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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Vumani – Isiqedakoma [CASALP02]

VA – Classic Productions By Surin Phaksiri 2: Molam Gems From The 1960s-80s [EM1198LP]

EM Records again shines the spotlight on legendary Thai producer Surin Phaksiri in this second edition of his classic productions from the 1960s-80s. The first edition, released in 2019, focused on his innovative productions in the luk thung* style. This 2022 release features his stellar, glowing molam gems from the 60s-80s, drawn mainly from his golden era in the late 70s and early 80s. Surin Phaksiri is a highly esteemed figure in Thai music, rooted deeply in his native region of Isan in northeast Thailand, a producer with a deep respect for the traditional artistry of his culture, yet always moving forward, looking outward, listening ahead. The molam style of Thai music showcases the voice; indeed, the genre’s name means “expert singer”, and Thailand is blessed with an abundance of experts, singers with amazing control, grace, vitality and finesse.

vinyl / CD

VA – Classic Productions By Surin Phaksiri 2: Molam Gems From The 1960s-80s [EM1198LP]

Nashenas – Life Is A Heavy Burden: Ghazals & Poetry From Afghanistan [STRUT297LP]

Strut presents the first compilation of legendary Afghan Ghazal singer Dr. Mohammad Sadiq Fitrat a.k.a. Nashenas, recorded at the Radio Afghanistan Studios and later released on singles by the Royal label in Iran. Nashenas first made his move towards music aged 16 in 1951 when he approached Afghanistan’s national radio station, Radio Kabul, with an idea for a broadcast and, impressed with his language skills, they offered him a permanent job. “I was in close contact with some of the big names in Afghan music like Jalil Zaland,” Nashenas explains. “My father had a gramophone and we listened to other singers like Ustad Qasim Khan and Kundan Lal Saigal.” After unsuccessful initial forays into singing sessions for the station, he honed his skills as a writer, singer and musician, playing the harmonium. Inspired by a movie he had seen at the cinema, Nashenas wrote a new poem and sang on air again after the evening news, using the name ‘Nashenas’ (meaning ‘unknown’) for the first time. Following a wave of positive feedback from the public, he was given a new weekend slot and built his reputation through film song interpretations, famous poems set to music and his own compositions sung in Dari and Pashto. Nashenas would witness turbulent times as Afghanistan found itself caught up in the Cold War and the early ‘90s civil war until it became too dangerous to stay in the country. Through a friend in the U.N., he was able to seek asylum for himself and his family and take up residence in London, continuing to work as a musician and giving concerts globally. Most of Nashenas’ recordings during this period were only made for broadcast, later surfacing on singles through the Royal label in Iran. Life Is A Heavy Burden is compiled from these singles by Chris Menist and Mads Jensen. All tracks are remastered by The Carvery and both formats feature new liner notes including an interview with Nashenas. The album is part of the new United Sounds of Asia series curated by Chris Menist and Maft Sai of Paradise Bangkok.

vinyl / CD

Nashenas – Life Is A Heavy Burden: Ghazals & Poetry From Afghanistan [STRUT297LP]

VA – Essiebons Special 1973-1984: Ghana Music Power House [AALP093]

VARIOUS - Essiebons Special 1973-1984: Ghana Music Power House

Dick Essilfie-Bondzie was all ready for his 90th birthday party when the Covid pandemic hit. The legendary producer, businessman and founder of Ghana’s mighty Essiebons label had invited all his family and friends to the event and it was the disappointment at having to postpone. That prompted Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb to propose a new compilation celebrating his contributions to the world of West African music. Essiebons Special features a selection of obscure workouts from some of the label’s heaviest hitters, including a 12-page booklet. But in the course of digitizing his vast archive of master tapes, Essilfie-Bondzie found a number of Afrobeat and Instrumental masterpieces tracks from the label’s mid-70s golden age that, for one reason or another, had never been released. Those songs are included here for the first time. Sadly Essilfie-Bondzie passed away before the compilation was finished. But his legacy lives on in the extraordinary music that he gave to the world in his lifetime.

vinyl / CD

VA – Essiebons Special 1973-1984: Ghana Music Power House [AALP093]

Arp Frique – The Seed: Dedicated To Jesamy [CW004]

ARP FRIQUE - The Seed: Dedicated To Jesamy

Arp Frique’s second album on Colorful World, exploring the globe via a concoction of sounds that takes in disco, synth boogie, funk and the sounds of the Caribbean, West and East Africa. The result is an album that feels potently alive, sonically exploring the globe via a concoction of sounds that takes in disco, synth boogie, funk and the sounds of the Caribbean, West and East Africa. The album radiates the feeling of a lost gem, the kind that a crate digging aficionado may find in some far flung place that ends up with a re-release. Whilst Arp Frique expresses a real fondness for such classic sounds – “honestly I wouldn’t even know how to make modern stuff, I am stuck in the 70-80-90s and I love it there” – a tired exercise in retro nostalgia this isn’t. Instead, the album feels more like a fresh take on sounds that once ignited dance floors across the world.

vinyl / CD

Arp Frique – The Seed: Dedicated To Jesamy [CW004]

Les Filles de Illighadad – At Pioneer Works [SS063LP]

LES FILLES DE ILLIGHADAD - At Pioneer Works

The first new album from Les Filles de Illighadad in four years At Pioneer Works is the highly anticipated new album by the Tuareg Avant-rock group. Les Filles de Illighadad recorded the album in Brooklyn at the tail end of a two-year-long world tour. At Pioneer Works finds Les Filles at the height of their powers, creating a sound that transcends all known genres. This is a heavy and meditative set of music from one of the world’s most exciting bands.

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Les Filles de Illighadad – At Pioneer Works [SS063LP]

Harmonious Thelonious – Instrumentals! A Collection Of Outernational Music Studies [BBLP385]

HARMONIOUS THELONIOUS - Instrumentals! A Collection Of Outernational Music Studies

Outer-national dance discourses, that strive for no country and obey to no flag: when Düsseldorf based producer, Stefan Schwander creates music as Harmonious Thelonious, highly percussive rhythms, dissonances and melodic twists tango chatoyant virtuosic. All eight musical objects collected on “Instrumentals!” document a chapter in Harmonious Thelonious’s work, that left the noisy background drones behind in favor for a signature sound full of echoes of ancient rituals and ecstatic ceremonies.  Eight growing outlaw music studies crammed with living, deeply haunting entities. They all came to life in different cities like Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, London or Paris, first published on labels like Asafa, Disk, The Trilogy Tapes, or Versatile. United under one roof, they unfold their magical groove symbolism, notable hypnotic harmony and agitating rhythm archetypes in a total overpowering coalition.

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Harmonious Thelonious – Instrumentals! A Collection Of Outernational Music Studies [BBLP385]

Getatchew Mekurya – Ethiopian Urban Modern Dance Music Vol. 5 [HS098VL]

MEKURIA, Getatchew - Ethiopian Urban Modern Music Vol 5

Getatchew Mekurya is probably the most revered veteran of Ethiopian saxophone. A real giant, both physically and musically. Not only is he at the very top level of Ethiopian saxophonists, but he is the ‘inventor’ of an extremely distinctive musical ‘style.’

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Getatchew Mekurya – Ethiopian Urban Modern Dance Music Vol. 5 [HS098VL]

Alemeyehu Eshete – Ethiopian Urban Modern Dance Music Vol. 2 [HS095VL]

ESHETE, Alemeyehu - Ethiopian Urban Modern Music Vol 2

Alèmayèhu Eshèté is no less than one of the great voices of the heyday of modern Ethiopian music, the swinging sixties which, in this country, went on until the fall of the Emperor Haile Sellassie 1 in 1974. On a par with Tlahoun Gèssèssè, Bzunèsh Bèqèlè or Mahmoud Ahmed, Alèmayèhu is a star at the top level of the constellation that once lit up the wild nights in the capital.

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Alemeyehu Eshete – Ethiopian Urban Modern Dance Music Vol. 2 [HS095VL]

Ivan Mamao Conti & Grassmass – A Mina / Caatinga [ND007]

CONTI, Ivan Mamao/GRASSMASS - A Mina

Legendary master drummer Ivan ‘Mamão’ Conti teams up with Brazilian producer Grassmass on two experimental funk monsters of the highest order that perfectly illustrate the Azymuth founding member’s constant desire to push his signature sound towards the future. Recife born/São Paulo based bass player, producer and founder of experimental label UIVO Records Rodrigo Coelho aka grassmass is not only a long time collaborator with influential names like Naná Vasconcelos, Arto Lindsay and Ivan Conti “Mamão”, but also hosts projects with some of today’s brazilian edgiest talents Negro Leo and Thiago Nassif. Advanced Brazilian music on Rush Hour’s sister label New Dawn.

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Ivan Mamao Conti & Grassmass – A Mina / Caatinga [ND007]

Balkan Taksim ‎– Disko Telegraf [260321]

Disko Telegraf (double vinyle)

Balkan Taksim is a band known for raising a groovy-balkan storm with their intoxicating blend of sharp contemporary electronic music with Balkan psychsounds & vocals. Balkan Taksim is the corduroy-clad brainchild of Bucharest-based multi-instrumentalist/ artist Sașa-Liviu Stoianovici who, along with his electronica producer companion Alin Zăbrăuțeanu, is on a quest to inform, educate and entertain audiences around the globe about Balkan psych, roots and grooves. The project started by searching for something to link the sense of what has been with what will be. Sașa’s exploration of traditional music of the Balkans, ancient Romanian music and Slavic cultures led him to travel a lot through the region and work with local singers and musicians to record the traditional tunes he later reworked with contemporary electronica sounds, heavy bass and powerful beats. Their stylish electronic psychedelia and bass flow directly from their roots in Romania and the Balkans upstream to global dancefloors. A project that’s constantly evolving, exploring rhythms and sounds from every corner of the Balkans gently fused with electronic beats and tribal basslines. The debut album ‘Disko Telegraf’, recorded in its entirety in Sașa’s and Alin’s home studios in Bucharest during the last two years, is an emotional Balkan roller coaster which has its roots and preconception ideas many years ago when Sașa traveled alone through the Balkans, but especially through Anatolia.

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Balkan Taksim ‎– Disko Telegraf [260321]

Eleven76 – The Scarab’s Quest [451057]

Sci-Fi and library funk specialists Eleven76 return with an otherworldly breakdance double-sider. Their debut album ‘Space Voyage’ for Warner’s music library covered extra-terrestrial spheres and found its way into many films, TV programmes and documentaries. The scarce promo vinyl copies on Mocambo Records are already priced collector’s items among DJs. This 45s contains two hot slices of insect-themed outernational grooves with tropical and arabian flavours. Vintage synthesizers and hot tape-recorded drums continue to lead Eleven76’s mystique travels through unknown funk territories, all while frenzied percussion-heavy break beats keep b-girls and b-boys moving on the floor.

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Eleven76 – The Scarab’s Quest [451057]

VA – Spiritual Jazz 13: NOW! [JMANLP126/JMANLP127]

VARIOUS - Spiritual Jazz 13: Now Part 1

Modern sounds for the 21st century featuring modal, progressive and esoteric contemporary jazz. The 13th volume of the Spiritual Jazz series turns our attention to what’s happening NOW. Over the course of 24 tracks and spanning 2 x 2LPs, Jazzman presents an overview of the contemporary exponents of Spiritual Jazz; musicians who are intent on bringing something personal to the table, as much as they recognize the importance of those who have paved the way for them. This is music recorded within the past 20 years and from 15 different countries, including modern classics from veterans Steve Reid and Idris Ackamoor, providing a vital link between the past masters and the enlightened new generation. It’s pioneers such as John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders et al, with their innovations in reaching another plane of consciousness that was and remains uppermost in the minds of exponents of Spiritual Jazz. Fittingly, several of the artists featured on this compilation, such as Cat Toren and David Boykin, are practitioners of the art of music therapy and sound healing, and have absolute conviction in the role of song as solace. The pioneers may no longer be with us, but their saintly selves loom large, shining a light in the darkness, inspiring many a brave new disciple today, as this album will testify: the new wave of jazz is gathering pace and still sounds fresh, vibrant and as relevant as ever.

part 1: vinyl / CD


part 2: vinyl / CD

VA – Spiritual Jazz 13: NOW! [JMANLP126/JMANLP127]

Nahawa Doumbia – Kanawa [ATFA039]

DOUMBIA, Nahawa - Kanawa

Nahawa Doumbia’s new album Kanawa concisely captures this current moment in Malian history. The singer, whose storied career spans more than four decades, reflects on the immigration crisis from the Malian perspective in the title of her new album Kanawa. Across eight songs recorded in Bamako with a band including traditional and modern instruments, Doumbia merges her early work that relied on a spare expression of her trademark didadi rhythm with the bombastic range of contemporary Malian pop. The beautifully complex musical accompaniment that results is courtesy of the large ensemble she pulled together with producer and arranger (and day one collaborator) N’gou Bagayoko. The band features two highly expressive Malian string instruments, the ngoni and the slightly smaller kamalé ngoni, as well as a variety of percussion, drum programming, karignan (a metal scraper) and acoustic and electric guitars. Doumbia weaves together a roadmap of her psyche when it comes to the good and bad life has to offer. She talks about marriage and women leaving home to join another through the metaphor of a tree in the garden; she includes gunshot samples in the song “Foliwilen” to honor the bravery of hunters, soldiers and other courageous people; she uses a bird in “Djougoh” to talk about lazy people; and, in “Ndiagneko” she advises people to ignore critics, just do you. Mali has gone through an intense period of regional strife and terrorist incidents over the last ten years and Doumbia roots the album in tragic local concerns with deep global implications.

The meaning of Kanawa is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them die while crossing the Sahara. But I ask them why do they leave their country? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems like poverty and unemployment. I ask them to stay and work in their country. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. So that some will hear the message and stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. My message is to help the youth find jobs.

vinyl / cassette / CD

Nahawa Doumbia – Kanawa [ATFA039]