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Tim Maia – Rational Culture (1974)

April 8, 2018 Leave a comment

Twenty one minutes into Tim Maia’s Racional LP, I was beginning to wonder whether my almost infallible “friend in New York” had recommended a rather expensive turkey for me to buy. However, 12 and a half minutes later, I had heard this stunning track and within an hour it had been elevated into the pantheon of thebestmusicofalltime.

Tim Maia is one the icons of Brazilian music and “Rational Culture” is a stone cold funk classic. That being said, there are hatters out there who might be a tad offended were anyone to liken Mr Maia to one of them.

According to Wikipedia, Tim was visiting a composing friend and came across a book Universo em Desencanto (Disenchanting Universe) which revolves around the cult of Rational Culture (me, neither). Anyway, in double quick time, Mr Maia converted to the cult, abandoned the drugs and red meat, and decided to write lyrics based on the knowledge contained in the book. RCA rejected the resulting albums.

Fortunately, Tim bought the masters and released two volumes of Racional.

I’d like to say a big thanks to Tim for his gumption and I know you are going to want to do the same.

What a record!

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Midori Takada – Crossing (1983)

April 8, 2018 Leave a comment

A holy grail of Japanese ambient music, the Through The Looking Glass LP was finally released on CD in 2017.

This track is my favourite and finds Japanese composer Midori Takada really channeling her inner Steve Reich.

Pitchfork describe the creation of the LP thus:

… Takada entered the studio by herself to realise this music. Over the course of two days, she put to analog tape all four of the LP’s extended performances as well as laying down the overdubs, producing and mixing the album on her own … Looking Glass is one of the most dazzling works of minimalism. be it from the East or West.

The track “Crossing” builds up layers of overdubs from a single struck cowbell. More cowbell? Yes, please.

Stunning stuff.

Zazou/Bikaye/CY 1 – Dju Ya Feza (1983)

April 2, 2018 Leave a comment

An extraordinary track taken from the fantastic Noir Et Blanc LP released on Crammed Discs in 1983.

As the blurb on the back of the CD says:

An unsurpassed milestone in European/African fusion, this is a head-on collision between traditional Central African vocals and uncompromising analog electronics. Resulting from a torrid encounter between Zairean singer Bony Bikaye, Algerian born French composer Hector Zazou and mad scientists CY1 …

Relentless.

Tesfa-Maryam Kidane – Heywete (late 1960s/early 1970s)

October 12, 2017 Leave a comment

From Senegal to Ethiopia.

Difficult to find out too much about this record. It appears on Volume 10 of the peerless Ethiopiques series of CDs (I’m almost a completist, though we are now up to 30 volumes!)

A wonderfully laid-back and evocative instrumental with Kidane’s saxophone holding the whole thing together – understated bass and percussion underpin the melody.  a piano fills in the spaces until a stunning guitar solo prompts the bass to move into Afro-funk perfection! Beautiful.

Mansour Seck – Quinze Ans (1994)

October 12, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m kicking off a series of posts tonight that are going to have an increasingly tendentious African theme …. I can already imagine the breaths that will be bated as my not exactly legion band of followers (you know who you are sir, and thank you!) await the melodic twists and turns that will be served up.

However, let’s start with a stone cold classic. I stumbled upon this on Mansour Seck’s N’der Foota Tooro Volume 1 CD released in 1994. Blind and hailing from Senegal, Mansour was a regular collaborator with his fellow countryman Baaba Maal.

Precise, metronomic guitar, impassioned vocals and a great call and response chorus. A perfect record.

Soul Brothers – Sebenzubuye (1989)

October 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Kings of the South African township jive who started back in the 1970s and whose sound underpinned so many of the records released on the wonderful Earthworks label during the 1980s.

They released so many great tracks but why not start here? Melancholic and uplifting in equal measure, “Sebenzubuye” featured on the Impimpi LP released in 1989 and its only fault is that it isn’t twice as long. At least.

Perfection!

Rokia Traoré – Sarama (2013)

December 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Rokia Traoré’s superb album “Beautiful Africa” was one of my favourite records of last year and I have previously posted a scratchy version of the best song from it here.

“Sarama” is a close second and, again, features stunning playing and singing by Rokia and superb production by John Parish – the latter probably best known for his work with PJ Harvey.

Hailing from Mali, Rokia Traoré’s style is all her own but every so often you get an echo of a Tracy Chapman moment (with whom Parish has also worked) and, on this song in particular, Bjork. No, really.

Rokia’s sings in the West African language of Bamana, as well as French and occasional bursts of English, and the often personal lyrics are concerned with Traoré’s thoughts on her own life, and on her tragically battered homeland. An excerpt.

 Farafina mousso

I miss your smile
 
I want to hear your laughter
I admire the courage you face your destiny with
 
Ô Farafina mousso
I miss your smile
 
I want to hear your laughter
My inspiration is drawn from you

A remarkable stripped back live recording and then the album version. Perfect.

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