Jun 30, 2015

Asiakwa Brass Band ‎– Wo Tese Mawu A Didi (get it)

K Frimpong plays trompet.
A. Konadu is singing. 
Awesome brass band.
Playing high life with ants in their foot .



A1 Wo Tese Mawu A Didi
A2 Wadamfo Pa
A3 Maniso Kyin Me
A4 Oda Ne Baa I
A5 Me Maame Awo Me
A6 Suro Wo Dofo
B Medley

Jun 28, 2015

The Souljazz Orchestra Returns With New Album "Resistance"

Canada’s powerhouse Afro / Latin / Tropical collective, The Souljazz Orchestra, return in September 2015 with a powerhouse new album that sees the ensemble exploring some new sonic territory.

“We approached this album with a fresh ear,” explains bandleader Pierre Chrétien. “We were keen to build on the band’s sound and message, bringing in some of the French Caribbean and Francophone West African influences that we’ve loved since our youth, so the new album brings in French language tracks and elements of coupé-décalé, zouk and cadence to the overall mix.”

The Souljazz Orchestra remain one of the most solid units in their scene, retaining their original line-up since they were first formed back in 2002. On Resistance, they showcase their continuing versatility with saxman Ray Murray, percussionist Marielle Rivard, drummer Philippe Lafrenière and keyboardist Pierre Chrétien all taking on lead vocal duties on different tracks.

Resistance is released on 8th September on CD, LP & digital formats, and the band embark on a major new international tour, hitting up Europe during September and October 2015, followed by a Canadian run in November 2015.


Jun 25, 2015

10 Questions for Spoek Mathambo

Spoek Mathambo is one the year's brightest new hopes. From Johannesburg but based in Sweden, Spoek (real name Nthato Mokgata) plays with genres like few others. He makes radical, sometimes disjointed music, some of which - like his new single “Let Them Talk” from his recently released album Father Creeper - you can actually dance to.

Spoek got a lot of attention last year with his cover of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control", but I began by asking him about Die Antwoord, the hilarious and brilliant white rap group who created a lot of waves in 2010. He and his band are currently on tour in the U.K.

PETER CULSHAW: What did you make of Die Antwoord? Were they just a joke? They were last year’s South African hype, signed to Interscope. And are you this year’s South African hype, signed to Sub Pop?

SPOEK MATHAMBO: Die Antwoord were a joke, If you think Ali G or Borat was a joke. It’s a role and they are playing out the role. I’ve known them for years. There’s a back catalogue that is very different. I don’t think I’m this year’s South African hype in that way. I’ve put out an album on Sub Pop. It’s the first album I’ve taken a lot of care over.

The trouble is with writing about you is that us music journalists like to talk in terms of genre. Are you, shall we say, post-genre?

You must have seen the change come. The amount of information. The way people have allegiance that younger people have is different from the days when you were a teddy boy, a punk, a hip-hop head, a jungle raver, or whatever. I pledge no allegiance to all that. And you don’t listen to one album a month, It’s more like 50 albums a day. So my music is going to reflect that. My generation grew up on the internet, 20 windows open at once.

The first interview I got published was Fela Kuti, there was that mix in him. He loved classical music like Handel, African music, James Brown. Is it really so different?

I’m doing a couple of remixes of Seun Kuti, his son. Fela was torn between European bourgeois influences, in a way he was brought up with that, his dad wanted him to become a doctor or a lawyer and he studied classical music and jazz and then he fought to become an African revolutionary, he became more African as he went along. There was a Red Hot And Riot CD of Fela material in aid of AIDS, there’s a new one happening. I’m doing two new tracks. As a prolific musician to have this whole catalogue, a lot of the themes stand so strong even now, think of what’s been happening in Egypt – his songs are still relevant.

A lot of people were intrigued by your Joy Division cover. There’s also some metal and punk influences on the new album, isn’t there?

I grew up on hip-hop, I’m 27 now when I finished college I got into metal more.  Stuff like Sabbath, immediately impactful, beautiful and big. When I moved to Sweden I got even more into it as well. I was in a mall in Sweden yesterday and they played “Anarchy in the UK.” The Joy Division and Suicide “Night Rider” tracks came out of a covers project.

Do you like being called an Afro-Futurist?

It’s not as bad as “Hipster Rap” or something. It’s a wide label, George Clinton is an Afro-Futurist, isn’t he? I prefer “Township Tech.” There’s a lot of new types of South African sounds, different regions have their own sound. It’s so vibrant they don’t care about the rest of the world. A lot of stuff isn’t on the internet which is redefining the flavour of South Africa right now.

What did you make of Malcolm Mclaren’s Duck Rock? Or Paul Simon’s Graceland, which introduced many Europeans to South African sounds?

I used to think it was a kind of robbery growing up. But now I think as an artist it was clever borrowing. Even though there is some doubt all the artists got the right credit and payment. Now I’m less resentful and bitter, and also stuff like that make me think of my responsibility to do it, rather than foreigners. Often we don’t appreciate our own culture. But I do think McLaren, with punk especially, and his ideas of appropriation have been at the bedrock of a modern culture. Undeniably, hugely influential  for my generation.


Jun 24, 2015

Owiny Sigoma Band - Nyanza

Nyanza is the third album from the cross-cultural, boundary surpassing Owiny Sigoma Band. For their third offering, the band travelled to the Nyanza Province of Western Kenya - home of their two members Joseph Nyamungu and Charles Owoko - to explore the birthplace of Luo music.

A complex, constantly evolving, musical relationship now in its fifth year, the project has seen the band producing music in both Kenya, for their self-titled 2009 album, and in London with the second Power Punch LP. The group features Nyatiti master Joseph Nyamungu and Lou percussionist Charles Owoko, both from the Nyanza Province in Western Kenya, as well as London-based musicians Tom Skinner (drums), Jesse Hackett (vox/keys) and Louis Hackett (bass).

Nyanza, is loosely arranged as a narrative following their trip to ‘Luo Land’. From the first track, ‘(Nairobi) Too Hot’, which tells a tale of running to the hills and escaping the hectic city life, to the hypnotic Nyatiti sounds of ‘Owour Won Gembe’ and the rapturous ‘Changaa Attack’, the album follows the band’s experiences as they head up the country to Kisumu and Nyanza Province. The albums centrepiece “Nyanza Night” tells the story of the night they played a show for Joseph and Charles’ village for the first time, followed a 12 hour Nyatiti sound clash - Drummer Tom Skinner recalls “This went on for hours, really heavy music and a lot of Changaa (Changaa - also called “Kill Me Quick” is a homebrew rumoured to contain jet fuel and battery acid). This was one of the most magical nights that I’ve ever had. In the middle of nowhere, in the outback of Kenya, under the stars. I don’t think I’ve ever really felt so far away from my normal life.”

Mirroring their journey, the music on this record see the band move forward sonically, rolling through a myriad of influences from dub, techno, and ?? in a way that all feels completely natural and at home alongside the traditional Luo sounds. Much of the instrumentation was recorded at their rented house in Kisumu - listen carefully and you will here many ambient sounds from chickens to rainstorms. The result is a string of striking tracks, the music always feeling raw and organic, the rhythms and sounds reflecting the spontaneous jams from which the record was born.

Nyanza is a truly unique record, a faultless melting pot of disparate sounds, one that reflects the ambience and energy of the environments in which it was made. Arresting electronic grooves fit side by side with soft Lou singing and traditional Nyatiti music to create yet another pivotal moment in the turning cogs of this intoxicating, often surprising, soundclash.



Owiny Sigoma Band have always been fascinated by the process of cross-cultural fertilisation.
Growing enamoured with the music and culture of Kenya's luo community, the London group accepted invitations from master Luo musicians Joseph Nyamungu and Charles Owoko, shipping themselves out to Africa to soak it up for themselves.

And soak it up they did. Imbibing semi-legal local beverages and taking part in impromptu soundclashes, the group were able to absorb luo culture in its own element - while adding something of their own to the mix.

New album 'Nyanza' is the result. Lead track 'Luo Land' is online now, and it's a strange fusion of Luo culture and the dexterous sounds of Owiny Sigoma Band.

Pounding, relentless percussion, chanted vocals and glistening production resound, with 'Luo Land' offering a heady fusion of old and new. Check it out now.



01. (Nairobi) Too Hot
02. Luo Land
03. Owour Won Gembe
04. I Made You / You Made Me
05. Fishermans Camp pt 1
06. Ojoni Wopio
07. Nyanza Night
08. Tech 9
09. Deep Kisumu Fish
10. Changaa Attack
11. Jah Mic
12. Amolo Tienga (CD Bonus track)

Jun 19, 2015

Roger Damawuzan & Les As Du Benin

Nine unreleased and rare tracks from the amazing Roger Damawuzan also known as the “James Brown from Lomé ” backed by the tremendous “ Les As du Benin” orchestra , recorded between 1972 to 1981.

Born in 1952  in Aneho ( Togo, West Africa) , “The king of Gazo” ( a traditional rhythm)  is one of the most popular singer of the country. He started his career in 1968 with the “Ricker’s “ but his first record was released in 1972 with his now classic hit “Wait For Me” .

With Les As du Benin from 1972 to the beginning of the 80’s , they worked more than 5 days a week at the Hotel Tropicana in front of the sea with many tourists around and it was a very good exercise to work and create a perfect Afro Soul sound . Sometimes recorded in Ghana in the famous Philips studio, sometimes during live session for big events in the “Palais des Congres de Lomé” and studio Otodi in Lomé always on analog takes.

Roger Damawuzan lives in Lomé , in 2014 he was the featuring singer on the smash hit “Pas Contente” by Vaudou Game and performed with the band in different European big festivals.
Roger Damawuzan & Les As Du Benin can be considered as one of the biggest figure of the african Funk scene of the 70 ‘s : A must have record!

Jun 17, 2015

Zimbabwean hiphop: The Monkey Nuts - Boombap Idiophonics

Enigmatic. Electric. Eclectic…. If The Monkey Nuts could be defined in three words, these three would offer the best description. An imposing energy of sounds, personified by elements of electronic/digital, African, rock and hip hop tones, and this unique blend of music presents its listener with an escape form the norm. Born and bred in the City of Harare, The Monkey Nuts truly embody the spirit of what it means to combine the art and science of vocal and instrumental sounds to create vivid and dynamic soundscapes. To state it more clearly: You have to listen to these guys! They have quickly becoming one of Zimbabwe’s best-known indie/alternative Hip Hop acts. This is pleasant listening brought to you by new generation of Zimbabwean artists.

The Monkey Nuts have worked with and performed alongside a long list of international acts and artists, notably Natalie Stewart (formerly of Grammy nominated neo-soul duo Floetry), Akala (MOBO Award -Winning Hip Hop Artist), Symbiz Sounds ( German Electro DJ Duo) Shingai Shoniwa (formerly of The Noisettes) and many more.

2013 was a year of note for the collective. Its kicked of with a Sold Out performance at The Harare International Festival of the Arts, one of Africa’s top 8 festivals (according to CNN/Fest Gurus.) This performance was a live collaboration with Hope Masike on vocals and mbira and French Producer DJ OIL. In doing so, their performance became the first local Hip Hop act to sell out at HIFA. And the three days spent in the studio recording with DJ OIL before that, produced a fresh multi-faceted blend of music 


Jun 15, 2015

Voodoofunk publishes: Mary Afi Usuah - Ekpenyong Abasi

Voodoo Funk present a heady trip into Nigerian funk, blowing the cobwebs off a genuine rarity among a 21st century resurgence for 70s African albums. Spearheaded of course by Fela Kuti's posthumous uprising, afrobeat and West African funk is becoming increasingly sought after; appreciation for the period has even swelled to a scale that warrants its own Sugarman or rarity-within-rarity, manifested in the elusive figure of William Onyeabor. There comes a point when you question the selection processes of these record labels, as easy as it seems to dip into this avalanche of dusty, tropical heat-warped LPs and pluck out something brilliant.

But Mary Afi Usuah is definitely the product of an arduous and determined trawl. A rare female voice on the circuit, Afi Usuah's career focused more on promoting the arts in post-civil war Nigeria than a personal output. Having been musically trained in London, Rome and Naples, her thirteen year tour of Europe saw her support acts as diverse as Led Zeppelin, Duke Ellington and Deep Purple while she experimented in styles ranging from jazz and rock to opera. She then recorded three solo albums - none of them well known beyond a generation of Nigerians - before taking a post at Lagos' Ministry of Information and Culture. Afi Usuah died in February 2013, tragically short of this re-release of her 1975 debut album, Ekpenyong Abasi.

A keen guitarist from a young age, Afi Usuah's advances as a female composer/songwriter made her career unusual at the time. A similar exception came with the criminally underrated Lijadu Sisters, a twin duet who created dreamy soundscapes by singing in perfect synchronisation; the same effect is made on Ekpenyong Abasi, with Afi Usuah's vocals reverbing into infinity against an echo of backing singers. She possesses the sultriness of the great African American jazz singers, complemented on most tracks by the kind of slow, dark funk that Sly & The Family Stone did best. All members of the unimaginatively named 'Cultural Centre Band' were unaccredited, but trumpeter and bandleader Dan 'Satch' Asuquo has since been acknowledged as the main creative force.

Dan Satch was known in Nigeria for integrating traditional idioms into a popular music context, resulting in several experimental singles. Ekpenyong Abasi was an album-length extension of those experiments, with Afi Usuah sharing her desire to promote indigenous Nigerian art in all its forms. Stop-start rhythms and wild, untamed drum whacks dominate on 'Mma Amo Mbo', a track which speeds to a heart-attack inducing pace; in terms of Afi Usuah and Dan Satch's traditional awakening, this is probably the standout moment.
Ekpenyong Abasi possesses a raw power that must have made it leap out of the aforementioned stack of heat warped LP's presented to the music archaeologists. This is hardly the high energy sweaty dance party in which afrobeat thrived, but rather a soporific ritual that transports the listener away from Lagos and into Afi Usuah's home territory of Cross River State. "Art isn't something [Nigerians] view as important", Afi Usuah said of her philosophy, "but it's our arts that have exported the most positive image of Nigeria. It's the arts that show us who we really are".




A1 Ima Mma Uyem
A2 From Me To You
A3 Afia Mma (Hulalah)
A4 Mma Ama Mbo
B1 Ekpe
B2 Call Me Your Lover
B3 Ekpenyong Abasi
B4 Ebre Mbre

Jun 14, 2015

Highlife, Afrofusion and the re-emergence of Bob Pinodo Music

Highlife is a musical genre that originated from West Africa; Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Its roots can be traced back to the 1880s, to music of marching bands, sailors and palm wine drinking groups. Thought to be of reference to parties by the European upper-class, the term ‘highlife’, was coined in the 1920s with dance orchestras playing at parties of the elite, while poor rural musicians played guitar-oriented versions at palm wine drinking places for a calabash of drink or a token of gift. The guitar-based style of music rose to prominence in the 1950s and became associated with the pre-independence sound as it incorporated elements of swing, jazz and Cuban rhythms with the emerging guitar styles of West Africa. Describing this fusion of sounds, Professor John Collins – a musicologist at the University of Ghana – wrote: “By combining…so-called high-class music with local street tunes, a totally different type of music was born – the highlife we know today.” Highlife music then became the dialogue that led to the birth of an independent nation Ghana, in 1957. A number of guitar highlife outfits were formed, most popular being ET Mensah and “The Tempos” band, Nana Ampadu and “The African Brothers” band, Agya Koo Nimo, A.B. Crentsil, and other highlife bands as Ramblers International and the Professional Uhuru Dance Band.

The rise of Congolese music in the 1960s coupled with the overthrow of Ghana’s Premier Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, resulted in a decline in the popularity of highlife music. The upheaval saw many Ghanaian musicians that had flourished in the 60s emigrating. Most moved to Nigeria, the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany among other countries. By the start of the 1970s, highlife music had been over taken by pop music and electric guitar bands. Music produced by African Americans and Europeans began to exert a heightened influence over the Ghanaian music, giving it the rather global appeal.  The heightened interest in ‘World’ music in the United Kingdom and the United States saw the focus of Ghanaian music spread away from Africa. Perhaps this was the reason why some Ghanaian musicians and records made it bigger overseas than home; one such being the legendary Bob Pinodo.

Bob Pinodo is one of Ghana’s foremost musical showmen, traveling around the country with his own variety show which featured dance, music, and comedy. He was awarded the Arts Council Award as the country’s most talented musician in 1969. Bob recorded his first LP in Germany in 1977. Better known in his days as the “show master of Africa”, Pinodo rose to the pinnacle of his career with hit songs like “Disco Dance”, “Yesu ne m’agyenkwa”, “Love is Love”, “Girl with the guitar shape”, ”come back love”, “Africa”, “Darling” and “peep to see”, all on his “show master of Africa” album (attached). The Album released by Essiebons Ltd. in 1978, had air play on the BBC, winning best album, best composition, best production, best recording and ultimately the album of the Millennium from the Entertainment Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana (ECRAG) and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) respectively.

Having traveled the world over with his music, Bob believes that Europe, the United States of America, United Kingdom and the rest of the world have had a good share of his talent, and it was time to bring the rest home. For this reason Bob Pinodo came back home to Simpa and took to teaching at the University of Education, Winneba. Known in private life as Kwaku Idan, Bob has been teaching
•    How to make hits,
•    music production,
•    arrangements,
•    Dance Band Directing, and
•    Recording at the University, for ten (10) years.

The legendary musician is certain that having taught the art for a while, it was time to demonstrate what he has taught. To this end, Bob Pinodo has found the need to do a Ghana Regional tour. Prior to the tour, Bob will host a Music Education Magazine series on National Television, GTV. The series will be aimed at training Ghanaian Musicians in the act of making their art attractive and marketable to global music markets. In these series, Bob will reveal the secrets to making international hits, and help many upcoming musicians improve if not perfect their act. The show master of Africa, who is also a choreographer, will then hit the Road to do a national tour with his “sonobete” dance.

Away from the fact that the best methodology in teaching is demonstration, Bob also believes that Ghana’s most precious natural resources are not buried in our soil, but the hearts of our people. Bob Pinodo intends to demonstrate this in the closing years of his career. Having traveled the world over with music, Bob has had extensive first-hand information on how music arts and entertainment has and continue to transform economies of nations. He cites the British Invasion led then by “The Beatles”, in the 1960s, as a catalyst of transformation to the British Economy. The re-emergence of Bob Pinodo Music is so forth a “wake up call” on government and all stakeholders to demonstrate a commitment to transform the Ghanaian Economy, through Music and the creative Arts. 


Jun 13, 2015

Akalé Wubé - Mata

Akalé Wubé (meaning "my beautiful" in Amharic) is a quintet of musicians based in Paris, France who have been inspired to play "Ethio-Jazz" after drawing inspiration the Ethiopiques and other Ethiopian Jazz groups of the "golden age" throughout the sixties and seventies. They simply have taken older tunes to put a more modern contemporary twist by fusing in funk, tango, reggae, pop and other styles of music, already being an aesthetic in Ethiopian music, to help create their own unique sound.

Listening to “Mata”, the second album of Akalé Wubé, is like time travelling to Africa in the 70's. Their music take us to an imaginary musical territory halfway between the ethio-jazz that rocked Addis-Adeba at that time and have fascinated the West since and the Afrobeat from Lagos as conceived by the legendary Fela.

A further listen however makes us realize that it goes much beyond than just recreating the ethio-groove so much in fashion these days and the hypnotic sound of this Parisian band soon puts us in a trance. Integrating elements of soul, reggae, jazz and garage rock, Akalé Wubé sounds like a kind of Azmari Tortoise of Yoruba ancesters. Between reworked versions of classic songs by Alèmayu Esheté, Mulatu Astatqé or Getatchew Mekurya and own compositions, Akalé Wubé have achieved in 2 albums what many cannot do in a decade. They have defined their own style: a mix of refinement, mystery and virtuosity. Come on board Radio Groovalizacion. Next stop Paris-Adeba!


Jun 11, 2015

The history of Zimbabwe's recording industry

Originally published @ musicinafrica.net,
written by Fred Zindi

1950s and 60s

In the early 1950s, as the cities of Salisbury (now Harare) and Bulawayo became industrialised, an influx of Zimbabweans came from the rural areas to look for jobs in these cities. Among these people was a new generation - the first Zimbabwean musicians to record their music. Since there were no established recording studios at the time, early recordings were done by a mobile van from the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation (RBC), which used a one-track tape recorder and a microphone. The recorded music was used mainly for the African Service radio broadcasts in a bid to entertain the black majority. The RBC van went round the country to record talented musicians, who were paid one cent each time their song was played on radio.

As there were no record pressing plants at the time in Zimbabwe (then known as Rhodesia), most people could only afford to either listen to the radio or buy records from South Africa or other countries to play on their gramophones. Around 1956, the tide of South African records as well as records from Europe and the USA began to rise in Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwean musicians began to emulate the sounds from these records and were frustrated that they could not record their own music.
Before the 1960s, most of the music recorded in Zimbabwe was for archival purposes rather than commercial. In the late 1960s, several companies began to record commercial radio jingles, television programme themes and pieces of popular music. A company called Commercial Radio and Television (CRT) saw the need to have recording equipment in the country and soon acquired the country’s first disc-cutting machine. This gave them the impetus to start recording local pop bands. Later, in the early 1970s, CRT folded and another company, Music Recording Services (MRS) brought in the first 4-track studio, which recorded an all-white group called Holly Black (Zindi, 1985).

At the same time, contact was made with Brunswick Gramophone House in South Africa, which had been set up by Eric Gallo to distribute records from the US-based Brunswick Records in South Africa. However, noticing the lack of recording facilities in Zimbabwe, Gallo decided to extend his recording facility to Bulawayo - first by providing a cheap studio that would only record demo tapes, which would later be completed and mixed in South Africa.  Around the same time, Teal Record Company, a subsidiary label of EMI Records, was also established in Salisbury.

The early recordings of these companies were not very successful because the market was dominated by South African and Western records. Zimbabweans had been conditioned to like music coming from outside the country.  Bands that did record within the country, such as the King Messengers’ Quartet, received a poor reception as the ‘now-westernized’ Zimbabweans were not interested in buying them.


In the late 1960s, Gallo decided to send West Nkosi, a leading South African producer, to record some Zimbabwean musicians. Success began to knock on Gallo’s Zimbabwe door.
Soon another company, Advertising Promotions Limited (APL), imported an 8-track recording system, which was used extensively by Teal and Gallo, the two recording companies now established in the country, for their local recording artists. The cutting of lacquers still had to be done in South Africa until 1975, when CRT sold its disc-cutting machine to Teal Records. In the same year, a further eight-track recording and mixing console was imported into the country. This was installed at Blackberry Studios, which concentrated mainly on radio programmes. This equipment was later moved to Shed Studios, which started recording local musicians on behalf of Teal Records.

By the late 1970s, hits from local musicians began to trickle in. Gallo scored its major success with a band that had been around for quite some time, The Green Arrows. The album Chipo Chiroorwa sold in large quantities. Other groups such as The Great Sounds also sold large quantities with hits such as ‘Anopenga Ane Waya’.

Teal Record Company, Gallo’s rival, wanted the same commercial success. They found it inevitable (against the then government’s wishes) to put revolutionary songs on record. They took a chance with the album “Hokoyo” by  Thomas Mapfumo in 1979. It paid off.

1980s and 90s

In 1980, Teal bought shares in Shed Studios and changed its name from Teal to Gramma Records. More equipment was bought and the studio became a 16-track facility. Two years later, it was transformed to a 24-track facility using two-inch tape spools for recording. The studio was later re-named Mosi-Oa-Tunya after some of the directors, including Steve Roskilly, pulled out of Gramma Records. Roskilly kept the original name. When they became overwhelmed by musicians, the two companies headed by John Grant and Tony Rivett decided to merge. Thus Gallo became Zimbabwe Music Corporation and Teal became Gramma Records. Later, in the late 1990s, another player, Metro Studios, entered the recording scene.

As the industry became more organized, and with the merger of Gramma Records and Zimbabwe Music Corporation, studio engineers and producers became necessary.  These were recruited among musicians of the time.  Most of those who became producers started off as studio engineers. That was designed to give them ample time to study and understand the recording equipment they were using. Engineers who eventually became producers included Henry Peters, Peter Muparutsa, David Scobie, Hilton Mambo, Brian Rusike and Alois Muyaruka. At Shed Studios the main producer was Steve Roskilly, while at Gramma Records  and Zimbabwe Music Corporation, Chrispen Matema, A.K. Mapfumo, Tymon Mabaleka and Bothwell Nyamhondera became the main producers. Metro Studios employed ex-Harare Mambo bassist, Clancy Mbirimi, as its producer.

Current Challenges

With the arrival of compact discs (CDs) to replace vinyl records, this new technology brought with it many challenges for established record companies. Internet ubiquity allowed music fans to download and share music freely. This changed the game drastically. This reality spawned a new danger as new players came onto the scene since it was now easy to set up a recording studio that could burn CDs. This led to the establishment of independent labels, which saw many musicians deserting their record companies at the expiry of their contracts. The record companies saw this as an encroachment by other industry players onto their turf. This situation was made worse by the economic meltdown in the country between 2004 and 2008. Anthony Hagelthorn, who had acted as managing director of the merged Zimbabwe Music Corporation (ZMC) and Gramma Records, threw the towel in and left the industry altogether. Elias Musakwa, a musician-cum-businessman and politician, took over and merged the two companies with his own Ngaavongwe Records.

New players that came on the scene as a result of this new technological development included Corner Studios, Diamond Studios, Gospel Train Studios, Monolio Studios, Mac Dee’s Studio and several others.

Although the technology had made it easier for musicians to become independent, there was another threat, brought about by piracy.  The pirates found it easier to reproduce and sell recorded music that did not belong to them. Musicians who were accustomed to receiving royalties for their recordings could not stomach the advent of music piracy that came with the digital revolution since this affected their income. Gondo (2012) describes this phenomenon as follows: “The ubiquity of low priced pirated CDs and DVDs on the Zimbabwean streets is the new gorilla that is eating the artist’s lunch.”
As a response to these technological developments, in October 2011 the Zimbabwe Association of Recording Industries (ZARI) introduced a “budget CD and DVD” (Vhori, 2012). The music industry touts the product’s authenticity and high quality for the same price of the pirated products, which are of variable quality. When it comes to distribution, ZARI contends the budget CDs and DVDs will be available to all music retailers and market traders, as well as main Zimpost offices. However, Gondo (2012) argues that while these outlets certainly make sense, they are not sufficient because the pervasiveness of pirated CD/DVD vendors on every pavement and intersection surely is far more convenient for consumers. ZARI is essentially trying to replace the pirate. As great as this move to embrace digital is, it will not solve the revenue loss from CD/DVDs. Historically, the prices of original CDs have been much higher than the standard $1/unit pirate price.

The migration to a standard/fixed price model in the music business is not unique to Zimbabwe. It is also found in East Africa, the United Kingdom and the USA. Apple pioneered the model through its iTunes store. iTunes introduced a 99c/song price for any and every song in its store. Gondo (2012) contends that though this price was agreed to by the music industry (basically the major US labels: Warner Music, Universal, Sony and EMI), it represented more of a ceasefire than a truce in the digital music wars.

Looking ahead, one can safely say that performing, touring, merchandising, sponsorship, royalties and other commercial tie-ins are the new reality in the music business. The heavy reliance on recorded music through CD sales is over.

Originally published @ musicinafrica.net,
written by Fred Zindi

Jun 10, 2015

The Polyversal Souls - Invisible Joy

With their debut "Invisible Joy" the Polyversal Souls are ready to take off. Produced at the Berlin based Ru-Ting Clan Sound Lab by Max Weissenfeldt (Whitefield Bros., Poets of Rhythm), the band invited artists from all around the world to join their musical journey: from N.Y.C. Africa Baby Bam (Jungle Bros.), from Ethopia Hailu Mergia (Walias Band) and from west Africa's beautiful Ghana the music award winning griot Guy One, Ebo Taylor's son Roy X and freedom poet Y-Bayani. The result is a unique piece of global raw soul.


A1. Yelle Be Bobre (feat. Guy One)
A2. Starlet Road Filling Station Romance
A3. Momaminka (feat. Roy X & Lady Red Red)
A4. Sad Nile (feat. Hailu Mergia)
A5. Love In Outer Space
A6. Asembi Ara Amba (feat. Y-Bayani)
A7. Race
A8. Goin' In (feat. Afrika Baby Bam)
A9. Dunia Dela Da'a (feat. Ana'abugre)
A10. Invisible Joy

Jun 5, 2015

Dele Sosimi - You No Fit Touch Am

Wah Wah 45s are very proud to present the first full-length album in almost a decade from vocalist, keyboard player, Fela Kuti collaborator and afrobeat legend, Dele Sosimi!

You No Fit Touch Am represents where Dele is today – something of an untouchable force in the music scene that he has always been such a vital part of. The title is an uncompromising message that this man means business, and with his mammoth afrobeat orchestra on board that is definitely the case. Recorded at the Fish Market Studios in North-West London by Benedic Lamdin (AKA Nostalgia 77) the album provides a musical representation of Dele’s strong socio-political opinions, as well as delivering classic song-writing that could have come straight out of 1970s Lagos!

Born in Hackney, East London, but soon to return to his parents’ native Nigeria at the age of four, Dele Sosimi was schooled and raised in Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s shadow at the height of early 70s afrobeat. Having been chosen by Fela to join his band at somewhat of a tender age, he was still a young man when sharing Fela’s Glastonbury stage in 1984, and became both Musical Director for both Fela’s Egypt 80 and Femi Kuti’s Positive Force.

After Fela’s passing in 1997, Dele went on to concentrate on his own solo career and, with diligent patience, carved out his own afrobeat crown. In London, where he now resides, his Afrobeat Vibration all-nighters are charged with his passion, labours and his unrelenting spirit.

Following on from his first two studio albums, Turbulent Times and Identity, this third long-player is sure to cement Dele Sosimi’s position as a major player within afrobeat and beyond!



Dele Sosimi is a man with a peerless Afrobeat pedigree. From teenage keyboard player for Fela Kuti's Egypt 80 to bandleader for his son Femi Kuti's Positive Force outfit, Sosimi has helped define the sound alongside some of its most iconic figures.

Parting ways with Femi in 1995, Dele relocated to London and immersed himself in the capital's multi-cultural vibrance, his own music rooted in the heavy Yoruba rhythms of Afrobeat.
Does such a hefty CV weigh heavily on the man? How could it with music as joyful and nimble as this. As with the best Afrobeat, and its American cousin Funk, there's a certain lightness of touch to the heavyweight rhythmic workouts. Guitar and horns darts over bass and drum while call and response and chants supply the message.

This third 'solo' album, his first for 10 years, was recorded in London with a crew of long time players and producer Nostalgia 77 (Tru Thoughts) offering a 21st century clarity to the mix. There's no silly compromises to the music here though, just a thoroughly modern sense of oomph in the mix with a suitably heavy bass presence.

Although the sound is classically Afrobeat, this is music concerned with the world around it in 2015 with mentions for ISIS and Nigeria's own Boko Haram amid Sosimi's socially conscious lyrics.
While the format has changed little since its early 70s inception, Afrobeat sounds as life affirming today as it ever has and in Sosimi, and this record, there's someone to carry it onward.


There’s several things that tend to be pretty much rock-solid givens for enjoyment in my musical world. Releases on Wah Wah 45s, afrobeat bands and acts that have been booked by the Priddle family (AKA Rhythmtree Promotions). Just needed to state my biased position before I tell you why you should buy this first album in 8 years from the doyen of afrobeat, Dele Sosimi.It was with great interest and excitement that I read of the signing to WW45s of Dele and his afrobeat orchestra last year having seen Dele play twice on the IOW and also knowing the Wah Wah crew well. It had beautiful friendship written all over it and so it is that You No Fit Touch Am delivers whole-heartedly.

Dele’s musical career started at just 16 years old as Fela Kuti’s keyboard player in his Egypt 80 band, a role that evolved to musical director and re-orchestrater. He continued to work with the Kuti family as he and Femi formed Positive Force in the mid-80s and Dele relentlessly to toured the world. Fast forward though to the last few years where Dele has been based in London, infecting the capital’s scene with his energy and drive as well as educating the next generation though his foundation and his lectures at LMU. When I first encountered Dele Sosimi it was at Rhythmtree 2012 as he closed the main stage with an hour of “foreplay” (his words) as his legendary sets at the Afrobeat Vibration nights last at least four hours. The following year he blew all those attending away with a two hour set of his own compositions along with Fela classics. The live show was there completely yet he needed the quality recordings to confirm his status but here they now are and we can all enjoy the energy vibrations from this belter.

E Go Better opens up the seven-track long player with intertwined guitars dancing away with horns blasting a welcome before the sax spirals into the first vocals from Dele and his backing singers, who promise positivity in the lyrics. This is a recurring theme throughout the album, as Dele demonstrates his happy renaissance and encourages us all onto better things. You can hear and imagine the smile on his face all the way through the record. That doesn’t mean afrobeat’s traditional themes of struggle and protest are put aside as he stakes his claim for office in Na My Turn – I’m voting Dele. The title track follows and is a poem to the hypnotic, dance-trance inducing qualities of afrobeat.

The low slung groover Where We Want To Be comes next with the most complex arrangement of the whole set. There is a particular crispness to the drums on I Don’t Care that keeps the groove bouncy whilst We Siddon We Dey Look has a dreamy, drifting quality exemplified by the horn solo (trombone I think??). The album closes with first single Sanctuary, a shuffling, building monster that in full album length shows other sides as opposed to the 7″ version I’ve been playing since last year.

You No Fit Touch Am was recorded and produced by Nostalgia 77 who has used analogue taping to capture the warmth and fullness of Dele’s killer band. I’ve only had the download to enjoy at the moment but I’m looking forward to getting hold of the heavyweight vinyl to spin all summer long, for this is pure festival fire! When I had the pleasure of speaking with Dele on Friday’s Headfunk Show his pride in the quality of this recording was obvious, as it should be. If you’ve seen him live you’ll not need much convincing to get this but if you have never sampled afrobeat before this is a perfect introduction.


Jun 4, 2015

“Without patience, nothing is possible”

Garba Touré and his guitar were a familiar sight on the streets of Diré, a dusty town on the banks on the Niger River, upstream from Timbuktu. But when armed jihadists took control of northern Mali in the spring of 2012, he knew it was time to leave.

“The first rebel group to arrive were the MNLA, but they weren’t against music, so there was no bad feeling between them and the population,” he tells me over the phone from the Malian capital Bamako. “But then Ansar Dine [‘Followers of the Faith’ – a local armed Islamist group] came and chased them out. They ordered people to stop smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and playing music. Even though I don’t smoke or drink, I love the guitar, so I thought, ‘this isn’t the moment to hang around. I have to go south.’”

Like many other thousands of refugees, Garba grabbed a bag, his guitar and boarded a bus to Bamako. His father, Oumar Toure, a famous musician who had played congas for Mali’s guitar legend, Ali Farka Toure, stayed behind with the family. The hard line Islamist gunmen drove music underground. The penalties for playing or even just listening to it on your mobile were a public whipping, a stint in an overcrowded jail or worse.

“When I arrived in Bamako the mood wasn’t great,” Garba remembers, “Different army factions were fighting each other. There were guns everywhere. All we heard was the scream of weapons. We weren’t used to that.”

Garba and some other musician friends from the north decided they couldn’t succumb to the feeling that their lives had been shipwrecked by the crisis. They had to form a band, if for no other reason than to boost the morale of other refugees like them. “We wanted to recreate that lost ambiance of the north and make all the refugees relive those northern songs.”

That’s how Songhoy Blues was born. ‘Songhoy’ because Garba Toure, lead vocalist Aliou Toure and second guitarist Oumar Toure, although unrelated to each other – ‘Toure’ is the equivalent of ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones’ northern Mali – all belong to the Songhoy people, one of the main ethnicities in the north. And ‘Blues’, not only because northern Mali is the cradle of the blues and its music is often referred to as ‘the desert blues’, but also because Garba and his mates are obsessed by that distant American cousin of their own blues. “My father used to make me listen to Jimi Hendrix. He’s one of my idols. But I also listen BB King and John Lee Hooker a lot.”

After signing up drummer Nathanael Dembélé from the local conservatoire, Songhoy Blues hit the Bamako club and maquis (a kind of local spit ‘n’ grit bar restaurant) circuit with their raucous guitar anthems dedicated to peace and reconciliation. People flocked to see them, not only fellow Songhoy, but also Touareg and other northern ethnicities. Even southerners came.

Anybody familiar with the enmity between the Songhoy and Touareg peoples left behind by Mali’s recent civil war will appreciate the how inspiring it must have been to see Touareg and Songhoy youth wigging out together in a Bamako bar.

Last September, an uncle told Garba that a group of European and American musicians and producers were coming to town under the banner of Africa Express. Garba called Marc-Antoine Moreau, one of the Africa Express organisers and, after passing an informal audition, Songhoy Blues were introduced to Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose surname Garba pronounces Zeiner.

“Marco told us that Nick was a big American guitarist and asked us to collaborate with him. So the next day we went into the studio and did some takes with Nick. Everything went well, no problem. He’s a very simple person; a great guitarist but really modest.” The word simple is just about the greatest compliment a Malian can pay to another person. In the Malian French patois it means honest, down-to-earth and solid as a rock.

“We just walked into the studio not knowing what to expect,” Zinner recalls. “There was just one amp between all of us, so it was like ‘What are we gonna do here?’ But then they showed up, sat down, said ‘hi’, and thirty seconds later they were playing music, amazing music.”

One result of these sessions a track called ‘Soubour’ which means ‘patience’. “We’re asking the refugees to have patience,” Garba explains. “Without patience, nothing is possible.” A video of ‘Sobour’ featuring Zinner and friends has now gone viral. Is the rawest, spikiest and most electrifying dollop of desert r’n’b you’re likely to hear this year or next, but it remains proudly Malian and African.

Working with musicians who had just seen music outlawed in their homeland was humbling experience for Zinner. “It’s impossible for a westerner like myself to imagine it,” he says. “Like, truly unfathomable. And knowing the reasons why a lot of the musicians that we were working and hanging out with had come to Bamako really added another dimension to the whole experience. Like…a real intensity.”

Like the great majority of Malian Muslims, Garba has no truck with hard line Salafist attitudes to music. “The world without music? It would be like a prison, right?,” he says. “Music causes no harm and what’s more you can educate an entire population using music. Maybe in previous generations, music could have been condemned by religion, but not now.”

Africa Express has invited Songhoy Blues to London to appear at the launch of Maison des Jeunes (Transgressive), the album of recordings made last October during the Bamako trip. Songhoy Blues and other emerging Malian talents, like the seraphim-voiced Kankou Kouyate, who is also appearing at the launch, feature alongside Damon Albarn, Brian Eno, Ghostpoet, Nick Zinner and an eclectic mix of other artists and producers. To Garba and his fellow band-members, the whole experience has been like a dream that dropped out of a deep blue African sky.

“There we were living in the north,” he says. “We were told that if we played music we could get our hands chopped off. Then we arrived in Bamako, in a state of emergency. We had to go to the Ministry of the Interior to ask for permission to play. But then, by the grace of God, the atmosphere returned. Africa Express came and we were invited to play in London. Really and truly, it’s an explosive joy for us, an explosive joy! We can’t even begin to explain that joy.”