Monday, July 25, 2011

Psychedelic, Slow-Burning Soundscapes from West Africa Vol. 1

Just about everything worth listening to in American popular music owes some debt of influence to Africa. American Soul, Funk and Jazz, Blues, Reggae and Cuban music, to varying degrees, have all had their turn in reciprocating the influence abroad. The wealth and variety of mind-altering stuff from post-colonial Africa makes the head spin and is like nothing most people imagine it to be. A great place to start is with the eclectic psychedelic rhythms of late 1960's to early 1970's West Africa.

This mix carries a strong Afro-Cuban flavor, with the raw and haunting sounds from Guinea's Syliphone label particularly well represented. One of the first African nations to declare independence from colonial rule, Guinea quickly underwent a state sponsored cultural revolution known as "Authenticité" under then dictator Sekou Toure. The movement emphasized an abandonment of colonial ideaology, a celebration of cultural heritage and a return to African roots.  Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Mali, Zaire and Ethiopia experienced particularly creative musical explosions around this time as well. Many of the artists in those nations looked to their brethren in places like America, Cuba and Jamaica for guidance. What followed were some of the most beautifully strange sounds ever recorded.

"Diamond Fingers" Diabate of Bembeya Jazz

From the late 1950s onward, bands like Bembeya Jazz, Ochestra Baobab and Balla et Ses Balladins became massively popular in their respective countries and all along the Gold Coast. But by the 1980s, a combination of factors-poverty, evil dictators and the rise of crappy over-produced music had reduced most every great band from the period to an afterthought. In some cases, like in neighboring Guinea-Bissau, the recording industry disappeared almost completely as the country sank into despair.

Thanks to the good people of the (almost) free world of the Internet, and Afro-trotting vinyl diggers like Frank Gossner (who has the coolest life I or anyone could ever imagine), a past that was once buried, forgotten or ignored has experienced a revival of its own, spawning a sizeable cult following of obsessed fanatics like myself who are anxious to share in the spoils and divulge the secrets of a forgotten golden era of music.

Download Psychedelic, Slow-Burning Soundscapes from West Africa Vol. 1

Track List
01 Super Boiro Band - So i Si Sa (Guinea)
02 Bembeya Jazz - Le Petit Sekou (Guinea)
03 Balla et Ses Balladins - Paulette (Guinea)
04 T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo - Gendamou (Benin)
05 Mangue Konde - An Kala Kamiri (Burkina Fasso)
06 Mangue Konde - Couba (Burkina Fasso)
07 Amazones de Guinea - Samba (Guinea)
08 Ochestra Baobab - N'Diaye (Senegal)
09 Ochestra Baobab - Jin Ma Jin Ma (Senegal)
10 Syl Authentique - Andree (Guinea)
11 Le Palm Jazz de Macenta - Kobogui (Guinea)
12 Orchestre No. 1 de Dakar - Liti-Liti (Senegal)
13 Sombory Jazz - Nana (Guinea)
14 Etoile de Dakar - Thiely (Senegal)
15 Balla et Ses Balladins - Kogno Koura (Guinea)

Guinea's Bembeya Jazz National

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