Monday, November 30, 2009

Bawku West Collective

Bawku West Collective is a loosely-knit group of musicians based around the community of Zebilla in the Bawku West District of northern Ghana. Luke Bassuener volunteered there in 2003 and incorporated some field recordings into an album for his Indie Rock band This Bright Apocalypse. He went back in 2008, and with the help of Charles Braimah (a.k.a. DJ Bones), made more field recordings and incorporated them into an album to benefit the artists that helped make the album.

Fair trade music production is a cause I whole-heartedly believe in. The music industry has a long long history of exploiting musicians, especially African musicians. Efforts such as these are a great start towards tipping the scales back in musicians' favor. Not only do the proceeds go back to the musicians and their families, but the beats are pretty tight as well. The album is available on CdBaby and Itunes. Do your part, and get a dope album for a good cause.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Album Review: Coconut Rock-Ocote Soul Sounds & Adrian Quesada

Sometimes music has a way of transporting your mind into another world, creating a new environment in your imagination, furnished with the perfect soundtrack/theme music. Coconut Rock, the album from Ocote Soul Sounds & Adrian Quesada set to be re-released on ESL Music December 8, 2009, contains that transcendental property to a higher degree than any music I've heard in a long time.

Ocote Soul Sounds is a collaboration featuring founders of two supergroups, Martin Perna of Antibalas, and Adrian Quesada of Grupo Fantasma. Perna drew his inspiration for the project from his experience living in a fishing village in Michoacán, Mexico. He sought to create music that was accessible without a 12-piece ensemble and a baritone saxophone. He began writing guitar music with more "intimacy and immediacy".

Perna and Quesada first collaborated several years ago when Perna passes through Austin, Texas on his way to Mexico. It was when his bio-diesel car broke down on the way back that their collaboration entered its second iteration, giving them the time to finish their first album, El Niño Y El Sol. Their complimentary styles have allowed them to create soundscapes made up of interlocking melodic and rhythmic elements that foster a Latin-psychedelic backdrop, transporting listeners to a funky Latin dreamworld.

Certain tracks allude to different Afro-Latin genres. Tu Fin, Mi Comienzo has a distinctly cumbia feel. Vendendo Saude E Fe has an Afro-Brazilan feel with Portuguese lyrics. Marcos Garcia of Antibalas and Chico Mann is featured as a vocalist on several tracks as well, lending his signature electro-afro voice to the cornucopia of styles present on the album.

Coconut Rock is the type of album you need to listen to more than once. It's a densely layered, intricate collection of compositions that blend influences and styles from track to track. I'll admit, the first time I listened to the album, I was expecting something other than what was there. Being a huge fan of Antibalas, I was expecting more afrobeat, more instantly gratifying grooves that hook you instantaneously. Going back and listening to the album for a second time, I've realized this is an album you that takes time to digest. It's deep. Once you gain access to what Perna and Quesada are saying, you'll connect on a much deeper level. That's when you'll gain access to their world.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

DJ Underdog-Africa Plays On 5

He's back again. Africa Plays On, the recurring afro-heavy mixtape from D.C.'s dopest beatmaker, DJ Underdog, has reached Vol. 5 status. If you missed the first four, all will be forgiven if you snag this juicy chunk of rhythmic flavor.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zongo Junction @ Public Assembly-11/19

Zongo Junction, the new monthly afro-jam at Public Assembly in Williamsburg, is going down this Thursday night. No Small Money Brass Band and Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds are hitting the stage along with Zongo Junction. It's about time afrobeat grooves started emanating from venues other than Zebulon on a regular basis. Zongo Junction is leading the charge, carrying the afrobeat torch, breathing life into the music on a monthly basis. Come out and support a band that's on the cusp of the afrobeat movement.

Public Assembly-Front Room-Thursday Night

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Single from Toumani Diabaté and Ali Farka Touré

Kala Djula is the new digital singe taken off the forthcoming album from Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté, Ali and Toumani. The slow, enchanting song will be released with the rest of the album in February 2010, but is available via Amazon and Itunes in the meantime. The collaboration between the two icons of Malian culture was the second and last album they recorded together. Cachaito Lopez is featured as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Booty Crisis at Public Assembly this Saturday Night!

It's that time again party people, Planet Rump is throwin down at Public Assembly this Saturday night in a legendary night of electro-funk that will be sure to make history as one of the craziest parties to hit Brooklyn in years...

Planet Rump presents BOOTY CRISIS, the monthly dance party devoted to showcasing funky-fresh electro acts that will make you shake your ass HARD. This month they present flavors from around the world:
Chico Mann the king of instant-vintage electro-freestyle-Latin-Afrobeat, Tayisha Busay ---glitter-garnished fly-girls armed with synths, drum machines and live percussion, and Hiro Tha Jap---fashion icon spinning booty-shaking club music all night. Planet Rump will perform their infectious brand of live electrofunkrap. DJ A-ko will get the party started on the ones and twos. Plus the National Breakin' League will present a special dance showcase. It's a futuristic party from the past, every month at Public Assembly.
Saturday, November 14th10pm-4am$10
Public Assembly-front room
70 N. 6th St. (between Kent and Wythe)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(718) 384-4586
L to Bedford

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Single from Kokolo-Afrika Man

Kokolo, one of the dopest afrobeat bands that's been doing it the longest on the international scene, recently put out a new single, Afrika Man. Get the track here. If you're reading this from Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, or Turkey, look for Kokolo at an afro-spot near you, as they're touring Eastern Europe in the month of November. Check out the video below.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Best of the Black President-Best of Fela Reissued by The Knitting Factory

As I mentioned in my article in the Huffington Post about FELA! the Broadway show about the Black President, The Knitting Factory is re-mastering and re-releasing all 45 Fela Kuti titles - his entire catalog - in unique digi-packs with the original artwork over the next 18 months. The reissue series marks the first time that all of Fela's titles will be released on vinyl in North America, as well as the first official release of the entire Koola Lobitos catalog, Fela's 1960s highlife band.

The first release, the Best of The Black President, comes with a dvd, A Slice of Fela. This dvd is jam-packed with amazing concert footage, segments of documentaries, and interviews with Bill T. Jones, Carlos Moore, and Sahr Ngaujah. As someone who considers himself pretty knowledgeable about Fela Kuti, I gained a lot of insight and information about Fela's life and music from the footage on that dvd, a reason to get the re-issued album alone.

Fela, and afrobeat, have been picking up considerable steam over the last several years due to the work of several artists and dj's like
Antibalas, Akoya, Rich Medina, and host of other people too numerous to name here (see my Afro-links section). This reissue series will only give that revival a serious kick in the ass. Get T-Shirts, tracks, ringtones, and a whole bunch of other Fela related goodness here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

EarthRise Sound System-The Yoga Sessions

Any aspiring yogi knows that when channeling transcendental energy, nothing helps focus the mind like music. Especially music that is downtempo, deep, and steady. EarthRise Sound System, Derek Beres and David “Duke Mushroom” Schommer, have put together an album of remixed chants and percussive elements that will definitely help the mind channel its energy.

Derek Beres is a writer, yoga instructor, and dj. He blends those three elements of his personality with his production partner Duke Mushroom—a producer, writer, and performer who has played on over 50 records in the past two decades. Their objective with this record is to move you inside and out. They channel elements of their multicultural experiences seamlessly to create a deep expressive collection of songs.

Derek Beres and Duke Mushroom are two multi-talented cats are capable of making great music. The album doesn't officially drop until January 2010, but you can check
out the tracks on their myspace in the meantime.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Chico Mann Video-Say What Short Film

Chico Mann just released a new short film/music video that is downright funky. The storyline, production value, and music are all tight. Check it out!