The next release from Analog Africa is the 1979 final album by Los Camaroes, the legendary Cameroon band with a legendary backstory worthy of some Wes Anderson movie (I can see Anderson entering his tropical Afrobeat phase for his next movie). The full album will be available digitally on September 29th.
“Los Camaroes emerged at the end of the 1960s from the town of Maroua in the northern, predominantly Islamic area of Cameroon. After changes in name, in lineup and in management, they worked their way south to the capital to make a name for themselves; in the span of only a few years they changed Cameroon’s music scene forever, leaving a trail of sold-out nightclubs and monster radio hits in their wake. Then, at the height of their popularity, they broke up.”
Another winner from Berlin’s Habibi Funk label is its Abdou El Omari & Naima Samih release from February. Omari’s psychedelic organ plays with Arabic strings and rhythms to excellent results, made better by Samih’s beautiful vocals.
“First issue (LP+DL) of this previously unreleased Oriental psych monster from the organ king of Casablanca, combining traditional rhythms with spaced out modern sounds. Second part of Abdou El Omari’s Nuits-trilogy. This album contains heavenly compositions for the Moroccan diva Naima Samih and some moody instrumentals in a similar vein to the first album.”
Dem Juju Poets, aka David Hanke, is a breath of fresh air for anyone who likes the idea of retro-sounding Afrofunk but finds that most modern takes are too bland to remember. The German DJ has been making solid Afropunk-inspired cuts since 2008, and his new album, with a lively flow that actually makes you wanna get up and dance, will further establish his name worldwide. The debut LP will be released April 21st via Matasuna Records.
From the Bandcamp bio:
“What initially started as idea for a DJ-duo project quickly turned into a new production outlet for German producer David Hanke. He is well known for his Northern Jazz, Funk and Afrofunk productions under various monikers ever since his first release back in 2008. The most recognized surely is his Renegades Of Jazz-alias.
After starting to fully embrace the Afrofunk vibe with his 2016-released Renegades Of Jazz album ‘Moyo Wangu’ as well as two Dem Juju Poets singles in the same year it’s now about time to release ‘Liberated Thoughts’ – the longplay debut for Dem Juju Poets which is scheduled for April 2017.
Having spent an influential part of his childhood in Arusha, Tanzania and engrained the music of East Africa, his sound combines these influences with modern, more club-orientated electronic Afrofunk productions which defines the core sound of Dem Juju Poets.
With ‘Liberated Thoughts’ Hanke refines his Afrofunk vision for 2017 informed by his experience as a DJ in venues all over Europe which naturally led to a more floor functional production approach.”
INFRACom! is a Frankfurt, Germany-based label that for over 20 years has released 160+ globally-minded, eclectic productions. The label’s latest release is ‘Saigon Supersound Vol. 1,’ which celebrates south Vietnam’s lost “Golden Age” of pop music from the ’60s and ’70s inspired by soul, funk, and, for better or worse, America.
From the Bandcamp bio:
“Saigon Super Sound is the story of a musical era that was almost lost. The selection of tracks is limited to the period between 1965 and 1975, the so-called ‘Golden Era’ in the South of Vietnam, where – under difficult circumstances – a lively pop culture had developed.
The music of Vietnam in the sixties was shaped by three currents: Nhạc đỏ (“red music” or communist revolutionary music) had developed around the beginning of the 20th century in opposition to the French colonization of Indochina. It usually promoted independence, socialism and anti-capitalism in its lyrics and was the dominant genre in the communist North. These were mostly heroic songs celebrating the men and women who left their families to bravely fight against the French and, soon enough, also the US Army.
This collection focuses on the South, where under “imported” western influence a new kind of pop and rock music had developed: Nhạc Vàng (“yellow music” or “golden music”), Nhạc Trẻ (“young music”). Nhạc Vàng are poetic, often sentimental and sad love songs (Tình Khúc) as well as simple, easily accessible compositions which praised the beauty of the homeland (Quê hương).
This genre had also developed since the 1920’s under French colonial influence, namely the chanson that was much appreciated by the growing Vietnamese bourgeoisie. Latin rhythms and dances such as the Bolero, the Rumba, Tango and Cha Cha Cha as well as Slow Rock were also integrated into the standard repertoire…When the Americans entered the war, they also brought rock- ́n’-roll and soul music to Vietnam which became quite influential for local artists. “Young music” (Nhạc Trẻ) was performed by newly formed bands like Dew Drop, The Dreamers, CBS Band and The Strawberry Four.
There were all female bands too, such as the Blue Stars (of whom, unfortunately, no usable recordings have survived) who performed at the G.I. Clubs. They covered American rock and soul hits, translating or simply making up new lyrics in Vietnamese. Very few of these were even recorded, but many popular singers – including Hùng Cường, Mai Lệ Huyền and Carol Kim – added “imported” styles like Twist, Soul, Agogo, Surf and Mashed Potatoes to their repertoire of popular ballads.
The third, very popular form was Cải Lương, best translated into “theater music” in which pieces of music alternate with spoken word passages to form a kind of radio play. The last title of this collection, “7 câu vọng cổ chúc Tết“ gives you an idea of this genre. Its musical structure is based on a Vietnamese composition from the early 20th century, the Vọng Cổ which was (and is) very popular in Cải Lương as well as in Vietnamese chamber music.”
Analog Africa is a label based in Überlingen, Germany that specializes in sharing tropical dance music from Africa. This year marks the label’s 10th anniversary, so I’ve been going through many of the old releases and discovering a bunch of great music. Read here to learn more about the label’s impressive history.
So far, my favorite Analog Africa release is 2011’s ‘Bambara Mystic Soul – The Raw Sound Of Burkina Faso 1974 – 1979.’
From the Bandcamp bio:
“For its commemorative 10th release, Analog Africa indulges in Burkina Faso, one of the jewels of the Sahel, a harsh and arid strip that straddles the southern Sahara, stretching from Dakar in the west to Djibouti in the east. Formerly known as Haute Volta, Burkina Faso’s sound was organized and nurtured during the country’s time as part of a vast patchwork making up French colonial West Africa.
The rise of a post-independence urban middle class willing to invest in the Burkinabe arts spawned a cadre of singers, bands, orchestras and, most importantly, competitive record labels who all played their part in ushering in a golden age of music in their landlocked nation during the 1970’s – a decade marred by political instability in the country and an era of artistic enlightenment empowering the whole of Africa.
The Sahelian climate fortunately bore no influence on the Burkinabé sound, which is cosmopolitan as it was raw. West Africa was and continues to remain deeply interconnected. In search of better gigs, well-to-do producers and sufficient recording equipment, Burkinabe musicians ventured across the surrounding region, returning home with a wealth of knowledge of their neighbors’ distinctive styles.
The raw sound of Burkina Faso combined Afro-Funk, traditional Islamic rhythms and subtle Afro-Latin sounds brought over by visiting Cuban ensembles. Mandingue melodies and guitar techniques from Mali and Guinea, however, were by far the most defining traits of a potent African mix that distinguished the Voltaic style between 1974 and 1979.”
According to Bandcamp Daily, Berlin duo Gurr has invented a new sound with its debut album ‘In My Head’: First Wave Gurrlcore. According to the band’s Facebook, that sound is “garagepop…sounds like a trashy 60s girl group meshed with poppy vocals in two voices and a flavor of eeriness dug out from the deep darkness that is the Berlin rocknroll bar’s restroom at 5 am.” It also sounds like a Pavement record that’s actually at peace with itself. And while we wait for the new Real Estate album, Gurr’s breezy guitar work will do the trick.
Sounds Like: Afrobeat with a touch of Sly Stone and North African funk
Onom Agemo & The Disco Jumpers are an interesting group: five white musicians from Berlin who play Afrofunk but also incorporate sounds from Ethiopia and have traveled to Morocco extensively to record with local musicians in order to gain an authentic feel for North African rhythms.