album, reissues

Abu Obaida Hassan & His Tambour: The Shaigiya Sound of Sudan

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“Abu Obaida comes from the Shaigiya people, whose culture is spread around the ancient city of Merowe, home of traditional Nubian culture, where pyramids older than those in Egypt still stand. They trace their entire lineage to one man, Shaig, who migrated from the Arabian peninsula in the 15th century. An endlessly rhythmic syncretism between Arab and Nubian styles, Abu Obaida’s Shaigiya music was an in demand party affair in an era when a vibrant nightlife and roving sound systems were staples of life in Sudan. 
It was music for a modern era, and Abu Obaida, at just 19, rebelliously abandoned traditional Shaigiya music traditions, pioneering a new sound by adding an extra string to his tambour and electrifying an instrument adored across East Africa. The result was complexity in simplicity and a hyper-talented artist who mirrors the story of Sudan’s highs and lows, from the leading tambour maestro of the hour to such obscurity on the fringes that he was believed dead. “They killed me!”, he likes to joke.”

© Ostinato Records

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album, reissues

Orchestre Abass ~ De Bassari Togo

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“In 1972, Orchestre Abass released two incredible singles on Polydor. These records – featuring Samarin Banza, Haka Dunia and other afrofunk masterpieces – were powerful enough to knock any music head out, but it wasn’t until the discovery of some unreleased material by the band that the seeds for this project were planted. 

It all happened in 2008 in Ghana. I was going through some tapes that had previously been the property of PolyGram one of the major record companies based in west Africa. In the late 80s political instability and curfews had paralysed the music industry forcing Polygram to close their Ghanaian subsidiaries leaving all of their recordings behind. These recordings had been packed in boxes and left vegetating in an Accra warehouse for three decades until I came along. To my surprise all of the tapes looked unharmed and I was particularly relieved to hear that the Orchestre Abass tape was in an excellent state of condition. I began fiddling around with the idea of releasing an album of the band and that plan got an additional boost with le “coup de grace” which had landed in the form of an ultra rare tune called Honam discovered in Sotoboua, a small northern Togolese town in the middle of nowhere. That find completed this selection. 

I had previously discovered some similar music in Northern Benin and in Nigeria and I started picturing an area that spread all the way from Northern Ghana to Northern Cameroon, an area I dubbed ‘The Islamic funk belt’ due to the fact that Super Borgou de Parakou, Napo De Mi Amor, Uppers International and Hamad Kalkaba just to name a few – all from that ‘belt’ – were groups made up of musicians with an Islamic background. This can be felt and heard in the music and particularly in the singing since many of the musicians had attended koranic schools and the languages used in the songs often had Arabic elements fused in – Orchestra Abass was one of them.

With their heavy, organ-led sound combining with the deftest of musical touches, these records were the work of a rhythmic powerhouse and we are honoured to be in a position to present the recordings of Togo´s funkiest Band.

Unfortunately Malam Issa Abass, the founder, guitarist and organ player of the band, was killed in 1993 by a grenade thrown into his bedroom and to help me reconstruct the biography of the band I tracked down Thon Komla, one of the band’s songwriters and Abderaman Issa, the guitar player of the band.”

@ Analog Africa

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album

Streifenjunko ~ Like Driving

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“Streifenjunko has taken a shift towards electronic sounds. Their previous albums “No Longer Burning” (SOFA 2009) and “Sval Torv” (SOFA 2012) was remarkable in the magnificent sound achieved only with a saxophone and trumpet. With the seemingly endless possibilities of electronic instruments their strategy of finding simple tasks has been put to the test, and in the making of this album Streifenjunko was put back to the starting position to re-discover their focus and recognisable simplicity. The result is music with sharp edges and sudden changes, crude starting and stopping. The engine of the music is the interlocking of slow moving streams. Some of the electronics are self generating for Espen and Eivind to follow, and the different sounds and layers are multiplexed using starting and stopping signals. To play is simply to follow the signals, like driving.”

© SOFA

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album

Alison Cotton ~ All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre

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“Alison Cotton of avant folk duo The Left Outsides creates a psychedelic pagan folk ritual with her viola, recorder, percussion and ghostly voice on ‘All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre’. Slowing things down to a droning pace, Cotton seems to summon up mystical powers through her eerie Clannad-ish chants on ‘The Bells of St Agnes’. And like Laura Cannell, she finds similar tones of drone within her string music by allowing space for the dragged out notes to echo and buzz on ‘The Last Sense To Leave Us’. Her choral vocal pipes in with a numbing effect, floating upfront and back into the shadows again on the five tracks, which were all improvised… Better than any mindfulness app for cleansing the brainwaves and stilling the souls of the godless for hald an hour or so…” Claire Sawers, The Wire 

© The Left Outsides

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mixtape

Grup Ses ~ Mimaroğlu Tapes

The Mimaroğlu Tapes mixtape prepared by Grup Ses is a selection of music from the music cassette archive of İlhan and Güngör Mimaroğlu. It helps to keep in mind that some of the cassettes were likely to be gifts or promotional copies given to the couple. The selection was based on the subjects and themes of the documentary “Mimaroğlu”. > www.grupsesbeats.com


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album, reissues

2018 – Fav. Reissue: Luc Ferrari ~ L’Escalier des Aveugles

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«Tous les matériaux concrets ont été enregistrés à Madrid. Chaque lieu est en même temps le portrait d’une jeune femme, à la fois guide, interprète et actrice. Les éléments ont été ensuite recomposés en studio, pour leur donner une dimension surréaliste, particulièrement madrilène.»

L’Escalier des Aveugles, or The Stairway of the Blind, was commissioned in November 1990 by Spanish National Radio (Radio Nacional de España). Asked for a piece to premiere as part of the European Day of Music, Luc Ferrari returned with a radiophonic concept that organised his anecdotal music into montage form, sequencing short, elusive narratives in a successive way.

The completed composition is formed of thirteen chapters containing a mixture of environmental and synthesised sound, commentary, chatter, and encounters with people and places. Each focuses on a small event within this playbook, and Ferrari notes that each “in addition to being a realistic photograph, will be the subject of a ‘setting to music’: fragments of voice and atmosphere will be sampled and will produce musical matter or a ‘song’.”

The sonic language of Madrid forms the setting to which Ferrari lays out the persistent theme of the piece, that of the composer being guided throughout the city by a young woman. Using a game-like structure (liners for this edition include Ferrari’s “Regles de Jeu”, or “Rules of the Game” which act as a script or score to the piece) the motivation is posed: imagine that one day you are told “I know a place in Madrid that sounds amazing (or bizarre)”, to which you reply “Let’s go to it together.” The recordings toy with the relationships between guide and tourist, translator, director and actress, and masculine and feminine that emerge as Ferrari and the actresses follow this action, documenting the shared experience and connections they make as they visit these places.

Six actresses guide Ferrari (and the listener) through locations simultaneously ordinary and sonically rich: the metro; the El Corte Inglés department store where we hear the gossip from changing rooms set against music emanating from the PA; vagabonds declaiming their political stance in the Conde de Barajas plaza; interactions buying apples in a market; the reverberant and spacious halls of the Prado Museum where one actress gives a moving description of her favourite painting – Goya’s The 3rd of May 1808.

Ferrari replies in French to their comments in Spanish, and there are several self-referential plots, devices, and word games that flirt with the poetics and rhythm of language and sound. A recital of Lorca’s poem “La Casada Infiel” in “Hommage À Lorca” in amongst the location recordings feels striking, and the call and response of “La Nouvelle de L’Escalier”, where one of the actresses descends the staircase of the blind – a long stone stairway in Madrid proposed to Ferrari as an interesting location to visit during the trip by producer José Iges. She replies to Ferrari’s vocal enunciation of the place (and title) in French – L’Escalier des Aveugles – with the place-name in Spanish: La Escalera de los Ciegos.

Using this repeated title and image of the staircase of the blind as a symbolic place, a line is drawn to a situational landscape experienced and diffused through snapshots and allusion rather than holistically overviewed, sound conjuring pictures within the imagination. In the sensorial qualities of Ferrari’s treatment of emotion and language—fortified with electro-acoustic motifs and musical properties—the piece accelerates towards a render that is truthful, beautiful, yet also surreal; somewhere between theatre and reality, a gonzo cinema of the ear.”
> Mana Records

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