Oct 21, 2016

From Sweden: Music Is The Weapon - Sweet Choral Motion

 Afrobeat: It’s the best answer to a small-town Swedish winter.

So says Music is the Weapon, a Nordic response to the brash message and sound of Nigeria’s Fela Kuti. A twelve-member strong team of top instrumentalists, the group’s core first formed in a remote town far north of Stockholm, and turned from a good-time one-off into Sweden’s best (and perhaps only) Fela-inspired outfit.

The band brings a distinct skill and savvy to the maverick musician’s signature sound, crafting hard-hitting instrumental originals with sing-along choruses. In a scene with few huge (and very few hugely funky) bands, Music Is The Weapon packs clubs and converts the casually curious into wildly dancing fans. Tracks like their latest single, “We Will Never Stop” rip through rousing anthems, offering a blisteringly funky alternative to the mainstream.

“We’re not fighting the same fight in Sweden as Fela did in Nigeria, of course, but I feel that in some way it’s political to play this kind of music in clubs here,” explains Christopher Ali Thorén, sax player and co-founder of Music Is The Weapon. “We give people the experience of big live band playing raw funk. For me it’s an act of resistance all its own.”

Music Is The Weapon have tapped into a previously unknown demand for something radically different and deeply funky. ”For one of our first shows in Stockholm, we thought we’d just play, and people can come if they come,” Thorén recalls. They watched the people come pouring into the club. “I realized then that people are starving for something like this.”

Music Is The Weapon


A little left of our usual trajectory (usual direction - solid Scandinavian soul searching), we discovered a Swedish band who managed to turn our heads. With a new album out now, Music Is The Weapon have also taken a new direction.

Through a new collaboration with producer Sven Johansson, the band has been able to channel his energy through the music console. The challenge has been to refine the ideas and pick out the songs from the massive sound stage Music Is The Weapon has become known for.

Now the dynamic band’s fifth album, Sweet Choral Motion, aims to further explore the sound that was born on the last album "Moving Foundation and Outer Space". This time they have streamlined the new album which has led to a whole new sound with the string arrangements now intermingled with vibrant percussion.

The result is a creative mix of spacejazz, afrobeat and soul. The intricate layers of instrumentation should also be a perfect test of your speakers clarity.


Oct 18, 2016

From France: Marabout Orkestra - Seven Lives

Marabout Orkestra presents "Seven Lives"

Le Marabout Orkestra is pleased to present its first opus!

Compositions that blend of Jazz-Funk influences the music of the African Continent and the Caribbean. After years of sound exploration, style Marabout Orkestra has become more than obvious.
It is in 2013 that the saxophonist and composer Johann protean Guihard founded the Marabout Orkestra. Adept crate digging for ten years, building a repertoire inspired by African music became his goal. Rather than specializing in one style, he prefers to fly over countries to offer a creative patchwork.
Quickly joined by five seasoned musicians, so this combo acoustic (no bass but a sousaphone) and electrical (3 saxes plugged effects) begins a surprising stylistic and sonic journey.
The first album is a reflection of a hybrid music, creating an imaginary folklore.
Songs recorded at Studio Bonison (Tribeqa, Malted Milk, Pura Fe ...) evoke the rhythms and melodies inspired by Africa and the Caribbean (Afrobeat, Ethiojazz, Highlife, Soca ...) that intertwine with the Spiritual Jazz, the Fusion Psyche or 70's ...
Much inspired by the creativity of the Souljazz Orchestra by the groove of Herbie Hancock and the psychedelia of "Moshi" Barney Wilen, this musical fusion creates a sense of fresh freedom, an instrumental freedom without pretense or claim ...


Oct 7, 2016

Black Vulcanite ... interview

When futuristic Namibian rap trio Black Vulcanite burst onto the southern African hip-hop scene in 2013, they brought with them an air of consciousness that had been missing for some time. Ever since Tumi‘s Once Upon a Time in Africa and Zubz‘s Get Out, SA hip-hop had been missing the unspoken truths we were all witnessing but could do little about. Black Vulcanite’s Remember the Future, however, foreshadowed a rise in black consciousness throughout southern Africa. They’ve been relatively quiet since then, but with the rise of #FeesMustFall in South Africa, #ThisFlag in Zimbabwe and various other protest movements throughout the region, there’s perhaps no better time than now for the group’s return.

Despite the distance now between them – Ali is in Namibia, Mark has been travelling throughout Europe and Niko is in Beijing – the trio is back this month with another thought-provoking catalogue. Black Colonialists, their 22-track sophomore effort, is gutsy, sincere and insightful, peppered with intergalactic fiction and time travel.

The first track they recorded for the album, “Jupiter’s Love,” is an ode to the ever-elusive “woman of their dreams.” The song’s video, which we’re excited to premiere here today, is an exquisite reclamation of space at the Afrikaans Language Monument, also known as the Taal Monument in Paarl, Cape Town. It sees the group team up with Zunaid Green and the rest of The Visual Content Gang. In the conversation below, Black Vulcanite take us inside their galvanizing new project.

 The following interview has been edited and condensed.

The title track, “Black Colonialists,” opens the album. Can you elaborate on your intent with this project.

We chose the title “Black Colonialists” to set the theme for what the entire album is about, namely the occupation of economic, cultural, futuristic and historic spaces that haven’t always welcomed a black presence. The words often carry a negative connotation, so using the title is a repossession of meaning in itself. It’s an ode for all the people of different cultures who are defying stereotypes and taking on complexities that are not afforded to people of color. We are forced to rest in places with limited mobility, told what we are and what are are not.

This album, in the words of Saul Williams, speaks truth to power structures that box us in. The theme of course also forces us to reimagine the colonised and coloniser dialectic, using afrofuturism to reconcile challenging historical realities, forcing us to confront victimhood and instead imagine the diaspora not as a tragedy of stolen human potential but an unwitting invasion of all the places where black people had little influence.

Choosing this title was also about holding Africa’s enemies accountable while reclaiming narratives, looking at the transatlantic slave tragedy, Haiti, Jamaica, Portugal, Spain, as our own unique opportunities to influence culture and ultimately the future of our civilization.

Why did you pick “Jupiter’s Love” for the first video?

“Jupiter’s Love” is the first song we wrote specifically for this album. We wanted to shoot it because it is sublime in terms of subject matter. A compromise between our staunch political stance and playing to the taste of the market.

Shooting at Taal was of course very significant, especially given how problematic brutalist architecture can be. The monument is often seriously implicated as a vestige of apartheid modernity that locates past-aggressor political communities in “post-apartheid” society. Although the monument is much more than a commemoration to Afrikaans culture and settler history, we felt that it was important to perform our song there to dismantle the grip of the apartheid legacy and give way to a more progressive conversation on land and citizenship.

On the first track, you mention an “African Student Socialist Space Program.” What’s the link between this very afrocentric narrative and thoughts about space and futurism?

The African Student Socialist Space Program is an extension of the Zambian space programme of 1964, something that is seen as Africa’s laughable attempt to participate in the space race.
We decided to build on this idea and revitalise it because we felt it had a strong mythology, something that would inspire the very capable Africans of today to start dreaming again, to unite and collaborate towards a viable space programme which from a world view demonstrates the full scientific capabilities of any group of nations. We are still hopeful that one day we will see a concerted effort from African scientists to do something great. Of course these days, space is the place. Futurism just so happens to be the most effective lens of imagining and inspiring this kind of future.

What are your thoughts on African identities? What does it mean to you to be African?

Well at least to us, identity is about shared values… it’s hard to think of shared values for Africans in this colonial hangover that we are currently in though. There is a deliberate effort from the part of white capital to see that any ideas of a shared African identity remains fragmented.

The closest we’ve come to a shared African identity is Ubuntu, which is supposed to be the characteristic spirit of the African zeitgeist, but we wonder if it didn’t come a little too late. We’d like to think that being African is supporting all the positive values of African society, things like Ubuntu and self-determination, but in truth it would need to be a negotiation of African greatness in antiquity, colonial trauma and the idealism of present day.

It goes beyond [Thabo] Mbeki’s speech. To call it one thing would undermine the plurality of cultural values and identities that exist in different parts of the continent but to call it constructed also de-legitimises one shared African identity which exists for most parts of Africa. A more personal definition would be to say being African is viewing the unique culture and history of this continent as an opportunity and using it to become difficult to exploit.

Oct 6, 2016

"Doing It In Lagos"

Soundway Records present a new compilation of twenty one rare and mostly unavailable tracks from the slick and sassy world of Nigerian pop music and club culture of the early 1980s. Buoyed by an explosive oil boom and a return to democracy after a series of military dictatorships, Nigeria’s economy in the years of the early ‘80’s was mirrored by its recording industry as countless young artists and groups hit the airwaves and dancefloors of the capital and beyond. It was a glossy, brash new form of pop music born out of ashes of late 1970s disco and funk and, just as in America, was the soundtrack to a new generation for whom money, style and flirtation trumped the overblown psychedelia of the previous decade. Eager to sound as American as possible with no hint of the fervour for afro-beat, afro-rock and afrocentric thinking that the 1970s had thrown up, a new generation of young artists and performers turned their backs on their cultural roots in music and sought a new kind of stardom and fame firmly connected to the glossy, snazzy world of the 1980s that was erupting in the USA and Europe. The 1970s flares and cuban heels began to disappear, in their place came sleek suits, rolled-up sleeves, bow-ties, jumpsuits, leather jackets, greased hair and a firm nod in the stylistic direction of Michael Jackson.

The earliest cuts on the collection are firmly rooted within the deep disco sound of 1979 & 1980 before progressing into the boogie and pop that typified the years 1982-84: falsetto vocals, synths, slap-bass, handclaps and a sharp emphasis on the groove. Steered at the helm by a handful of legendary producers who had cut their teeth in the studios and groups 1970s (Jake Sollo, Lemmy Jackson, Tony Essien, Odion Iruoje) alongside some fresh new faces (Nkono teles and Tony Okoroji) the scene was fronted by a new generation of young singers both male and female and with the economy flourishing album sales were at an all time high. This was the age of the celebrity, mobile club-DJ and with vastly improved sound equipment, recorded music quickly began to displace live bands in the discos and clubs of a quickly expanding Lagos. These were places where a seamless mix of American and local music played all night - ever more pressure for Nigerian recordings to stand up against the offerings from overseas prompting some producers and artists to record in London or the USA despite Lagos having the best studios in West Africa.

With a never-ending discussion about what ‘World Music’ may or may not be and in a time where the influence of African, Latin and Caribbean music is firmly accepted as an instrumental and integral ingredient in the formation of disco and proto-house music, this compilation hopes to make a strong case for the Nigerian chapter of the story. This is disco-boogie-pop music that just happens to be from Nigeria and as such deserves to sit in the correct section of the record store and not in the restricting confines of the ‘World Music’ ghetto despite its geographic provenance. Echoes of the vast compendium of 1960 & 70s sounds from West Africa’s biggest recording industry are there if you listen carefully just as Soca and Latin music is echoed in the disco and soul of New York City but this is not music that deserves to be sidelined just because of where it’s from.

Many of the original albums these tracks are taken from fetch insane prices online due to their rarity and so it’s with great pleasure that we present a selection here that evokes a golden boomtime in Nigerian music history. It’s perhaps not for the purists who think they know what African music should sound like but hey, relax ...this music should make you make move, make you smile, (hopefully make some of you reminisce over your youth) …. it’s what it was made for.


01. Hotline – Fellas Doing It In Lagos
02. Peter Abdul – Don’t You Know
03. Steve Monite – Only You
04. Oby Onyioha – Enjoy Your Life
05. Kio Amachree – Ivory
06. Livy Ekemezie – Holiday Action
07. Willy Roy – Don’t Give Up
08. Danny Offia & The Friks – Funk With Me
09. Rick Asikpo & Afro Fusion – Too Hot
10. Terry Mackson – Distant Lover
11. Ofege – Burning Jungle
12. Odion Iruoje – Indentify With Your Root 
13. Mike Umoh – Shake Your Body
14. Burnis Moleme – Where is the Answer
15. Sony Enang – Don’t Stop that Music
16. Veno – Groove I like
17. Godfrey Odili – Let’s Do More Music
18. Toby Foyeh – Ore Mi
19. Gboyega Adelaja – Colourful Environment
20. Lexy Mella – On the Air
21. Nkono Teles – Be My Lady (Mix)

Oct 4, 2016

New album ... Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou

Madjafalao is the new album from Benin's Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou, a group which spans afrobeat and funk, mostly based around the tradition of Vodun rhythms. Its release next month will mark their first album since 2011's Strut-released Cotonou Club, which saw them share their first new, recorded music since the early 1980s.

With the new album out next month, you can check out a trailer for it below which features collaborator Calypso Rose singing their praises and talking about the connection that she made with the group despite a lack of joint rehearsals. As she simply puts it, "they are dynamite!"

The group was originally founded in Benin in 1968 by bandleader Melome Clement with the years that followed seeing them play alongside Fela Kuti and many others. Their name naturally originally came from the variety of rhythms that they would incorporate into their playing. The deaths in the early 1980s of original members guitarist Papillon and drummer Leopold, as well as Benin going into a period of economic hardship and decline under Mathieu Kerekou's dictatorship saw them enter into a hiatus.

In 2008, the band reformed with three original members and their last album was released in 2011 before the death of leader Melome Clement in 2012. A few months after his death, the rest of the group decided to keep the spirit of the group alive and continue in his honour, entering into the studio and working on music which now sees release on Madjafalao. It is out on October 21, via Because Music.



01. Madjafalao
02. Wangnigni
03. Heritage
04. Finlin ho
05. Omonyi
06. Africa
07. Migbe
08. Ouesse
09. Wolou
10. Baba djibe