Jul 14, 2014

New album "Burnt Offering" by The Budos Band coming ...



When it came time to title their new album, one decision was easy: “This isn’t The Budos Band IV,” proclaims drummer Brian Profilio. “This isn’t just more of the same.” The Budos Band embarked on an experimental journey since the release of The Budos Band III in 2010, seeking inspiration from sources far and wide.

While wizards use books of spells and alchemy to mix their masterful potions, the Budos employ heavy doses of continent-spanning psychedelic rock to beckon the occult and conjure the supernatural.  Hence the title of the band’s fourth album: Burnt Offering. 

“We made a conscious decision to embark on a new sound,” explains baritone saxophone player Jared Tankel. The heavy, trippy side the group unveiled on The Budos Band III reaches full flower on new tunes like “Aphasia,” “Trouble in the Sticks” and particularly the title track “Burnt Offering.” “We were messing around with an old Binson Echorec at practice one night and this loop emerged,” recalls bassist Dan Foder.  The droning fuzz guitar is a call to the gods from below and encapsulates the band’s sonic progression perfectly. “This record is fuzzy, buzzy and raw, and more obviously psychedelic,” adds Profilio.

Like a cratedigger’s classic from a parallel universe, “Tomahawk” melds heavy, distorted guitar riffs with bright blasts of brass and bubbling drums. An eerie, ceremonial vibe awakens the slumbering giant “Into The Fog” and prods it to life.

Driven by melodies, rhythms, and changes that animate muscle and bone to move, yet compel the ear to lean in closer, these full-bodied instrumentals push Budos’ music deeper into new territory.
All lingering traces of touchstones of yore—be they Fela Kuti, Dyke and the Blazers, or Black Sabbath—have been wholly absorbed and filtered through the Budos Band’s ever-evolving aesthetic. “We sound nothing like our first record anymore,” confirms Profilio. Anyone content to just slap the old “Staten Island Afro-soul” tag on Burnt Offering and move on clearly didn’t listen to the music first.

The group composed more than two dozen songs in the course of making Burnt Offering, yet only recorded fifteen, further distilling its essence to ten classic cuts for the full-length release. If a new tune failed to capture the rambunctious energy of their live show, if it revised familiar territory or obvious influences, it got cut. Budos was determined to break new ground. “If any band says that’s easy to do, they’re fooling themselves—and not writing good enough songs,” insists Brenneck.
In order to reach the apex of the mountain, the band had to come together like never before. Always a brotherhood, the time spent writing and recording Burnt Offerings saw changes that many bands would have run from, but for the Budos presented opportunities to hone their craft.  “Making this record reaffirmed that we work together really well,” says Profilio.

Burnt Offering breaks from Budos’ earlier records in another significant regard: this is their first album without an outside producer. “We had arrived at a different place sonically and needed see it through completely ourselves,” says Tankel. They still praise Daptone mastermind Gabriel Roth, who worked alongside Brenneck co-producing their first three records, but parting ways at this juncture made sense.

“We know exactly where we’re at,” says Profilio. “We didn’t want to have to explain ourselves if we were in pursuit of a specific sound or vibe.”

“We made the demo that got us picked up by Daptone in my parents’ basement when I was eighteen years old,” Brenneck recalls.  “This album is a continuation of that, fifteen years later … with a lot more records under our belts.”

After all that time, Budos has become more than a band—it’s a brotherhood. “This is a real family band,” says Brenneck. “Guys who’ve been making music for a long time, and friendships that run completely parallel to the music.” They still rehearse religiously almost every week, even if some of those rehearsals encompass just as much drinking, socializing, and listening to music as actual practice.

That camaraderie doesn’t evaporate when they put their instruments down.  On tour, they hit a brewery or pub for lunch en masse before sound check whenever possible, and like to stir up trouble. There are dust-ups and reconciliations. All that kinship comes to a head when they hit the stage. “We’ve seen some things out there that most bands don’t get a glimpse of these days,” suggests Tankel. “All of that craziness just brings us closer together. We couldn’t shake each other if we tried.”
And capturing the intensity of Budos’ electrifying shows on wax, making the grooves vibrate with excitement, was one of the biggest challenges of Burnt Offering. “We record live to tape, with minimal effects,” Brenneck says. Nowhere to hide, then.  The band insisted that each song push the envelope. No room for filler.

The Budos have traveled far and wide—playing across four continents—since the band’s inception. A lifetime of world tours and weekly rehearsals went into the making of Burnt Offering, and the journey is far from over. As long as there are new audiences to thrill and sonic frontiers to explore, they’ll forge ahead. “We haven’t fulfilled our mission,” concludes Profilio. “We’re still very hungry.”

The Budos Band Official




Jul 10, 2014

Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics - Jaiyede Afro




This fall, we’re extremely proud to announce the first ever internationally released new studio album by one of the all-time legends of Nigerian music, Orlando Julius, backed by the incredibly versatile London outfit The Heliocentrics.

On Jaiyede Afro, Julius takes us back to his roots, revisiting several compositions from his early years which have never previously been recorded. The album was recorded at the Heliocentrics’ fully analogue studio in North London. Like their their memorable collaborations with Mulatu Astatke and Lloyd Miller, the band takes Orlando’s sound into new, progressive directions, retaining the raw grit of his early work and adding psychedelic touches and adventurous new arrangements.

Jaiyede Afro is released September 9th on CD, 2xLP and digital formats. The physical formats feature new photos from the recording sessions by Alexis Maryon and track by track interview with Orlando Julius and The Heliocentrics. The release will be supported by a full European touring schedule.

Strut Records


 

Tracklist

01. Buje Buje
02. Love Thy Neighbour
03. Aseni
04. Sangodele
05. Jaiyede Afro
06. Omo Oba Blues
07. In The Middle
08. Be Counted
09. Alafia

Nigerian saxophone legend Orlando Julius’ collaboration with UK psychedelic jazz outfit The Heliocentrics is one of the most satisfying and progressive Afrobeat projects to come along in a while. The full album is due September 8th, but you can hear the lead track “Buje Buje” below.
The Jaiyede Afro album can be pre-ordered now on iTunes, with the track “Buje Buje” available instantly.

Orlando Julius on “Buje Buje:”

“My parents used to tell us stories, folk tales and there were a lot of different stories involving tortoises – they often made tortoises sound like human beings. There was one about a tortoise who had a farm and I always thought, ‘how could a tortoise have a farm?!’ This tortoise is working on his farm and a pretty lady is passing by. So, he cuts his foot with his cutlass and pretends that he is injured so that he can get her attention. The lady comes over and tries to help him and he says, ‘I can’t work with this cut. Could I climb on your back to go to get help?’ She agrees, he climbs on her back and she starts to walk. He says, ‘I’m too far up, could you push me further down your back?’ Finally, the lady realises that he is up to no good, she is very unhappy and tells him to find his own way. Once she has left, the tortoise continues to play this trick on other women.

“I made the story into a song and brought human nature into it – good people and bad people. The song teaches us not to copy something that is bad, fake or deceptive.”


Jul 7, 2014

From Venezuela: Tragavenao Orquesta Afrobeat (free album) !!!


 TRAGAVENAO ORQUESTA AFROBEAT.

Es un conjunto musical formado en Maracaibo, Venezuela por varios musicos que absorben influencias a traves de un gran peso del AFROBEAT, JAZZ y FUNK.

Un proyecto musical de Afrobeat que fusionando géneros como jazz, funk, y ritmos Venezolanos consigue un ritmo único y contagioso sin alejarse en su totalidad a la genialidad y pureza del Afrobeat moderno.

Con mas de 10 músicos en escena, se conforma como una orquesta en el 2010 dando mucha energía a su particular sonido étnico.

Originarios de Maracaibo, Venezuela llevan con su música la energía necesaria para sacudir el medio musical reviviendo y dando a conocer el fabuloso trabajo creado por Fela Kuti junto a su corriente musical; conformando la banda como la primera orquesta Afrobeat en Venezuela.

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Is a musical group formed in Maracaibo, Venezuela by several musicians absorbing influences through a great weight of Afrobeat, jazz and funk.

A project that fusing Afrobeat musical genres as jazz, funk, and Venezuelan rhythms with a unique rhythm and contagious without departing entirely to the brilliance and purity of modern Afrobeat.

With over 10 musicians on stage, is shaped like an orchestra in 2010 giving a lot of energy to their particular ethnic sound.

Originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela with his music carry the energy to shake the musical reviving and publicizing the fabulous work created by Fela Kuti with his current musical, forming the band as the first Afrobeat Orchestra in Venezuela.





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Jun 9, 2014

Orchestre Vévé Star - Baluti (get it)


Georges Kiamuangana was born in Kisantu, Bas-Congo on 19 May 1944. He took the name Verckys after being impressed with American sax player King Curtis and he heard the name "Curtis" as "Verckys." He started out in 1962 with Los Cantina, then Jamel Jazz. He joined Paul Ebengo a.k.a. Dewayon's Congo-Rock before joining OK Jazz in 1963 with some musicians from the band of Gerard Kazembe: Christophe Djali, trumpet, singer Henriette Boranzima and Dele Pedro. Georges became Franco's right-hand man and delighted audiences with his onstage antics and wild clothes. But when Franco was away in Europe in 1968 he took a splinter group with vocalist Youlou Mabiala into the studio to cut four sides, causing an irreparable rift. On 5 April 1969 he left OK Jazz to form Orchestra Vévé. The original singers of his group were Bovic Bondo, along with three who would later form the Trio Madjesi, Marcel Loko Massengo a.k.a. Djeskain, Sinatra Bonga Tsekabu a.k.a. Saak Saakul, and Mario Matadidi. Verckys started recording with a more stripped-down sound than OK Jazz, which gave him ample room for wild sax solos in the seben. His original band included Danila on solo guitar, Jim on bass, and veteran Maproco alongside himself on sax. He adopted Dr Nico's dance the Kiri Kiri and invented the Cavacha which was a precursor of Soukous. His first hits were "Mfumbwa" and "Bankoko baboyi" along with Saakul's "Fifi Solange." (These two songs were reissued as a 45 on the Ngoma label.) "Ah mokili" and "Linga ngai zuwa te" soon followed. With an unerring ear for quality, he recorded and produced Les Grands Maquisards, Orchestre Kiam, Bella Bella, Lipua Lipua, Les Kamale and Empire Bakuba, the most interesting bands to come up in his generation. He also recorded Thu Zaina (whose guitarist Roxy played on some Vévé recordings), Victoria Eleison and Zaiko Langa Langa. His label defined the new sound of Congolese music as it evolved away from the rumbas of the Generation Kalle to a more exciting dance sound. His singers [below] were so popular they broke away in 1972 to form Trio Ma-dje-si with their own band Orchestre Sosoliso and, recording for Socodi in Brazzaville, remained one of the top bands of the day.

With help from Roger Izeidi, young Georges, only 25, established a studio on Avenue Eyala, in Kasa-Vubu, Kinshasa. Vercky's early 70s recordings were collected on some LPs on the Sonodisc label, and his mid-career output as a producer appeared in a great 9-volume series Les Grands Succès des Editions Vévé on the Sonafric label, which featured many of the hits produced in his studio by Vévé and other bands such as Lipua Lipua, Les Kamale, Orchestre Kiam, and Zaiko Langa Langa. In 1972 he recruited Pepe Kalle and Nyboma, two youngsters from Bella Bella, to sing "Sola," "Mbuta" and "Kamale." He started orchestres Baya Baya, Lipua Lipua and Kiam, named for himself. Their first hits were "Yoyowe" and "Masumi." He rented equipment to Nyboma and Lipua Lipua who recorded "Amba," "Mombasa" and "Niki bue," but as soon as they were established they quit Verckys' label and regrouped as Orchestre Les Kamale. On his visit to Kinshasa James Brown dubbed him "Mister Dynamite"! He founded Editions Vévé in 1974. In 1976 he changed the name of his label to ZADIS (for "Zaire disc"). That year he issued "Papy Baluti" & "Muana Mburu" written by Francis Bitsoumani a.k.a. Celi Bitsou. The line-up at this time was Tino Muinkwa, Djo Roy, Nejos Tusevo, Pepitho Fukiau on vocals, Lambion on solo guitar, Aladji Baba on rhythm guitar, Ndolo & Celi Bitsou on bass, Bayard on drums, Ponta Vickys on congas, himself, Dibuidi and Sax Matalanza on saxes and Makamba on trombone. But after the success of "Muana Mburu," Celi Bitsou quit to go solo.

Verckys retired from performing to concentrate on his nightclub, his shop ZADIS on Place Victoire, his label, and promotion. His Vévé Center became the hot spot for Grand Zaiko Wa Wa, Langa Langa Stars, Victoria Eleison, Mbonda Africa, Afro International, Wenge Musica and other groups. In 1978 he recorded young sensation Koffi Olomide. In 1980 Verckys came out of retirement to release some new albums on the Vévé International label in Paris with his backing band also renamed Vévé International. Vocalist Diatho Lukoki was supported by Sonama, Michel Sax, along with Djo Mpoyi and Dizzy Mandjeku, formerly of OK Jazz (who quit to return to Franco). Luciana quit Viva la Musica to replace Djo Mpoy for three months. Later members included Elba Kuluma, Serge Lemvo, Asi Kapela, Rochesi and Lawi. Verckys was elected president of the Congolese Musicians Union in 1988. In 2008 Verckys was in hospital in Brussels for leg operations soon after completing a new album COUP DE MARTEAU.

muzikifan.com




Tracklist

1. Baluti 1 & 2 (Nguendi Aladji) 1976
2. Muana Mburu 1 & 2 (Bitshoumanou Boniface) 1977
3. Nakoma Juste 1 & 2 (Mwinkua) 1977
4. Mikolo Mileki Mingi 1 & 2 (Fukiau) 1976
5. Bilobela 1 & 2 (Kiamwangana Mateta) 1977
6. Fifi (Verckys) 1973


 

Jun 6, 2014

Afropolitian dreaming with Blitz The Ambassador - An interview



Originally published @ afropop.org!

Blitz the Ambassador is one of the leading voices in the growing movement connecting the classic sound of American hip-hop with stories and musical traditions of Africa and the African diaspora. The title of his new album, Afropolitan Dreams (released on April 28 by Jakarta Records), refers to this mixture of African roots with a  cosmopolitan disposition. Now five albums into his career, Blitz has received  numerous accolades, including last year’s Musician of the Year award from the African Diaspora Awards. We have been big supporters of his music and message for several years and featured Blitz on “The Trans-National African Hip-Hop Train” program. Recently, Jesse Brent caught up with the internationally-minded artist via Skype to discuss Afropolitan Dreams and his vision for an artistically strengthened Africa.

Jesse Brent: What does “Afropolitan” mean for you and how does that word relate to your audience?

Blitz the Ambassador: It’s not just about people who get to physically travel. I feel like that’s a misconception about this Afropolitan idea–that it’s like people getting on planes and zooming all over the world. To me, it’s more about people who mentally travel, and people who are engaged with issues that are global, and issues that affect us all as a race of human beings on this planet. So, that’s important–that I connect with folks that are local and folks that are global as well, and influence, and give people an opportunity to hear a new African story.

Do you see a movement forming with more and more people that you associate with who are thinking the same way as you?

Absolutely. I think that movement was been forming way before I got here and way before I even became a musician. I think the idea of connecting intellectually and giving each other some tools to be able to solve our problems has been there for a while. The only difference is that I’m using a specific medium, which is hip-hop music, to bridge those gaps. There are a lot of people doing the same, and I’m glad that we’re getting more of a platform to do that.

How would you say you relate to music that’s going on right now in Ghana?

Well, I never really lost touch with music from back home. That’s where I began my career as a musician. I’ve always had contact, and I’ve always been linked with those movements, as they’ve evolved from the original hiplife base and highlife before hiplife. Now there are sub-genres like azonto and others that have been birthed out of all these movements. I’m as connected as possible to it. On my new record, I feature Sarkodie, who is one of the most popular artists right now in Ghana, and one of the leaders of his sub-genre, as well. I’m always trying to make sure I’m linked up and connected because, in my opinion, all we’re doing right now, as this intermediary, is creating a lane or a highway of sort so that people from the continent can have access to a global audience. That’s not so easy–not having that bridge. So, one of the things I’m most focused on is trying to create this bridge so that people have a portal into the African sound.

 You went back to Ghana before you started recording, right?

Yep. I did before and after.

What did you get out of those trips that made it onto the album?

The entire vibe, but more importantly, what I think I got was the fact that I’m needed at home. That influenced the record greatly–knowing that what I’m doing globally is important, but there’s nothing more important than people in Africa having access to me.

In terms of American hip-hop, how do you see the scene now? And who are some of your favorite current rappers from the U.S.?

The scene in America is kind of what it’s always been. The loudest voices are the ones that are commercial in a way that helps sell products, and the least commercial have less of a platform. And I think it goes back to the beginning of the culture. I don’t think that it’s anything new. I think that what’s new now is just the discrepancy between how many people are in the balance. It’s way out of balance now, in terms of how many people are even willing to take that risk to not be a commercial product. But again, that’s what the culture has always been, and so, you’ll always find the more authentic and more content-driven stuff underground and you’ll find the least content-driven stuff in the commercial mainstream. Who are some of my favorites? I listen to a lot of Kendrick Lamar. I listen to a lot of Joey Bada$$, the Underachievers, and a few other guys. I don’t necessarily listen to them looking for anything new because that story that they’re telling, in my opinion, has been told, but I listen to them for their take on it–how they’re able to take an old story and tell it with some updates. So, them I appreciate, but if you ask me what I’m most interested in–it’s music that isn’t coming from America because, again, that story has been widely told. What’s interesting to me now is music that’s telling me about a story that’s new. So when Kendrick Lamar says “Compton,” I’m already familiar with Compton because I know Dr. Dre. I’ve heard The Chronic and I know what Compton is. But when somebody’s telling me about Nairobi or Johannesburg or Bogotá, wherever–I’m not familiar with it, so it’s way more interesting to me, as an audience member, to pick apart what they’re saying, and I appreciate that.

You’re recording without any kind of major label support, basically on your own. Have you had a lot of difficulties with that or has that felt pretty liberating?

I guess you can’t have one without the other. Having the freedom to choose, having the freedom to say “no,” having the freedom to access your audience however you want, whenever you want, without middlemen, who don’t really know or care about the culture–whether it’s African culture, whether it’s hip-hop culture… They’re just in it for the culture of money, and how money influences. So, I have that freedom. I never have to ask a single question. If I want to release my next album for free, I’ll release it for free. If I want to release my next record tomorrow, I’ll release it tomorrow. Nobody stands in the way of my art and my audience. Of course, with that comes a big challenge. The big challenge is how do you fund your revolution? How do you fund this idea that you have? You don’t want your art to suffer from not having access to funds. You don’t want your art to not be heard because it’s not getting the love that it should from these bigger blogs and these bigger magazines.

But I’ve also learned that you can create something that’s absolutely yours and it’s unique. And the best way I’ve been able to do it is invest greatly in my live show. So, with my live show I’ve been able to go around the world, speaking first-hand about my music. I’m not really locked into this idea that I have to be a commercial or corporate rapper. I probably make more touring than most of these guys will, especially with the deals that they have today–with 360 deals where the label takes everything. I’m probably doing much better and I probably have way more autonomy. I definitely have more autonomy, as far as my work and how I release it and when I release it. So, I think that’s the main thing, but one comes with the other, and I embrace both.

Can you talk about some of the people you worked with on this record, like Angelique Kidjo and Seun Kuti? What was it like to work with them?

It was great. All these people were really gracious and they understand the story and they understand the message and they understand what I’m trying to achieve, in terms of the story. They were all great in terms of their contributions–from Nneka to Angelique to Oum to Just A Band. Everybody was super with the story. That was very easy. I didn’t have any problems in terms of sound. And also I wanted to prove that I’m not a solitary voice. I use a lot of voices to tell this story. It’s important for me to show the multi-dimensionality of our movement, going back to the legends–like the Angeliques–all the way down to some of the ones who are much more up-and-coming like the Just A Bands or Amma Whatt. It was important that I was able to make those bridges happen.

The band that you’ve been working with, Embassy Ensemble–you’ve been with them for a long time, right?

Yeah, I’ve developed a very solid crew. But now I have an international crew. I have a crew that I play with in the western hemisphere and I have a crew that I play with more in the eastern hemisphere. So it’s like we’re all playing at the same time. When I’m playing North America, South America, Japan, I have a crew. When I’m playing Asia, Europe, Africa, I have another crew. Australia–I have another crew. It’s a very global operation, but everybody is super committed and understands what this mission is and we’re able to put on some really amazing shows.

It sounds like you’ve been touring quite a bit. Is that part of the reason why it took so long for this album to come out? I understand it took two years for this album to come together.

Yeah, it did take two years. But, if you remember, I also released an EP in between–the Warm Up EP, which came out last year. So, really, that’s a whole lot of music that I’ve been working on and releasing periodically. Also, I never really care about time. What I care about is the quality of the product and how the product is going to live. If it takes me five years to make a record, it takes me five years to make a record. I’m not ever going to rush the record because I feel like people need one. I feel like if people wait for the right product, the product will live on for as long as possible. So, I don’t really focus on that. Touring does have an effect, but I think that it also has a super positive effect, in that you’re able to test new music, you’re able to test new ideas, and I’m also playing some of the biggest festivals in the world. I’m opening for Sting. I’m opening for some really huge names globally. I’m also getting ideas from watching these guys. When I’m backstage and, say, Damien Marley’s playing, when I’m back stage and Public Enemy’s playing, I’m learning a lot and I’m adding to my artistry. And it’s also informing my story. So, all of that has been really positive, and I’m trying to maintain a really good work ethic to make sure that I’m never going too long without art–whether it’s a short film, whether it’s new videos, whether it’s music, whether it’s visual arts, I’m just constantly trying to release work that I will influence.

The song “Call Waiting” with Angelique Kidjo is about traveling and calling home. What has that been like to be on the road and still maintain your ties to home?

It’s difficult–not being physically present with family, missing important events in family, but it’s the life you choose when you choose a name like The Ambassador and your tour schedule is something ridiculous. It’s a choice I’ve made and I have to live with. I believe in transparency and vulnerability and writing music that’s honest to me. That’s why I wrote “Call Waiting”–because it’s true. That’s my truth. It helps me cope with that when other people can sympathize and say, “Yeah, I get it.” It makes it easier to be on this journey, trying to influence the world while still maintaining a family. So, that definitely is one of my favorite songs on the album.

I read the article you wrote for the blog Africa Is A Country, and I was really impressed by it. In the article, you talk about how you got this cassette tape from your brother and it had a lot of classic hip-hop on it, including Public Enemy. And now, more recently, you’ve gotten to be on stage with Chuck D and even collaborate with him.

Yeah, it’s been amazing. It’s like when your destiny finds you, but it’s also a testament to hard work and dedication. I’ve never stopped believing that I was good enough. I’ve never stopped believing that my story was important. It’s definitely not easy when you’re ahead of your time, when you’re ahead of the understanding of who you are. When I was doing this in 2001, 2002, nobody could even fathom what an African rapper would sound like, what an African rapper, who has immigrated to America, would sound like, what kind of samples you would use to tell your story. So, in a lot of ways, we’re pioneers and we’re the first of this breed. Chuck D is a mentor in a way, as well. And that is the most amazing thing one can ever think about. This guy used to be on my wall. And here I am with full access to him, supporting this amazing movement. Chuck D’s unique in a lot of ways because he understands the effect hip-hop has globally. I don’t think a lot of so-called legends do. I don’t think a lot of people who came early in the game understood their impact globally or understand how that global impact has ricocheted back here. Chuck understands the ricochet and understands that I’m part of that ricochet. It’s absurd to think that you can speak for 40 years to a people and not be spoken back to. That’s what hip-hop culture was. All we’re doing is talking back. So it’s been great to have Chuck D in my corner.

What would you say that you’ve learned from him?

Just stay humble. Frankly, he’s probably one of the most humble guys that you’ll ever meet, but it’s not dumb humility. It’s humility that’s steeped in a deep knowledge of his power and his role in the world. That is a stark reminder to me that, as I get bigger and as I get more global, the more my responsibility is to remain accessible because my accessibility is what’s going to grow my lane of the culture. The less accessible I am, the less my lane is going to grow. Chuck D understands that, and Chuck D has made himself very available to young artists coming up, very available to the movement. So, that’s one thing that I’ve learned from him.

You’ve been living in Brooklyn for a while, right? How many years have you been here?

It’s probably going on eight years, maybe nine.

 Have you thought about returning to Ghana to live there?

Absolutely. Yes. I have made major investments into doing that. That’s where the record ends. The record ends in this limbo, which is, in a lot of ways, where I am in real life. You have family in America and you have family in Africa, you have goals in America–I shouldn’t even say America, but in the West because I’m everywhere now–but Africa is where you’re needed the most. I appreciate that people all over the world appreciate what I do. I know that my most important work is the work that is going to be done on the continent of Africa, in a lot of ways: figuring out ways that we can bridge some of these gaps that have been created in post-colonial ruling, and, whether it’s culturally, whether it’s socially… I don’t believe in politics. I think that politics is meant to separate. I’m more of a culturalist. I understand that the power that I have is cultural and I have to be able to use that to bridge a lot of gaps that we have currently, as African people all over the continent. That’s my major work. That’s not easy work, but I know that’s my next frontier. So, here I am trying to make that leap forward.

What would you say in Ghana, in particular, needs help and what would you hope to do by returning there?

I think, specifically, it’s an issue of funding–funding for the arts. I think that’s one of our biggest problems because there isn’t a lot of value that’s placed on art. If you’re young in Africa and you say you want to be a painter or a singer or a graphic designer, nobody really takes you seriously. It’s like you’re a joke. We still are locked into the colonial concept of what success is. You have all these professions that you’re supposed to go for, and if you’re not one of those–like a doctor or a lawyer, a pilot… The world has moved on and I think we need to show that it’s possible to make it as an artist in Africa because our role is the most important. The issues that we have–a lot of them can easily be solved in a cultural context when you have people dialoguing. Unfortunately, a lot of dialogue doesn’t happen because there isn’t a lot of public space. Because there isn’t a lot of public space there aren’t a lot of public arts situations that go on in the continent. For instance, when I go back to play in Africa, a lot of times, I have to go under the auspices of the French Consul or the Goethe-Institut or the British Council. Those are very typical. And I’m not the only one. A ton of artists that go to Africa have to go through those mediums. The problem with that is that you’re clearly doing the bidding of these foreign countries, who have their own selfish goals. You’re just a pawn for them. My goal, in time, is to create a situation where we’re able to perform and influence, culturally, while being supported by our states or our people because that’s when I feel like the dialogue is the most open and the most accessible. It’s not just geared toward a certain class of people. It’s a more general and more broad and more proletarian approach where you can influence a larger amount of people.

I saw that you wrote a film about boxing in Ghana. Can you tell me anything about that?

It’s a film that I’ve been trying to make for a while, and I recently got contacted by Isaiah Washington, who’s an amazing actor and producer, who starred in numerous films, and he’s going to be coming on board to help produce the film. It’s exciting. I’m a fan of boxing–the idea of it: the lone warrior. The story is about a community, which is Bukom, and that’s what the movie’s called. The community is a boxing community, and everybody in that town is, one way or another, connected to boxing. The story is about what happens when a physical location that has harnessed all this energy gets taken away. What happens to the people, and what happens to the culture of boxing? It’s juxtaposed with a lot of land grabbing, which is happening right now in a lot of places on the continent, where big multinational corporations are buying up huge chunks of land for one reason or another–usually for development purposes–for developing things that locals will never be able to afford. Because Bukom’s a coastal town it’s very prime for this kind of incursion. That’s what the film is about. What happens when the land is threatened–a land that is so important to a sport or a culture?

Do you see a comparison between music and boxing a little bit?

It’s an art. Boxing is an art form. If you’re anybody that appreciates art then there’s most certainly a connection. Like I always say, Ali was a lyrical boxer. His punches were lyrical. You have to know when to duck. You’ve gotta know when to drop the chorus, drop the hook, you know? So that’s very similar. It’s all about timing. Music is all about timing and boxing’s all about timing.

Is there anything else that you’d like to say about your album or about what’s next for you?

The album is out now. I’d really like for everybody to pick it up and experience the journey. I think that it’s going to open up a lot of dialogue, as far as what it means to be a young African immigrant and your role globally, but also your role at home.







Jun 5, 2014

Musi-O-Tunya - Give Love To Your Children


The legendary Zamrock band’s second album and rare 7” tracks. 1972–1976.
 
Funk, Psych-Rock, and Fuzz-Guitar-lead Afrobeat from Zambia’s groundbreaking band.
 
Finally! The legendary Zamrock band’s second album and two rare 7” tracks. Give Love To Your Children follows Now-Again’s first foray into the Zamrock genre, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Rikki Ililonga and Musi-O-Tuyna’s Dark Sunrise, which compiled Musi-O-Tunya’s Pathe East Africa 7″ singles, their first album Wings of Africa and Ililonga’s first two solo albums, released under his own name: Zambia and Sunshine Love.
 
Dark Sunrise hadn’t even entered production when we became aware of Musi-O-Tunya’s post-Ililonga trajectory, and its uniqueness in the Zamrock landscape. It is the corollary to Ililonga’s mature solo offerings: Give Love To Your Children is teeming with energy and tension, hazily affected by copious drug use, and recorded quickly, before its members parted ways for good. And now, its often sad story can be told, and its incredible music can be heard, thanks to the participation of Ililonga, Chengala and Barnes, who color the creation and release of Give Love To Your Children in an extensive set of liner notes and interviews included in the album’s booklet. Give Love To Your Children is a marvelous, thrilling, charging beast of a thing that has to be stared at in the face so as to be understood. This album’s grooves hold the last, sustained shouts from one of the first – and greatest – Zamrock ensembles: Musi-O-Tunya exploded at the height of the Zamrock movement with this burst of fuzz guitar, chunky basslines, funk and Zambian folk rhythms, choral chants and compelling lead vocals. They never recorded together again.

soundcolourvibration.com




The legendary Zambian band's compilation captures the energy, excitement and unpredictability of Zamrock at the peak of its 1970s glory.

"Give love to your children / like the sun gives strength to the soil / the moon gives fear to the night / and the stars lead the way for the blind / and the wind gives life to the leaves. / Give love to your children."

These majestic opening lines offer a powerful taste of the holistic, even cosmic, span of Give Love To Your Children by the legendary Zambian band Musi-O-Tunya.

The recently re-released compilation brings together songs recorded between 1972 and 1976, in the heyday of the Zamrock, a psychedelic genre that emerged amidst the economic troubles and social tensions of mid-70s Zambia.

Many people credit Musi-O-Tunya and their renowned front man Rikki Llilonga with creating the flamboyant musical style, but this album was their second after Llilonga left the band. The remaining line-up, however, was still more than enough to spark that Zamrock magic with Wayne Barnes on guitars, band leader Derek Mbao on bass and vocals, Brian Chengala on drums alongside Aliki Kunda and Jasper Lungu on congas, and all backed up by a bold brass section.

 Even with its wide scope, Give Love To Your Children is a collision of worlds. The cover is a sign of this, made up of a cross-section of interwoven colourised photographs, showing the eclectic mien of traditional Zambian music alongside the hip image of 1970s Zamrock.

The unpredictable soundscape of the album similarly juxtaposes a myriad of diverse influences. Musi-O-Tunya were clearly inspired by the rock sounds of 1970s Europe and the US, but this is only a fraction of the psychedelic textures and sounds. Fuzzy, frenzied solos from guitarist Wayne Barnes whip across songs as Derek Mbao's earthy bass restlessly moves the groove forwards and round. Brian Chengala’s percussion meanwhile brilliantly pushes the beat and jams through an entire arc of feeling, building and dropping the intensity while – above all − maintaining a completely danceable afrobeat or kalindula. The brass section too is glorious, triumphantly leading the band at times. Together, as Musi-O-Tunya, the band has sheer groove.

Throughout Give Love To Your Children, Musi-O-Tunya explore a huge number of ideas, whether through the recurring joyful, sprawling guitar solos or the sombre – in meaning, if not in tone − lyrics of ‘Starving Child’ ("Someday everything will be alright / Everything’s going to be alright").
The result is still a consistent, powerful record. So often cover-all statements like ‘great energy’ are readily applied to albums but if there was ever a time to use the cliché, it is here. This is a band intimately in tune with one another and the result is a full-to-bursting sound.

However, that is perhaps where the clichés should end. In fact, to some ears Give Love To Your Children could be unpredictable and it's certainly complex. But this is arguably to its strength, and it is the moments of sheer excess that are most filled with personality and character. The album's lyrics also cover typical Zamrock concerns and darker social and personal issues (the profound ‘My Baby’ for example) but also break with that convention by entering hazy, hallucinogenic territory too.
But this is what is so compelling about Musi-O-Tunya: they are unafraid to experiment with traditional ideas and spoken word. For example, there are whole sections that are free from all traces of ‘modern’ instrumentation. ‘Bashi Mwana’ is in this vein and is perhaps even a welcome break from the fuzz and intensity of the previous tracks. Lyrically, songs are an even balance between English, Bemba and Nyanja. ‘Katonga’ is one of the album’s highlights, opening with a traditional call and answer and accompanying trumpets, only to kick into to a trippy guitar solo and slick afrobeat rhythms before turning again to a bright sung harmony.
You may have trouble keeping up, but this is an album not to be missed.

 thinkafricapress.com

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In the last few years a little-known movement of 70s rock music from the African nation of Zambia has become one of the more satisfying discoveries of the Internet age. Reissues of albums made by groups and singers like Witch, Amanaz, Paul Ngozi, and Chrissy "Zebby" Tembo have exposed this peculiar strain of pysch-flavored rock, known as Zamrock, to new ears. In 2011 the great Now-Again label released Dark Sunrise, a deluxe two-CD package of music by a singer and guitarist named Rikki Ililonga, widely regarded as the driving force behind the movement and the guy who's helped chronicle its history by facilitating the surge of reissues. Now-Again is back with a fantastic reissue of Give Love to Your Children by Musi-O-Tunya, made after Ililonga left his backing behind to go solo. The record displays a broader stylistic range than any of the other Zamrock recordings I've heard, with the wild, post-Hendrix psychedelic guitar solos surrounded, alternately, by deep funk grooves, terse Afrobeat, traditional African percussion music, and R&B balladry. The album's driving, fatback "Give Love to Your Children," with its timeless message of nurturing, is today's 12 O'Clock Track. Check it out after the jump.



Tracklist

1. Give Love To Your Children
2. Sunkha
3. Starving Child
4. Ayeye
5. Njala
6. Katonga
7. When I’m Gone
8. Bashi Mwana
9. My Baby
10. Mwana Osauka
11. Musi-O-Tunya (Bonus)
12. Thunder Man (Bonus)