Nakibembe Embaire Group – Nakibembe Embaire Group [NNT045]

In Nakibembe, a small village in Uganda’s Busoga kingdom (one of the country’s four remaining constitutional monarchies), locals have long reserved a communal area for musical performances and social events. In the middle of this space lies a deep pit that serves a single purpose: to amplify the embaire, an immense xylophone made up of between 15 and 25 wooden keys that stretches across the trench. Log xylophones are common throughout East Africa, but the way the music is played by the Basoga – an Eastern Bantu ethnic group – is specific and unique, with its own tuning, dances and supplemental instrumentation. Up to eight players can surround the embaire and play simultaneously, overlaying hypnotic polyrhythms while additional members of the ensemble add vocals or play shakers and drums. Nakibembe Xylophone Group are one of the last remaining groups that perform with the embaire, and as anyone who’s caught their live performances will know, they create a complex and layered wall of sound that’s completely transfixing wherever it’s presented. The band are a regular fixture at Nyege Nyege festival, and in 2020 appeared in Berlin at the legendary Berghain nightclub alongside Jakarta-based vanguards Gabber Modus Operandi and Harsya Wahono. On the group’s debut album, they present five tracks as an ensemble and three tracks in collaboration with Indonesian trio. Heard together the music demonstrates not only the remarkable sound of Nakibembe’s own kinetic interaction, but sonic ripples that correlate with more distant forms, from Indonesia’s metallophone-led gamelan music to the heady digital processes of the sound art sphere.

listen

Nakibembe Embaire Group – Nakibembe Embaire Group [NNT045]

Nu Genea – Bar Mediterraneo [NG005LP]

Four years after Nuova Napoli, Nu Genea are back with Bar Mediterraneo, a new album and journey, which projects the sounds of the Neapolitan duo formed by Massimo Di Lena and Lucio Aquilina even further. Nu Genea’s Bar Mediterraneo is an idea of a shared place where people meet and fuse together; a space that leaves its doors open to travellers and their lives, always exposed to the whims of fate. Some of this can be experienced through the multitude of sounds that come together in the tracks, layers of different acoustic instruments, voices and synthesizers merging in a unique musical blend. Opening up to the voices of many different people, separated by languages but united by the sea and the music, Nu Genea’s hometown, Napoli, becomes a true place of encounter.

listen

Nu Genea – Bar Mediterraneo [NG005LP]

Özel Türkbaş Orkestrası – Bouzouki & Organ Improvisations [Arsivplak]

A wide selection of Oriental Turkish funk music for listening and dancing. The tracks are ranging from traditional Turkish Folk to funky belly dance sound and from electrified bouzouki beats to exotic fuzzy riffs. Mostly traditional tracks are taken from the zourna & hanging drum playing style that is practiced in this kind of music and in fact it usually plays at the weddings. Here played with the western instruments including bass guitar, hammond organ and drum set.

Özel Türkbaş Orkestrası – Bouzouki & Organ Improvisations [Arsivplak]

Esin Engin Orkestrası – Modern Oyun Havaları [Arsivplak]

This album is one of the best selling album in Turkey’s musical history. “Modern Oyun Havaları” which means “Modernised folk-dance Music” was first released in 1973 by Kent (Kent Ses ve Plak Endüstrisi). Esin Engin who was a singer, arranger and composer almost the youngest and one of the most outstanding musicians of Turkey. He was the first arranger who used both native and pop music instruments correctly without changing the characteristics of Turkish music’s rhythms and melodies. His albums were also the best-selling records among tourists from all over the world that came to see the priceless natural and historical treasures of Turkey. In this album, you’ll find a good selection of modernized hits of the most famous Turkish belly dance Wedding house melodies.

Esin Engin Orkestrası – Modern Oyun Havaları [Arsivplak]

Arp Frique – Analog People Digital World [CW005]

Arp Frique returns with a new album after a string of releases, leaving the cratediggers and dancefloor tastemakers with underground classics like Nos Magia, Voyage and Nyame Ye. On ”Analog People Digital World’ he embraces the digital coldness of Yamaha’s classic DX7 synthesizer to create a refreshing listening experience using only the FM synthesis-based sounds from this machine to find new heat for an analog world, reflecting on the digital revolution we are living through. The album features Ghanaian songstress Mariseya (Omampam, Jah Kingdom, Digital World, Roi Salomon), Cape Verdean OG Americo Brito (Go Now Wetiko) and Surinam funkstar Sumy, who joins the record on the opening track “Spiritual Masseuse”. Arp Frique closes the album with “Duncan Truffle”, a very intense and wobbling instrumental echoing Bootsy and Bernie Worrell on a solo exercise. Expect an analog-digital exploration of lofi funk, highlife, zouk and reggae.

listen

Arp Frique – Analog People Digital World [CW005]

Hektisch Sprengen DJs – Chiqui Tan [TERRAM004]

Terra Magica Rec. first 7’’ release „Chiqui Tan“ by the label heads Hektisch Sprengen DJs. The A-side hits the listener with some 1980s early Electronic-Downtempo-Cumbia-Colombian-Venezuelan-Tablemountain-Dub-Grooves. This reminiscence is leading to an extra full blown up 21st century Bass-Queen alert. And these HSDJ dials hit you into a stripped naked sample of Nigerian-Swedish DJ-dentist-mainstream-star Dr. Alban and his Eurotrash-90s-Pophouse-anthem “No Hash Hash, No Cocaine”. This is for sure no “Ottonormal”-90s-revival thing. On the flip side Hektisch’s haptic wood razzle move covers the classic 1994-Liquid-Deep-Netherlands-Trance-House-Track “Paper Moon” by 51 Days which back then sampled the rare 1972-MPB-Funk-Cover-Version of Carol Kings “Corazón”.

listen

Hektisch Sprengen DJs – Chiqui Tan [TERRAM004]

Ahl Nana – L’Orchestre National Mauritanien [RMLP011]

Lost recordings that defined the modern sound of the Sahara. This album contains the first recordings of modern music from the Sahara and mark the birth of the genre that is known in the West as ‘Desert Blues’ or ‘Desert Rock’. Ahl Nana changed the folk music of the Sahara to modern, cosmopolitan music by using Western instruments like the electric guitar. They paved the way for artists like Ali Farka Touré, Tinariwen, Mdou Moctar or Bombino. Although the group is still active today, they only recorded 2 LPs and a handful of singles. All these recordings took place in 1971 at the Boussiphone studios in Casablanca. The records were never distributed and therefore remained unknown for almost 50 years, until Radio Martiko discovered a batch of unsold factory stock a few years ago. On this album, you will find a selection of these revolutionary recordings.

listen

Ahl Nana – L’Orchestre National Mauritanien [RMLP011]

Mohamad Zatari Trio – Istehlal LP [ZEHRA007]

Zehra presents the debut album “Istehlal” by the Mohamad Zatari Trio, consisting of musicians from Syria, Iran & India. The trio merges traditional Middle Eastern sounds with contemporary vibes including interpretations of Hossein Alizadeh & Riad Al-Sunbati classics. In a contemporary globalized world where music has lost its borders and is fighting a constant – yet particular – stream of Western commodification, the Mohamad Zatari Trio stands out as an original cultural artefact, aiming at transcending the boundaries between different music worlds. Founded in 2019 the ensemble had its first public appearance in 2020 at the Outernational Virtual Festival. comprising the performers Sara Eslami (Iran) on tar, Avadhut Kasinadhuni (India / Romania) on tabla and Mohamad Zatari (Syria) on oud. Their debut Istehlal plunges into its own aesthetics, politics and sound intricacies and represents the combined efforts of three musicians hailing from different, yet deeply rooted cultures. Over the course of eleven songs, the album transcends stylistic, ideologic and geographic boundaries and reflects on the human condition in an interconnected and interrelated technological world.

vinyl / CD

Mohamad Zatari Trio – Istehlal LP [ZEHRA007]

Midori Takada – Tree of Life [WRWTFWW057]

WRWTFWW Records announce the worldwide reissue of Midori Takada’s solo album from 1999, Tree of Life, available on vinyl for the first time ever in a new audiophile mix by the Japanese percussionist herself, and in full half-speed-mastered glory. Originally recorded in September 1998 at legendary Ginza (Tokyo) studio Onkio Haus and released on CD only for the Japan market in 1999, Tree of Life is Midori Takada’s best kept secret, a lost gem of minimalism and percussive ambient. The album is separated in two parts, the first one finds Takada exploring her trademark environmental soundscapes with precise mastery of marimba, drums, and bells, notably on the magnificent fan-favorite ”Love Song Of Urfa”. The second half is a collaboration with Chinese virtuoso Erhu player Jiang Jian Hua, allowing Midori Takada to unveil new layers of her artistic mind with a slightly more theatrical approach and a beautiful crystallization of complex simplicity.

vinyl / CD

Midori Takada – Tree of Life [WRWTFWW057]

Slumberland & Sainkho Namtchylak – Lightkeeper [DOSER043]

Morphine Records is coming up with a massive loader from Slumberland’s self-made instruments sounds, from the bullroarer to sewing machines an d self made organs, combined with legendary Tuvan throat singer Sainkho Namtchylak. “Lightkeeper” was recorded and mixed by Lebanese-Canadian artist Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Jerusalem In My Heart, Constellation Records) adding his distinct touch to the production of this rollercoaster of sounds. Belgian musician, composer and instrument-maker Jochem Baelus has been unleashing his obscure, hypnotic krautrock embellished with distorted exotica upon us as Slumberland since 2013. After creating his signature battery of sewing machines, projectors and dismantled mechanical objects, Baelus immersed himself into the world of 64 year old voice-artist Sainkho Namtchylak and assembled a new sound sculpture inspired by her colour.

listen

Slumberland & Sainkho Namtchylak – Lightkeeper [DOSER043]

Balka Sound – Balka Sound LP [STRUTLP322]

Strut present the first ever compilation of Balka Sound, bringing together their influential 1980s recordings. Hailing from Congo-Brazzaville and led by revered vocalist and ngonfi player, Nkibi “Lusialala” Albert, Balka Sound created their own unique musical world, re imagining traditional Congolese Balka rhythms with electric guitars, electric bass and drums, alongside the traditional 5-string ngonfi.

listen

Balka Sound – Balka Sound LP [STRUTLP322]

Gordon Koang – Community LP [MIE020]

South Sudan’s undisputed ‘King of Music’, the Juba-via-Melbourne eccentric outsider Gordon Koang, returns with his second full-length of original material since emigrating to Australia, the masterly titled follow-up, Community. Eight tracks recorded in Melbourne with a cast of the city’s finest musical minds, including Zak Olsen, Jesse Williams, David “Daff” Gravolin and Jack Kong, the record draws upon Gordon’s pitch-perfect pop sensibility and compulsion for composing irresistibly catchy melodies. Add to this brew the extensive creditienals of his collaborators, who are known for their work with Trafik Island, ORB, Leah Senior and more, and you have yourself a perfect blend of East African pop and vintage psychedelia that is surely one of the most interesting records of the year, outstripping it’s Australian counterparts both in songwriting, production value and downright good energy.

listen

Gordon Koang – Community LP [MIE020]

The Observatory & Koichi Shimizu – Demon State [MNSXLP004]

The Observatory is one of those last few bands that can change and become your life. Stuck in Singapore, the wilful outlier of Southeast Asia, this ever-shifting group stubbornly evolves past its roots, most recently in an more improvisational, instrumental, and noise-adjacent territories in an EP with collaborator Haino Keiji. In “Demon State”, Dharma and Cheryl Ong plus Yuen Chee Wai continue The Observatory’s bold partnerships, this time with electronic musician Koichi Shimizu. Together, they finally reach this long-gestating, total (yet I’m sure temporary), and rhythm-focused, electronic reinvention of The Obs—while briefly nodding to their past. The road is long; “Demon State” is one pit stop in glorious hell. Partly stemming from a casual, improv studio session with Koichi in early 2020, the eight tracks on “Demon State” – their first release on the Midnight Shift label – were formed from a gradual accumulation of sonic layers; they were foraged, recycled, and pieced together remotely also from solo bedroom recordings, a historical sample, nonhuman beats and effects, as well as journals and junk.

listen

The Observatory & Koichi Shimizu – Demon State [MNSXLP004]

The Pyramids – Aomawa: The 1970s Recordings [STRUT290]

Strut present the first box set release to bring together the 1970s recordings of The Pyramids, led by Idris Ackamoor. As students at Antioch College, Ohio, alto saxophonist Idris Ackamoor, flautist Margaux Simmons and bass player Kimathi Asante created three lasting monuments in sound – Lalibela, King of Kings, and Birth / Speed / Merging, a trio of albums produced without any label backing or distribution between 1972 and 1976. Their music is unique among the varied canon of avant-garde and experimental music of 1970s America: high intensity African-styled percussion topped with songs, chants, and horns, laced with African instruments and arranged into long, flowing suites that surge and roll.

vinyl / CD

The Pyramids – Aomawa: The 1970s Recordings [STRUT290]

Midori Takada – You Who Are Leaving To Nirvana [WRWTFWW061]

WRWTFWW Records and MEG Museum (Geneva) announce a new full length album by celebrated Japanese percussionist Midori Takada (Through The Looking Glass), in collaboration with Buddhist monks belonging to the Samgha group of the Shingon school of Koya-san, led by Reverend Syuukoh Ikawa. “You Who are Leaving to Nirvana” is a majestic work combining a suite of six Buddhist liturgical chants and a musical creation by Midori Takada. After supervising the recording of the Buddhist chants, Midori Takada added her own compositions, with subtle layers of percussion and the melodies of her beloved marimba, giving full life to the sacred texts.

vinyl / CD

Midori Takada – You Who Are Leaving To Nirvana [WRWTFWW061]

Tasos Stamou – Balkan Express [AKULP1038]

Contrarily to the rest of Tasos Stamou’s experimental discography, the musician’s latest album “Balkan Express” has a more obscure electro-folk approach. It consists of seven pieces, all recorded with seven different vintage electric keyboards from Stamou’s own collection, blended with oriental acoustic solos. Since Stamou grew up in the Balkans in the ‘80s, he wanted to pay homage to the essence of the sound of the era that unintentionally shaped a whole culture. It was when these inexpensive, available-to-all electronic keyboards with synth sounds and drum machines replaced traditional Balkan folk music ensembles. The acoustic instruments solos and melodies of the album were influenced by local traditions and the heritage of the Ottoman music. “Balkan Express” is meant to be a time capsule taking the listener to the folk-wave retro-Balkan subculture.

Tasos Stamou – Balkan Express [AKULP1038]

Shane Cooper & Mabuta – Finish The Sun LP [KJR004]

Finish The Sun, the second offering from Shane Cooper & Mabuta, is a glowing and energetic album, rooted in grooves from all over the African continent. The six-piece outfit draws on influences from Mali, Nigeria, the Sahel, Morocco; and the many sounds that make up their native South Africa. This musical trip seamlessly dances through Afrobeat, maskandi, funk and hip hop, to moments of cinematic beauty. All embedded with subtle hints of 70s psychedelia. The core group of Shane Cooper, Bokani Dyer, Sisonke Xonti, and Robin Fassie invited international guests on drums including: Jamie Peet, Arthur Hnatek, Christopher Cantillo, and more…

listen

Shane Cooper & Mabuta – Finish The Sun LP [KJR004]

VA – Music from Saharan WhatsApp LP [SS069LP]

In 2020, Sahel Sounds hosted a project called Music from Saharan WhatsApp. This series consisted of ephemeral digital EPs, documenting live performances by some of the most exciting acts in the Sahel playing music, including Nigerién techno, wedding rock, Woodabe guitar, WZN, traditional music, Mandingue music, and more. Responding to an open call from our network of artists, musicians recorded a handful of tracks on their cellphone and sent them over the popular mobile app WhatsApp. Each session was hosted for a month on Bandcamp and sold on a sliding scale, with all profits wired directly to the musicians. After a month, the EP would disappear, replaced by another one. Now, some of the label’s favorite tracks from this series are collected for the first time outside of Bandcamp as the Music from Saharan WhatsApp compilation LP. This LP features tracks by established Sahel Sounds artists such as Etran de L’Aïr, Hama, Alkibar Jr, Amaria Hamadaler (of Les Filles de Illighadad), and artists new to the label like Bounaly and Andal Sukabe.

listen

VA – Music from Saharan WhatsApp LP [SS069LP]

E&S Brothers – Taduma [AFS053]

E&S Brothers’ 1985 album Taduma holds a unique yet overlooked place in the history of South African dance music. When Shadrack Ndlovu and Ernest Segeel teamed up with Dane Stevenson, owner of Blue Tree Studio in downtown Johannesburg, and journeyman producer Taso Stephanou, South Africa’s bubblegum era had just begun, spurred on by the success of Shangaan disco. The relative success of their debut 12” ‘Don’t Bang The Taxi Door’, marketed aggressively at taxi ranks throughout the country, helped put the Blue Tree label on the map and E&S were invited back to record a full album: Taduma, featuring on keyboards Dr Buke, an in-demand session player from Soweto. Rooted in Africa, yet purely electronic, Taduma was a moderate hit, spurred by tracks like ‘Taxi Door’ and ‘Mhane’, its hypnotic refrain ‘Mhane, famba na wena’ meaning ‘Mother, I am going to you’. Other tracks like ‘Mapantsula’ and ‘Be Careful’ place Taduma within the street-savvy ‘pantsula’ style and dance synonymous with consecutive waves of music from disco to kwaito, house and beyond, while ‘Sikele Masike’ repurposes a traditional Shangaan work song. Vocally E & S are closer to rapping than singing, in a combination of English and vernacular – predating other credited pioneers of kwaito in SA like Senyaka and Spokes H. Driving the music instead of vocals are waves of searing synths over rudimentary but explosive drum machine sounds – the word ‘Taduma’ meaning the sound of the drum.

listen

E&S Brothers – Taduma [AFS053]

Vumani – Isiqedakoma [CASALP02]

Not much is known about the mysterious pop sensation Vumani or his short musical career. Originally from KwaZulu Natal he made his way to Johannesburg in the mid 80’s to follow his dream of becoming a recording artist. He was able to make that dream come true when talent scouts from Decibel Music came across the charismatic youngster. At the time Decibel was still a small fish trying to make waves and the label believed in Vumani they had found the star they were looking for. Being a label with mostly groups signed to the catalog they needed a Front Man to push into the growing demand for Solo Artists that were dominating the airwaves and catching the hearts of youngsters. In 1896, they released two singles by Vumani, Black Mampatile and Guy Fawkes. Both singles were received well and a few more tracks were later recorded to create the full album Isiqedakoma.

listen

Vumani – Isiqedakoma [CASALP02]