk generation. To that end, he recorded a small number of singles and EPs alongside his backing band, the Golden Sounds. It’s those thoroughly obscure and overlooked releases that make up Hanad Kalkaba & The Golden Sounds, a retrospective of his pioneering work. Sitting somewhere between Afro-beat, Afro-funk and Afro-jazz, with a distinctively Cameroonian rhythmic swing, the music showcased on the album is undeniably special.
Now Analog Africa returns to put the record straight. Pop-Makossa shines a light on a glorious but largely overlooked period in the story of Cameroonian makossa, when local musicians began to replace funk and highlife influences with the rubbery bass of classic disco and the sparkling synth flourishes and drum machines of electrofunk. The resultant compilation, which apparently took eight years to produce, is packed full of brilliant cuts, from the heavily-electronic jauntiness of Pasteur Lappe’s “Sanaga Calypso” and horn-totin’ Highlife-disco of Emmaniel Kahe and Jeanette Kemogne’s “Ye Medjuie”, to the dense, organ-laden wig out that is Clement Djimogne’s “Africa”.
The Pop Makossa adventure started in 2009, when Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb first travelled to Cameroon to make an initial assessment of the country’s musical situation. He returned with enough tracks for an explosive compilation highlighting the period when funk and disco sounds began to infiltrate the Makossa style popular throughout Cameroon.