Ben Zabo • Ben Zabo

Release Date: 25/05/2012
Format: CD/LP (+CD)
Cat-No: GRCD/LP 763

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Ben Zabo • Démocratie

Release Date: 25/10/2013
Format: digital
Cat-No: GB 006

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Ben Zabo


The music is for Ben Zabo and all his musicians, an important niche for the accomplishment of the mission with which they feel invested: the culture Bo out of the shadows to reveal to the world through music , dance, traditional outfits and instrumentarium Bwa against the Malian and African culture in general.
Originally from the traditional Ben Zabo music is a blend of rhythms and melodies Bwa in symbiosis with modern sounds and harmonies.

While perpetuating the traditions of his native Bwatun, he chose to develop a mixed style in which we detect as much influences from other musical styles such as modern and Western afrobeat, funk, reggae, blues, rock and even jazz. With modern instruments and musical arrangements that are perfectly well worth his intimate songs recorded in the news, his music is also well steeped in the rich instrumentarium Mali as the balafon, the tama, the ara’o bara and so on.

In his compositions, Ben Zabo develops themes relating to the various societal core values ​​such as brotherly love, peace, justice, tolerance, solidarity, work and good governance, which according to him remain the only guarantee of integrity and cohesion, sustainable human development factors. At the same time, he condemns the indiscriminate fervor and rigor, greed, hypocrisy, demagogy and discrimination are the main problems which undermine the stability of our society and confiscate the freedom, dignity and well being of some citizens.

Under the political commitment, the vision of Ben Zabo is to encourage all African countries, especially Mali to further implement a true democracy and true freedom of the people. That every individual and every people have an inalienable right to speech and decision souverraine of his destiny.

Finally, women are certainly not outside in the songs of Ben Zabo a fitting tribute because they are made​​, – to all the mothers of the world-for the suffering they support giving life. On the other hand, the beauty, bravery, love, charm and tenderness of women are discussed at length.

Zabo Ben’s songs are mostly written and sung in Bomu is his mother tongue. The Bwa, in fact, constitute a minority ethnic group living in a small area called Bwatun (Bwa country) straddles the border between Mali and Burkina Faso. The Bwa of Mali occupy the area south-east of the Segou region, just circles and San Tominian and serve approximately 216,000 people.

The music of Ben Zabo room is very encouraging because his rhythm to dance. It is both the expression and assertion of cultural identity, and finally the voice as a social conscience and ethical proud.






Bamako Nights • Live at Bar Bozo 1995

01. Nu tugula mogo mi ko
02. Banani
03. Dunuya
04. Sigui nyongon son fo
05. Ne kele kanuba
06. Dibi
07. Bamaku N.tichi

Bamako Nights captures the incendiary genius of Lobi Traoré, a soulful singer/songwriter and blazing electric guitarist of Mali, who died too young – just 49 years old – in 2010. Lobi produced five studio albums during his career, as well as four live releases, including the solo acoustic session Rainy Season Blues (Glitterhouse 2010). But Bamako Nights offers the deepest and most intimate record of this artist’s astounding power on stage in a small Bamako nightclub.

In 1995, the Bar Bozo was a unique destination. Mali’s democracy was just a few years old, and people were finding new ways to exercise freedom. The bar was an unglamorous, downtown nightspot, dark and often crowded. It didn’t cater to elites, but working people, who came to drink and dance and enjoy a live band long into the night. Lobi Traore was still emerging as a popular artist in Bamako. His earthy blend of Bambara roots and edgy electric guitar, and his philosophical songs of social life and the challenges rural people face in the city, were made to order for Bar Bozo. No wonder he packed the place on a weekly basis.

Lobi had begun recording albums by that time, and performing in Europe with an acoustic ensemble. But at Bar Bozo, he and his small electric ensemble were developing a new, rawer sound, one that would make Lobi a staple of Bamako’s live scene, and a legend of African blues celebrated around the world. You can hear in this smoldering session Lobi’s joy at having recently acquired a flanger pedal. His solos build to soaring, ecstatic heights, as unhinged as anything in African rock since.

The set starts out slow and meditative with “Ni Tugula Mogo Mi Ko,” conjuring a trance atmosphere that Lobi elevates systematically with his keening vocal and eloquent picking. You can almost feel the weight of a sweltering Bamako night as Lobi forcefully guides his band though musical catharsis. By the time they kick into high gear on “Sigui Nyongon Son Fo,” the weight has lifted and spirits are flying.

It’s hard to say enough about Lobi as a guitar stylist. His sound echoes older Malian pentatonic guitarists, notably the iconic Zani Diabate, whom Lobi accompanied briefly. And there are clear rock echoes; Lobi was a fan of AC/DC’s Angus Young! But in the end, Lobi’s guitar voice is his own, unmistakable, deeply informed by tradition and graced with sparkling personal epiphanies – even with the flanger set to 110%.

A few weeks after this recording was made, Bamako authorities closed down the Bar Bozo, and Lobi had to move his joyful party to an obscure venue on the outskirts of town. Bamako Nights is a time capsule recording. It evokes an artist, a time, and a place that came together with amazing potency, and can never be recreated.


Lobi Traoré • Rainy Season Blues

01. Moko ti y lamban don
02. Djougouya magni
03. Hinè
04. Alah ka bo
05. Melodie de Bambara Blues
06. Siguidialen
07. Sorotemimbo
08. Moussa de Konina
09. A Lamèn
10. Koumayé Niyé

Lobi Traoré (1961-2010) was a true African original, a guitarist of profound depth and originality, a singer and songwriter with universal appeal, and a performer who became part of the very fabric of Bamako, one of the world’s most musical cities. Not long before he died—suddenly and unexpectedly in June, 2010—Lobi recorded an unprecedented solo CD—just him and his guitar, in a single session with no overdubs. Rainy Season Blues turns out to be Lobi’s final statement, and we are lucky to have it, for it captures the pure essence of his artistry in full flower.

Lobi was born Ibrahima Traore, in Bakaridjana in the Segou region of Mali, the center of the 19th century Bambara Empire. Lobi recalled, “A Muslim teacher came to my village to see my father, who was a great marabou. He came for his business, but he had an acoustic guitar, and I became very interested in it.” It would be a few years before Lobi got his hands on an axe, but the seed had been planted. Lobi’s first gig was playing maracas in a neighborhood band. “Right from the first time they said it was good,” he recalled, “I had music in my blood.” He went on to play timbales with a wedding band from Bamako, but spent so much time borrowing a guitar to practice with that the bandleader bought him one of his own, later reimbursing himself out of Lobi’s future pay. “It was an acoustic guitar and its neck was all twisted,” Lobi recalled, “but I managed.”

From his earliest days, Lobi was an avid rock and blues fan who listened to players from John Lee Hooker to ACDC’s Angus Young. This history combined with the fact that he started out as a percussionist says a lot about the expressive, highly rhythmic, and transcendently bluesy guitar style Lobi went on to develop.

The wedding band he played in specialized in Manding music, melodious, heptatonic praise songs drawing from an old standard repertoire. “I didn’t really understand Manding music,” said Lobi. “I come from the inspiration of Bambara music. At home, when I’d take up my little guitar, I would play what I sing. In the beginning, it wasn’t any good, but little by little it got better. I started to understand pentatonic melodies on the guitar. So when we went with this band to play at weddings, often I would ask if I could do a Bambara song. I would take the guitar and play a song, and everyone was happy with it. In the end, they would always ask for these songs. “Play a Bambara song!” they would shout.”

This led to Lobi’s debut on Malian national radio, his first recordings, and his recruitment by a band from Abidjan, where he spent the next seven years refining his art. Lobi returned to Bamako and his lifelong tenure in the city’s late-night bars and clubs—Bar Bozo, Makelekele, The Djembe, Espace Academie, and others. In a city where most people enjoy their music at weddings and concerts and do not drink alcohol, the clubs where Lobi played were frequented by working class couples keen for a night of dancing. Lobi also drew fans of the more earthy African electric music music, and no doubt, a few more unsavory types as well. It was all part of the gritty ambiance of Lobi’s pungent, late night sessions in Bamako.

Lobi became a skilled songwriter specializing in exhortations to party, or celebrations of love., but many of his lyrics delivered keen social messages applicable to the daily lives of his fans as well. Discussing some of his most beloved early compositions back in 1996, Lobi said, “In ‘Dene Kele,’ I talk about property, and the people who sell food in the street. I tell them, ‘You must sell proper food. You must not sell bad food that will make people sick when they eat it.’ Then there is ‘Nama Da Yele.’ That one says that there are people all over Africa whose daughter likes a boy and they prevent the girl from seeing the one she loves. The two are in love and they want to be together. So the song says, ‘If you don’t open the door, I will enter by the window. I will pursue my love.’ I advise parents that if they protect their daughters too much, they will drive them to rebel.”

When Lobi’s first cassette Bambara Blues appeared in 1989, things began to take off. Lobi had mixed feelings about the “blues” tag. “I listened to a lot of blues,” he said, “Especially John Lee Hooker. Maybe I was inspired by that. Maybe the blues was inspired by Africa. Maybe the resemblance is just a coincidence. But listen, for me the music I play comes from me, from my place. Someone who hears my music and says it’s the blues, well, to me blues is American music. We don’t even have that word. Each place has its arts. It wasn’t me who came up with the idea of Bambara blues. People kept saying, ‘Bambara blues, Bambara blues.’ In the end, I accepted it. But I don’t think the blues is our music.”

In 1990, Lobi was invited to perform with an acoustic trio at the Africolor festival in France, and this became an annual ritual. He returned to Abdijan for the MASA festival where he played electric with a group of percussionists—“modern traditional music” as he called it. Lobi recorded three CD releases for the Cobalt label: Bamako (1994), Segou (1996), and Duga (1999).   But there was a schism in Lobi’s musical persona during these years. His international releases presented a toned-down, acoustic side of his music, while his club dates in Bamako became ever more wild, raw, and raucous.   Subsequent CD releases like The Lobi Traore Group (Honest Jon, 2005) did capture the more unbridled, rocking side of Lobi’s chameleon musical persona. But all of it is Lobi, an artist with many faces.

Lobi sought to dignify a profession that many Africans still view as dubious. “I believe that music is legitimate work,” he said. “Not everyone can be a bureaucrat or businessman. I’ve chosen music as the way I express myself. It’s all I know in life. If there are things wrong with what I do, I hope people tell me. I need criticism. If there’s a way I can improve my music, I want to do it.”

The fruit of that attitude, and Lobi’s rich and varied experiences are abundantly evident on Rainy Season Blues. In his final years, Lobi was driven to record and to demonstrate how he had grown as a musician. Producer and guitarist Chris Eckman had returned to Bamako to record the Tuareg desert rock band Tamikrest, but Lobi more or less demanded a hearing. When it became clear that a full band recording would not be possible right away, Lobi turned up with just his guitar, and recorded this remarkable set of ten songs, new and old.

Thank God he did! The session offers a magnificently lucid record of Lobi’s core talent. His playing has never sounded cleaner, fresher or more nuanced. No guitarist alive phrases the way Lobi does, and to hear him unaccompanied like this is a treat not found on any of his other nine albums. Lobi’s voice shows all its colors, from a soothing half-whisper to a world-weary growl, to keening melodic power vocal.

Among those who will be grateful for Rainy Season Blues is Bonnie Raitt, who heard and jammed with Lobi during a trip to Mali in 2000. “What I love about Lobi’s playing,” recalled Raitt, “is how hypnotic, bluesy and emotional it is. He got me from the first time i heard him—absolutely his own style, but in direct line with the deep, modal Delta blues I love. He was a rising star, carrying on the soulful, improvisational style of Ali Farka and John Lee Hooker, but adding his own innovations on the electric guitar. He was also wonderful man, beloved by so many and it’s a terrible loss he was taken so soon. I’m honored to have had the chance to know and play with him.” And we are all honored that Lobi left with this singularly intimate and deep recording.


Noura Mint Seymali • Tzenni

01 Eguetmar
02 Tzenni
03 El Barm
04 El Madi
05 El Mougelmen
06 Hebebeb (Zrag)
07 Soub Hanallah
08 Tikifite
09 Char’aa
10 Emin Emineïna Chouweynë


“Noura Mint Seymali, from Mauritania, comes from an ancient family of griots, and she has a commanding, wide-open voicethe pentatonic melodies of her songs had something in common with the blues. But her fusion was particular and selectiveShe only meets American music on her own terms.” – New York Times, January 13th, 2014

“She cleverly merges her powerful voice with the twangy guitar sound created by her husbandthis Mauritanian music is an excellent example of roots rocketed into the 21st century.” – Songlines, April/May 2014

TZENNI in Hassaniya means to circulate, to spin, to turn. It‘s the name for a whirling dance performed to the music of Moorish griots, often under khaima tents thrown up for street gatherings in the sandy quartiers of Nouakchott and out across the wide deserts of Mauritania. Tzenni is an orbit, the movement of the earth around the sun, the daily progression of light and dark, lunar cycles, tides and winds. Tzenni, the dance, comes forth as the cyclical trajectory of a Moorish musical gathering builds to a fervorous pitch. It‘s a word whose expansive valence reminds us how only the most basic reality can create such romantic metaphor.

Produced and recorded across an appropriately dizzying array of locations and social contexts (New York City, Dakar, Nouakchott) the album Tzenni is a contemporary articulation of Moorish griot music from Mauritania—an artform that has been evolving and gaining momentum for centuries – as voiced by Noura Mint Seymali, an artist profoundly steeped in its history and rigorously devoted to its global resonance.

Noura Mint Seymali comes from a long line of visionary musicians. Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, her father, was a scholar-artist instrumental in opening Mauritanian music to the world; devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting music for the national anthem, and composing works popularized by his wife (Noura‘s step-mother), the great Dimi Mint Abba. From her precocious beginnings as a teenaged backing vocalist with Dimi Mint Abba, Noura Mint Seymali now drives the legacy forward, re-calibrating Moorish music for our contemporary moment. Her band‘s arrangements, rigor, and experimental spirit may be understood as a continuation of the tradition of Seymali, Dimi, her grandmother Mounina, and countless others.

Together with her husband, heroic guitarist Jeiche Ould Chighaly, who brings the force of yet another powerful branch of Moorish musical lineage, the band on this recording was conceived as a distillation of essential elements, the ―azawan‖ and the backbeat. The ardine & tidinit (or guitar) together are the ―azawan,‖ the leading ensemble of Moorish traditional music, while bass & drums, played here by Ousmane Touré and Matthew Tinari, fortify it with genre transcendent funk and a basic pop urgency. Tzenni re-visits several classics of the Moorish repertoire, but does so within a novel formation, conversant in the pop idiom, and with Noura Mint Seymali’s personal history interwoven throughout. The practice of aligning music to a given socio-historical and personal moment is an essential charge of the iggawen, or griot, and, we believe, of artists everywhere.

As we seek to convey another turn in the Mauritanian musical dialectic, Tzenni is ultimately an album about shape shifting, faith, and stability found through instability. It‘s about taking the positive with the negative in a world that can only ever keep turning at break neck speed. We invite you to spin with us, to dance with us, through the music on this recording! –Matthew Tinari: producer/drummer for Noura Mint Seymali

1 – Eguetmar
Eguetmar recites a simple dialogue between two men meeting in a foreign land:
A: I feel like a stranger here, alone and without my family. My longing makes me feel desperation as a baby being weaned from its mother. I fear I must try to forget my family in order to succeed.
B: Have faith; I guarantee you will return to your family. In the name of God, I shall offer you all you need to return. ―Bismillah.

2 – Tzenni
Tzenni is a reflection on change and instability. The poet is tormented and troubled, but takes refuge in the fact of impermanence. ―Everything turns, everything changes. Nothing in this life is stable; everything can change at a moment‘s notice. Sometimes life brings happiness and sometimes sadness. What real decisions can be made, what course can be taken in a world that‘s always changing?

3 – El Barm
A classic of Mauritanian traditional repertoire, ―El Barm‖ is a love song. Sung in the voice of a restless, unstable man who believes he may never change and is destined to wander forever, he now marvels at how his life has ultimately been altered by a woman, in whom he has at last found stability. Their love has changed his course in a way he thought was impossible; as impossible as combining the East with the West. Various metaphors for the impossible ensue.

4 – El Madi
―El Madi‖ means ―the past.‖ The song is the reflection of a prisoner jailed in the time before Mauritania‘s independence. He addresses a lover on the outside, remembering their past: ―The judge will not free me to see you. I‘m imprisoned unjustly and long to see you again. As I dream of you I‘m blinded by the gold of your headdress, shining so brightly in my memory.‖ In traditional context, ―El Madi‖ is a dance performed by women.

5 – El Mougelmen
El Mougelmen is a dish in Mauritania made from a mix of spices and flowers. Similarly, the song‘s lyrics are a mix of different lines of poetry, thematically unrelated and chosen for musicality, mashed up via free association in a way similar to the ingredients of the dish. ―My thoughts are on the women of today,‖ Noura sings – women implicitly being the makers of El Mougelmen. ―God bestows blessings and takes them away,‖ blessings such as food and sustenance.

6 – Hebebeb (Zrag)
Composed by Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall. The poet is overtaken by the beauty of a woman, named Mariam, picking dates in a grove of trees. Rather than addressing Mariam directly, he pleads with her friend, Heydana, to sing for Mariam in order to attract her attention. He asks Heydana, ―repeat after me, ‗Hebebeb…‘ Always sing this song for her early in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening‖

7 – Soub Hanallah
A sacred song devoted to the prophet Mohammed (p.s.l.) and asking God for forgiveness. May God forgive and protect parents, sisters, brothers, and all loved ones. May God grant mercy upon our sins. Soub Hanallah recites numerous praise names for the prophet.

8 – Tikifite
Tikifite is an herb that is believed to heal the liver and stomach. ―Stir the tikite‖ a man asks, he wishes to be healed and together with his soul mate. A song often performed by Dimi Mint Abba, poetry written for her is often included; ―Dimi when you sing for me it heals me.

9 – Char‘aa
Char‘aa is primarily a dance. The title refers to the dance / rhythm which precedes the singing. The text here is that of an old praise song, sung originally for the prophet Mohammed (p.s.l.) upon his return to Medina after victory in battle.

10 – Emin Emineïna Chouweynë
Dedicated to Noura‘s paternal grandmother Mounina, a great singer and musician, the song assembles various lines of poetry written about her. The title, literally ―where are you ugly?,‖ originates from a line questioning popular criticism of Mounina by posing a simple question; ―they may say that you are ugly, but where can this ugliness be found?‖ Another line concerns Noura herself, offered to her as a compliment, by a poet who says her voice is as beautiful as Mounina‘s. The text mourns how Mounina‘s absence leaves a void.

01 Eguetmar
02 Tzenni
03 El Barm
04 El Madi
05 El Mougelmen
06 Hebebeb (Zrag)
07 Soub Hanallah
08 Tikifite
09 Char’aa
10 Emin Emineïna Chouweynë



Sonido Gallo Negro • Sendero Mistico

1. La Patrona
2. El Ventarron
3. Serenata Güajira
4. Virgenes Del Sol
5. Alfonso Graña (Selvatica)
6. Tzantza Soul
7. Valicha
8. Inca-a-delic
9. Coup De Poudre
10. Mistery Of Zangbetos


Sonido Gallo Negro (Black Rooster Sound) is a stunning 9-piece, instrumental combo from east Mexico City (Aragon) that channels both the mystique and mysticism of 1960’s Peruvian cumbia. The band integrates styles like Amazonian cumbia, huayno, sonidero cumbia, boogaloo and chicha with electric guitars, Farfisa organ, Theremin, flute and of course fluid Latin percussion. Spaghetti western soundtracks, psychedelia and surf music also echo in their compositions.

Their premiere album Cumbia Salvaje (Wild Cumbia) was released in Mexico in 2011 and it quickly catapulted them out of Mexico City’s heated underground scene and onto major festival and television performances. Albeit a very young group, they were invited in 2012 to the Kustendorf Festival in Serbia, curated by the famed Serbian Director Emir Kusturica (Time of the Gypsies). Also in 2012, they performed in Italy and Spain.

Their shimmering second album, Sendero Mistico (out in Mexico in 2013) will be their first ever-international release, and Glitterbeat’s first full-fledged release away from the African continent.

On the new album Sonido Gallo Negro follow the lay lines between cumbian sounds and instrumental rhumba tracing the heritage left by masters like Jaime Llano, Tulia Enrique Leon and the Hammond driven sounds of Eduardo Azurite. But for all its glances to the past, this is decidedly contemporary music, also evoking the band’s collective love of indie rock and post-psychedelic moods and textures.

The mind-bending ritual of this music can best be understood by witnessing their live show. Clothed in monk robes and backed by spectral video and light projections, on stage Sonido Gallo Negro is a very impressive proposition. These video links give a glimpse of the spectacle:





The band’s liner notes for Sendero Mistico climaxes with this sentence:

Instrumental cumbia can show you impressive, disconcerting and mysterious images, where everything invisible becomes present.

This is instrumental music with discernible and bold intentions.

The Black Rooster Sound has arrived.

It is time to set your controls to the heart of: Sonido Gallo Negro.



Gabriel López: electric guitar, organ
Enrique Casasola: timbales
Israel Martínez: bass
Edwin Irigoyen: congas
Lucio de los Santos: flute, bongos
Dario Maldonado: second electric guitar
Robert Bañuelos: güiro, claves
Julian Perez: organ, synthesizers, samplers
Dr. Alderete: theremin, tagtool, artwork


Samba Touré • Albala

01. Be Ki Don
02. Fondora
03. Ayé Go Mila
04. Awn Bé Ye Kelenye
05. Aye Sira Bila
06. Albala
07. Ago Djamba
08. Al Barka
09. Idjé Lalo
10. Bana


When you meet Samba Touré in person, he comes off as a soft-spoken man, a man who easily charms you with his abundant smile and optimistic gait. But on his third album, Albala, which in the Songhai language means “danger” or “risk”, a weighted and at times defiant side of his personality emerges. To call Albala his darkest album is an understatement, but it is not a self-absorbed darkness. The cause of Touré’s worry is the crashing world around him, and more specifically the troubles echoing out from his beloved northern Mali homeland.

The last year has brought cataclysmic change and upheaval to northern Mali. The tragic details of this have been globally reported, so there is little point in sensationalizing them here. But the cumulative effect of these events on Samba’s music seems palpable. There is an added gravity to his voice and his words, an additional sting to his electric guitar; there are sharper edges and more complex undertones in his musical arrangements.

On “Fondora (Leave Our Road)” Samba sings with indignation:
I say, leave our road/ All killers leave our road/ Thieves leave our road
Looters, leave our road/ Rapists, leave our road/ Betrayers, leave our road

And on the haunting “Ago Djamba (Life Betrays Us)” Touré warns: We do not all have the same opportunities/ Here, nobody is born rich but we all have the same value/ Life betrays us.

As a band member, and valued collaborator of the late Malian legend Ali Farka Touré, Samba established a significant reputation, and through his first two solo albums Songhai Blues and Crocodile Blues (World Music Network) his confidence and musical prowess grew proportionately.

But Albala is a new flash point. There is more power, there is more grit, the mood is deeper, and aptly, given the album’s title, Touré takes more musical risks.

Recorded at Studio Mali in Bamako, in the autumn of 2012, Samba is joined by his regular band members Djimé Sissoko (n’goni ) and Madou Sanogo (congas, djembe) and guests such as the legendary, master of the soku (a one-stringed violin) Zoumana Tereta and the fast-rising Malian neo-traditional singer Aminata Wassidje Traore. Additionally, Hugo Race (The Bad Seeds, Dirtmusic, Fatalists) contributes an array of subtle atmospherics on guitar and keyboards.

On the opening song, “Be Ki Don”,Samba sings: “Everybody welcomes Samba Touré.”
With an album as soulful and captivating as Albala, that might not be an over-statement.



Dirtmusic • Lion City

01. Stars Of Gao (feat. Super 11)
02. Narha (feat. Aminata Wassidjé Traoré)
03. Movin’ Careful
04. Justice
05. Ballade De Ben Zabo
06. Red Dust (feat. Samba Touré)
07. Clouds Are Cover
08. Starlight Club
09. Blind City
10. Day The Grid Went Down
11. September 12 (feat. Ibrahima Douf)


Dirtmusic’s previous album “Troubles,” released in June of last year, was recorded in Bamako, Mali in the dark days of the 2012 political upheaval. A propulsive collection of cinematic Afro-rock, “Troubles” for the most part rose out of improvisational sessions involving Hugo Race (Fatalists, Bad Seeds) and Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts) of Dirtmusic and the nimble, balafon driven Ben Zabo band. Malian luminaries like Samba Toure, Zoumana Tereta, Aminata Wassidje Traore and Virginie Dembele from the Rokia Traore band, brought exhilarating vocal and instrumental contributions to the collective.

“Troubles” was not a mere construct or hybrid, but rather something deeply collaborative and genre-busting. Louder Than War wrote: “an incisive and unique journey in soundthis album is rock, it’s roll, its funk, it’s African, it’s an aural delight.”

“Lion City” the new Dirtmusic album, is culled from the same Bamako sessions as “Troubles” but offers a decidedly different atmosphere and ambiance. While the Ben Zabo band is still the core collaborator, the textures and tempos are slower and more opaque. Organics and electronics intertwine and unfold unpredictably. There are less guitars and more liquid sounds. The outward frustration and fear documented on the previous album has given way to something more insular and pensive. The echoing space between the notes is emphasized and subsequently so are the voices and the texts.

Samba Toure provides a vocal and lyric for “Red Dust” a song that enshrines the contemplative mood of the album. Over a swirling dub-scape he intones:

How can we reconcile and forgive?

How can we bring peace to those that hate us?

Yet we have no choice

We need to stop fighting


While Samba Toure, Ben Zabo and his band, and Aminata Wassidje Traore previously appeared on “Troubles”, “Lion City” also features an inspired team of new collaborators.

+Tamikrest members Ousmane Ag Mossa (guitar), Cheikhe Ag Tiglia (Bass) & Aghaly Ag Mohamedine (percussion) appear on the bluesy and meditative “Movin’ Careful.” This is the first time the two groups have collaborated since Dirtmusic’s BKO album from 2010.

+The iconic Takamba band Super 11, from northern Mali, exchange thorn-like trance sounds with Hugo and Chris on the album’s opening number “Stars of Gao.”

+MC Jazz, an up and coming Bamako Hip Hop artist adds a fiery incantation to the mostly instrumental “Day the Grid Went Down.”

+Ibrahima Douf, a young singer from Senegal, provides a stunning vocal on the album’s final track “September 12.” The song is an ode to his grandmother.

The 21st century claims to be borderless. A world of hyper-communication and instant nostalgia that is both celebrated and feared. On “Lion City” Dirtmusic stayed clear of such theorizing and just got on with the practice. The collective joy they found in making this music is what mattered most.


Dirtmusic • Troubles

01 Chicken Scratch
02 Fitzcarraldo
03 The Big Bend
04 Wa Ya You
05 Up To Us
06 Troubles
07 La Paix
08 Take It On The Chin
09 Wa Nazu
10 Sleeping Beauty
11 God Is A Mistery

Troubles is an album from DirtmusicChris Eckman (The Walkabouts) and Hugo Race (Fatalists/True Spirit/Bad Seeds) – recorded in Bamako, Mali, in September 2012 during the high-tension and tragic recent crisis – hence the name, ‘Troubles’.

Originally a trio with Chris Brokaw (Come/Codeine), Dirtmusic released their eponymous debut in 2007, a gritty collection of acoustic ballads drawn from their American and Australian frontier roots. The band’s explorations of raw, psych-folk-rock then took a radical detour out to the Saharan desert, to Timbuktu, performing at the legendary Festival-au-Desert.

Dirtmusic’s encounter at the Festival-au-Desert with the Tuareg band Tamikrest was the catalyst for the second album, BKO (2010), a classic, one-of-a-kind trip through the interzone between ‘western’ and Tamasheq desert rock. The two bands toured Europe extensively and the album received major shout outs from both the rock/pop and “world” music press:

With the departure of Chris Brokaw, Race and Eckman decided to head further ‘upriver’, composing and recording an album from scratch in full collaboration with a select crew of Malian artists. Dirtmusic arrived in the Malian capital of Bamako with notebooks of lyrics, but without written songs or preconceived strategies.

Drawing on musicians from the Ben Zabo and Samba Toure bands as a core rhythm section, Race and Eckman produced the sessions on the dance floor of Salif Keita’s Moffou Club, inviting in guest vocalists including not only Ben Zabo and Samba Toure, but also Virginie Dembele (from the Rokia Traore ensemble), rising star Aminata Wassidje Traore and soku-master Zoumana Tereta.

There are many voices telling stories on Troubles, singing in Songhai, Bambara, Tamasheq and English, stories of war and peace and love and doubt in the shadow of an oncoming storm, and like a musical version of cinema verite, everything is real, in-the-moment and utterly direct.

Inspired by the collision between West African rhythms, digital sorcery and rock’n’roll, Troubles is a singular and border-slicing musical journey. And Troubles is only the first release from the sessions, with a second volume in the pipeline for a release on Glitterbeat in early 2014.


Dirtmusic • BKO

Disc: 1
1. Black Gravity
2. All Tomorrows Parties
3. Ready For The Sign
4. Desert Wind
5. Lives We Did Not Live
6. Unknowable
7. Smokin Bowl
8. Collisions
9. Niger Sundown
10. Bring It Home

Disc: 2
1. Documentary
2. Black Gravity
3. All Tomorrow’s Parties
4. Desert Wind
5. If We Run (Audio)
6. Ain’t No Grave (Audio)
7. Bogolon Blue (Audio)
8. The Angel’s Message To Me (Audio)


BKO’ is the international abbreviation for Bamako Airport in Mali’s capital city. It is also the title of the forthcoming album by Dirtmusic, a group of rock’n’roll veterans from the USA and Australia, which was recorded at the famous Studio Bogolan in Bamako – set up by the late Ali Farka Touré.

All three members of Dirtmusic have a long lasting history as musicians and songwriters in various bands: Chris Eckman is the leader of acclaimed US band The Walkabouts, and has also collaborated with Willard Grant Conspiracy and many others. Chris Brokaw has collaborated with Evan Dando and The Lemonheads, Liz Phair and Thurston Moore. The two Americans are joined by Australian-born Hugo Race, the leader of True Spirit and one of the original members of The Bad Seeds. Eckman and Race were label mates and in 2006 they got together with Brokaw to form Dirtmusic. Dirtmusic’s first album, recorded in 2007 in Eckman’s adopted home city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, somehow got into the hands of the booker of Mali’s annual Festival of the Desert who invited them to perform.

Eckman had been a fan of African music for years, so when in 2008 he found himself silky dunes of Essakane at the 2008 Festival of the Desert, it was like a baptism, a revelation, an epiphany. “I spent those three days very much in a dream state,” Eckman recalls. “The music, the sounds, the sightsit was just something absolutely overwhelming.” Next to Dirtmusic’s tent was that of young Touareg desert blues/ rock band Tamikrest. The two bands found themselves jamming together almost non-stop and discovered that their ideas and music fit perfectly. It was clear that this jam somehow had to continue after the festival.

So a year later Dirtmusic returned to Mali to record their new album “BKO” – with Tamikrest backing them in the studio. Connecting in lateral ways, swapping jokes and mixing up English and French and Tamashek (the language of the Touaregs), the mutual language of both bands is really music, and the reunion became a jam session, a discussion in word and rhythm – traditional songs, Dirtmusic songs, Tamikrest songs, passing hybrids of the two. During their meeting in the desert they had played The Velvet Underground’s legendary “All Tomorrow’s Parties” together. When Brokaw struck up the first few chords of the song, Tamikrest just jumped right in without a second thought, as if they’d been listening to the Velvet Underground since the release of the ‘Banana’ album – which they hadn’t. Luckily, they recreated this jam in the studio to include on the album. The blend of sounds and influences on this track is stunning but also feels completely natural. The natural process continued throughout the recording. For instance, Tamikrest leader Ousmane Ag Mossa spontaneously sings in Tamashek over the groove to “Black Gravity” and a kind of fusion erupts between Dirtmusic and Tamikrest. (Whilst most songs are composed by either Eckman, Race or Brokaw, “Black Gravity” contains Ousmane’s own composition “Imidiwan”, meaning ‘friends’, which he ‘gave’ to his new friends of Dirtmusic to include inside their song “Black Gravity”.)

Other Malian stars paid visits to the studio: Fadimata Walet Oumar from the famous Touareg group Tartit lends her sublime vocals to “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “Desert Wind”. Two master musicians from Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra jam on several abstract pieces, with one of them, “Niger Sundown”, being included on the album, while guitar legend Lobi Traoré plays on closing track “Bring It Home”.

Soon after recording the Dirtmusic album, Eckman returned to Mali, this time to produce Tamikrest’s debut album ‘Adagh’ (out 1 March 2010). And the collaboration continues: in May the two bands will be performing together throughout Europe, including a show at The Borderline in London on 19 May 2010.


Dirtmusic • Dirtmusic

01. Erica Moody 3:06
02. The Other Side 5:37
03. Sun City Casino 5:30
04. Face Of Evil 3:35
05. The Returning 5:30
06. Still Running 5:37
07. Summer Days 3:29
08. Ballad Of A Dream 7:15
09. No Sorrow More 4:51
10. Panther Hunting 2:04
11. Wasted On 4:06
12. Morning Dew


Bombino • Agamgam 2004

Side one:
01 Tenere Tenere
02 Imuhar
03 Amidinin
04 Intidgagen
05 Azaman

Side two:
01 Illilagh ténéré
02 Adounia adounia
03 Tazidert halal
04 Akh al zaman

By any measurement the last couple of years have been an exhilarating ride for BOMBINO, culminating in 2013’s album NOMAD, which was produced by Dan Auerbach of the arena filling Black Keys and was released to widespread acclaim. AGAMGAM 2004 is a beautiful contrast to the Nashville recorded NOMAD. This is Tuareg music in its most pure and unadulterated form.

In late 2004, BOMBINO recorded acoustic versions of nine songs in the Ténéré desert, which became this, his first real album. He sings and plays several of his own compositions and also pays tribute to other Tuareg artists (Abdallah Oumbadougou, Hasso, Kedou). Recorded mostly around the campfire, his assembled friends join in on handclaps and undulations.

BOMBINO himself picks up the story:

I worked as a guide or cook’s helper and once the season ended, I bought a guitar and strings. I did that for some years, working wherever I could. In 2004, a Spanish team came to make a documentary film and organized a gathering in the Ténéré desert to the north of Agadez (Niger). I was there as a cook’s assistant and in the evening would play guitar in the camp. They decided to record what we were playing in the desert, in the place that’s called Agamgam. Since that’s where the recording came from, I wanted it to have the name of the place where it was made. It was completed in two days.

The rush of the desert wind, snippets of between song conversation and the sound of grazing animals in the distance are essential elements of the album’s deep atmosphere. AGAMGAM 2004 is not only an intimate, privileged view of BOMBINO’S roots; it is also one of the most authentic documents of modern Tuareg music ever released.

The AGAMGAM 2004 LP is beautifully re-mastered from the original recordings, housed in a gatefold sleeve and pressed on 180-gram vinyl. A download code is also included. The album is being released in conjunction with the French label Reaktion and has been directly licensed from Bombino


Aziza Brahim  • Soutak

01 Gdeim Izik
02 Julud
03 Espejismos
04 Lagi
05 Aradana
06 Soutak
07 La Palabra
08 Manos Enemigas
09 Ya Watani


Voiced with deep passion and grace, Aziza Brahim’s music adeptly travels the expanse between her Western Saharan roots and Barcelona, the European cosmopolis where she now lives. Aziza is both a contemporary sonic poet and a prominent and eloquent spokesperson for the Saharawi people and their ongoing struggle for recognition and justice.

Born and raised in the Saharawi refugee camps lining the frontier between Algeria and Western Sahara, Aziza’s life has been marked by both daunting hardship and inspired will. Fleeing from these camps and the regime of political oppression that followed Morocco’s 1975 invasion of Western Sahara, as a young teenager Aziza travelled to Cuba for her secondary school studies. There she experienced first hand the deep Cuban economic crisis of the 1990’s and the subsequent denial of her request to pursue a university degree in music.

Music had been Aziza’s passion since she was a small girl and despite this setback she returned to the Saharawi camps in Algeria and began singing and playing in different musical ensembles, a process that continued when she moved to Spain in the year 2000. There she founded the eclectic Saharawi/Spanish band Gulili Mankoo with whom she released two acclaimed self-produced recordings: the EP “Mi Canto” (2008) and an album “Mabruk” (2012) both on Reaktion, a French label specializing in Saharan music. In the last years Aziza has performed extensively appearing at major festivals and venues including WOMAD Cáceres (2012) and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London (2009).

Aziza’s new album Soutak (“Your Voice”), her debut for the Glitterbeat label, is her first recording to predominantly focus on the cadence of her majestic voice and the soulful critique of her lyrics. The album was produced by Chris Eckman (Tamikrest, Ben Zabo, Dirtmusic) and was recorded live and direct in Barcelona in June of 2013.

In the liner notes to the album Aziza describes her vision for Soutak:

“Feeling the need to make an acoustic record, I imagined a somewhat modest musical outline, which would not involve too many instruments and in which the voices would take the expressive emotional lead. I wanted to further explore the range of possibilities found in the Haul, the Saharawi’s traditional rhythmic sources, played on the tabal and a source of inspiration for the Desert Blues.”

The hand picked band she assembled for the album consists of Spaniards Nico Roca (percussion) & Guillem Aguilar (bass), Malian Kalilou Sangare (acoustic lead guitar), Aziza’s sister Badra Abdallahe (backing voice) and in addition to singing, Aziza contributes acoustic rhythm guitar and the tabal, the traditional Saharawi hand-drum.

The music on Soutak is a powerful and nuanced mixture of musical cultures and features Malian, Spanish, Cuban and contemporary Anglo-European motifs all held together by Aziza’s deeply rooted knowledge of traditional Saharawi song and sound.

Throughout Soutak, the band frames Aziza’s voice with dignified restraint and leaves unvarnished space for her lyrics, lyrics which range from the sharply political “Gdeim Izik” (named after the “Camp of Dignity” crushed by the Moroccan-backed authorities) to the whispered enigmas of “La Palabra/The Word” (“Cradled by the wind it left/ it went around the world and returned/ and there beyond the word was heard”)

The song “Julud,” dedicated to Aziza’s mother, is possibly the most emblematic song on the album combining intimate and stark desert poetry with an unyielding faith in the Saharawi political struggle:


You are like the night and the stars/ Your voice goes beyond the top of the clouds/

You are the smiling breeze of today/ You are an example of humanity and of fight.

Resist, immortal, resist.


Though the songs on Soutak can be unsparing in their details of oppression, there is more often than not a “smiling breeze” to be found. Aziza’s essential voice, headstrong commitment and subtly inventive music are that breeze.

With Soutak Aziza Brahim has delivered an empowered flight to freedom; an alternative world where hope is imminent and dancing is justified.



Aminata Wassidjé Traoré • Tamala

side A:
01. Afrique
02. Alfouleila
03. Tamasheq
04. Takamba

side B:
01. Tamala
02. Un Jour
03. Senkou
04. Yerma Do Fafa

Aminata Wassidjé Traoré is a rising voice in Mali. Tamala is her debut album, recorded in Bamako and released in 2009. Born in Diré, near the fabled city of Timbuktu, Aminata was raised within northern Mali’s rich cultural brew. From an ethnic Songhai family, Aminata started singing as a young child. Her music, like the environment that surrounded her growing up, incorporates various cultures and traditions. On Tamala, an album she self-produced with the help of the artist Mamadou Kelly and arranger Baba Simaga, she sings in Songhai and Tamasheq.

While northern Mali still suffers the repercussions of religious and ethnic warfare, Tamala sends a message of reconciliation and inclusion. Aminata believes people can work together for a solution, and sees the vast potential of Mali’s diverse north. Moving to the Southern capital of Bamako not only enabled her to develop as a musician, backing up well known artists like Baba Salah, Khaira Arby and Afel Bocoum, it also enhanced her vision of a diverse and connected Mali.

Tamala is considered a neo-traditional album in the context of the Malian music scene: it is rooted in northern folk musical traditions, but arranged in a contemporary way and mixes drum programming and synthesizers with the banjo-like n’goni and the sokou, a one-string violin. Hints of Hip Hop and electronic dance music sit side by side with the pentatonic sounds of the interior Niger delta.

Afropop Worldwide wrote this about Tamala:

“And then there’s the music—in a word, sublimesolos burst forth with forthright clarity and consistent eloquence. Western sounds and production techniques have been appropriated here, but the melodic phrasing, rhythms and modalities in the music are 100% local.”

In 2013, Aminata began a collaboration with Glitterbeat Records when she appeared on the album Troubles by the Austrailian/American group Dirtmusic. The Guardian (UK) noted in their enthusiastic review of the album that »La Paix, an impassioned cry against the terrorist invasion of Mali, is voiced thrillingly by Aminata Traore.”

Glitterbeat Records is releasing Tamala in a limited vinyl version of 1,000. It will be pressed on 180g vinyl with a gatefold sleeve. The album is coming out in cooperation with Studio Mali, a Bamako based label.

A few words about the songs:

Afrique: This is a song calling for unity among Africans, to work together not against each other, for Peace and progress.

Alfouleila: Always be straightforward with people. If you are honest and upfront, you will have everything you need. Everything comes in it’s time, to people who are good and faithful.

Tamasheq: In Diré we have everything. There are many different ethnic groups in Dire. There are great things in Dire, great teachers, healers and wonderful families. Young people need to realize this and stay there.

Takamba: The North needs so many things. The people who are causing problems are from the North. Why are they causing problems wrecking their country. There are no roads. The north is underdeveloped. The north needs everything, everything that was started has been stopped.

Tamala: The history of the Maiga and Toure families, and how they solved their conflicts to live in peace. It tells the story of how the two families developed their “cousinage,” or how they became cousins.

Un Jour:  About a couple who are in love, but the young woman’s parents don’t want them to be together. The young man has lots of questions and worries, and the young women assures him that one day it will all work out and they will be together.

Senkou: Sabotage. Making fun of someone who has less is wrong, remember, it is God who gives and it is God who takes it away.

Yerma Do Fafa: This is a song about having a strong family and the relationships between brothers and sisters. Family members should always be there for each other. Brothers and Sisters should always help solve each others’ problems


Ben Zabo • Ben Zabo

01 Wari Vo
02 Sènsènbo (Hommage à Dounaké Koita)
03 Danna
04 Dimiyan
05 Cinquantenaire
06 Bwa Iri
07 Ya Be Ma`e

Malian Afrobeat may be two words that you don’t hear together very often but 2012’s most exciting new Afrobeat band may well be hailing from Bamako, Mali. Named after their bandleader, Ben Zabo, they are about to release their self-titled debut album, full of funky and gritty tunes, wonderful musicianship, and songs of peace and hope that could not be more timely or necessary. The album is also a testament to the lesser-known culture of the Bwa people; it is the first international release of a Malian of Bo descendant with all songs in the Bo language and rhythms.

Born into nobility in 1979 in the Segou region of Mali, Ben (real name Arouna Moussa Coulibaly) chose music as a career because of his passion but against the wishes of his parents who wanted him to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

In 2007, whilst trying to establish himself as a guitarist, singer and songwriter, Ben also started working as an assistant sound engineer at the famous Studio Bogolan in Bamako. It was in this studio that he first met Peter Weber, owner of the German-based Glitterhouse Records, and Chris Eckman, American music producer, leader of acclaimed US band The Walkabouts, member of Dirtmusic, and collaborator with Willard Grant Conspiracy and many other bands. Weber and Eckman were at the studio on several occasions, to record Tamikrest’s albums ‘Adagh’ and ‘Toumastin’, Dirtmusic’s ‘BKO’ and the late Lobi Traoré’s ‘Rainy Season Blues’. They were blown away by Ben’s enthusiasm, drive and talent. Weber agreed to record and distribute Ben Zabo’s debut album for the international market, with Eckman producing it, again at Studio Bogolan.

Chris Eckman explains:

“Much of the Malian music that has been released on European and American labels in the last few years shares one thing: it is mostly down-tempo and reflective. The kora majesty of Toumani Diabate, the Songhi blues of the late Ali Farka Toure, the singer-songwriter tropes of Rokia Traore and the dusted, acoustic meditations of Tinariwen (on their most recent album) are a demonstration of this point. Even the later albums of the once exuberant Salif Keita have grown more melancholy and ethereal. The music of Ben Zabo is a clear break from this quietude. His music is a string of firecrackers igniting on the dance floor of a midnight party. It is a music that has been perfected in the loud, sweaty, open-air clubs that line the outskirts of Bamako, places where the competition to get heard is fierce, and the chances of moving upward and outward are next to none.
When I first came across Ben’s music it seemed unlike any contemporary Malian music that I had heard. Its direct physicality, its polyrhythmic complexity and its raw but focused energy set it apart. But as I dug more into Mali’s musical past, I realised there are antecedents for the music Ben and his band create.
In the 70’s and 80’s, like in much of Africa, musicians in Mali were creating a powerful, and at times edgy musical fusion that brought together traditional rhythms and chants with the urban (and often western) sounds of the fast growing cities. Electric guitars and James Brown motifs stood side by side with age-old storytelling. It was a music made out of a complex dialogue: the village reaching to the city and the city reaching to the village. And while it would be too simplistic to gather all such music under one name, due to Fela Kuti’s pan-continental influence and his coinage of the term, much of this music came to be known as Afro-beat. In Mali, during that fertile time, artists like Moussa Doumbia, Le Super Djata Band du Mali, Super Biton de Segou, and Sory Bamba and his many groups (especially L’Orchestre Kanaga de Mopti) were articulate, original purveyors of this cutting-edge musical experiment. Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I once asked Ben Zabo if he had ever listened to Afro-beat and its Malian offshoots. His face lit up and his answer was quick and to the point. “I have listened to too much Afro-beat!” he said, grinning. He went on to acknowledge the deep debt he felt towards the musicians (of all stripes) that have come before him. On another occasion Ben proudly told me that his Malian “Afro-beat” forbearers Super Biton de Segou and L’Orchestre Kanaga de Mopti, had both incorporated the unique Bwa rhythms from Ben’s own minority ethnic group, the Bo people, into some of their classic songs, even though those artists were from a different ethnic background.
With the release of Ben Zabo’s self-titled album an older tradition is renewed and an uncharted path begins. Mali’s Afro-beat past is fused with the pulse of Bamako in the new millennium and the rarely heard sounds from the Bo musical culture. This album is the first album ever to be released by a Malian of Bo descent. Because of this, Ben routinely refers to him and his band as “musical warriors.” In this chaotic and often indifferent world, they are fighting to have their voices heard, their rhythms felt and their cultural legacy recognised. They are funky, charismatic and committed. They are not going to give up easily.
Bwa power has arrived!”


What is Bwa power?

Ben Zabo and his band have a mission which they intend to accomplish through their music. It is to promote their Bo culture at a national, African and international level with music, dance and Bwa traditional apparel. The name “Ben Zabo” means “son of Bo and Bambara” in Bomu etymology, evoking his belonging to the double cultural identity Bambara and Bo. While perpetuating the traditions of his native Bwatun, Ben Zabo developed a mixed style of rhythms and melodies of Bwa in which one can detect sounds and influences from other modern and western musical styles: Afrobeat, funk, reggae, blues, rock and even jazz. With modern instruments and musical arrangements that highlight his intimate songs, his music is also enriched with Malian instruments such as balafon, tama and the ara’o bara, etc.

Ben Zabo’s songs are mostly written and sung in Bomu, his mother tongue. The Bwa are an ethnic minority group living in a small territory called Bwatun (Bwa country), which straddles the border between Mali and Burkina Faso. The Bwa of Mali occupy the area southeast of the Segou region, specially encircling San Tominian and serves approximately 216,000 people. The rhythm of the music of Ben Zabo encourages dancing. It is both an expression and assertion of cultural identity. It is also the voice and form of a social conscience and ethical pride.

In his compositions, Ben Zabo develops themes relating to social values such as brotherly love, peace, justice, tolerance, solidarity, work and good governance. All of those are for him sustainable human development factors, which remain the only guarantee of integrity and social cohesion.

At the same time he strongly denounces greed, hypocrisy, discrimination and demagoguery, the principal evils which undermine the stability of our society and deprive some citizens of freedom, dignity and well-being. On the political front, Ben Zabo encourages all African countries, especially Mali, to become more involved in a true democracy and freedom of people. That every individual and every people have an inalienable right to speak and the sovereign decision of their own destiny.

For women, they are not forgotten in the songs of Ben Zabo: a tribute to them is made – to all the mothers of the world – for the suffering they endure while giving birth. He also writes about their beauty, bravery, love, charm and tenderness.


Ben Zabo are:

Ben Zabo (Arouna Moussa Coulibaly) – lead vocal, guitar
Siméon Diarra – bass
Soboua Dieudonné Koïta – lead guitar
Jean Diarra – drums
Kassim Keita – percussion, balafon
Yodé Nepehi Richard – saxophone
Virginie Dembélé – vocals
Patricia Koïta – vocals



Ben Zabo • Démocratie

1 Démocratie
2 Dana (Harmonius Thelonius Meets Ben Zabo)
3 Wari Vo Dubwise (Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo)
4 Dana Dubwise (Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo)
5 Na Yafa (Tamana Dub) (Studio Zuma Meets Ben Zabo)
6 Coup de Gueule

Following the slamming success of his first European tour, Malian Afro-rock pioneer Ben Zabo returns with a 31-minute digital-only EP. Diverse and forward-looking the EP includes three new songs, both “Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo” mixes (only available till now on an out-of-print 12″) and a dance-floor heavy reworking of “Dana” by Harmonius Thelonius. The horn-driven title track “Democratie” is a breathless and passionate plea for sensible democratic leadership in Ben’s troubled homeland Mali. Ben’s much-awaited new album will appear in the spring of 2014.


Black Mango

Side A: Naked Venus
Side B: Soft Kicks

A mysterious two-song release, licensed directly from a group of Bamako musicians who, with the exception of the Souku master Zoumana Tereta, choose to remain anonymous.

In the last years, the political turmoil in Mali has caused many of the cities clubs to shutdown and dried up other sources of musician income like weddings and festivals. With less work and more downtime, small recording projects like this one have been given more of a chance to happen. The situation continues to be desperate, but the music remains a powerful force: both a refuge and a medicine.

These two Black Mango tracks are ethereal, hard to classify artifacts, seemingly influenced in equal parts by Ali Farka Toure and Lou Reed. In fact, the titles of the songs name check compositions by the recently passed Rock & Roll legend, though they are clearly not cover versions, as much as explorations on themes. The backstory of how and why these two tracks came into being remains untold, and we are left to purely enjoy them as moments captured.

The one credited musician Zoumana Tereta is a legend of Malian music, having played his Sokou, a single-string, horse-hair violin, on albums by Oumou Sangare, Bassekou Kouyate, Samba Toure, the National Ensemble Instrumental du Mali and many others.

We can only hope that this is not the last musical transmission we will hear from Black Mango.


Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo • Wari Vo Dubwise / Dana Dubwise

01 Wari Vo Dubwise
02 Dana Dubwise


The debut release by Glitterbeat Records is a limited edition 12” with two dubbed-up remixes by electronic music explorer, Mark Ernestus. The tracks are pulled from Glitterbeat artist, Ben Zabo’s self-titled and highly touted, 2012 debut album of frenetic, Malian Afro-rock.

Mark Ernestus’s influence on the last twenty years of electronic music is well established. With partner Moritz von Oswald, Ernestus spearheaded two legendary projects: the minimal techno pulse of Basic Channel and the avant-roots-dub of Rhythm and Sound. Since the mid-2000’s Mark has increasingly focused on African music. In addition to his remixes for Konono no.1, Tony Allen and the South African electro group BBC, Mark dropped two 12”s last year made in collaboration with the Senegalese band Jeri-Jeri.

“Mark Ernestus is the genetic engineer behind the Techno sound that has become the European heartbeatthe music remains ageless…”
The Wire/February 2010

Ben Zabo on the other hand, is a relatively new name. Belonging to the Bwa ethnic group, a culture whose musical traditions are more poly-rhythmic and energetic than most Malian music, Zabo released his first album in May of 2012. Backed by a full-throttle 7-piece band, Zabo’s music pleads for love and justice while barnstorming the dancefloor. The album ended-up on several African music year-end top-ten lists and was widely reviewed and widely hailed:

“This fantastic debut by a new name from Malihas all the intensity of Africa 70 or Ok Jazza triumph.”

By paring down Zabo’s tracks to their rhythmic, hypnotic essentials, Ernestus has created an inspired soundscape. These “dubwise” mixes somehow succeed in feeling both organic and reinvented. They are not dogmatic; they are a real-time conversation between two music-makers adept at stretching and morphing boundaries. They are tracks that completely live up to their name: Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo.


 Tamikrest • Chatma

01. Tisnant an Chatma
02. Imanin bas zihoun
03. Itous
04. Achaka Achail Aynaian daghchilan
05. Djanegh etoumast
06. Assikal
07. Toumast anlet
08. Takma
09. Adounia tabarat
10. Timtar


Tamikrests’s new album “Chatma”, their third, deftly navigates these experiences and fashions them into a fully persuasive and poetic musical document. The album is filled with sober reflection, moral indignation, musical experimentation, cultural celebration and the kick of rock and roll.

“Chatma” is also Tamikrest’s first album to be wholly written around a defined theme. In Tamashek “Chatma” means “Sisters” and the band has dedicated the album in their own words to: “the courage of the Tuareg women, who have ensured both their children’s survival and the morals of their fathers and brothers.”
The opening track “Tisnant an Chatma (The suffering of my sisters)” is a heartbreaking homage: «Who can estimate the
suffering felt by the soul / of one who sees her sisters exhausted from waiting/ of one who sees her sisters exhausted from
waiting between countries, in deep distress /and daily oppression?«

Fittingly for an album so lyrically evocative, “Chatma“ also delivers Tamikrest’s most wide-screen and wide-ranging sonic statement to date. The infectious, sing-along rock stylings of “Imanin bas zihoun“, the acoustic seduction of “Adounia tabarat”, the Pink Floyd influenced montage “Assikal” and the lush, melancholy ambiance of the albums finale, “Timtar”, all add up to a sustained audio adventure. Echoes of dub, blues, psychedelia, funk and even art-rock are seamlessly weaved by Tamikrest into their increasingly individual take on the Tuareg musical tradition.
And on an album where the title translates as “Sisters”, it makes perfect sense that this time around we hear the full emergence of
the haunting voice of female vocalist Wonou Walet Sidati in tandem with lead vocalist Ousmane Ag Mossa. A new guitarist, Paul Salvagnac has also joined the band, bringing with him fresh textures and possibilities.


Tamikrest • Toumastin

1. Tizarate
2. Fassous Tarahnet
3. Nak Amadjar Nidounia
4. Aratan N Tinariwen
5. Ayitma Madjam
6. Aidjan Adaky
7. Addektegh
8. Tarhamanine Assinegh
9. Nak Akaline Tinza (Tinzaouatene)
10. Tidit
11. Dihad Tedoun Itran


Music always is a borderline experience. Especially when not only stylistically boundaries are shifting, but the centres of musical creativity are moving.

It certainly would be an exaggeration to state that cities like London and New York, Manchester and Los Angeles have played itself out, but certain symptoms of fatigue are visible in the steady process of looking for ‘the next big thing’. So it is a breath of fresh air that a country like Mali is offering new musical possibilities. Mali-based pop stars like Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Habib Koité or Tinariwen, just like the legend of Desert Blues, the late Ali Farka Touré, have moved beyond the boundaries of just World Music fans. Mali is a huge West African country that combines various languages and cultures, different races and traditions. If one hears music with open ears, one can’t ignore Mali.

But there are not only the big stars that have proved themselves in Europe and the United States – more and more new bands are making themselves known. One of the young and upcoming bands is Tamikrest, who are about to release their second album called “Toumastin”. Their debut album “Adagh” already generated a buzz throughout the world and was met with enthusiam from fans and critics alike who agreed that these young musicians are focusing the rebellious power of rock music in their own special way.

Tamikrest are from Kidal, a remote desert town in the northwest of the Sahara, some 2,000 kilometres north of the capital Bamako. The band members are all Tuaregs, a group of people that is spread all over North and some of West Africa, i.e. Niger, Mali, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. In ancient times the Tuareg were the proud rulers of the Sahara, but their territory was divided in different countries and they had to fight long and hard for independence. Between 1990 and 1995 this fight evolved into a bloody civil war.

After the war many of the rebel fighters traded the Kalashnikovs and hand grenades for guitars and microphones. The band Tinariwen is the most prominent example for the unusual establishment of peace through the spirit of music. But their mission is carried further in their songs. The members of Tamikrest are substantially younger than Tinariwen’s and they have not actively fought in the war, but there is a close resemblance between both bands. Just like Tinariwen Tamikrest have found a way to translate the pulse of the Blues – whose roots lie in North Africa – back to the Tuareg language Tamaschek.  They take generators deep into the desert to have electricity for their guitars in search for the perfect synthesis of their traditional ritual drumming with the music of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley.

Tamikrest’s leader Ousmane Ag Mossa is quick to admit his influences: “When I was young I listened to a lot of traditional Tuareg music as well as Tinariwen. There was no other music. I started to learn the guitar around that time and it was only in 2000 that I had access to cassettes of Bob Marley and Dire Straits. That changed my musical vision completely and I stopped to classify music. Music is just music, no matter where it comes from. Music is just too big for me to comprehend in its entirety. My goal is to broaden my horizon step by step.”

Tamikrest are on a trip into the infinite world of music. When the band was founded in 2006 they had a hard time getting exposure in their homeland as it proved to be difficult for music with ancient traditions in a country that is flooded with Western-influenced hip-hop and pop. Things changed abruptly when they played the Festival Au Desert in 2008 and met with the American/Australian band Dirtmusic made up of Chris Eckman (Walkabouts), Chris Brokaw (Come) and Hugo Race (Hugo Race & True Spirit). Ousmane talks about the fateful meeting: “We jammed in tents, open air in the desert sand and on stage. This has extended my musical knowledge tremendously and from that point on I played my guitar in a different way. Through Dirtmusic we had the chance to work in a professional studio for the first time. There was no way had we would let that opportunity pass, so we travelled the long way from Kidal to Bamako.”

With their second album “Toumastin” the young Tuareg rebels create their own universe using even brighter colours. The enchanted ancient mystique of the songs captures the ear immediately, but as the music carries on the band bridges the gap between the African Blues and hypnotic dub, psychedelic funk and an almost supernatural kind of desert garage. The guitars are more offensive, the groove deepens and the Tamaschek chants are merging with the meandering guitar riffs like a caravan voyage through ancient times.  Tamikrest are ready to embrace the future while proudly maintaining the rich tradition of their folk.


 Tamikrest Adagh

01. Outamachek 3:25
02. Aicha 3:19
03. Amidini 4:17
04. Tamiditin 3:40
05. Aratane 5:12
06. Tidite Tille 3:53
07. Tahoult 4:14
08. Alhoriya 3:28
09. Ahar 3:09
10. Adounia Mahegagh 3:32
11. Toumastin 4:24

As far as I’m concerned, it’s Tinariwen who created the path,” declares Ousmane Ag Mossa, frizzy-locked leader of Tamikrest, in a pre-emptive strike against a thousand inevitable questions. “But the way I see it, if younger bands don’t come through, then Touareg music will eventually die. They created the path and now it’s up to us to walk down it and create the future.”

Ousmane was born twenty-seven years ago in a village called Tin-Zaouaten, a solitary speck squeezed up against Mali’s northeastern border with Algeria. It’s a remote marginal place.   Or to put it another way: there’s distant, there’s remote and beyond both of those there’s Tin-Zaouaten.

To an outsider, the village would appear to be nothing more than a motley collection of one storey adobe and breeze-block houses, huddling together for protection against the burning sun, the black rocky hills and the lonely immensity of the surrounding desert.   But to Ousmane, it’s home.

Like its ‘neighbour’ Tessalit, two hundred and fifty kilometres to the west, Tin-Zaouaten is blessed with a water table that lurks benignly just below the surface of the gritty soil. Dig a few metres and you can usually find water in abundance.   That’s why Tin-Zaouaten, or ‘Tinza’ for short, is famed in the desert for its gardens and garden produce. Ousmane’s father Mossa was born a nomad out in the bush, but by the time Ousmane arrived he had settled in Tinza, making a living from growing onions, beetroot, carrots and dates, and selling them in the local markets.

In 1985 drought shook desert life to its core.   The rains had failed for several seasons and the village was haunted by famine.   “I was born in a time of calamity,” says Ousmane. “In the middle of dreadful events for the Touareg people. My parents knew so much hardship. Then when I was five years old the rebellion broke out. It was 1990, the year of war. I was a child, and I used to hide in amongst the rocks with the other women and children, just a few kilometres north of the village over the Algerian border. When I think of that time, it’s as if it’s all still happening in front of me.”

Thus Ousmane’s childhood was buffeted by the searing winds of recent Touareg history.   The droughts of ‘68 to ’74 almost destroyed the animal herds and with them the ancient nomadic way of life of the Touareg.   The drought of ’84 to ’85 almost dealt the final blow.   Thousands of young men fled into exile in Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso and beyond. That’s where the modern Touareg guitar style of music was born and then nourished by anger, homesickness, frustration and dreams of a better life.   It was this generation of Touareg men, known as the ishumar, who returned to Mali and Niger in 1990 to rebel against the callousness, corruption and arrogance of the governments in the distant capitals of Bamako and Niamey.

At first Ousmane just listened to traditional Touareg music at home, and the newer guitar music on battered old cassettes. “I well remember hearing my first Tinariwen songs. I was about five. After the death of my mother, my father was obliged to take me to live with my grown-up sister. One morning I was sitting in front of the house and this guy walked by singing a song by Inteyeden called ‘Imidiwan Kel Hoggar’ (‘My Friends the Hoggar People’). It went straight into my brainha ha ha.”

A few years later Ousmane began to play the guitar himself, and write songs. He was attending a school in Tinza called Les Enfants de l’Adrar, set up by a French NGO and a local man turned community leader called Hama Ag Sid Ahmed.   At the end of every school year the children would create and perform musical plays about pressing themes like ignorance, drought, education and culture.

Hama bought the school an acoustic guitar, and Ousmane adopted the instrument. With his constant friend Cheikh Ag Tiglia, he would write songs and perform them at the school shows. He learned the Tamashek guitar style by listening to a particular cassette which Tinariwen’s leader Ibrahim ‘Abaraybone’ had recorded in Algeria back in 1998.

In 2002, events once again undermined the tenuous calm and stability in Tinza. The village was home to one of the southern desert’s most infamous freedom fighters and warlords, Ibrahim Ag Bahanga.   For this reason it became a military no-go zone.   Ousmane’s father left to live with his eldest sons in Libya, and both Ousmane and Cheikh went south to Kidal

Kidal is the capital of the far north east of Mali, a region known as the Adagh des Iforas (‘The Mountains of the clan Iforas’).   With its wide sandy streets and dispersed one storey earthen houses, Kidal has the feel of a frontier town.   For the Adagh Touareg, it’s where it all happens.

Ousmane and Cheikh played the guitar and sang in hidden corners of Kidal, around a fire, drinking bittersweet Touareg tea with their friends.   Their reputations grew very slowly, steadily, without wild leaps or fanfares. After a while they heard that a local cultural centre called the DDRK or ‘Maison du Luxembourg’, founded by the Duchess of Luxembourg who had fallen in love with the town when she visited it in 2001, was offering music classes.   The teacher turned out to be Juhan Ecaré, a musician from Ivory Coast.

Then this French theatre troupe called La Calma arrived in town and enrolled over fifty young people to perform a massive theatre piece featuring sketches about a host of local issues. It went down a storm in January 2006 at a local festival called ‘The Saharan Nights of Essouk’.   Although Ousmane didn’t take part in the project, claiming disinterest in theatre (“I’m a musiciantheatre’s not my thing”), Cheikh went along and played with a local percussionist called Aghaly Ag Mohammedine and a bass player called Ibrahim Ahmed, aka ‘Pinnochio’ or ‘Pino’ for short.

On their return, Pino proposed that they form a proper band and record a demo at a small studio, which had been set up at the Maison du Luxembourg.   They also decided that they needed a name, and agreed on ‘Tamikrest’, which means the knot, the junction, the coalition, in Tamashek, the language of Touareg.   “Each of us came from a different place, a different zone,” explains Ousmane. “Cheikh and I from Tinza. Aghaly and Mossa Maiga from Kidal. Pino from Gao. But we found each other and we had the same ideas, the same intentions. We were like a coalition.”

On the 23rd May 2006, the army garrison in Kidal was attacked by a new Touareg rebel movement called the Alliance Démocratique pour le Changement (ADC). “It was a hard time for me,” remembers Ousmane. “I woke up early that morning and discovered that the town had turned into a nightmare.   Those who wanted to join the rebels had already done so. But, in general, that wasn’t the choice of me and my friends. Because we’d never been in the army. We were musicians, not people who carry arms.”

By the end of the year a fragile peace had been restored, although Tinza’s recalcitrant son Ibrahim Ag Bahanga refused to compromise and remained on the run with his own splinter militia. Tamikrest performed at the peace Forum in March 2007, when the Touareg rebels met with the Malian government and thousands of community representatives in Kidal to map out a way forward.

The group were developing their style and their fan base, which consisted mainly of Kidal’s younger generation.   They knew the Tamashek guitar style intimately, but they were also deeply into rap, metal, Maghrebi pop and afro-disco music from Ivory Coast. They had new tastes, new desires, new ambitions and Tamikrest was their band.

Pino was quite a mover and shaker. In late 2007 he contacted Manny Ansar, the director of the now world-famous Festival in the Desert and clinched a gig for Tamikrest. The band found the money to transport themselves the 600 miles eastward to Timbuktu.   In the silky dunes of Essakane they met Dirtmusic, a group of rock’n’roll veterans from the USA and Australia.   It was one of those meetings fashioned by fate in the workshops of destiny.

Chris Eckman of Dirtmusic remembers the meeting thus: “On our first morning in Essakane we woke up hearing music, so we went across the sand to the tent opposite ours and that’s where Tamikrest was playing. Chris Brokaw grabbed his dobro and headed over, then Hugo and I eventually did the same and basically for three days we didn’t leave.”

Once again music overflew all barriers of language, culture, style, shyness and reticence. The friendship formed at Essakane grew in the following months and lead to an invitation by Dirtmusic to come to the Malian capital Bamako to make an album, and contribute to Dirtmusic’s own oeuvre.   After another epic journey of 1,200 miles, by car and bus, Ousmane, Aghaly and crew entered their first professional studio and ‘Adagh’ was born.

“It felt very natural to play with Dirtmusic,” asserts Ousmane. “I’ve always appreciated all kinds of different music and it was such a pleasure to play with a different kind of band. Music isn’t something you study; it’s something you learn with your ears. I’d been listening and playing along to Bob Marley, to Marc Knopfler and Dire Straits, to Tinariwen for years. We’d been listening to so much international music and that’s why the marriage with Dirtmusic worked.”

The end of 2009 finds Tamikrest on the cusp of the world and the next chapter in their great adventure. “This opportunity to go to Europe feels like a big responsibility,” says Ousmane. “I feel like someone who’s done this exam and is now waiting for the result.   We’ve already achieved quite a bit, but the hardest is still ahead.”

One thing is certain: Ousmane is clear about the band’s mission.   “The situation of the Touareg is very difficult right now,” he declares. “Even before I played the guitar and started recording, I had this ambition to be a lawyer or you might say, an ‘advocate’. I wanted to be capable of expressing the hurt I felt in my heart, and speak out about the situation, even at the United Nations. Because we’re a people who don’t have journalists, we don’t have advocates.   But it was only later that I realised that a musician can play that role.”

“What is the weakest part of any nation or people? It’s ignorance. We are stuck in our ignorance. I see the world changing, racing ahead, and leaving us behind. And the only thing that is holding us back is our ignorance.   As artists, it’s our duty to make our problems known to the world, to sing songs about the nomadic life, about our traditions and culture. But above all, revolutionary songs, about what we see, about what the government is doing to our people, which makes no sense to me.”

There it isTamikrest, the knot, the coalition, the future.

Andy Morgan


Jon Hassell / Brian Eno • Fourth World Vol.1 : Possible Musics

01. Chemistry 6:50
02. Delta Rain Dream 3:26
03. Griot (Over “Contagious Magic”) 4:00
04. Ba-Benzélé 6:15
05. Rising Thermal 14° 16′ N; 32° 28′ E 3:05
06. Charm (Over “Burundi Cloud”) 21:29

“Jon Hassell invented the term “Fourth World” both to describe his music and as a general term applicable to other global-minded work. This evokes the optimistic notion of a trans-cultural harmony beyond the divisions and competitiveness we are now part of, and preparing us how to deal with it joyfully rather than defensively. I am reminded of Thomas Mann’s statement: ‘Art is to the community as the dream is to the individual.’ Hopefully Jon Hassell’s dream will prove to be prophetic.” — Brian Eno

Originally released in 1980, Jon Hassell and Brian Eno’s collaborative album “Fourth World Music Vol.I: Possible Musics” is a sound document whose ongoing influence seems beyond dispute. Not only is the album a defining moment in the development of what Eno coined as “Ambient Music” but it also facilitated the introduction of Hassell’s “Future Primitive” trumpet stylings and visionary “Fourth World” musical theories to the broader public. These vectors continue to enrich contemporary audio culture. Eno’s Ambient strategies are now fixed in the DNA of electronic music and the cross-cultural legacy of Hassell’s “Fourth World” concept is apparent not only in the marketplace genre “World Music” but also more persuasively in the accelerating number of digitally driven, borderless musical fusions we now experience.

Brian Eno has been an essential fixture of both experimental and popular music since the 1970’s: An art school education; early success as an androgynous synthesizer interventionist with Roxy Music; a run of influential vocal-oriented solo records; the embrace of the term “ambient music” and the application of it to increasingly discreet and oblique electronic instrumental albums; seminal collaborations with David Bowie, The Talking Heads, Robert Fripp and Krautrock pioneers Cluster; and by the mid-80’s chart-topping marquee productions for the Irish rock band U2.

Jon Hassell’s musical journey, while more obscured from the cultural mainstream, is every bit as storied and individual as Eno’s. A childhood in Memphis; a classical conservatory education studying the trumpet; composition and electronic music study with Stockhausen in Cologne; a passage through the New York minimalist sphere with Terry Riley, Lamonte Young and Phillip Glass; a singular and radicalized approach to the trumpet developed after a mentorship with the Indian vocal master Pandit Pran Nath; collaborative excursions with The Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian, Bjork and Ry Cooder; an ongoing questioning of the dichotomies between North and South, sacred and sensual, primitive and futurist.

In an exclusive interview for the reissue liner notes, Hassell sized up his lifetime of musical experiences: “Without overstating it too much I don’t know who else has had the kind of experience that I’ve had in various kinds of music.”

These cross-pollinating influences and pan-cultural musical educations led Hassell to seek sonic solutions outside of the didactics of western music. The result of this search was the gradual development of musical concepts and gestures that he grouped under the umbrella theory: “Fourth World.” In a 1997 interview he describes the genesis of these ideas:

“I wanted the mental and geographical landscapes to be more indeterminate- not Indonesia, not Africa, not this or thatsomething that COULD HAVE existed if things were in an imaginary culture, growing up in an imaginary place with this imaginary musicI called it ‘coffee-colored classical music of the future’What would music be like if ‘classic’ had not been defined as what happened in Central Europe two hundred years ago. What if the world knew Javanese music and Pygmy music and Aborigine music? What would ‘classical music’ sound like then?”

By the time that Eno and Hassell met, Hassell’s experiments with a “Fourth World” musical vocabulary were well underway and in fact it was because of these experiments, particularly Hassell’s debut album “Vernal Equinox” that Brian Eno purposefully sought him out. Eno remembers:

“This record (Vernal Equinox) fascinated me. It was a dreamy, strange, meditative music that was inflected by Indian, African and South American music, but also seemed located in the lineage of tonal minimalism. It was a music I felt I’d been waiting for.”

Hassell picks up the story of their actual first meeting: “Brian came to a concert that I was doing at The Kitchen, an avant-garde performance space in New York at that time (1980), and I called it “Fourth World” something or the otherhe came up after the concert and introduced himself and said, “you know we should do something together.” So that’s how we met and we had a period of socializing and my introducing him to the things I was into, the musical things that I was into like the Ocora label and a lot of great ethnic music and recordings…”

Within a couple of months of Hassell’s performance at The Kitchen the duo entered Celestial Sound in New York City and began work on what would become “Fourth World Music Vol.I: Possible Musics.” Hassell invited previous collaborators like the Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos and the Senegalese drummer Ayibe Dieng to join the sessions. Most of the tracks carry a Hassell/Eno writing credit, though the 20-minute “Charm (Over ‘Burundi Cloud’)” was a carry over from Hassell’s concert repertoire. Hassell has made it clear in several interviews over the years that the album’s shared billing was at least partly inaccurate and that Eno’s contribution was mainly as a producer. In August of 2014 he offered these thoughts:

“He (Eno) had assumed that it was going to be a producer credit, you know on the cover, and I was thinking “gee I would really like to make some money off of this” and he was very, very popular at the time and his name meant a lot, so I said I’ll be first, it’ll be “Jon Hassell” slash “Brian Eno.” And that would help the sales… his contributions were in bringing the art school mind to the studio as in like “what would happen if we did this” right? For instance turning the tape over and getting the backwards echo…”

While Brian Eno has never commented publicly on the issue, a 2007 article he wrote for The Guardian, entitled “The debt I owe to Jon Hassell” makes it clear that he considered Hassell an influential mentor.
More spiky, angular and steeped in rhythm and exoticism than most of Eno’s records and more drone based, reflective and sonorous than most of Hassell’s outings, “Possible Musics”– whatever the actual division of labor in sound and concept – is a seminal highlight in both of their discographies. A meeting of two of the late 20th centuries most restless and prescient musicians, the album sounds as beguiling, indeterminate and other worldly today as it did 34 years ago when it was originally released.

The impact of “Possible Musics” on the contemporary music conversation was almost immediate. Just ten days after it was mastered Brian Eno and David Byrne convened in Los Angeles to continue experiments inspired in part by Hassell’s musical theories. The resultant album would be called “My Life in the Bush Of Ghosts.” All parties involved agree that “Ghosts” was originally conceived as a trio project that included Hassell but the idea fell apart over disagreements about logistics and musical direction. Hassell still remains bitter about what he considers the projects un-credited appropriation of his musical signatures. From there it was a short jump forward to the chart-topping, afro-futurism of The Talking Heads “Remain In Light,” an album that Eno co-produced and Hassell guested on.

“Fourth World” strategies have echoed, and can still be heard echoing in the music of Peter Gabriel (WOMAD & Real World), Nils Petter Molvaer, Bjork, David Sylvian, David Byrne (Luaka Bop), Ryuichi Sakamoto, Damon Albarn (“Mali Music”& Africa Express), DJ Spooky, Jah Wobble, Matmos, 23 Skidoo, Goat, Bill Laswell, Mark Ernestus, Adrian Sherwood (African Headcharge) and of course the ongoing projects of Eno and Hassell themselves.

Brian Eno offers this: “I owe a lot to Jon. Actually, a lot of people owe a lot to Jon. He has planted a strong and fertile seed whose fruits are still being gathered.”

Jon Hassell & Brian Eno: Fourth World Music Vol. I: Possible Musics: Glitterbeat is proud and honored to re-release and re-introduce this compelling, groundbreaking album.



Glitterbeat: Dubs & Versions I

01.Dennis Bovell: Ayé Go Mila Dubwize
02.Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo: Danna Dubwise
03.Schneider TM: Be Ki Don (Cockpit Dub)
04.Nozinja: Tamala (Nozinja Version)
05. Harmonious Thelonious: Danna (healing-remix)
06. Dennis Bovell: Itous Dubwize
07.Larry Achiampong: Back Talk
08.Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo: Wari Vo Dubwise
09.Mark Stewart: Smokin’ Bowl (Redemption Remix)
10.Studio Zuma: Na Yafa (Tamana Dub)


The Artists:

Track #1:

Mix – Dennis Bovell: Aye Go Mila Dubwize. One of the most revered dub and reggae producers, Dennis has been making his mark on contemporary music for over 40 years. Born in Barbados, Bovell moved to south London at the age of 12 and became deeply immersed in the emerging roots, lovers rock and soundsystem cultures. He spearheaded seminal British reggae acts like Linton Kwesi Johnson and Matumbi and was also notably involved in the late 70’s post-punk scene as producer for The Slits, The Pop Group and Orange Juice. In 2012, Dennis released the dub collection Mek It Run.

Original – Samba Toure: Aye Go Mila (Album: “Albala” / May 2013). Samba is a legend of northern Malian music. As a member of the touring ensembles for both Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate, Samba gained musical experience and perspective that he brought together famously on his acclaimed third album Albala. A meditation on Mali’s humanitarian and political crisis, Folk Roots wrote that Albala “is a record full of passion, eloquence and incredible music.”


Track #2:

Mix – Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo: Danna Dubwise. Mark Ernestus’ influence on the last twenty years of electronic music is well established. With partner Moritz von Oswald, Ernestus founded two legendary projects: the minimal techno pulse of Basic Channel and the avant-roots-dub of Rhythm and Sound. Since the mid-2000’s Mark has increasingly focused on African music. In addition to his remixes for Konono no.1, Tony Allen and the South African electro group BBC, Mark dropped two fantastic albums last year made in collaboration with the Senegalese band Jeri-Jeri.

Original – Ben Zabo: Danna (album: “Ben Zabo” / May 2012). Belonging to the Bwa ethnic group, a culture whose musical traditions are more poly-rhythmic and energetic than most Malian music, Zabo’s debut is the first album ever released by a Bwa band leader. Backed by a full-throttle 7-piece afro-rock band, Zabo’s music pleads for love and justice while barnstorming the dancefloor. The album ended-up on several African music year-end top-ten lists and was widely reviewed and widely hailed: “This fantastic debut by a new name from Malihas all the intensity of Africa 70 or Ok Jazza triumph.”–Mojo ****


Track #3:

Mix – Schneider TM: Be Ki Don (Cockpit Dub). Schneider TM is the multidimensional music project of the Berlin-based musician Dirk Dresselhaus. Starting in 1998, Schneider TM has released three electro-folk albums on City Slang/Mute and a cover version of The Smiths called ‘The Light 3000’ that was highly touted by the late John Peel. Recently Dirk has collaborated with Jochen Arbeit (of Einstürzende Neubauten), Damo Suzuki (Can) and members of Pansonic and Mum. In June 2014, Dirk went on a research trip to Mali and Burkina Faso for Balafo, an intercultural project rooted in West African balafon music.

Original – Samba Toure: Be Ki Don (Album: “Albala” / May 2013). (see #1)


Track #4:

Mix – Nozinja: Tamala (Nozinja Version). Pioneer of the Shangaan Electro genre, Nozinja has spearheaded an Afro-futurist strain of electronic dance music combining kwaito, Tsonga disco, South African house and local folk traditions. Nozinja is arguably today’s premier African electronic musician and he presides over a community of dancers, singers and musicians who he A&Rs, records, produces and releases across South Africa via Nozinja Music. This forward thinking approach has also found a kinship with DJs and producers such as Caribou, The Knife, Actress, and Mark Ernestus. Nozinja was recently signed to the influential Warp Records and will release his first album for the label in autumn of 2014.

Original – Aminata Wassidje Traore: Tamala (Album: “Tamala”/ March 2013). Aminata Wassidjé Traoré is a rising voice in Mali. Tamala is her debut album, recorded in Bamako and originally released in 2009. Born in Diré, near the fabled city of Timbuktu, Aminata was raised within northern Mali’s rich cultural brew. Her music, like the environment that surrounded her growing up, incorporates various cultures and traditions and mixes drum programming and synthesizers with the lute like kurbu and the sokou, a one-string violin. Hints of Hip Hop and electronic dance music sit side by side with the pentatonic sounds of the interior Niger delta.


Track #5:

Mix – Harmonious Thelonious: Danna (healing-remix). Harmonious Thelonious, is the electronic music project of Stefan Schwander (aka Antonelli). Combining the serial structures of American minimalist music with African rhythms and European sequencing the Düsseldorf-based musician creates hypnotic, beat-driven atmospheres that are danceable, challenging, and melodically playful. Besides producing an array of 12-inches, Harmonious Thelonious has released two albums: Talking (2010) and Listen (2012).

Original – Ben Zabo: Danna (album: “Ben Zabo” / May 2012). (see #2)


Track #6:

Mix – Dennis Bovell: Itous Dubwize. (see #1)

Original – Tamikrest: Itous (album: “Chatma” / September 2013). Tamikrest means “crossing” in the language of the Kel Tamashek, a traditionally nomadic Saharan people that are commonly referred to as the Tuaregs. It is an apt description of the band’s internationally renowned music, which fuses traditional melodies and rhythms with echoes of dub, blues, psychedelia, funk and even art-rock. Mojo’s four-star review of Chatma enthused: “a huge leap forwardthis is the desert-blues album for fans of Can and Pink Floyd to sink their teeth into.”


Track #7:

Mix – Larry Achiampong: Back Talk. Larry is a British-Ghanaian performance, visual and musical artist who has internationally exhibited projects at the Tate Britain/Modern, the Documenta in Kassel, and the Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation in Accra, Ghana. He has released two albums of experimental plunderphonics that fuse high life and palm wine samples with abstract hip hop soundscapes: Meh Mogya (2011) and More Mogya (2013).

Original – Lobi Traore: Dibi (album: Bamako Nights/ November 2013.Bamako Nights captures the incendiary genius of Lobi Traoré, a soulful singer/songwriter and blazing electric guitarist of Mali, who died too young – just 49 years old. Lobi produced five studio albums during his career, as well as four live releases, but this album, recorded in 1995 in a small Bamako nightclub,offers the deepest and most intimate record of this artist’s astounding power on stage.


Track #8:

Mix – Mark Ernestus Meets Ben Zabo: Wari Vo Dubwise.(see #2)

Original – Ben Zabo: Wari Vo (album: “Ben Zabo” / May 2012).(see #2)


Track #9:

Mix – Mark Stewart: Smokin’ Bowl (Redemption Remix). Mark Stewart burst onto the British post-punk scene in 1979 as singer and raconteur for the Bristol-based band The Pop Group. Squalling and politically charged the band built its reputation on confrontation and its often violent deconstructions of funk and dub stylings. After the band’s implosion Stewart went on to collaborate with On-U-Sound’s Adrian Sherwood in both the New Age Steppers and Mark Stewart & the Mafia. An influence on artists as diverse as Nick Cave, Skinny Puppy and Fugazi, in 2012, Stewart released The Politics Of Envy featuring Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, The RaincoatsGina Birch, Primal Scream and Clash/PIL guitarist Keith Levene.

Original – Dirtmusic: Smokin’ Bowl (album: BKO/ April 2010).Dirtmusic is an inter-continental ensemble founded by Australian Hugo Race (Fatalists, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and American Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts). Dirtmusic’s encounter at the Festival-au-Desert with the Tuareg band Tamikrest was the catalyst for their second album, BKO(2010), a one-of-a-kind trip through the interzone between ‘western’ and Tamasheq desert rock. Uncut wrote: “BKO is a collection of dusty, yearning songs growled out over a nicely fused acoustic/electric mix… The atmosphere is infectious”


Track #10:

Mix – Studio Zuma: Na Yafa (Tamana Dub). Studio Zuma is the moniker for musician, producer (Tamikrest, Ben Zabo, Lobi Traore) and Glitterbeat co-owner Chris Eckman.

Original – Ben Zabo: Na Yafa. (see #2)



Fofoulah • Fofoulah

1. No Troubles (Kelinte)
Featuring Batch Gueye (vocals), Dan Nicholls (additional keys)

2. Hook Up (Nango Dereh)
Featuring Juldeh Camara (vocals/kologo), Alex Bonney (trumpet)

3. Make Good (Soumala)
Featuring Batch Gueye (vocals)

4. Don’t Let Your Mind Unravel, Safe Travels
Featuring Ghostpoet (vocals)

5. The Clean Up (Rahas)
Featuring Batch Gueye (vocals), Kaw Secka (vocals)

6. Blest (Issaâdiyen)
Featuring Iness Mezel (vocals), Nora Boyer (krakebs), Justin Adams (bendirs)

7. Fighting Chance
Tom Challenger (keyboards), Kaw Secka (sabar), Dave Smith (drums)

8. Reality Rek
Fofoulah with Batch Gueye (vocals), Dan Nicholls (additional keys)

9. Last Orders
Kaw Secka (sabar), Dave Smith (sabar)


UK singer / producer sensation Ghostpoet (courtesy of ‘Play it Again Sam’)


Hanoi Masters • War is a Wound, Peace is a Scar

1. For the Fallen (Phạm Mộng Hải)
2. Help Us in This Life – Hát Văn (Phạm Mộng Hải)
3. Road to Home – Về Quê (Nguyễn Thị Lân).
4. The Wind Blows It Away (Quôć Hùng)
5. I Long to Return to My Hometown – Quê Mẹ (Võ Tuấn Minh).
6. Heroine Song – Hát Hầu Cô Bơ (Xuân Hoạch)
7. Doomed Love – Xẩm Huê Tình (Xuân Hoạch)
8. The Rice Drum – Trống Cơm (Nguyễn Thị Lân).
9. Gratitude – Xẩm Thập Ân (Xuân Hoạch)
10. Please Wait for Me (Quôć Hùng)
11. Taking Your Spirit to the Next World – Hát Lô Hương (Phạm Mộng Hải)


“Hanoi Masters: War is a Wound, Peace is a Scar” is a haunting audio document recorded in the summer of 2014 by Grammy-award winning producer Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, Malawi Mouse Boys, The Good Ones). The sepia-tinged songs are sung and played live and direct by elderly Vietnamese musicians using half-forgotten traditional instruments. These musicians all have deep personal connections to the upheavals of the Vietnam War and the album’s mesmerizing mood navigates the blurred line between raw beauty and sadness.

40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, a war these Hanoi musicians still call the “American War”, the wounds and scars of that era are ever-present. “Hanoi Masters” is an album of cautious healing and an unforgettable meditation on conflict, resistance, collective memory, and the longing for what has been lost.

In the liner notes of the album, producer Ian Brennan discusses the experience of making “Hanoi Masters”:

We had gone to Hanoi to record veterans from their side. Some were music masters, one of whom had joined the army at age thirteen and whose job it was
to sing to the troops to boost morale and provide solace. Another was a former AK-47 issued village leader who had not sung in over forty years, and proved to be the most dead-on vocally. She did not hide or adorn, but quietly revealed muted emotions that a microphone often can detect more easily than face-to-face interaction. Then, immediately afterwards, she withdrew back into a stoic shell.

The streets of Hanoi are an almost direct inversion of western cities, with hordes of scooters displacing and grossly outnumbering cars. The chaotic ballet of riders, sometimes four or five to a single motorcycle, is offset by the reserve of the
riders. Many are masked to ward off pollution and only once was there witnessed even the slightest reaction to all the incessant horns and traffic violations by others.

Those who dismiss Asian music as without an edge, may have simply overlooked the intricacy. With a whammy-bar technology that dates back to the 9th century, it is fair to say that Vietnamese traditions had a bit of a head start over the headbangers of the 1980’s.

A startling revelation was a plucked instrument (the K’ni) that is clasped between the teeth as the local dialectic language is spoken through the
single string. What sounds like an extraterrestrial instrumental to the uninitiated actually contains coded, poetic lyrics. Again, futurist innovators like Theremin, clearly arrived alittle later to the party than commonly claimed.

Let it suffice to say that these artists are a far cry from the lip-synching
karaoke show that we saw on the local cable, with groups of teenagers
cavorting on a soundstage and mouthing the words to K-pop songs—air-Karaoke, if you will—that managed to render something pre-fab even less real.

These elders carry a haunting, but muted sadness that seems only fully revealed through the music that they valiantly keep alive in the face of industrialization, waning regard and interest, and the rapid homogenization and “progress” overtaking their homeland.

—Ian Brennan, producer/engineer “Hanoi Masters”



Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba • Ba Power

1.Siran Fen
2.Musow Fanga
3.Abé Sumaya
4.Ayé Sira Bla
5.Borongoli ma Kununban
7.Fama Magni
8.Te Duniya Laban

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba’s fourth album Ba Power (and his first for Glitterbeat Records) is a striking, career defining record marked by mesmerizing songs, razor-sharp riffs and full-throttle emotions. Following two years of worldwide touring for the much heralded Jama Ko album, Bassekou’s band, Ngoni Ba, has turned up the volume and dynamics significantly and Bassekou’s masterful ngoni playing has achieved a new level of intensity that can only be called: afro-rock. Distortion and wah wah and propulsive rhythms are now the defining backbone of his songs and the heat lightning vocals of his wife Amy Sacko, more than ever serve as the passionate and perfect foil. This is not the same Ngoni Ba. This is indeed: Ba Power.

When asked what Ba Power means to him, Bassekou told us: “Ba”, in Bambara means “strong” or “great” and it also means “group.” I called the album Ba Power because I think the messages on it are very important and strong, and it is also definitely the album with the toughest sound I’ve ever made. I want these songs to grab as many people as possible.”

In the last decade, Bassekou has firmly established himself as not only one of Mali’s, but as one of Africa’s premier global artists. A veteran of hundreds of worldwide concerts including major festival appearances at Glastonbury, Roskilde and WOMAD, Bassekou has also garnered a lengthy list of critical accolades. His debut album Segu Blue (2007) won two BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music (‘Best Album’ and ‘Best African Artist’). The follow-up I Speak Fula (2009) was nominated for a Grammy Award. Jama Ko (2013) was named the Best World Music album in both Mojo magazine and Uncut magazines. The album was also #1 on the 2013 World Music Charts Europe (WMCE), and Songlines Magazine voted Bassekou, ‘Artist Of the Year’ for 2014.

“Kouyaté has updated the dry-gut plucking of the traditional ngoni, adding electric pick-ups, distortion and effects pedals, creating an extraordinary array of sounds from a spindly metallic plinking to a grinding bluesy roar.” The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Without question Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba has revolutionized the sound and narrative possibilities of the ngoni, the lute-like instrument that is essential to Mali’s Griot culture. Griots are esteemed musician/storytellers whose lineage stretches back centuries. Bassekou was born into this resonant tradition but his relationship to it has been anything but static. From the beginning of his career, through his invention of a previously unheard repertoire built around the melodies and rhythms of four interlocking (and at times electric) ngonis, Bassekou has demonstrated his respect for the past by radically pulling it into the future.

The new album Ba Power is arguably the most inspired and fearless step in this process. It is clearly Bassekou’s most outward looking album, an album where he sharpens his view beyond the eclectic sounds of his Malian homeland and directly engages on his own terms with elements of Rock & Roll  (“Siran Fen”), Blues (“Bassekouni”), Jazz (“Ayé Sira Bla”) and other West African musics like Afrobeat (check out the riff on “Waati”).

And where the themes of the songs on Jama Ko often dealt with the internal political crisis in Mali, like the music itself, many of the lyrics on Ba Power focus on the universal and the transformative: “Musow Fanga” (Power of Women”) begins with these lines: Greetings to women all over the world/ Greetings to all African women!/ Being a woman is very important: It is not a meaningless phrase/ Who can say women do not count?

And “Waati” (Time) adopts a worldly, philosophical tone: Be prepared, there is a time for everything: Work in the fields, tending the herds, Be prepared, you have a visitor coming: It is time itself!

Ba Power was recorded in November of 2014 at MBK Studios in Bamako, a studio just down the road from the Kouyaté family home in the hills at the edge of the city. Produced by Chris Eckman (Tamikrest, Aziza Brahim) the album began with Ngoni Ba playing together live in a relaxed, intimate space. The band consists entirely of sons, brothers, nephews and spouses and these family connections and the extensive concert schedule of the past years have given the band an uncanny depth of musical communication. The original sessions were quick, raw and joyful.

But Bassekou didn’t stop there. He made it clear from the beginning of the process that he was eager for the music on the album to intersect with musicians outside of Ngoni Ba, both in Mali and beyond.  He specifically sought out instrumental textures he had either never or rarely used, such as trumpet, electric guitar and a drum kit.

Ba Power’s diverse collaborators include:
+Samba Touré: The legendary Songhai blues guitarist and a fellow Glitterbeat artist. Samba has played with Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté and has released four international albums under his own name. He plays lead guitar on “Fama Magni.”
+Zoumana Tereta: A veteran of all of Bassekou’s albums (plus albums by Oumou Sangare, Lobi Traore & many others) and a legendary master of the Soku, a horsehair, single-string violin. He sings and plays on “Fama Magni.”
+ Adama Yalomba: Within Mali he is a well-known Afro-pop artist and a mainstay on the Bamako club circuit. Sings the lead vocal on “Waati.”
+Dave Smith: Acclaimed drummer for Robert Plant’s current band: The Sensational Space Shifters. He also in a member of JuJu and the bandleader for the Glitterbeat-signed group Fofoulah. Plays drums on four songs including the opening track “Siran Fen.”
+Jon Hassell: A seminal figure from the last 40 years of electronic music, cross-cultural fusion and avant-garde jazz. Hassell coined the musical term “Fourth World Music” and has collaborated with Brian Eno, The Talking Heads, Bjork and Peter Gabriel. In what is a very rare session appearance, he plays trumpet and keyboards on “Ayé Sira Bla.”
+Chris Brokaw: A prolific and influential indie rock guitarist. Currently a member of the Lemonheads, Brokaw has played with Come, the Thurston Moore Band (Sonic Youth) and members of Tortoise and Sunn o))). Plays electric guitar on “Siran Fen” and “Abé Sumaya.”

Ba Power contains all the swagger, precision and wide-eyed excitement that the title implies. It is the album where Bassekou’s music engages with the world in ways he could have only imagined 10 years before. It is the album where he confirms his status amongst the 21st centuries most relevant musical artists.

I think African music and culture deserve to be spread to the broadest audience possible. That is what I want to accomplish with Ba Power.

–Bassekou Kouyaté


Sacri Cuori • Delone

01 Bendigo
02 Una Danza
03 La Marabina
04 Snake Charmer
05 Delone
06 Billy Strange
07 Portami Via
08 Seuls Ensemble
09 Madalena
10 Dancing (on the other side of town)
11 Cagliostro Blues
12 Serge
13 El Comisario
14 Dirsi Addio A Roma

The music of Sacri Cuori is a kaleidoscopic road trip through imaginary 60/70’s soundtrack music and post-folk sonics from Italy, Europa and beyond.

Sacri Cuori only half-jokingly calls themselves the bastard children of Fellini.

Hailing from Romagna, Italy, the band is led by guitarist/producer Antonio Gramentieri and plays (mostly) instrumental, topographical music that mirrors the varied terrain of their experiences whether that be a Rimini beach full of nostalgia and desire or the barrens of the Mojave Desert in the dead of winter.

Their sound palette is defined by a moody, Adriatic twang, falling somewhere between the old time dance music of their native Romagna and Lynch’s Mulholland Drive; between vanished innocence and dark dreams of the future; between Santo & Johnny and Ry Cooder (or Brian Eno).

Of course Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota are also present, as are Riz Ortolani, Piero Piccioni, Piero Umiliani, Armando Trovajoli and other maestros of Italian film music’s golden age.

Over their previous three albums Sacri Cuori have created a sensuous cinematic ouevre that has led them towards live and recorded collaborations with an inspired cast of characters: Calexico’s John Convertino, Dan Stuart (Green on Red), Hugo Race (Bad Seeds, Dirtmusic), Robyn Hitchcock, Italian heroes Vinicio Capossela and Il Pan Del Diavolo. David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, James Chance, PJ Harvey producer John Parish and many others…

In 2014, Sacri Cuori composed and performed the original score for “Zoran – il mio nipote scemo”, a cult movie that received several major awards from the Venice Film Festival. The soundtrack itself was awarded “best soundtrack of the year” at the Est Film Festival.

Delone (de-lone-e)

Delone is the new record by Sacri Cuori.

Delone is a man and a journey.

A journey into the geography of what was once.

A man obsessed with all that might have been.

In every sound and feeling on the album, Italy is the heartbeat.

But this is not the tale of a real Italy.

Delone’s Italy is the patria seen from afar, from the eyes of an expatriate or castaway, a misty Italy, a dream of an older time that tries to find elegance and pride in the impossible anarchy of the troubled present.

Delone’s story is an Italian story always told with a foreign accent, a story imagined on the remote border between joy and melancholy.

The album was crafted over the last two years in a series of sessions where the band consciously stretched the definition of who they are. While still primarily an instrumental affair, the album introduces the resplendent voice of Carla Lippis, the last Italian diva, who Sacri Cuori met in Australia and brought back to her ancestral homeland (and language). She sings in both English and Italian. Other vocalists include French chanteuse Emmanuelle Sigal and Howe Gelb of the famed American cult band Giant Sand.

As always Sacri Cuori is more like an enlarged family than a fixed ensemble and other guests include Evan Lurie (Lounge Lizards & Roberto Benigni’s soundtracks) on keyboards, guitar pioneer Marc Ribot (Tom Waits), Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth on drums and members of the Mexican Cumbia sensations Sonido Gallo Negro.

While certainly beholden throughout to its Italian musical roots, Delone collides in unpredictable ways with a variety of global sound transmissions. The breathless rush of the surf driven opener Bendigo cuts hard to the sultry romanticism of the second song Una Danza, which in turn, slyly gives way to the nostalgic twang of La Marabina. The album flows like this for the rest of its duration, brilliantly touching upon disparate soundworlds that range from the pastoral (Billy Strange) to the cosmopolitan (the Gainsbourg influenced Serge) to the classically pop (Delone).

There is passion and adventure, excitation and sadness. There is a magnificent sense of wonder.

Delone, the man, is in search of his identity, that familiar warmth, a sign that leads him home.

Delone, the album, plays like a treasured notebook full of restless dreams and nostalgic sketches, all of it edited together like a suspenseful, old TV movie.

It’s all here, forever now, forever assured: Sacri Cuori – Delone

Home page: www.sacricuori.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Sacri-Cuor…77217024?fref=ts
Twitter: twitter.com/sacri_cuori



Tamikrest • Taksera

Side A:
1. Tisnant An Chatma           
2. Tamiditin                         
3. Fassous Tarahnet           
4. Itous                  

Side B:
1. Achaka Achail Aynaian Daghchilan             
2. Outamachek                                                   
3. Aratan N Tinariwen                                       
4. Arantane N’ Adagh

“Taksera” (which in Tamashek means ‘a celebration with music’) is a rough and ready live album that is sure to give jolt to Tuareg-rock group Tamikrest’s already heady reputation. Recorded on a summer festival stage during their 2014 “Chatma” tour, the album vividly showcases the visceral and improvisational power of the band. The hypnotic grooves of the songs are blissfully extended, and the band’s signature drive and electric guitar telepathy are pushed up front and center.

The material on “Taksera” visits all three of the band’s acclaimed studio albums and gives a sharply focused argument as to why in the last few years Tamikrest has been one of the most lauded young bands from the African continent. Their 2013 album Chatma reached the #1 position on the World Music Charts Europe and graced year-end “best of” lists at Uncut, Mojo, Les Inrocks and The Quietus. Songlines magazine went even farther and gave them their “Best Group Award” for 2013.

“Taksera” was engineered and mixed by Jean-Paul Romann, who has produced seminal albums by Tuareg music legends Tinariwen and Terakaft. The album was recorded at the Burg Herzberg Festival in Alsfeld, Germany on August 1, 2014.

This RECORD STORE DAY LP is a limited edition pressing of 1500 on 180-gram audiophile vinyl with a gatefold sleeve and download code.

“Taksera” is in every way the celebration that the album title promises. It energetically underlines Tamikrest’s unique cultural mission and their commitment to explore new possibilities for Tuareg music.  It shows a band full of hard-earned confidence and swagger; a band in love with turning up their amps and letting it rip.



Hayvanlar Alemi • Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara

Side A: Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara (2010)

1. Adrasan Dub
2. Quantum Lio
3. Monsoon Circus Dub
4. Süper Fm Dub
5. Early One Morning (Assassinator Dub)
6. Uçarak Geliyorum
7. Şahane Tersane (outro version)

Side B: Selected Visions (2009-2011)

1. Güve Diskosu
2. Pet Şişede Cin Tonik
3. Biz Bir Aileyiz 2011
4. Gökte Güller Açıyor (2015 upgrade)
5. Crossroad Metamorphosis (radio edit)

Formed by three school friends in the Turkish capital of Ankara in 1999, Hayvanlar Alemi have established themselves at the vanguard of global psychedelic sound. Their acclaimed 2010 album Guarana Superpower was released on the buzz-label Sublime Frequencies and showcased the band’s unrepentant eclecticism and wide-eyed cosmic spirit. Interfacing with the golden age of Turkish psychedelic rock, surf music, Cambodian pop, West African guitar motifs, Middle Eastern traditional music and the knife edge of indie rock, it was clear from the beginning that Hayvanlar Alemi was an instrumental rock band for the unfolding millennium.

But in 2010 they also recorded and released (internet only) a dramatically different sort of album. The band had flirted with dub-reggae stylings since their inception and with Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara they at last realized their dream of making a full-blown dub album, though clearly a dub album that also embraced their own agenda. The album includes both covers of the Eek-a-Mouse classic “Assassinator” and a legendary Turkish radio jingle, and blends together re-workings of older Hayvanlar Alemi songs with freshly minted, dubwise improvisations.

Drummer Işık Sarıhan explains the album’s inception this way:
“We were listening to a lot of dub and reggae during the days leading up to this album.  We even ended up playing in a reggae festival at some point; we were invited for some reason, maybe because we had some reggae rhythms on a bunch of songs on the previous demos.  Anyway, we had this fantasy of creating a dub record, but in our own psych-rock fashion which led to Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara.  The title is a reference to the African Head Charge album Vision of a Psychedelic Africa.”

Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara is the flashpoint where dub music and global psych-rock melt together. It is a feast for all well-appointed sonic explorers.

Glitterbeat Records is releasing this album for the first time on vinyl (180gm/gatefold sleeve) in a limited edition of 500.

Side A is the complete Visions of a Psychedelic Ankara (2010) and Side B is a collection of related, unreleased songs and experiments entitled: Selected Visions (2009-2011)




Bixiga 70 • III

01. Ventania
02. Niran
03. 100% 13
04. Di Dancer
05. Machado
06. Martelo
07. Lembe
08. Mil Vidas
09. 7 Pancadas

“The energy and intelligence of the playing are irresistible.” – The Guardian

“A 10-piece orchestra heavy in percussion and horns playing extended jams that always threaten to tear the roof off.” – Sounds and Colours

Five years after their inception, the Sao Paulo based Brazilian group Bixiga 70 continues to travel musically forward, only to find themselves more and more at home.

The band’s aptly named third album, “III”, is a luminescent and energized admixture of Atlantic cultures. The album’s hyper-contemporary dialogue journeys between the sounds and rhythms of Brazil and Africa, and between the band’s ten musicians and their distinctive musical identities. Their collective influences include jazz, funk and Afro-Brazilian music, and stretch further afield into dub and reggae, electronics, cumbia and carimbó, ethio-jazz and samba.

Bixiga 70’s “III” is a breathtaking rhythmic storm where inspired solos, harmony and dynamics, beats and improvisation all mesh together in vital and unpredictable ways. Spanning between a joyous danceability, a sharp sense of humor and committed political reflections, the life-blood of this ten-piece unit is instrumental music, but it is an instrumental music that speaks profoundly.

Self-produced by the band in their own studio in Sao Paulo (and mixed by Victor Rice) all the compositions on “III” are written and arranged by the entire Bixiga 70 collective. There are no liner note details: the process of creation is decentralized and acknowledges the importance of each musician in the room. The album was recorded live in the studio to further assure the depth of this collaborative spirit and to accentuate the intensity of the band’s sonic experiments.

Following the global attention garnered by their previous album 2014’s “Ocupai” (Mais um Discos), Bixiga 70 headed out into the world. Their musical travels to Europe, the USA and Morocco, as well as the many varied regions of Brazil (including the streets of Bixiga) have all left a deep mark on the sounds and visions of the new album

Throughout the nine tracks found on “III”, styles merge and original syncretisms come to life. The album shape shifts contemporary afro-funk, Moroccan cumbia, spiritual jazz, adapted afro-brazilian chants, Cuban blaxploitation, sounds from São Paulo’s Black Rio movement, Arabian dub, Malinké drumming, Angolan guitar music and traditional bamboo fife bands.

There is no doubt that Bixiga 70 is one of the guiding voices of Brazil’s contemporary instrumental music scene and their new album “III” clearly demonstrates why.

They are a band that deftly searches for untracked and thrilling musical spaces to occupy.

And most importantly, they are a band that succeeds in finding them.


The band:

Décio 7 – drums
Rômulo Nardes – percussion
Gustávo Cék – percussion
Marcelo Dworecki – bass
Mauricio Fleury – keyboards & guitar
Cris Scabello – guitar
Cuca Ferreira – baritone sax
Douglas Antunes – trombone
Daniel Nogueira – tenor sax
Daniel Gralha – trumpet



Laraaji • Ambient 3: Day of Radiance

1.The Dance #1
2.The Dance #2
3.The Dance #3
4.Meditation #1
5.Meditation #2

“1980’s Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance – a coruscating wash of zither and autoharp tones, and one of the most ecstatic ambient releases of the decade.”

“The album has a strong Eastern feel reminiscent of Javanese gamelan music, with ringing, percussive string tones and highly repetitive rhythms…Day of Radiance is a hypnotic listen.”
 — Pitchfork

“At once contemplative and joyous…Day Of Radiance established a template for the emerging New Age scene.”
— Uncut

Laraaji’s glistening album “Ambient 3:  Day of Radiance” has from the beginning been considered an outlier. Though widely celebrated at the time of its release in 1980 — as the third installment of Brian Eno’s emerging ambient music series (Ambient 1-4) — the album also brought with it an aura of mystification. Where did it fit in? An uncharted synthesis of resonating zither textures, interlocking, hammered rhythms and 3-D sound treatments (courtesy of Eno) “Day of Radiance” seemed to push open many doors at once, ambient music being only one of them.

In an exclusive interview for Glitterbeat’s reissue of “Day of Radiance” Laraaji commented: Down the line I noticed that this album was sort of separated from the rest of his (Eno’s) ambient albums, and there was some debate whether this was really “ambient” in relationship to the other albums in the ambient series.

Though there are certainly aspects of the album that find sonic common ground with other Eno-related “ambient” projects  (the tracks “Meditation #1 & “Meditation #2” in particular) the album is not easily boxed into a singular genre. “Day of Radiance” also mines the ethereal spiritualism of late 70’s New Age music (of which Laraaji is considered a pioneer), the harmonic and rhythmic repetitions of American classical minimalism (Terry Riley & Steve Reich) and traditional global sounds from India and Java (particularly gamelan music). And while Laraaji never explicitly embraced the “Fourth World” theories of fellow visionary and Eno collaborator Jon Hassell, “Day of Radiance” echoes a kindred exploratory exoticism.

Born Edward Larry Gordon, in Philadelphia in 1943, by the time Laraaji entered a Soho studio in 1980 to record in collaboration with Eno, he had already navigated many musical worlds and creative pursuits. As a child he learned to play violin, piano and trombone and eventually studied composition in Washington, D.C., at Howard University. After college, in the late 60’s, he relocated to New York City, where he took up stand-up comedy and acting, in addition to playing musical gigs. His music was increasingly influenced by both his studies of Eastern spiritualism and the presence of Eastern musical motifs in the Jazz and rock music of the time.  When he entered a pawnshop in the early 70’s, hoping to hock his guitar, he instead listened to an “inner guidance” and traded it for an autoharp, an instrument that he later adapted into a zither (by removing the chord bars) and electrified by using the speaker on a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder. This spontaneous decision brought on a fortuitous shift in Laraaji’s musical direction and led to his chance encounter with Eno several years later.

In the late 70’s Brian Eno — a cult producer/musician, at the time best known for his work with early Roxy Music and a series of idiosyncratic solo albums — had relocated to New York City from London and had begun a period of fertile intersections with musicians in his adopted home. These collaborators included The Talking Heads, Jon Hassell and experimental ensembles from the so-called No Wave scene. Laraaji recounts how him and Eno first crossed paths:

I was playing (zither) in Washington Square Park and I usually play with my eyes closed because I get into meditative trance states that way, and opening my eyes and collecting my little financial reward from that evening, there was a note, on notebook paper – it looked like it had been ripped form somebody’s expensive notebook – there was a note that says “Dear sir, kindly excuse this impromptu piece of message, I was wondering if you would be interested in talking about participating in a recording project I am doing, signed: Brian Eno.”

Laraaji called the phone number on the paper the very next day, and within a few weeks the duo had entered Greene St. Studio in New York and had begun work on the project that became “Day of Radiance.” Eno plied Laraaji in advance with his theories about the content and function of “ambient” music, and the pair reportedly fell naturally into their roles: Laraaji providing the compositions and the playing and Eno providing sound treatments and conceptual commentary. Compared to some Eno projects (“ambient” and otherwise), his sonic footprint is subtle and the transparency of Laraaji’s contribution is retained throughout. The album was completed in two sessions; the first one produced the faster, pulsing “Dance” compositions (side one) and the second session yielded something closer to Eno’s own ambient constructs: slow zither washes and waves with more pronounced sound enhancements (side two). While the album is deceptively simple in its construction, closer listening reveals its extraordinary depth of field and its polymath influences.

The appearance of “Day of Radiance” as part of Eno’s landmark ambient series massively elevated Laraaji’s musical profile. In the years following, while he maintained contact (both personal and musical) with Brian Eno, he delved deeper into projects that fused the ethereal qualities of his music with spiritual studies and teachings. Laraaji describes the purpose of such music this way:

I see music as an environment providing thinking, feeling and imagination, an alternative space, container, within which to behave differently. In the case of music as medicine, such music allows for thinking, feeling and imagery to reconnect to a deeper sense of integration, union, oneness…

Laraaji has experienced a resurgence in recent years, following a renewed interest in outsider new-age music (he appears on last year’s “I Am The Center” compilation on Light In The Attic) and a career spanning compilation (“Celestial Music 1978 – 2011”) and reissue project dedicated to his work by Eno’s All Saints label. Laraaji also continues to interface with other of musicians who have found inspiration in his work: Bill Laswell, Sun Araw, Blues Control, Julia Holter and many others.

He seems more than content with where he finds himself today: I find that people are having a chance to listen to a variety of the music I do and some of their eyes are opening to what they call the more spiritual side and some who thought they just liked the spiritual side are getting in touch with the artistic side, and the adventurous, exploratory side of myself. Young people are showing great interest…and people are asking for my other music and I am happy that “Day of Radiance” is getting back into the picture…

Glitterbeat is extremely proud to reissue Laraaji and Brian Eno’s seminal album “Ambient 3: Day of Radiance.” The album has been re-mastered and includes a lengthy interview with Laraaji. The LP is pressed on 180gm vinyl and is packaged in a gatefold sleeve.




Dennis Bovell • Dub 4 Daze

Side 1
1. Eye Water (D. Bovell/N. Green)
2. Dub Guide (D.Bovell)
3. Zion Dubb (D.Bovell/L.Donaldson)
4. Top Level Dub (D.Bovell/L. Donaldson)
5. Dub Affair (D.Bovell)

Side 2
1.Physics of Dub (A. Ellis)
2. Tumbledown Dub (D.Bovell)
3. Aged Dub (D.Bovell)
4. Jah Dub Man (D.Bovell/E.Campbell)
5. Tuned Dub (D.Bovell)

His contributions to reggae are huge…his dub albums were an inspiration to the likes of Adrian Sherwood and the Mad Professor.
—The Independent (UK)

 Dennis is the most important person in UK reggae…a legend.
—Adrian Sherwood

 It’s not entirely hyperbole to state that reggae in the United Kingdom wouldn’t exist without Dennis Bovell…Bovell’s contributions to the genre are immeasurable.
—Afropop Worldwide

One of the most revered dub and reggae producers, Dennis Bovell has been leaving his mark on contemporary music for over 40 years. Born in Barbados, Bovell moved to south London at the age of 12 and by his late teens had started a musical trajectory that profoundly influenced Britain’s emerging roots, lovers rock, soundsystem and dub cultures. As a musician, songwriter and producer, Bovell spearheaded the seminal British reggae acts Linton Kwesi Johnson and Matumbi and was notably involved in the late 70’s UK punk/post-punk scene as the producer for The Slits, The Pop Group and Orange Juice. Dennis has also worked with Marvin Gaye, Ryuchi Sakamoto, Fela Kuti and most recently Joss Stone.

Both under his own name and the moniker “Blackbeard,” Dennis has created a striking oeuvre of dub albums (“I Wah Dub,” “Strictly Dub Wize,” “LKJ in Dub”) and has been involved with countless dub mixes and dubwise collaborations. In 2012, he released the acclaimed dub collection “Mek It Run” and in 2014, contributed dub versions of songs by Samba Toure and Tamikrest to the Glitterbeat Records compilation: “Dubs & Versions I.”

Glitterbeat Records is very proud to release Dennis Bovell’s latest dub installment, “Dub 4 Daze,” an album that deeply mines Bovell’s inspired catalog of rhythms and sounds. Dennis describes the material as: a collection of different dub mixes I found buried in my archive, and a few newly mixed cuts, done after re-exploring some earlier recorded material. I baked some 2″ masters, transferred them to digital and mixed them using an analogue desk.”

“Dub 4 Daze” is a richly animated sonic journey that slips and slides between soulful roots (Eye Water), down-tempo brass (Top Level Dub), 3D mysticism (Jah Man Dub) and space echo abstractions (Physics of Dub). The album shows Dennis “Dubmaster” Bovell in full command of his craft, a craft he enthusiastically described for us: “for me, dub means the absolute freedom to express how well an engineer knows his equipment and the piece that’s being subjected to the treatment. Just like how the guests at Greek weddings smash the crockery…its fun to be demolishing, but re-building the track all at once, carving a different masterpiece from the same material…a must do in order to maintain my sanity level.”

The album showcases a plethora of top-flight reggae musicians including guitarist John Kpiaye (Matumbi, LKJ), drummer Jah Bunny (LKJ, Jah Shaka, Augustus Pablo) and vocalist Errol Campbell. Throughout, Bovell reveals the prowess of his own musicianship; on several tracks he both sings and plays most of the instruments himself.

Dub 4 Daze: Classic dub. Classic reggae. Classic Dennis Bovell.




Chimurenga Renaissance • Girlz With Gunz

1. I See You For Who You Are (featuring JusMoni)
2. Our Purpose Is Forever
3. Everything Comes Off Tonight (featuring Moon)
4.I Like You The Way You Are
5.Nunya Buziniez (featuring Nyoka)
6.Queenz With Cannnonz (featuring Mall Sain)
7.She Is The Fairest Of Them All (featuring Moon)
8.Prepare To Shoot (featuring Nyoka)
9.Peace Always Has A Price
10.When Its True Love, Shoot Farther (featuring Sassy Black of TheeSatisfaction)
11.Girlz With Gunz (featuring Moon)

Remembering Grace, a Girl with a Gun:

After spending the night listening to Girlz with Gunz, I spent the day remembering Grace Maseva. She was always cheerful, always smiling, and always making bawdy jokes. For her, sexual organs were a normal part of life. A person must pee and play with something. That’s just how things are; a tree has fruit, a baboon has that prideful butt, we have our special business. She would laugh and laugh. She was also a great cook. Always did the greens just right. She also fought in the Second Chimurenga, the war that ended white rule in Zimbabwe.

Grace was a trained killer.

Grace, who survived a brutal war but not the spread of AIDS, could clean, assemble, and load an AK-47. She knew when to duck for cover, when to charge, and when to fire her weapon. There were many women like her in the War of Independence, and their sacrifice, dedication, and general brilliance is celebrated in Girlz with Gunz. This is the spirit of the work. The collaboration between two very talented American-based African musicians, Tendai Maraire and Hussein Kalonji (aka Chimurenga Renaissance), translates the fire of the revolutionary African woman into a music that’s richly and thickly innovative.

It is fitting indeed that the most experimental, dazzling, and even dangerous work by Chimurenga Renaissance, a duo that is a part of the trans-African Black Constellation (Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, Erik Blood), is inspired by women like my cousin, Grace. She was once a girl with a gun. She was trained to kill her oppressors. She wanted to build and live in a better world. Peace always has a price.

— Charles Tonderai Mudede


“Merging hip hop and African instrumentation into something mesmeric and true.” —The Quietus

“Speaks to Zimbabwe’s history (“chimurenga” translates to “struggle”), but this is classic message rap that spans regionally.” —Pitchfork

Chimurenga Renaissance features Tendai Maraire, from the widely acclaimed Seattle group Shabazz Palaces, one of the leaders of hip hop’s “audacious progressive fringe”(New York Times).

Tendai hails from a renowned Zimbabwean musical lineage. His father, Abraham Dumisani Maraire, moved to the United States in the late 60’s and helped create a flourishing Zimbabwean music scene in the Pacific Northwest. Tendai’s partner in Chimurenga Renaissance, guitarist Hussein Kalonji, is a first generation Congolese American born in Washington DC. His father, Raymond “Braynck” Kalonji, is a Congolese guitar legend credited with pioneering the Rumba/Soukouss sound.

Girlz with Gunz is a 27-minute, 11-song EP (vinyl/download). It is Chimurenga Renaissance’s first release for Glitterbeat Records. A full-length album will follow in the autumn of 2016.

Otherworldly sonics, Zimbabwean beats, Congolese guitar ambiance, political heat.




Aziza Brahim • Abbar el Hamada

01. Buscando la Paz
02. Calles de Dajla
03. El canto de la arena
04. El wad
05. La cordillera negra
06. Abbar el Hamada
07. Baraka
08. Mani
09. Intifada
10. Los muros

Western Saharan musician/activist Aziza Brahim’s new album Abbar el Hamada (Across the Hamada), is a commanding and compassionate musical statement about, and for, the tumultuous age in which we live.

Raised in a Saharawi refugee camp in the Algerian desert, and living in exile for more than two decades (first in Cuba and currently in Barcelona), Brahim’s life and music embodies both the tragedies and hopes of the present-day migrant and refugee experience.

As walls and borders are again being raised though-out Europe and other corners of the world, Aziza Brahim’s passionately sung poetic defiance, is especially timely and profound.

Los Muros (The Walls), a dignified desert dreamscape; is emblematic of Aziza’s artistry. The lyrics morph from condemning the sand fortifications Morocco has erected along the Western Saharan border (to prevent the return of the Saharawi to their homeland), to a recognition that while walls are tragically universal, so is the imaginative spirit that encourages us to transcend them.

Another fleeting star was seen
Crossing the wall tonight,
Undetected by the radar,
Unnoticed by the guard.
On the land and the sea
The walls keep rising still.

Brahim’s previous album, the resplendent Soutak, made great strides towards spreading her message of liberation and resistance. Soutak spent an unprecedented three months atop the World Music Charts Europe, and was the chart’s top album for 2014. The album was also selected as one of Songlines magazine’s “Top Ten” albums of the year and appeared on several other year-end critics lists. An appearance on the legendary BBC television program Later with Jools Holland further cemented her growing reputation. Buoyed by this success, Aziza and her band toured extensively in Europe and beyond.

Soutak not only confirmed Brahim as the most important Saharawi musician of her generation, but it also gave evidence that she had become one of Africa’s most respected young musical voices.

On Soutak the musical nuances of Barcelona, her adopted home, were clearly audible. While these influences certainly have not vanished, on Abbar el Hamada, Aziza has consciously extended her reach deeper into the sounds of contemporary West Africa. This move has been reinforced by the introduction of Senegalese percussionist Sengane Ngomand drummer Aleix Tobias (who has studied drumming in Gambia and Senegal) into her band, and the return of Malian guitarist Kalilou Sangarefrom the Soutak sessions. Bassist/arranger Guillem Aguilarand guitarist Ignasi Cussó,also return from the previous band.

Recorded in Barcelona in the summer of 2015 with Soutak producer Chris Eckman (Bassekou Kouyate, Tamikrest), Abbar el Hamada, is a wholly persuasive example of Brahim’s pan-musical vision and is her most compelling and varied album to date. “It is meant to be a diverse, powerful album,” she says, “where Saharawi traditional rhythms (such as Asarbat and Sharaa) are mixed with drums and rhythms from West Africa (particularly Senegal) and of course Mediterranean sounds and rhythms also.

From the pulsing desert rock of Calles De Dajla, to the Afro-Cuban inflections of La Cordillera Negra (evoking 70’s recordings by the Super Rail Band) through the dusky elegance of El Canto Del La Arena and the raw balladry of Mani (featuring Malian blues-master Samba Toure on guitar), the music and lyrics on Abbar el Hamada masterfully reflect the restless, imaginative search for home, explicit in the album’s title.

Hamada is the word used by the Saharawi people to describe the rocky desert landscape along the Algerian/Western Saharan frontier where tens of thousands of their people are stranded in purgatorial refugee camps. “For me, Abbar el Hamada (Across the Hamada) is a title that synthesizes our destiny as a country over the last 40 years”, Aziza explains. “We are suffering an injustice that condemns us to try and survive in an environment as inhospitable as the Hamada.”

When recently asked how she would best describe her musical mission and methods, Aziza’s reply was like her music; revealing and beautifully stated: “I’m not able to separate politics, cultural and personal concerns. So, the focus of my music is all of these areas at the same time. Political, because of its commitment to the denunciation of social injustice. Cultural, because it searches for new musical ideas. Personal, because it expresses the worries of a person that aspires to live with dignity in a better world.”

Innovation, naked truth, humility and political outcry: these are the raw materials of Aziza Brahim’s ever expanding musical vision. On her new album, Abbar el Hamada she fuses and fashions these elements into an unforgettable work that is both deeply inspired and deeply inspiring.


                                              Abbar el Hamada (Across the Hamada):

A look around me after forty years of occupation, of exile, of diaspora. A conversation. A discussion between emigrants, refugees and stationaries; between patriots, expatriates and the stateless; between placed, postponed and displaced; between nomads and the sedentary; between Saharan, sub-Saharan, north Saharan and Saharawis. A conversation between countries, between cultures, between generations, between tribes, between beliefs, between people. People with no other resources than the word, their voices and the skin of their hands and drums. With no other intention than to change the situation by means of music, by means of the imagination, even if it is barely for a moment. Through the fences, the barriers, the camps, the iron bars, the walls, the barbed wire, the seas, the mountain ranges, the rivers, the borders. Across the Hamada.

—Aziza Brahim




Samba Touré • Gandadiko

01. Gandadiko
02. Wo Yende Alakar
03. Male Bano
04. Farikoyo
05. Touri Idjé Bibi
06. Chiri Hari
07. Gafoure
08. Su Wililé
09. I Kana Korte
10. Woyé Katé

Samba Toure’s previous album Albala was recorded during the fear-laden atmosphere of 2012, when northern Mali (including his ancestral village of Diré) had succumbed to sharia law and radical Islamist control and Bamako, his adopted home, still reeled in the chaos of the recent military coup.

Albala received widespread acclaim and was rightfully recognized not only as the best album of Samba’s career but also as an undeniable musical statement about the human toll of war and political crisis. Samba had spent years honing his artistry (including stints playing with Malian blues master Ali Farka Touré and Kora genius Toumani Diabate) and Albala signposted a mature artist, full of sonic imagination and narrative fire.

Gandadiko, the title of Samba’s potent, diverse and ambitious new album, translates from his native language Songhai as: “Land of Drought” or “Burning Land.” The title seems to indicate a return to the dark textures that marked Albala but in fact Gandadiko is a more complex story than that.

Philippe Sanmiguel, a record producer living in Bamako (Anansy Cissé, Mariam Koné)and Samba’s producer for both albums, provides the details:

“One thing I’m sure of is that we didn’t want to do a second ‘Albala’. For Samba that album was maybe a little too sad and he wanted something closer to who he really is: hopeful. So the challenge was to have something as strong as ‘Albala’, but with more variety in the rhythms and moods and colors. I think the album sounds musically less dark, it’s more danceable and up-tempo, but, sorry Samba, it’s not entirely a joyful album. Tension, troubles and danger are still there in many of the songs.

The drought in the north caused many economic problems and worsened the security situation. TV and Internet news often talk about wars, but all the human distress and consequences that ensue from it are rarely fully told. Since the crisis started, we saw many people losing all they had, jobs, herds in the north, friends, hope… a cow which was sold for 400,000 cfa (600€) less than 2 years ago is now sold at 40,000 cfa (60€), because they are so thin and weak. That is what the opening title track ‘Gandadiko’ is about.

Our tearsare not enough
tomakethe land fertile.

Animals die one after the other,
the ground becomes dry,
There is nothing more to eat for the herds,
Cows are only skin and bones.

–Gandadiko (Fireland)

Samba is a very good father for his kids and teaches them positive things, but he can’t teach the whole country except via songs that warn about certain issues. ‘Su Wililé(The Living Dead)’is a song about an old friend of Samba’s that I have never seen sober. This song is a warning song to the youth.
Nowadays in Mali, some Hip Hop artists celebrate beer and weed too easily without any sense of responsibility in front of their young audience. The song is a reaction against this.

When I see my childhood friend
Who looks twice my age
And who just can’t remember me.

When I see these living dead
I say thanks that the alcohol
Has never crossed my path.

— Su Wililé (The Living Deads)

A strange anecdote about ‘Su Wililé’: The day it was recorded was the same day I asked Samba to record the Djinn (a traditional evil spirit) song on the new album, called ‘Gafouré.’ Samba likes to play that song but he never thought to record it. He agreed to do it but said to me: ‘one day you’ll cause problems for me with this music, Holley (Djinn music) is really dangerous.’ That same night, Samba’s alcoholic friend, the one he sings about in ‘Su Wililé’, died. He was headed that direction for sure but Samba really thinks recording ‘Gafouré’ contributed to his death!”

The musical moods and textures found on Gandadiko often play against the moralistic, reflective and at times anguished tenor of the lyrics. For example, Touri Idjé Bibi (Black Fruits) breezes along with a straight-ahead, infectious dance groove, punctuated by soaring backing vocals. The hopeful sound that Samba had originally sought seems to have been found. But the final lines of the song are pointed and cautionary:

Oh earth, forgiveness, oh river forgiveness,
Everyday we offend you.

Touré is known to search for the seeds of his musical ideas in the assorted stack of CDs he listens to while driving through the chaotic streets of Bamako. The out-of-the-box musical inspirations he has picked up for his new album range from Serge Gainsbourg (Wo Yende Alakar) to Bo Diddley via Tom Petty (Su Wililé ) to funky psychedelia (I Kana Korto), though of course all the raw material is instinctually filtered through the traditional melodies and rhythms of his Songhai musical heritage.

The songs on Gandadiko are in fact framed by a restless eclecticism.

Samba’s guitar playing has never been so anxious, exploratory and rock and roll and his voice has never been as smooth and relaxed. Samba wants to be many places at once and the accomplishment of Gandadiko is that by successfully navigating these sorts of “contradictions,” Samba’s artistry has reached an even higher level.

But whatever sonic triumphs Gandadiko has, the key to Samba’s music is always found in the heart. The final song Woyé Katé, beautifully sung together with his good friend Ahmed Ag Kaedi (from the Tuareg band Amanar), is a timeless plea for pan-ethnic understanding and a world where possibility trumps destruction. Such a song would have been much harder to sing two years ago, when war and crisis and division were the watchwords. But here Samba and Ahmed have seized the current moment of fragile calm and have used their resplendent voices and guitars to call for unity.

Music simply can’t do much more than that.

You have to come back to your houses now
We shall reconstruct, all together
We shall reconstruct houses,
We shall reconstruct the country
And we won’t let anyone speak for us again.

— Woyé Katé (Come Back Home)


Samba Touré: guitars, vocals
Djimé Sissoko: ngonis, percussion
Adama Sidibé: njurkel (monochord), njarka (sokou)
Baba Arby: bass
Madou Sidibé: acoustic bass
Kalifa Koné: calabash, djembé
Alassane Samaké: shaker, calabash & tambourine
Kalifa Koné: calabash & shaker
Ibrahima Séré: calabash
Adama Diawara: shaker
Sidi Maïga: doun-doun
Ahmed Ag Kaedi: guitar and vocal
Mariam Traoré: backing vocals


Various Artists • Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches From Traditional Mali

1. Le Souvenir
Group Ekanzam
Instruments: Tindé, Water Calabash, Clapping
Musical Genre: Ekanzam, Ergassay Celebration music
Zone: Meneka, Gao

2. Taganraratt
Group Tagout
Instrument: Tehardent (Lute)
Musical Genre: Kel Tamasheq Djinn Possession Music, Issouwatt Music
Zone: Gao

3. Nianju Wardè (Walk in a Way That Shows We Are Important)
Kimsy Bocoum, Afel Bocoum, Hama Sankare
Instruments: Sokou (Violin), Calabash (Gourd Drum)
Musical Genre: Peul Seygalaré Music
Zone: Niafunke, Timbuktu

4. Houmeïssa (The Gold Chain)
Super Onze
Instruments: Amplified Kurbu (Lute), Calabash (Gourd Drum)
Musical Genre: Songhai Celebration Music
Zone: Gao

5. Taka Kadi (That Adventurer’s Song)
Boukader Coulibaly
Instrument: Danh (6 String Harp)
Musical Genre: Bambara voyager’s music
Zone: Mopti (But found all over West Africa)

6. N’Djaba (The Person I Love)
Bina Koumaré & Madou Diabate
Instruments: Sokou (African Violin), Jeli N’goni (African Lute)
Musical Genre: Bambara
Zone: Pélengana (Segou) & Niono (Segou)

7. Apolo (Do Not Give Your Daughter to a Coward)
Mianka Cultural Troupe
Instruments: Buru (Elk Horn), Djembe, Konkoni, Closhe
Musical Genre: Mianka Ethnic Group, Greeting Nobility, Important announcements
Zone: Koutiala, Sikasso

8. Kabako (Incredible)
Kassoun Bagayoko
Instrument: Bambara (Cultivator’s) Balafon
Musical Genre: Bambara Cultivator’s Music
Zone: Diamou, Sikasso

9. Donzo Fasa (Praise for the Hunter)
Sidiki Coulibaly
Instrument: Simbi (Malinké Hunters Harp)
Musical Genre: Malinke Hunters Music
Zone: Siby (Koulikoro), Mandé Country

10 Sidi Modibo (Hommage to the Marabout – Saint Sidi Modibo)
Inna Baba Coulibaly
Instruments: Hoddu (Peul Lute), Calabash
Musical Genre: Peul
Zone: Northern Koulikoro (Ouagadou)
11. Sigui lé (It’s the Wild Buffalo) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7:04
Cultural Troupe from Nioguébougoula
Instruments: Djembe, Konkoni
Musical Genre: Bari, Sigui Mask Dance Rhythm
Zone: Wassoulou

12. Woyika (The Sorrow)
Ibrahim Traoré
Instrument: Bolon (Malinké Warriors Harp)
Musical Genre: Malinké Warrior’s Music
Zone: Mandé Country, Southern Mali

“If these instruments no longer exist, then we will have lost everything. I do not know how we will pass on our history, because the music itself permits us to know our past, to help us live, even today…it is our culture which will die.” — Afel Bocoum/Malian musician

Mali’s traditional life, customs and art forms (musical and otherwise) are in a steady process of decline. Bamako, the country’s vibrant capital, is the fastest growing urban expanse in Africa and the rapid turn of young people from the village to the city, has profoundly affected the value placed on Mali’s ancient musical traditions (musical instruments, songs, oratory, and dance). The repositories of these traditions (elders, artisans, musicians, dancers, healers) are finding it increasingly difficult to transmit their arts to the ascendant, transitory generation.

Bamako-based producer/educator Paul Chandler has been documenting the sonic and cultural complexities of Malian traditional music for more than a decade and “Every Song Has Its End” is an out-of-time, visceral collection of sounds from Chandler’s unparalleled archive. Echoes of these sounds can of course be heard in the urbanized Malian music that has been embraced throughout the world, but the songs, ritual soundscapes and accompanying images found here are undoubtedly more raw, foundational and filled with surprise than the Malian music we are accustomed to.

Over the past few years, accompanied by a recording engineer and a video-maker, Chandler has ventured to off-the-grid villages and crossroad towns all across the vast Malian landscape. Through a network of long-nurtured local contacts this small team has sought out practicing traditional musicians and their under-documented and often endangered musics. Immersive and exhilarating, these field recordings and videos give us a privileged glimpse into the intricacies of the Malian musical experience.

The tracks on “Every Song Has Its End” are in fact as varied as the land that they come from. The haunting modulations of the mostly female Group Ekanzam and the spiky, electrified drone of Super Onze were both recorded in Mali’s remote and embattled northeastern desert region. Conversely, the hypnotic, pulsing sounds of the Mianka Cultural Troupe’s elk horns (buru) and Ibrahim Traore’s warrior harp (bolon) have been recorded more than 1,500 kilometres away in Mali’s more verdant southern hill country. Some of the musicians are playing music that is tied to a specific traditional caste or village function. The declamatory “hunters” music of Sidiki Coulibaly and the “cultivator” balafon excursions of Kassoun Bagayoko are examples of this. And one track in particular, Sigui lé (It’s the Wild Buffalo) from the Nioguébougoula Cultural Troupe, seems to operate in a realm beyond mere music. The recording is a layered, 3D window into traditional village life, the “audience” and the “performers” interacting and fusing in a way that upends contemporary musical hierarchies.

When asked what compelled him to make these distinctive recordings, Paul Chandler offered this:

I realized that this stuff was quite precious and was starting to disappear…there are traditional instruments and there is music that is played in a traditional context…and while there are a lot of Malians playing music, music played in a traditional context, for ritual, for ceremony, to accompany activities in the village, that is becoming more rare…”

While it is ultimately impossible for us to fully grasp the cultural context and depth of the recordings on

“Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali,” it also seems nearly impossible not to be hooked in by the mesmeric sound culture that they mirror. Without doubt, this is Malian music at its finest.

The album/DVD package is available in the following formats: CD+DVD, Double 180gm vinyl +DVD and digital download/streaming.




Damir Imamović’s Sevdah Takht • Dvojka

1. Sarajevo (D. Imamović)      3:21
2. Tambur  (trad./D. Imamović)   4:25
3. Lijepi Meho     (D. Imamović)  3:26
4. Uzbrdo je mene bole none 3:33
5. Star se Ćurčić pomamio   2:30
6. Lijepa Zejno (D. Imamović)    3:20
7. Lijepa Mara      4:56
8. Čija li je ono djevojka malena (Jozo Penava)  4:44
9. Sen’ gidi sarhoš    2:29
10. Opio se mladi Jusuf-beg (D. Imamović)  5:00
11. Je li rano (trad./D. Imamović)    5:17

Musicians often struggle to articulate what it is they’re playing, where it comes from and where they’re going. Damir Imamović’s Sevdah Takht suffer from no such struggle. The new album, the follow-up to 2012’s critically acclaimed debut, is a wonder of clear-eyed thinking, crystalline melody and deep reflection.

Taking its name from sevda, the Turkish word for love, derived in turn from the Arabic sawda meaning ‘black bile’ (and hence melancholy), sevdah has been played in the Balkans in one form or another since at least the 15th century. Although the temptation to refer to it as ‘Bosnian blues’ is perhaps too infrequently resisted, its lyrical and musical preoccupations with love, longing and loss do provide us with a bridge to other European roots traditions, such as fado, whose central concept of saudade is itself related to sawda.

Sarajevo born and raised, Imamović has been steeped in the sounds of sevdah since childhood. Much has been said of his stellar family tradition – both his father and grandfather remain legends of the form. Since those early days, however, when he would ward off boredom during the siege of the city in the early 1990s by learning guitar chords in his basement shelter, Imamović has completely changed the rules of the game.

For this is not a man content to insert himself seamlessly into any line of succession – that would be too easy. He comes with questions and challenges above all: questions for those gatekeepers of the genre bent on reducing style, rhythm and repertoire to a narrow set of conventions; and challenges to the more recent 20th century orthodoxies that would make of sevdah a straightforward reflection of national character. Imamović’s art is nothing less than a quiet, steady insurgency within sevdah – deeply considered work that refuses the seductions of nationalism. It takes the music beyond its birthplace and shows it the world.

The new album takes these musical and cultural orthodoxies and plays the hell out of them. The title, Dvojka, refers (perhaps slightly provocatively) to the 2/4 rhythm of modern sevdah’s ‘golden age’ of the 1950s and 60s, when many of the conventions of the genre were codified, and when what you couldn’t do had as much weight as what you could. There is enough affection for those conventions to make it a tribute, albeit a sceptical one, to those earlier Radio Sarajevo generations; but this wouldn’t be a Sevdah Takht album if it did not strike out on its own from the very outset.

‘Sarajevo’, the opening track, puts the familiar sonic inflections of sevdah at the disposal of ‘the other Sarajevo’, the fading and forgotten generations of misfits and radicals that quietly underpinned the cultural and political life of the Bosnian capital. There is elegy throughout the album, of course, but slow-burning ecstasy too: from ‘Opio se mladi Jusuf-beg’ (another one for the Sarajevans among us) to the beautifully supple ‘Lijepa Zejno’, which shows precisely what the recent addition of a violin brings to Sevdah Takht. In between lie songs of hope and heartbreak in a stunning interplay between tradition and innovation, with the album being split more or less evenly between original Imamović compositions and songs by authors whose names have long been lost to history.

In the hands of a lesser musician, this might be mere archaeology. But behind Imamović’s wonderfully maturing voice, and the fun he is clearly having with his new, custom-made tambur, lies a band of rare, understated accomplishment: percussionist Nenad Kovačić, whose West African influences are the perfect gift to sevdah; bassist Ivan Mihajlović, playful and deadly serious all in the same bar; and new arrival Ivana Đurić, whose violin provides the anchor to the sevdah tradition that the title of the album teasingly promises.

Damir Imamović’s Sevdah Takht matches Glitterbeat’s cultural and musical enthusiasms perfectly. Theirs are global stories forged from a deep love for the regional tradition from which they come – a love strong enough to withstand the demands that this restless young artist places on it. As far as culture is always politics, and struggle in one is always struggle in both, this is a deeply political project; but it is also Imamović’s strongest personal statement to date. He was always going to make this album and we’re glad he’s made it with us.





M.A.K.U. Soundsystem • Mezcla

01. Agua
02. Thank You, Thank You
03. Let It Go
04. Positivo
05. La Inevitable
06. La Haitiana
07. What do You Wish For
08. Happy Hour
09. De Barrio

The immigrant experience is an opportunity to create, to find a voice that speaks loud and proud, to connect past and future. A chance to make history. That’s what the eight-piece M.A.K.U. Soundsystem does on their fourth album, Mezcla (‘Mix’). Through the eyes and ears of Colombians who’ve arrived and made their homes in New York City, it is, in every way, a mix, an invitation to think and to dance.

The band passionately elaborates, “The immigrant experience is complex. Though reasons and conditions for migrating vary greatly (modes of transportation, access to resources and language, fear of violence, health, etc.), one thing we can certainly say is that it is a life-changing, identity-shaping experience. As a group of curious and creative people, our immigrant experience manifests itself through the playful exploration of our musical roots and cultural heritage, while making commentary on our day to day realities, inevitably reflecting our times. For the past several years, M.A.K.U Soundsystem has come together week after week to practice communicating in multiple ways; musically, culturally, politically, and straight-up emotionally growing closer as we continue to develop a shared language. It’s not always a tight groove, but the point of our mixing is not to become homogenous. Our album “Mezcla” is about us coming together through and with our differences, to create a musical experience where we can all be truly present as unique and essential elements of that mix.”

Mezcla is a relentlessly honest record. The music hits the feet and the hips, powerful and overwhelming, while the lyrics reflect the lives the band members live. There’s the giddy flirtation of a summer Saturday night on ‘Haitiana’ and the thought that comes from looking around somewhere so different and asking ‘What Do You Wish For.’  But it also embraces darker political questions that don’t have easy answers. The opening track, ‘Agua,’ for instance, wonders why some people own the seeds that should be for everyone – who are those who have and who are the dispossessed? And ‘De Barrio,’ the warm, inviting waltz that closes the disc, examines the journey so many coming from Latin America to the US undertake.

“They’re putting their lives at risk to come to El Norte,” explains bassist and singer Juan Ospina. “But the borders they cross have all been created by man. Look down from space and you won’t see them.”

Every moment of Mezcla mixes the musicians’ past and their present. ‘Let It Go’ builds from a percussive root born in Colombia by way of Cape Verde, hits a groove straight out of West Africa, then adds bright retro Moog that comes from a ‘90s club, and tops it with horns that edge into jazz. It’s a perfect culture clash, the immigrant melting pot on disc. As the New York Times noted, the band merges “Afro-Colombian rhythms with hints of Afro-beat, delivering exhortations as dance grooves.” Colombia remains the foundation, in the DNA of the band members, but they’ve erected their own brand-new house on top of it, a structure that continues to grow and change. Welcome to modern America.

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem is a powerhouse that’s been built over years of rehearsals and gigs, criss-crossing America from the Lincoln Center Outdoors -in their adopted hometown of New York- to Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Canada and around the globe to the Roskilde Festival in Denmark and onto the Atlantic Music Expo in Cape Verde. Everywhere they’ve won over friends: a storming appearance at globalFEST saw the band awarded a touring fund, while new outlets have kept heaping praise on them.

Afropop Worldwide praised the “frantic terrain” the band explores. NPR raved about the “driving and gritty energy…this raw-edged, punk-tinged band explodes with the propulsive force of traditional rhythms and urban restlessness.”

That restlessness, and the hope for the future, is perfectly captured in ‘La Inevitabile.’

Cards on the table
love and resistance
For it is inevitable
to hear the voices
of all colours
when in mixing and coming together
they represent
the rhythm of our beating hearts

It’s a statement, an embrace. Think and dance. A way forward delivered with the urgency that’s become a hallmark of M.A.K.U. Soundsystem. Mezcla captures the live sound of the band, that thrilling rawness where the rough edges become a vital part of the whole, plenty of freedom but with the tightness honed by night after night of gigs. And that’s exactly how Mezcla came together.

“We first recorded the songs two years ago, just after they were written,” Ospina recalls. “But when we listened to it, there was no sizzle. It didn’t sound the way we did on stage. So we decided to wait. But we played the material for audiences, we worked it in. Then, two years later, we were in the Creamery Studios in Brooklyn recording a track. Quinn McCarthy, the engineer, caught us perfectly. This was what we were like live. We knew we’d found someone who could really capture our sound, so we recorded Mezcla again with him. Each section of the band – rhythm and percussion, horns – played live. And what we’ve got really kicks. It’s who we are.”

It’s passionate and blazing, turning from anger to tenderness, to endurance and hope. M.A.K.U. Soundsystem is the modern immigrant experience in a microcosm – and it’s not so different from all the generations that have gone before. People carrying their own mix of the past and the present, the old and the new, tradition and modernity. Mezcla reflects the lives they’re building.

“We try to keep it human,” Ospina says. “To give people something they can relate to.”

To think and dance.

Produced by M.A.K.U SoundSystem.
Production Concept by Casa del Indio & M.A.K.U SoundSystem
Recorded by Quinn McCarthy at The Creamery Studio, Brooklyn, NY
Mixed by Victor Rice, Sao Paulo, Brazil
All Music and Lyrics written by M.A.K.U SoundSystem



Bixiga 70: The Copan Connection • Bixiga 70 Meets Victor Rice

01. 100% Dub
02. Mil Vidas Dub
03. Machado Dub

01. Jimmy Dub
02. Lembe Dub
03. Niran Dub
04. Ventania Dub

This is Bixiga 70, an instrumental dance band from Sao Paulo, Brazil known for their high energy and mix of styles. They combine American funk, Colombian cumbia and Nigerian afrobeat, and it’s made them really popular around the world. —Banning Eyre, NPR

Hot on the heels of their highly acclaimed Glitterbeat album “III” — an album The Guardian called “imaginative, progressive afrobeat”– Bixiga 70 returns with a limited-edition, vinyl-only release for Record Store Day: The Copan Connection: Bixiga 70 meets Victor Rice.

Whereas “III” was a highly contemporary take on the Afro-Brazilian, “Black Atlantic” musical conversation, The Copan Connection looks northward from Brazil to Jamaica, and embraces the repeat-echo history of dub music as its inspiration. On the album, Bixiga 70 producer Victor Rice applies shimmering, kaleidoscopic dub reinventions to tracks from “III” and the results are jaw dropping and ear opening. Rarely has the full arsenal of dub techniques and philosophies been applied to music that isn’t reggae, and while dub and Afro-Brazilian stylings do not immediately connect in one’s mind, once the album is heard pumping out of the speakers it is clear that this is both a natural fit and a ground-breaking idea.

The music swells, ebbs, flows, deconstructs and then blissfully reconnects in completely unexpected ways. The result is not a mere companion piece to “III” but a completely new, stand-alone sonic experience.

The dubmaster on The Copan Connection, Victor Rice is a transplanted New Yorker, now residing in Sao Paulo. His contribution to the Brazilian music scene in the last years has been massive. Besides Bixiga 70, Rice’s production skills have been sought out by a who’s-who of established and emerging Brazilian artists including the legendary Elza Soares and the recent Latin Grammy winner Tulipa Ruiz. But Victor’s discography is also chock-full of reggae, ska and dub productions including a contribution to the dubbed out, Pink Floyd remake album “Dubber Side of the Moon.” He is no dub dilettante that’s for sure. He works his magic in an old skool, King Tubby style, on a mixing board, with just a couple of effects and an abundance of inspiration and ideas.

Rice’s studio sits high above the megalopolis of Sao Paulo, in the famed Copan building, a classic of modernist architecture. His mixing board is pushed against a window and looking out one gets the sense they are floating above the beautiful madness of the city. It is a surreal setting perfect for the creation of shape-shifting, surreal sounds.

The Copan Connection: Bixiga 70 meets Victor Rice is a summit of equals. It is the music of a sensational band meeting the soundworld of a sensational producer. It pushes Afro- Brazilian music into a mind-blowing, alternate dimension.


Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra • Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra

01. Salilento (05:35)
02. Chay La Lou (04:59)
03. Yanvalou (04:57)
04. Bade Zile (04:33)
05. Poze (05:14)
06. Pa Bat Kòw (06:54)
07. Wongolo (06:10)
08. Mon Ami Tezin (03:47)

Seven-and-a-half thousand kilometres of cold ocean separate West Africa from Haiti. But music can cover that distance in a heartbeat, crossing the Atlantic to reunite the rhythms and religion of people torn from their homes to be sold into slavery on the Caribbean island. And on its self-titled album, the Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra honours those ghosts of the past even as it walks steadfastly and hopefully into the future.

Experimental by name, the band was definitely experimental by nature. The concept started with Corinne Micaelli, the director of the French Institute in Haiti. She wanted to bring drummer Tony Allen, the power behind Afrobeat and one of modern music’s towering figures, to the island. A performance with Haitian musicians at a major public concert would be perfect. Allen agreed, and Erol Josué, a singer, dancer, voodoo priest, and director of the Haitian National Bureau of Ethnology, helped to recruit local percussionists and singers. They decided, in order for different strands of Haitian music to be represented, that the musicians would be drawn from a cross-section of the country’s foremost bands, including Racine Mapou de Azor, RAM, Erol’s own band, the Yizra’El Band and Lakou Mizik, the group of Sanba Zao, one of Haiti’s leading percussionists and traditional singers.

Together, the musicians had just five days to compose and rehearse the set they’d play in the main square of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and broadcast live throughout the country.

“Putting it together was complete chaos,” recalls Mark Mulholland, who was drafted in as the Orchestra’s guitarist. “Madness. We were all in this tiny room, playing. We had 10 percussionists from all of Haiti’s top bands. Then there was Tony, Olaf Hund on keyboards, and Jean-Philippe Dary, an old friend of Tony’s, on bass. He became the de facto musical director. The sound was overwhelming.”

The music grew organically from long jams, some initiated by Allen and the other Western musicians, built around Allen’s Afrobeat rhythms and the grooves from Dary’s bass, like the eerie psychedelic dream of “Chay La Lou.”

“I’d find a riff and a few notes for the songs, but I tried to keep it simple,” Mulholland says. “The other songs came from the Haitian musicians. They grew out of voudou rhythms and a chant. All we had to do was put in some breaks. Honestly, I don’t think any of us knew what to expect when we began.”

What emerged from those long, hot sessions were a series of tracks with roots on both sides of the Atlantic, compelling layers of subtle polyrhythms that bridge centuries and cultures. Relentless grooves become the foundation for soaring, utterly modern melodies like the swirling, electronica-fuelled “Salilento” or the Afro Vocoder ritual sound of “Yanvalou” that’s inspired as much by Krautrock and Sun Ra as Lagos or Port-au-Prince. Flying on inspiration and adrenaline, it’s roots music for a global future.

“When we played in public after those five days together we just hoped it would work,” Mulholland says. “The gig was a big festival, La Fête de la Musique, and a few bands had been on before us, so everything was running late and we were tense. Then, just before our set, someone set off a tear gas grenade in front of the stage.”

Eventually, the Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra was able to play. They’d hoped to record the event, but technical problems prevented that. And with some of the main players leaving the next morning it seemed that the music would be no more than a fleeting memory.

“We still had multi-track recordings from the rehearsals, though,” Mulholland continues. “I decided to go through them and see what I could find. I wasn’t even thinking of releasing it. I just wanted to preserve what we’d done for posterity. We’d achieved something, created something important. It deserved to be remembered. So we re-recorded all the vocals with Erol Josué, Sanba Zao, and the other singers.”

But life has a habit of springing surprises. Later in 2014, after Mulholland had moved to Bamako, Mali, he ran into Glitterbeat’s Chris Eckman.

“I told him about what we’d done in Haiti and Tony Allen’s involvement,” Mulholland says. “He wanted to hear it. When I sent it to him, even though it was raw, he could sense the power in the music. Glitterbeat was interested, so Olaf Hund and I did proper mixes on a couple of cuts. Those turned out well, and we went forward from there.”

The result captures the Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra sparking on all cylinders. The music is alive with the sense of spontaneity and adventure, the members supporting and pushing each other, diving headlong into the music and creating something that stands outside geography and genre.

“I think the album captures the spirit of all of us together in that room,” Mulholland says proudly. “It’s anarchic and energetic. And I really believe it’s good, it’s honest, it’s new. It’s different. It was an experiment that worked.”

From the past to the future, it’s a sweep of music to grab and shake the listener. And proof that beautiful, dangerous music can rise out of chaos.

Songs 1-4,6 & 7:

Tony Allen – drums
Jean-Philippe Dary – bass (keyboards on Yanvalou)
Olaf Hund – keyboards and electronics
Mark Mulholland – guitar
Sanba Zao, Wolele, Zikiki, Beauvois Anilus , Edmond Gera and members of Rasin Mapou de Azor & RAM – Percussion
Salilento, Yanvalou, Bade Zile, Wongolo – Sanba Zao
Chay La Lou – Marc-Harold Pierre
Pa Bat Kòw – Zikiki & Mirla Samuel Pierre
Backing vocals: Zikiki, Marc-Harold Pierre, Wolele  & Mirla Samuel Pierre

Songs 5 & 8:

Tony Allen – drums
Mark Mulholland – guitar (plus organ on Mon Ami Tezin)
Olaf Hund – keyboards and electronics
Erol Josué – vocals




Khmer Rouge Survivors • They Will Kill You, If You Cry

01. Phnom Domrey Trom (“Where the Elephants Go to Die”) vocals by Rab Ban, accompanied on Kann by Mon Hai
02. Pjanch Meah (“Defeat the Giant”) vocals & Chapey Dawng Veng by Soun San
03. Aasojet Anet Mai (“Have Mercy on My Mother”) vocals by Keut Ran
04. Orano (“I Hate My Husband that Drinks”) by Rab Ban
05. Jivit Rongkroh Proh Songkream (“My Life as a Victim of War”) by Thuch Savang
06. Kontriev Doeung Kon Mai (“All Children Must Show Gratitude to their Mother”) vocals & Chapey Dawng Veng by Kong Nai
07. Prolop Phkaypreat (“Evening Stars are the Masters”) sung by by Mon Hai
08. Kamara Rongkaam (“Nation in Grief”) by Kong Nai
09. Ao Sat Sarika (“Where Has My Husband Gone?”) by Prom Chantol with her daughter Ouch Savy
10. Boonchnam Kamkosal (“My Grief Begins”) by Kong Nai
11. Pineak Doeulang Knong Soun (“Walk in the Garden”) by Keut Rann
12. Phleuv Dail Treuv Deu (“The Path You Should Take”) by Soun San
13. Bong Euy Sdaap Pkor (“Hear the Thunder”) by Thorn Seyma with Arn Chorn Pond on flute
14. Preh Kon Euypok (“A Father’s Honor”) by Soun San

Grammy-winning producer Ian Brennan (Zomba Prison Project, Tinariwen, Hanoi Masters) returns to Southeast Asia to record traditional-based musicians from Cambodia who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. The result is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

It would be disturbing anywhere to see a mob gathered around a street-pole as an electrocuted utility-worker’s lifeless body was lowered down by rope as if lynched, but especially in a land with so many ghosts.

Amidst skin-whitening overdoses and marijuana-pizza for the sex tourists, the stench of colonialism does more than just linger in Phnom Penh. “We hate the Vietnamese,” said the taxi-driver as a stark naked child ran into the street to urinate, “But our people are tired of war. We are tired of fighting.”

A reported three-million tons of carpet-bombs were dropped on Cambodia by the USA in the 1970s, more than were unleashed on Germany during all of WWII. And still today, Cambodia is laced with more landmines than anywhere else in the world, which results in two or three deaths on average daily, mostly to “peasants” in the field.

Following the bombings, dictator Pol Pot seized the moment, emptying the cities into shells, then pitting rural residents against the urbanites and launching a genocide that claimed somewhere around two-million lives (i.e., nearly 1/4th of the population). This particular holocaust was especially catastrophic culturally as it specifically targeted the artists and “intellectuals”, of whom it is estimated that less than 10% survived. During this period, daring to wear eyeglasses— which had become a stereotyped symbol between classes— guaranteed almost certain death.

Singer Thorn Seyma, had discovered by chance just days before our arrival that her father, Thom Mouy, had apparently been quite a famous singer in the Sixties before perishing himself in the killing fields.

As in many post-genocidal countries, communal living is common, with people assembling ad hoc, surrogate families. With a large group of such survivors, we visited a crowded shopping mall full of things that no one buys, just display after display of what people can’t have. And there singer, Chea Sean (age 45)— who has spent her life nearby as a rice farmer— rode an escalator for the first time, which was a main attraction for having brought us there.

With the majority of the population under age twenty-five, the populace has been shaken by a secondary, post-traumatic wave: that of the majority having little memory of the relatively recent tragic events that ravaged the country. That so many of the elite who were involved with engineering those massacres have remained unbrokenly in power ever since, and are now conducting mass evictions and selling off nearly half the landmass of the country to private foreign investors, is chilling.

The roads are dotted with glamour-shot posters of aging, military men in makeup. And along the lone stretch of oceanfront area, vacationing Russian gangsters openly assassinate each other in the streets and set luxury-cars afire at beachside resorts. A recurring theme of resignation among residents is “if you have money here, you can do whatever you want.”

We had the good fortune of recording with sixty-year-old Han Nai, from the mountainous far north, near the border of Thailand. He is reportedly one of two people left in the world who play the Kann (a bamboo horn). In a country where the pop-charts revealed that 19 out of 20 hit songs were in English, concerns about cultural extinction in this region are far from hyperbole.

Fifty-year-old poet and guitarist, Thuch Savanj, bears the scars of war on his face, having been deformed by the same shrapnel that claimed his mother’s life.

Musical director, flautist, and percussion player, Arn Chorn Pond managed to survive, first by playing music to entertain the Khmer Rouge troops, and later by himself becoming a child soldier against the Vietnamese, in a kill or be killed scenario. His weight had dropped down to 30 pounds due to lack of rations, before he was rescued by an American adoptive father.

“If you’re a soldier, they will kill you if you cry. Now I cry and feel better. The turning point for me was learning to cry and listen to my own words, rather than just preaching peace and forgiveness to others.”

On the road to visit the legendary Kong Nai (“the Ray Charles of Cambodia”) we passed aging bomb-craters the size of ponds that had filled with stagnant rain water.

Parents commonly warn their children, “If you try to play like Kong Nai, you too will go blind,” as a way to scare youngsters away from music, so that they will hopefully instead follow some other, more respectable career pursuit.

But as amazing a musician as Kong Nai is, he was rivaled by another virtually unknown chapie dwng veng (long neck “guitar”) master, Soun San. San was left with a crooked leg and walks with a crutch, but all struggle seems to vanish from his being when he enters trance-like blues states, where he literally tears the shirt from his own chest and beats the floor and walls to emphasize vocal phrases. Being that he lives in the capital’s flight path, that is a jet airliner that is audible, almost clipping his building and dovetailing exactly at the end of one song.

Another blind-singer, sixty year old, Keut Ran, keeps the Smot vocal style alive, one that bears an uncanny resemblance to the hollerin’ style of America’s backwoods in the Deep South.

When a young hipster from the city talked of knowing elders that played, “Country music,” it was intriguing. But upon further examination, it was discovered that what she meant was not cowboy hats and fiddles, but the murdered music of Cambodia’s own roots tradition.

There is an inherent disconnection of logic amongst Westerners that claim a culture like Cambodia, who speak a tone-language— where the meaning of many otherwise identical words is dependent on the pitch with which they are spoken— are not musical by nature. And, prejudice’s self-destructiveness is nowhere more apparent than in the common underestimation of an entire racial group as “passive,” particularly one with such a history of upheaval, perseverance, and resistance.

—Ian Brennan


Khmer Rouge Survivors • They Will Kill You, If You Cry

01. Phnom Domrey Trom (“Where the Elephants Go to Die”) vocals by Rab Ban, accompanied on Kann by Mon Hai
02. Pjanch Meah (“Defeat the Giant”) vocals & Chapey Dawng Veng by Soun San
03. Aasojet Anet Mai (“Have Mercy on My Mother”) vocals by Keut Ran
04. Orano (“I Hate My Husband that Drinks”) by Rab Ban
05. Jivit Rongkroh Proh Songkream (“My Life as a Victim of War”) by Thuch Savang
06. Kontriev Doeung Kon Mai (“All Children Must Show Gratitude to their Mother”) vocals & Chapey Dawng Veng by Kong Nai
07. Prolop Phkaypreat (“Evening Stars are the Masters”) sung by by Mon Hai
08. Kamara Rongkaam (“Nation in Grief”) by Kong Nai
09. Ao Sat Sarika (“Where Has My Husband Gone?”) by Prom Chantol with her daughter Ouch Savy
10. Boonchnam Kamkosal (“My Grief Begins”) by Kong Nai
11. Pineak Doeulang Knong Soun (“Walk in the Garden”) by Keut Rann
12. Phleuv Dail Treuv Deu (“The Path You Should Take”) by Soun San
13. Bong Euy Sdaap Pkor (“Hear the Thunder”) by Thorn Seyma with Arn Chorn Pond on flute
14. Preh Kon Euypok (“A Father’s Honor”) by Soun San

Grammy-winning producer Ian Brennan (Zomba Prison Project, Tinariwen, Hanoi Masters) returns to Southeast Asia to record traditional-based musicians from Cambodia who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. The result is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

It would be disturbing anywhere to see a mob gathered around a street-pole as an electrocuted utility-worker’s lifeless body was lowered down by rope as if lynched, but especially in a land with so many ghosts.

Amidst skin-whitening overdoses and marijuana-pizza for the sex tourists, the stench of colonialism does more than just linger in Phnom Penh. “We hate the Vietnamese,” said the taxi-driver as a stark naked child ran into the street to urinate, “But our people are tired of war. We are tired of fighting.”

A reported three-million tons of carpet-bombs were dropped on Cambodia by the USA in the 1970s, more than were unleashed on Germany during all of WWII. And still today, Cambodia is laced with more landmines than anywhere else in the world, which results in two or three deaths on average daily, mostly to “peasants” in the field.

Following the bombings, dictator Pol Pot seized the moment, emptying the cities into shells, then pitting rural residents against the urbanites and launching a genocide that claimed somewhere around two-million lives (i.e., nearly 1/4th of the population). This particular holocaust was especially catastrophic culturally as it specifically targeted the artists and “intellectuals”, of whom it is estimated that less than 10% survived. During this period, daring to wear eyeglasses— which had become a stereotyped symbol between classes— guaranteed almost certain death.

Singer Thorn Seyma, had discovered by chance just days before our arrival that her father, Thom Mouy, had apparently been quite a famous singer in the Sixties before perishing himself in the killing fields.

As in many post-genocidal countries, communal living is common, with people assembling ad hoc, surrogate families. With a large group of such survivors, we visited a crowded shopping mall full of things that no one buys, just display after display of what people can’t have. And there singer, Chea Sean (age 45)— who has spent her life nearby as a rice farmer— rode an escalator for the first time, which was a main attraction for having brought us there.

With the majority of the population under age twenty-five, the populace has been shaken by a secondary, post-traumatic wave: that of the majority having little memory of the relatively recent tragic events that ravaged the country. That so many of the elite who were involved with engineering those massacres have remained unbrokenly in power ever since, and are now conducting mass evictions and selling off nearly half the landmass of the country to private foreign investors, is chilling.

The roads are dotted with glamour-shot posters of aging, military men in makeup. And along the lone stretch of oceanfront area, vacationing Russian gangsters openly assassinate each other in the streets and set luxury-cars afire at beachside resorts. A recurring theme of resignation among residents is “if you have money here, you can do whatever you want.”

We had the good fortune of recording with sixty-year-old Han Nai, from the mountainous far north, near the border of Thailand. He is reportedly one of two people left in the world who play the Kann (a bamboo horn). In a country where the pop-charts revealed that 19 out of 20 hit songs were in English, concerns about cultural extinction in this region are far from hyperbole.

Fifty-year-old poet and guitarist, Thuch Savanj, bears the scars of war on his face, having been deformed by the same shrapnel that claimed his mother’s life.

Musical director, flautist, and percussion player, Arn Chorn Pond managed to survive, first by playing music to entertain the Khmer Rouge troops, and later by himself becoming a child soldier against the Vietnamese, in a kill or be killed scenario. His weight had dropped down to 30 pounds due to lack of rations, before he was rescued by an American adoptive father.

“If you’re a soldier, they will kill you if you cry. Now I cry and feel better. The turning point for me was learning to cry and listen to my own words, rather than just preaching peace and forgiveness to others.”

On the road to visit the legendary Kong Nai (“the Ray Charles of Cambodia”) we passed aging bomb-craters the size of ponds that had filled with stagnant rain water.

Parents commonly warn their children, “If you try to play like Kong Nai, you too will go blind,” as a way to scare youngsters away from music, so that they will hopefully instead follow some other, more respectable career pursuit.

But as amazing a musician as Kong Nai is, he was rivaled by another virtually unknown chapie dwng veng (long neck “guitar”) master, Soun San. San was left with a crooked leg and walks with a crutch, but all struggle seems to vanish from his being when he enters trance-like blues states, where he literally tears the shirt from his own chest and beats the floor and walls to emphasize vocal phrases. Being that he lives in the capital’s flight path, that is a jet airliner that is audible, almost clipping his building and dovetailing exactly at the end of one song.

Another blind-singer, sixty year old, Keut Ran, keeps the Smot vocal style alive, one that bears an uncanny resemblance to the hollerin’ style of America’s backwoods in the Deep South.

When a young hipster from the city talked of knowing elders that played, “Country music,” it was intriguing. But upon further examination, it was discovered that what she meant was not cowboy hats and fiddles, but the murdered music of Cambodia’s own roots tradition.

There is an inherent disconnection of logic amongst Westerners that claim a culture like Cambodia, who speak a tone-language— where the meaning of many otherwise identical words is dependent on the pitch with which they are spoken— are not musical by nature. And, prejudice’s self-destructiveness is nowhere more apparent than in the common underestimation of an entire racial group as “passive,” particularly one with such a history of upheaval, perseverance, and resistance.

—Ian Brennan


Noura Mint Seymali • Arbina

01. Arbina
02. Mohammedoun
03. Na Sane
04. Suedi Koum
05. Richa
06. Ghlana
07. Ghizlane
08. Ya Demb
09. Soub Hanak
10. Tia


Noura Mint Seymali hails from a Moorish musical dynasty in Mauritania, born into a prominent family of griot and choosing from an early age to embrace the artform that is its lifeblood. Yet traditional pedigree has proven but a stepping-stone for the work Noura and her band have embarked upon in recent years, simultaneously popularizing and reimagining Moorish music on the global stage, taking her family’s legacy to new heights as arguably Mauritania’s most widely exported musical act of all time. Gamely wielding the griot’s idiom, a form itself distilled from centuries of trans-Saharan musical knowledge, Noura Mint Seymali’s sound as heard on this record carves out a unique position in the musical cartography of West Africa, at once her country’s leading proponent of the avant garde and yet a rigorously devoted tradition-bearer.


Arbina is Noura Mint Seymali’s second international release. Delving deeper into the wellspring of Moorish roots, as is after all the tried and true way of the griot, the album strengthens her core sound, applying a cohesive aesthetic approach to the reinterpretation of Moorish tradition in contemporary context. The band is heard here in full relief; soaring vocals and guitar at the forefront, the mesmerizing sparkle of the ardine, elemental bass lines and propulsive rhythms swirling together to conjure a 360 degree vibe. Arbina refines a sound that the band has gradually intensified over years of touring, aiming to posit a new genre from Mauritania, distinct unto itself; music of the “Azawan.”


Supported by guitarist, husband and fellow griot, Jeiche Ould Chighaly, Seymali’s tempestuous voice is answered with electrified counterpoint, his quarter-tone rich guitar phraseology flashing out lightning bolt ideas. Heir to the same music culture as Noura, Jeiche intimates the tidinit’s (Moorish lute) leading role under the wedding khaima with the gusto of a rock guitar hero. Bassist Ousmane Touré, who has innovated a singular style of Moorish low-end groove over the course of many years, can be heard on this album with greater force and vigor than ever before. Drummer/producer Matthew Tinari drives the ensemble forward with the agility and precision need to make the beats cut.


Many of the songs on Arbina call out to the divine, asking for grace and protection. “Arbina” is a name for God. The album carries a message about reaching beyond oneself to an infinite spiritual source, while learning to take the finite human actions to necessary to affect reality on earth.   The concept of sëbeu, or that which a human can do to take positive action on their destiny, is animated throughout.   While final outcomes rest in the hands of the creator, the duty to use one’s capacities as a human to work towards our hopes and highest intentions roots us in life and relationship to God. The title track ‘Arbina’ applies this concept to specifically empower women in their decisions about preventative healthcare. It advocates for the concrete task of early screening to prevent breast and uterine cancer, sickness that claimed Noura’s own mother at a premature age, while offering an appeal to the ultimate benevolence of God. “Ghizlane” invokes the concept through metaphor, describing the elusive nature of our dreams and the innate obligation to follow. “Richa” reflects of the power of music as a vehicle.


Lyrically, the Moorish griot tradition is complex and associative. Poetry is held in a continuum between author and audience in which a singer may draw on disparate sources, selecting individual lines here or there for musicality to form a lyrical patchwork expressing larger ideas via association. A griot may relate her own thoughts and poetry, sing poetry written for and about her by a third party, and transmit lines from one party addressing another in the course of a single song. With this ever-fluid narrative voice, stories are told.


Arbina is a musical act of devotion, calling upon the creator to channel grace through us and uplift our actions.


Noura Mint Seymali: voice, ardine, songs

Jeiche Ould Chighaly: guitar

Ousmane Touré: bass

Matthew Tinari: drums


Mayassa Hemed Vall: backing vocals (tracks 5 & 6)


Produced by Matthew Tinari

Recorded & mixed by Tony Maimone at Studio G, Brooklyn, NY




Orkesta Mendoza • ¡Vamos A Guarachar!

01. Cumbia Volcadora
02. Redoble
03. Misterio
04. Mapache
05. Cumbia Amor De Lejos
06. Mambo a la Rosano
07. Caramelos
08. No Volvere
09. Contra la Marea
10. Igual que Ayer
11. Nada te Debo
12. Shadows of the Mind

“Sergio Mendoza is probably my favourite musician of this time. He has the cumbia and mambo in his DNA, but he has the power to make it sound like today. His Orkesta is as punk as the Sex Pistols and as violent as Perez Prado” — Camilo Lara, Mexican Institute of Sound

“Orkesta Mendoza is one of the best live bands out there. Their music delves into a myriad of directions, rhythms and moods, big band orchestrations mixed with lo fi electronica, vocals en Español together with moving instrumentals.”Vamos a Guarachar” is epic and soulful, it captures that positive spirit of the Southwest” — Joey Burns, Calexico

Something is stirring in downtown Tucson. That’s no great surprise perhaps: Calexico have been sending out missives from the desert for 20 years now, Giant Sand for even longer than that, and the Green on Red revival is surely overdue. These three giants of American popular music ask questions of the form, chiefly because of where they are situated. Let us remind ourselves that this isn’t a big city in the American sense (it’s the country’s 33rd largest), but that its hinterland is indeed as big as it gets. For an hour south, Mexico starts. And this is where things get interesting.

Born in Nogales, Arizona, raised in Nogales, Sonora, multi-instrumentalist and band-leader Sergio Mendoza grew up listening to the Mexican regional styles jostling for headspace in a young, music-mad mind – cumbia mainly, but mambo, rancheras and mariachi too. The border is always a fierce arena of exchange, both commercial and cultural, and so there was American music too. At one point ‘rock and roll, the classics’, as Mendoza himself deadpans, seemed to win out and he stopped playing those ‘Latin styles’ for a good decade and a half.

The return to those sounds was a strong one in 2012’s Mambo Mexicano, co-produced by Mendoza and Joey Burns of Calexico – a band for which Mendoza has become an increasingly integral touring and recording member. While that record had a studied air, tentative in parts (as befits the renewal of an old love affair), ¡Vamos A Guarachar! is another beast entirely: by turns raucous (‘Cumbia Volcadora’, featuring Mexican electronic pioneer Camilo Lara), tender (‘Misterio’, surely Salvador Duran’s finest moment with the band so far) and plain serious fun, as in ‘Contra La Marea’ and ‘Mapache’, it also bears a robust electronic edge, a keen pop sensibility and all the hallmarks of Mendoza’s love of 60s rock, with the closing track, ‘Shadows of the Mind’, sure to be included if anyone decides to update the Nuggets collection for the 21st century. This is roundabout way of saying that it appears to have everything, but never too much of anything. Focused, fierce and beautifully executed by a superbly drilled set of musicians, it is a record that fully matches the band’s explosive live performances.

Nogales, Sonora, Nogales, Arizona: this is what the border looks like here – for now. To talk about borders and the diasporas they create, is to be pitched headlong into our era’s most urgent debate, marked by Trump’s lurid obscenities and the lines being hastily reinstated across Europe. Orkesta Mendoza’s contribution to that debate is to show us what the border sounds like and what masterpieces can be achieved by honest cultural exchange. What we decide to do with that information is up to us. With this record, however, we’ll have an awful lot of fun deciding.

You could, of course, take the trip to Tucson yourself, to the home of this essential set of field recordings. The scene hangs out together, so … if the stars align and their frantic tour schedules permit, you might see any number of folks from Calexico, Giant Sand or up-and-coming cumbia rockers Xixa deep in conversation somewhere in town with a quiet young man in black. That’s Sergio. Right now, in this endless game of Tucson tag, Orkesta Mendoza are IT.

Orkesta Mendoza:

Sergio Mendoza: vocals, keyboards, guitars, drums, percussion, programming, horns
Salvador Duran: lead vocals “Cumbia Volcadora,“ “Misterio” & “Cumbia Amor De Lejos”
Sean Rogers: bass, lead vocal “Shadows of the Mind”
Marco Rosano: sax, clarinet, trombone, keyboards, guitar
Raul Marques: backing vocals
Joe Novelli: lap steel

Selected guests:

Camilo Lara (Mexican Institute of Sound): voice “Cumbia Volcadora”
Joey Burns (Calexico): upright bass “Misterio”
John Convertino (Calexico): Drums “Misterio”
Gabriel Sullivan (Xixa): vocals “Nada te Debo”
Jairo Zavala (DePedro): vocals “Nada te Debo” & backing vocals “Misterio”
Ceci Bastida: vocals “Caramelos”
Quetzal Guerrero: vocals “Caramelos”
Tom Hagerman: string arrangement “Misterio”
Larry Lopez: drums
Jack Sterbis: percussion
Rick Peron-Trumpet


Gaye Su Akyol • Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu

1 Hologram
2 Akil olmayinca
3 Kendimin efendisiyim ben
4 Fantastiktir bahti yarimin
5 Kendimden kaçmaktan
6 Dünya kaleska
7 Eski tüfek
8 Uzat saçini Istanbul
9 Nargile
10 Anlasana sana aşiğim
11 Mona Lisa
12 Berduş

Istanbul has a deep, layered history. From its beginnings as a fishing village to one of the pillars of the Roman world. The final stop on the Silk Road. The centre of the Ottoman Empire as the Turks spread their huge net across the Middle East. Across the centuries the city drew in cultures and blended them. Growing up there, singer-songwriter Gaye Su Akyol breathed all that in every day, along with her family’s ancient roots in Anatolia. Those rich traditions combine to form part of the sound she’s developed on her album Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu (Hologram Empire), where sultry Turkish melodies twine around spiky, twanging guitars and insistent rhythms.

“It’s a cliché, but the city is a bridge that combines cultures, and that’s very true in music, especially the Greek influence,” Akyol explains. “When I was young, we visited Anatolia every year. I had the chance to observe and realise the different perspectives and practices of cultures. That made me feel closer to the diversity of Anatolian civilisation.”

But that, and the old music on Turkish Radio Television that she internalized, were only parts of the mix that helped shape her sound. She was constantly seeking out the new and the different, something to set off sparks in her emotions.

“When I heard Nirvana’s Nevermind for the first time, my mind blew up. I discovered other Seattle bands, then people like Nick Cave, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, and Einstürzende Neubaten. A bit later I heard Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” The dark, mellow mood of the music, the use of the instruments and the vocal technique of Grace Slick greatly inspired me and led me into psychedelia and then surf bands. What they all did seemed to fit with older Turkish singers I loved like Selda Bağcan and Müzeyyen Senar.”

By then Akyol was already part of a new underground music scene that had sprung up in Istanbul. A military coup in the 1980s led to a repression of rock across the country. After a decade the government’s grip was beginning to loosen, and Akyol became part of the new wave of music, exploring the mix of old Turkish music and rock that she heard in her head.

“Your own culture is important; your parents and grandparents give it to you,” she notes. “No culture is better than any other. I studied as an anthropologist; I know that. So I began finding my culture and mixing it, balancing the traditional and modern elements in my music. My art, my sound. People focus so much on the technical part, but you have to look inside to find out what you want to do. You have to say something new. I want to change the world forever.”

The daughter of acclaimed Turkish painter Muzaffer Akyol, Akyol earned a degree in social anthropology and worked as an artist before creating music took over. She experimented, feeling her way towards her vision. And when she met the band Bubituzak, something clicked. They understood what she was doing; they became part of her art. Together they recorded her debut, Develerle Yaşıyorum, in 2013, following it with acclaimed, masked performances in Turkey and at festivals across Europe.

“I love masks,” Akyol laughs. “They bring mystery and fun, flexibility and a psychedelic aesthetic. Since Bubituzak are already a band, we want to use masks to cover their faces in a mysterious and symbolic way.”

That first disc seeded the ground. The new album, Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu, bears the full fruit of the partnership. It digs deeper, fired with a seductive, shadowy passion. The thick swirl of Oriental strings on “Hologram” plunges towards the heated boil of “Fantastikir Bahti Yarimin.” The dark lullaby of “Dünya Kaleska” weaves a haunted post-punk spell before building to the album’s climax “Berduş,” where spaghetti western guitar cracks over a propulsive rhythm and a sensuous Anatolian melody. The sound is cinematic and gorgeous and Gaye’s luminous voice brilliantly orchestrates these shifting moods.

Echoing the bittersweet tendrils of Turkey’s faded past and dramatic present, her lyrics are bold and deeply personal. At times she embraces the nocturnal and romantic: “I feel immortal by your side/As if the world will be safe/If I drink another double raki.” In other instances, she navigates the surreal and the magically real: “Look at me/I’ve become a butterfly/Come and find me/Black holes are everywhere.” And in several songs she takes a sharp look at the stark realities of Turkey’s political moment: “You sold us out well! /You have a palace but/It’s just empty four walls /Possessions mangle mortals.” It is no surprise that she cites Turkish writers like Melih Cevdet Anday and Sabahattin Ali and the English poet William Blake as crucial artistic influences.

Her music, her art.

“I look for passion in music, lyrics, feelings, people, conversations. There can be no limbo, in between,” Akyol insists. “Passion talks with its very self-assured way to change something or convince someone. I believe we live in a hologram and art is my universe, so I organise the galaxies, planets, solar systems.”

And in Gaye Su Akyol’s universe, the past becomes folded into the present and launched into the future. Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu is heady, powerfully intoxicating and beautifully dangerous.

“Your art is something you have to find yourself,” Akyol says. “I’m looking inside my consciousness to my culture. I love rock but there are hidden things in my subconscious. Call it Turkish art rock if you like.”

Past, present, future.

Her music, her art.




Baba Zula • XX

CD 1:
01. Özgür ruh / Free Spirit / 2004
02. Gerekli şeyler / Essential Things / 2004
03. Erotika hop / 1997
04. Biz size aşık olduk / We Fell In Love With You (TV version) / 2002
05. Seksek / Hopscotch / 2001
06. Cecom / 2002
07. Aşıkların sözü kalır / Eternal Is The Word Of Poets / 2016
08. Efkarlı yaprak / Worried Leaf / 2016
09. Carino: La yegros / feat. Baba Zula/ 2015
10. Yororo kanto: Oki Dub Ainu Band / feat. Baba Zula / 2014
11. Bir sana bir de bana / One For You And One For Me / Delayaman / 2016
12. Çöl aslanları / Desert Lions / 2004 / Live Berlin Bada
13. Abdülcanbaz / 2013 / Live Pireas Resistance Festival

CD 2:
01. Alem Dub – 2016
02. Nobey Dub – 2016
03. Ufak Dub – 2016
04. Iki Alem Dub – 2016 – Dr Das (Asian Dub Foundation)
05. KK Dub – 2016 – Tolga Tolun
06. Hopche Dub – 2016 – Dirtmusic
07. Park Dub – 2009 – Uchi Uchida
08. Lemon Dub – 2009 – Uchi Uchida
09. Adultress Dub – 2005 – Mad Professor
10. BSAO Dub – 2005 – Mad Professor
11. Divan Dub – 2005 – Mad Professor
12. Meçhul Plak Dub (lost record dub) – 2003
13. Israr Dub – 2002
14. Erotik Adab Dub – 2002 – Mad Professor
15. Analog Anadolu Dub – 2000

A kaleidoscopic, two-disc, career-spanning compilation from Istanbul’s revered psychedelic explorers. Esteemed collaborators include Sly & Robbie, Mad Professor, Dr. Das of Asian Dub Foundation, Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubaten) and more. Without a doubt one of the planet’s great musical adventures.

All too often these days, the world can feel like a dark and dangerous place. But music remains a light in the bleakness, offering a constant sense hope and joy and celebration. In Turkey the ominous shadows have been growing longer for several years but Baba Zula have been a shining beacon for 20 years, bringing the West and the Orient together in a glory of Istanbul psychedelia. To celebrate those two decades of existence, XX brings together tracks from across Baba Zula’s history, along with a second album of dubs created by artists like Mad Professor. Dr. Das of Asian Dub Foundation, and Dirtmusic.

“We wanted to have a compilation that was a little different,” explains group founder and electric saz player Osman Murat Ertel. “None of the pieces here are in their original forms. Instead, we picked remixes, re-recordings, collaborations, live tracks, all the possibilities, but none of these have been released before. And it’s a mix of recording techniques – digital, analogue, tape, mp3.”

Formed by Ertel and Levent Akman in 1996, Baba Zula took Turkish psychedelic pioneers of the 1960s like Moğollar as their inspiration and foundation for what they called Istanbul psychedelia, the fathers of a scene that’s since grown up around them.

“Those original bands of the ‘60s grew out of traditional Anatolian music,” Ertel says. “But the coups of the 1970s and ‘80s put an end to any experimentation. We picked up the reins to make music for the 21st century with electric instruments, effects, and machines, something contemporary and unique. I always tell people that they might not like us, but no one can say we’re not original!”

Baba Zula came into existence when Ertel’s previous outfit, ZeN, was asked to create a soundtrack by a director friend. Ertel and two other members were interested, and the band grew from that seed, with music for films very much a part of their output.

Since that small beginning, Baba Zula have played all over the world, won awards for their work in film and theatre, often been rewarded at the Turkish Billboard awards, and had their albums counted among the most prestigious ever released in Turkey. They’ve also built a global network of like-minded performers, experimental souls in all genres of music, working with people as varied as Turkish opera singer Semiha Berksoy, dub mixer Mad Professor, and Can drummer Jaki Liebzeit. And that, to Ertel, is one of the band’s great successes.

“It’s exciting to collaborate with people you listened to when you were young. It’s a great inspiration and a huge fulfilment in dreaming something and having it come true. And it becomes a link of friendship.”

Those links and the band’s deep and fascinating history are displayed in widescreen on XX. “Biz Size Aşik Olduk” (We Fell In Love With You), for instance, is the only song they’ve ever created for a television serial, one that catapulted them to popularity all across Turkey.

“I went to the market the day after it was shown,” Ertel recalls. “As soon as the girl at the cash desk knew who I was, she began singing it.”

But Baba Zula have always believed that music needs to make a powerful statement, and they’ve never pulled punches in their lyrics. On XX, both “Aşiklarin Sözü Kalir” (Eternal Is The Word Of Poets) and “Efkarli Yaprak” (Worried Leaf) make their points very eloquently.

“They’re both re-interpretations of songs we’ve released,” Ertel says. “They appeared on different albums, but we wanted to re-record them so they were closer to our live sound. The first is about how the words of the talking heads and politicians become meaningless so quickly, but what poets say resonate through the centuries. I wrote the second song for my uncle, who was a journalist. He and others fought with their pens and pencils, even though they were tortured and jailed. He died four years ago, and I composed this as a celebration of him.”

In typically perverse and playful fashion, although their biggest ‘hit’ – “Bir Sana Bir De Bana” (One For You And One For Me) – is here, it’s not the original Baba Zula version of the song, but one featuring a duet between an Armenian man and a French woman.

The disc closes with a pair of previously unreleased live tracks. “Çöl Aslanlari” (Desert Lions) was mixed by Einstürzende Neubaten’s Alexander Hacke, while “Abdülcanbaz” is taken from a performance at the Resistance Festival in Piraeus, Greece, with Ertel’s electric saz powering and pushing the group higher and higher over a swell of percussion, electric oud, effects, and vocals. They’re long, mesmeric cuts, the pulsing of an ancient Turkish soul in a very modern band.

“They’re very raw recordings,” Ertel agrees, “but they have power. A record made in the studio is very different to a concert. We’ve never put out a live album, so I wanted to show that side of us.”

And now, with 20 years behind them, what’s next for Baba Zula?

“I never thought it would last this long,” Ertel admits. “Maybe another 20 years is possible, maybe not. But living here in Turkey, I don’t know about the future. I hope the band could continue without me. We give our messages very carefully for those who can understand them. But I do know it’s important to carry on; you can be gone anytime.”

Baba Zula:

Osman Murat Ertel:
electric and acoustic saz, vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, synth, percussion, bass, theremin

Mehmet Levent Akman:
Machines, electronics, cymbals, spoons, bendir, percussion

Sly and Robbie: 1-2 drums and bass
Mehmet Güreli: 1 vocals
Hüsnü Şenlendirici: 1-4 clarinet
Özkan Uğur: 2 vocals
Emre Onel: 3-5 sampler and percussion
Oya Erkaya: 4-6 bass
Brenna Mac Crimmon: 6-7 vocals
Oki: 10 tonkori
Alexander Hacke: 12 bass
Melike Şahin: 7-8 vocals
Periklis Tsoukalas: 7-8-9-13 electric oud
Can Aydemir: 13 bass





Bargou 08 • Targ

01 – Chech el khater 4:38
02 – Mamchout 4:34
03 – Le min ijina 4:04
04 – Tarjaachi layem 5:30
05 – Wazzaa 5:20
06 – Hezzi haremek 5:27
07 – Dek biya 4:44
08 – Roddih 3:29
09 – Sidi el kadhi 4:55

It’s the forgotten place. Lying between the mountains of northwest Tunisia and the Algerian border, the Bargou valley and the village named after it lie isolated, away from the world. It’s poor, barren country, but standing apart, Bargou has developed its own culture that had never been documented until Nidhal Yahyaoui began the task. Born in the valley, he grew up hearing his parents and family sing the songs that belong to the region, and he was determined that the music and traditions shouldn’t slip away into obscurity. With Targ, the album he’s made with his band Bargou 08, Yahyaoui has perfectly fused the past and the present to place Bargou on the map.

“Nidhal began collecting songs from all over the valley more than ten years ago,” explains producer and keyboard player Sofyann Ben Youssef, who’s known Yahyaoui since they were both ten years old. “No one had ever done that before. He listened to the women, to the village elders, and he learned all the variations on the songs. This is his passion, and he asked me to join him.”

Together, they assembled a collective of both local and European musicians who spent three weeks playing in the Yahyaoui family home in Bargou village. They worked on the material, shaping a sound that harnessed the power of the tradition and connected it to something the young would understand.

“These songs are all in the Targ dialect,” Ben Youseff says. “It’s part-Berber, part-Arabic, the language people speak in the valley. Many of these pieces are more than three hundred years old. After the changes in Tunisia in 2011, we felt it was time for a new relationship with our roots, to have something true to the past but that was also intelligible to the young. We spent three weeks in Bargou, with people from the area, performing and listening. By the time we packed up, we felt we were creating something that managed that.”

They took the music they’d created on the road, playing it in cities and villages throughout Tunisia and around the globe, including roaring performances at the famed Roskilde festival in Denmark and the Rainforest festival in Sarawak. For touring, Bargou 08 became a five-piece band, with Yahyaoui on vocals and loutar, Ben Youssef on Moog, along with drums, bendir, and gasba and zokra flutes. By the time they arrived back in Bargou to finally record, they’d honed their ideas and knew how the album would sound.

“It was important for us to record there and to use some local musicians on the record. But we also wanted the young people in the village to see that something could be created right there and that they didn’t need a lot of money to do it, to inspire them.’

Made over the course of three weeks in the Yahyaoui family home, it hewed close to the tradition, taking its power from the root, with Ben Yousef’s synthesizer adding subtle touches at the top and bottom ends.

“Everything goes through the rhythm in this music,” he says. “If you grasp that, the picture becomes much clearer. I tried to imagine what would have happened if an aircraft full of Moogs had crashed in the valley years ago. How would they have integrated them into their music? That was what I did, just something simple but effective. I kept the instruments and voice in the middle and enhanced the top and the bottom frequencies. Those bass lines I play are all traditional rhythms; I just fattened up on the keyboard. To me, I was simply playing traditional music.”

Bales of hay were piled up in the rooms to act as acoustic baffles. Ben Yousef set up in the kitchen, operating the recording equipment with one hand and playing Moog with the other. It was an improvised setup, but it captured the fire and energy of the musicians’ performances. But it all revolves around Yahyaoui’s voice. Raw and emotional, plaintive and passionate, it proudly bears all the weight of history. And underneath, the thick, fat bass carries the music firmly into the 21st century.

But at the heart are the songs themselves, and the insights they offer into the life of the Bargou valley through time.

“We didn’t choose the material on Targ,” Ben Yousef says. “The songs chose us. The place made the selection for us. They brought it all alive. “Mamchout,” for instance, is a man describing his lover, saying how her hair feels like the feathers of an eagle, so dark. The words talk about how they speak to each other, how they kiss and make love, but all phrased in a way that obeys the taboo of the time. It’s history in your hand.”

Yahyaoui’s singing, whether about love or the sense of difference and isolation that marks the Bargou people, catches every strand of emotion in the songs, making them so real and concrete that the songs could have been written yesterday. Around him, the explosive rhythms of drums and percussion give a primal power to the bass grooves. It’s the trance of the past emerging from out of the speakers.

With Targ, Bargou 08 make sure that the valley and its people will never be forgotten.


Lassaed Bougalmi – gasba, zokra (traditional reed instruments)
Imed Rezgui – bendir (percussion)
Nidhal Yahyaoui – vocals, wtar (oud-like instrument)
Sofyan Ben Youssef – synthesizer, musical director
Benjamin Chaval – drums





 Tamikrest • Kidal

01. Mawarniha Tartit
02. Wainan Adobat
03.Manhouy Inerizhan
04. War Toyed
05. Atwitas
06. Tanakra
07. War Tila Eridaran
08. Ehad Wad Nadorhan
09. Erres Hin Atouan
10. Adoutat Salilagh
11. Adad Osan Itibat

All around Kidal, the Malian desert stretches in every direction. Endless horizons of rock and sand, barren and parched. This is the southwestern edge of the Sahara, the home of the Tuareg people, and the town of Kidal is one of their main cultural centres. Fought over, conquered and re-conquered, it remains the symbol of Tuareg defiance and hope, the spiritual home of a dispossessed people.

It is also the town in which Tamikrest first came together as a group, and on Kidal, Tamikrest’s fourth studio album, the band pays homage to this place that’s nurtured them and their people.

It’s a cry of suffering and the yell of rebellion. It’s power and resistance. This is pure Tuareg rock’n’roll.

“I wrote most of the songs when I was in the desert,” explains singer and lead guitarist Ousmane Ag Mossa. But it had to be that way, he says. “If you want to talk about the situation, you really need to live it.”

From the simmering intensity behind the opener, “Mawarniha Tartit,” through the sweet slide work of second guitarist Paul Salvagnac on “Atwitas” to the full-blooded roar on “Adoutat Salilagh,” this is a band fired with passion for their people and the centuries of injustice they’ve endured.

Kidal talks about dignity,” Ag Mossa says. “We consider the desert as an area of freedom to live in. But many people consider it as just a market to sell to multinational companies, and for me, that is a major threat to the survival of our nomadic people.”

The music on the album has deep roots in the Tuareg tradition, but it burns with a brilliant, modern flame. “My love is my country, my ambition is freedom,” Ag Mossa sings on “War Tila Eridaran,” a proud statement of intent. “No being must live in oppression, ignominy, and eternal repression.” It’s the sound of a people who endure their struggle every single day. To them, the idea of what Kidal represents is almost as important as the place itself.

The Tuareg have always been nomadic people, their lives in motion across the desert, sometimes taking with them only the bare essentials. But for one brief moment they possessed a home after the Tuaregs rose up in 2012 and declared the independent state of Azawad in the northeast of Mali. It lasted less than a year, as first al-Qaeda conduits swept in from the north, imposing Islamist rule, and then the French military arrived to liberate the area – once again leaving the Tuareg with little or no chance for self-determination. But the dream remains, still trapped between governments and the greed of global corporations.

“Kidal, the cradle of all these uprisings, continues to resist the many acts perpetrated by obscure hands against our people,” notes band associate Rhissa Ag Mohamed. “This album evokes all the suffering and manipulation of our populations caught in pincers on all sides.”

The songs on Kidal evoke a long history. And for all the electricity, as Ag Mossa observes, “It’s very traditional if you go deeply into what I’m playing.”

Everything here is focused. Everything burns. Ag Mossa punctuates his lyrics with inspired bolts of guitar. Even an acoustic song like “Tanakra” maintains a luminous edge.

But from their debut in 2010 onwards, Tamikrest have had the fire in their music, and it’s built with each release.  Chatma, their third disc, hit number one on the European World Music charts and was acclaimed as one of the Albums of the Year in publications across the globe. Songlines magazine gave them the Best Group Award, while their live performances showed a band whose sound sent sparks flying.

With Kidal, that blaze is roaring. Recorded in Bamako, Mali in the summer of 2016, the album was produced by Mark Mulholland (Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra) and mixed by David Odlum, who received a Grammy for his work with Tinariwen. It’s an album that’s taken two years to make, Ag Mossa says, “because we share the same difficulties of our people.” And the songs here mirror their joys, their pain and their unwillingness to accept things as they are.

There’s a raw beauty in Tamikrest’s rock’n’roll. It’s there in the driving, insistent groove that powers the songs, the lean, snaking bass lines and the guitars that twine and twist around the melodies, and the utterly natural musical blending of Sahel Africa, the Maghreb, and the West – a reflection of influences as diverse as Pink Floyd, Rachid Taha, and flamenco. Yet the Sahara, and the people who live there, is always firmly at its heart.

“This music was founded on a very precise cause, the Tuareg cause,” Ag Mossa told journalist Andy Morgan in 2013. They might be threatened on all sides, but they won’t give up, and this album celebrates who the Tuareg are, the Kel Tamasheq (“those who speak Tamasheq”), the keepers of an ancient and endangered cultural voice.

Tamikrest’s new album is the music of defiance, of hope. It’s rock’n’roll from the Sahara, the sound of the Tuareg dream, a dream that will be renewed again, in their ancestral town: Kidal.


Kidal was recorded at Studio Bogolan, in Bamako, Mali, August/September, 2016
Produced by Mark Mulholland
Mixed by David Odlum at Black Box Recording (Noyant la Gravoyere, France)

Tamikrest are:
Ousmane Ag Mossa – vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar
Aghaly Ag Mohamedine – djembe, backing vocals
Cheick Ag Tiglia – bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Paul Salvagnac – lead & rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar
Nicolas Grupp – drums, percussion


75 Dollar Bill • Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock

01. Earth Saw
02. Beni Said
03. Cummins Falls
04. I’m Not Trying to Wake Up

The NYC based duo of Rick Brown and Che Chen, creates hypnotic, pulsing music that weaves an ecstatic line from raw electric blues, Arabic modes and entrancing folk minimalism back to the streets of New York.

We are proud that W/M/P/P/R/R is the first release on Glitterbeat’s new label imprint: tak:til.


I feel very lucky to have wound up playing in 75 Dollar Bill with Che. I’ll take some credit for the early setup, as I pursued the idea of us jamming together for a few years before we actually made some music together. But when it comes to focusing our sound, putting together a good set- list, imagining how to expand the group with guests and designing almost all of the visual/package aspects, Che has taken the lead. Obviously, he is responsible for his own parts and playing and his interest in the Arabic modes of Mauritanian music has marked our sound quite a bit but I have brought some things, too. The plywood crate I play is a big factor, defining, by its positive qualities (a nice warm “boom” sound) as well as by its simplicity, what we’re likely to do in the percussion realm.

WMPPRR, this new record, differs quite a bit from the previous one, notably in the rhythmic “tone.” Wooden Bag (released in 2015 on Other Music Recording Co.) was all forward momentum, stomping and shaking, but the new record explores a long-standing interest of mine: odd and “compound” meters. In most of my previous musical activities, I’ve convinced my partners to delve into this, but in 75 Dollar Bill it has just felt natural and I believe Che’s modal investigations and melodic/harmonic tendencies enhance (and are enhanced by) this combination.

The current record differs from the last in another big way: reinforcements! Over our few years together, Che and I have frequently had friends play with us at some of our gigs. There have been all sorts of permutations of instruments and some great friends/players who don’t all appear on this record but here we are lucky to have a bunch of them: Cheryl Kingan (of The Scene Is Now) on baritone and alto saxes, Andrew Lafkas (of Todd Capp’s Mystery Train) on contrabass, Karen Waltuch (of Zeke & Karen) on viola, Rolyn Hu (of True Primes) on trumpet and Carey Balch (of Knoxville’s Give Thanks) on floor tom. 75 Dollar Bill’s plans for the future involve much more playing with these friends and others in bigger and smaller combos – as well as me and Che stripped back to the core guitar and crate duo.

For the present, though, please enjoy WOOD/METAL/PLASTIC/ PATTERN/RHYTHM/ROCK.


EARTH SAW is one of our earliest tunes and, I think, the first result of this ‘compound meter’ approach. It’s a slow 9 beat phrase Che came up with for this odd groove (it’s aksak, meaning “limping”, as such rhythms are called in Turkish). BENI SAID, after its intro, has no fixed rhythmic cycle but a roughly unison melodic phrase and a pulsing, loose feeling of 3s and 4s played using a box full of bottle caps. CUMMINS FALLS, named after the beautiful Tennessee State Park and swimming hole you hear at its end, features Carey Balch on Diddleybeat floor tom and me reprising the maracas that were very prominent on Wooden Bag. I’M NOT TRYING TO WAKE UP is another of our compound meter songs, this one using an 18 beat scheme. The sax, guitar and percussion parts are built in layers of patterned variations of measures adding up to 18, while the trumpet wails above us, uncounted.

Rick Brown:
plywood crate, maracas, shakers, bells, a drum
Che Chen: 12 and 6 string electric guitars, bass, shakers

with guest musicians:
Carey Balch: floor tom
Rolyn Hu: trumpet
Cheryl Kingan: baritone & alto saxophones  Andrew Lafkas: contrabass
Karen Waltuch: viola

“New York’s 75 Dollar Bill are an astonishingly potent next stage in an ongoing cultural exchange…magnificent; like a gnawa ritual that’s been convened by Junior Kimbrough.” – Uncut (75 Best Albums of 2016, #32)

“The instrumental duo of Che Chen and Rick Brown have been blowing minds on the East Coast live circuit with little more than an electric guitar and a wooden crate rhythm section.” – The Wire (Releases of the Year, #16)

“Gloriously mind-frying, ritualistic splatter of Zen blues and Arabic and African music-influenced riff-rock repetition that shows Brown and Chen expanding their lineup with sax, violin, bass and second guitar. The sound may be bigger with a sweeter shine yet it remains unmistakably 75 Dollar Bill: epically shambolic, thrifty and jazzy guitarscapes dripping of ecstatic hypnotism.”
– The Observer (The Best Experimental Albums of 2016 – So Far)

“It’s hard not to slip into ridiculous hyperbole when it comes to 75 Dollar Bill. Best band in New York City? Best band in the USA? Best band in the universe?…they’ve definitely nailed down a thrillingly original sound. — Aquarium Drunkard



Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society • Simultonality

01. Maroon Dune
02. Ophiuchus
03. St. Cloud
04. Sideways Fall
05. 2128 1/2

“Abrams makes music that falls between genres…but it all feels singular.”
— Pitchfork

Mesmerizing and explorative. A nexus of non-western traditional musics, minimalism, krautrock textures and jazz.

We are very proud that Simultonilty will be released in Europe on Glitterbeat’s new label imprint: tak:til

The follow-up to Joshua Abrams’s critically acclaimed 2015 album Magnetoception is here. Simultonality, credited to Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society (NIS), is the first recording in the project’s nine year, four album history made by a regularly gigging manifestation rather than a special assembly of friends. Recorded in 2014 & 2015 in single takes by the full ensemble during & after tours of the U.S. & Canada, Simultonality sets out new pathways for Abrams & the NIS to reach the next summit, & once more affirms the project’s unique approach to joining traditional musics, American minimalism & jazz with the Gnawa ceremonial instrument the guimbri.

Stasis, continuity & repetition, central qualities of Abrams language, defined Magnetoception, a double album of beautifully spacious & unhurried music that rated high on both The Wire & Pitchfork’s lists of the best records of 2015. These same qualities form the heart of Abrams music on Simultonality. But where Abrams once said Magnetoception is about “winter & death,” Simultonality —in Abrams words— is an album of “pure motion.” Without sounding frenetic it is the most explosive NIS music on record, & without sounding over-determined it is Abrams’s most structured & thru-composed music yet. Much of it is also fast (“the last record was slow”), a mass of densely patterned elements swiftly orbiting constantly reconfiguring centers that are variously harmonic & rhythmic, clearly stated or implied. While so teeming & tightly packed as to sometimes seem impossible to parse, the music is at no time any more disorderly than a colony of bees pollinating a vast garden. Its many moving parts function in mutualistic relationship toward fulfilling Abrams’s long stated intention for the project: to help listener’s achieve a meditative center & to consciously use music as a gateway to living. Abrams credits the great bassist & composer William Parker as an inspiration for this intention.

The musicians on Simultonality date back to the nascency of NIS. Along with Hamid Drake, Mikel Avery & Frank Rosaly are Abrams first-call drummers for the project. Abrams prefers two or more drummers in NIS whenever possible. On Simultonality, Avery is in the left channel, Rosaly the right. The metallic shaker sound sometimes heard in the center of the stereo image is the rattle attached to Abrams’s guimbri. Astute heads may recognize the rhythm in “Sideways Fall” as Jaki Leibezeit’s drum break in Can’s “Vitamin C.” For “Sideways Fall”, the two drummers divided the beat into separate parts at Abrams behest. According to Hamid Drake the rhythm was popularized, if not originated, by John “Jabo” Starks & Clyde Stubblefield of the J.B.’s. Nearly ten years into its existence, Abrams & the NIS wear their influences with creativity & ease.

Long standing NIS members Ben Boye & Emmett Kelly were previously together with Abrams, or not, in Bonnie Prince Billy’s band, & Abrams & Boye have at different times played in Kelly’s band The Cairo Gang (Boye & Kelly are presently in Ty Segall’s Freedom Band). Harmonium player Lisa Alvarado also contributes the large format pattern paintings used by NIS at concerts & for its album covers.

A note on Simultonalty’s closer, “2128½ South Indiana”. Abrams is back on bass, as he was in the 1990s when serving as house bassist for the weekly session at Fred Anderson’s Velvet Lounge (address 2128½ South Indiana Ave., Chicago). At the end of the night Anderson often played Alice Coltrane’s Journey In Satchidananda as he re-stocked the bar & the musicians packed up their instruments. The open-form group improv that starts the piece makes explicit Abrams & NIS’s roots in free music culture, until the journey to the spirit of Fred Anderson & back to the glory of The Velvet Lounge begins. Guest artist Ari Brown’s gently wheeling, prayerful solo comes from way deep inside Chicago’s heavyweight tenor saxophone history.

Along with the usual hooey about talent & vision, perseverance & sacrifice, great music just involves time. eremite released earlier recordings by this manifestation of NIS as bonus tracks —recorded 2012 & 2013 respectively— on our 2014 CD reissues of Natural Information & Represencing. With the release of Simultonality we now finally & definitively show the project’s direction of the last five years (& as anyone who heard Abrams’s November 2016 residency at Chicago’s Hideout Inn knows, he is already moving on).

To grow the project into a second decade by reaching a wider audience, eremite is partnered with Glitterbeat Records (Germany) to release Simultonality on LP & CD in the European market on Glitterbeat’s new imprint tak:til.

Michael Ehlers / eremite records




Ifriqiyya Electrique • Rûwâhîne

01. Laa la illa Allah 02:50
02. Qaadrii – Salaam Alaik – Massarh 07:33
03. Mawwel 01:10
04. Zuru el Haadi – El Maduulaa – Maaluuma 06:34
05. Stombali – Baba ‘Alaia 03:39
06. Annabi Mohammad – Laa la illa Allah – Deg el bendir 09:15
07. Lavo – Baba Marzug – Sidi Saad – Allah 04:47
08. Arrah arrah abbaina – Bahari – Tenouiba 05:43
09. Sidriiya 02:06

Sufi trance musicians and rituals – from the depths of the Tunisian desert – in conversation with post-industrial sonics.

‘No theatre or stage or audience. The rûwâhîne have possessed and contorted the bodies of the Banga. Teenagers leap to the floor, their legs arched and tense, glaring transfixed [while] girls dance wildly, … accelerating the rhythm of the hand percussion’

The film opens on a cloud-pressed, bleached-out desert highway and an ominous electronic pulse, a devil of a wind, that you don’t want to shake off. Where are you? The truck in front carries human freight, half-glimpsed, anxious and thoughtful.

You’re soon joined by the kind of dark lunar soundscapes familiar from Can, by polyrhythms at once deft and relentless, and then, as the truck reaches the outskirts of the town, by chants that seem to issue from the empty streets themselves. Ifriqiyah was the medieval entity that contained present-day Tunisia, as well as parts of Algeria and Libya: the boundaries, more or less, of the Roman province of Africa. Is this where you are?

To get your bearings, you might first have to dive into a basement club somewhere in Southern Europe: Barcelona, perhaps, or Taranto or Palermo. For Ifriqiyya Electrique’s François Cambuzat – a guitarist and field recordist (Turkey, China, Central Asia) – is a veteran of the Mediterranean punk and avant-rock scene, which has always been more politically charged than its counterparts to the north and (far) west. With bassist Gianna Greco, he is one half of Putan Club – or one third when these two fierce and uncompromising players are joined by legend of the NY underground, Lydia Lunch.

These are not spaces of comfort but of challenge and confrontation.

But let us pull focus again – and this is crucial, bass and guitar and electronics notwithstanding. Ifriqiyya Electrique was formed in the Djerid Desert in southern Tunisia, home to the Banga ritual of Sidi Marzûq. The Banga is a key annual event in the lives of the black communities of the oasis towns of southern Tunisia, descendants of the Hausa slaves transported from sub-Saharan Africa. It is a ritual of adorcism not of exorcism: of accommodating the possessing spirit rather than expelling it. The invitation has been issued by the rûwâhîne themselves, the spirits from whom the record borrows its title, and is taken up primarily in the streets and in private houses.

The Banga is a musical tradition for sure, with stark, metallic, cavernous percussion and voices of cool urgency, but should not be felt as such, for it is most defiantly a ritual and remains so on this record. Cambuzat and Greco are joined in live performance by the voices, krakebs and Tunisian tablas of three members of the Banga community, Tarek Sultan, Yahia Chouchen and Youssef Ghazala, with a fourth, Ali Chouchen, providing vocals and nagharat on the record itself. The voices and rhythms are unaltered, of course. What is new here is the conversation the group initiates between guitar, bass and electronics and the rhythms and chants of the Banga – what Cambuzat refers to a post-industrial ceremony. It won’t be an easy listen for purists and propagandists; but if post-industrial ceremony doesn’t describe a large portion of the most challenging music of the last 40 years, what does?

In short, the music can only be fully understood in the context of the events that gave rise to it. Happily, Ifriqiyya Electrique is a film and documentary project as much as a band. The footage is astonishing: of wild, ecstatic gatherings that seem, to us, the un-initiates, by turns other-worldly and utterly familiar. It is familiar because we all recognise the need for “new ways of forgetting”, in Cambuzat’s words. But we surely need to remember too. For here is another deep tradition, another precarious music, on the brink: a vital part of a Sufi culture being pressed on all sides by the forces of reaction. Ifriqiyya Electrique will not be lamenting its passing – because they will refuse to let it pass.

‘This is, then, most certainly not a “world music” project (still less an ethnomusicological one), but a wild process of improvisation and re-composition that brings traditional instruments face to face with computers and electric guitars… [My work] is driven towards elevation, sweat, blood, poetry and tears – not to some pretty colour postcard’ — François R. Cambuzat / Ifriqiyya Electrique



Tarek Sultan: vox, tabla, tchektchekas
Yahia Chouchen: vox, tabla, tchektchekas
Youssef Ghazala: vox, tchektchekas

Gianna Greco: bass, voice, computer

François R. Cambuzat: guitars, voice, computer
Guest: Ali Chouchen, tangura & vox


King Ayisoba • 1000 Can Die

01. Africa Needs Africa (feat. Wanlov da Kubolor & Big Gad) 4:26
02. Wekana (feat. Zea) 5:36
03. 1000 Can Die (feat. M3nsa & Lee “Scratch” Perry) 5:24
04. Grandfather Song 5:44
05. Dapagara (feat. Orlando Julius & Zenabu) 4:56
06. Wine Lange (feat. Sakuto Yongo) 4:33
07. Anka Yen Tu Kwai (feat. Atinbila & Steven Anaho) 4:08
08. Yalma Dage Wanga 4:34
09. Ndeema 4:05

Ghana’s ancient empire and the 21st century global express. The rhythms that created the past alongside the beats forging the present. In King Ayisoba, they all converge. Everything morphing into one. And on his new album, 1000 Can Die, they stand together, history and today, side by side. The tradition hewn from the future.

 “King Ayisoba and his band know that traditional instruments are stronger than anything modern,” says album producer Zea (the Ex’s Arnold de Boer).  “Playing them is a gift from God. They’ll take what they can use from electronica, from hiplife (the hugely popular Ghanaian style that fuses the local highlife music with hip-hop) but they won’t let it beat them, because they know what they have is more powerful. Their music is pulled from the ground.”

The juxtaposition of the two on 1000 Can Die shows the irresistible drive of both sides. The thick, squelching bass and beats that push under the older rhythms of “Anka Yen Tu Kwai” are overtaken by the guluku and dundun drums that bring in “Yalma Dage Wanga,” its rapid-fire melody dictated by Ayisoba’s voice and two-string kologo lute.

“We wanted the drums leading and upfront all the time, not as exotic additions,” Zea says. “The sense of tradition always rises above everything.”

That overwhelming sense of the past in the present has been the hallmark of King Ayisoba’s career. Born in Bolgatanga in rural Ghana, he was a prodigy on the kologo, playing locally until he’d outgrown the possibilities of the area. Moving to Accra, the country’s biggest city, he eventually released the song “I Want To See You, My Father.” There was nothing modern about it. No hiplife rap, no electronic beats. But somehow it conquered the country and brought the tradition firmly into the mainstream.

“It was Song of the Year and Traditional Song of the Year,” Zea recalls. “He also had a song called “Modern Ghanaians” that said we shouldn’t forget the tradition. Instead we should use it to fight modern problems.”

With that mantra, King Ayisoba became the unlikeliest star. His music was a strong weapon for Ghana’s traditions. What he wanted, though, was to play with a band, to bring what he called the “man-power” to give the full drive to his sound. On the album Wicked Leaders, with Zea producing, that’s exactly what he did.

After that Ayisoba toured Europe together with Zea, opening up solo, providing guitar, vocals and live electronics on stage, and Francis Ayagama joined King Ayisoba’s band on djembe and bemne drums

 “Francis is young and he has a small studio. Ayisoba said he’d like to ‘chop’ some of my beats with the band. We tried it, then he and Francis started working on things. Sometimes beats first, sometimes the other way round, but always around the groove of the band. Ayisoba believed he’d show that the tradition was more powerful.”

Piece by piece, the experiments grew into the juggernaut of 1000 Can Die. Guests brought new facets to some of the tracks. The trailblazing Nigerian saxophonist Orlando Julius adds a raw, reedy quality to “Dapagara,” while on “Wine Lange,” the only song not to feature kologo, Sakuto Yongo’s one-string gonju fiddle takes the music into a different, ancient dimension. The title cut features Ghanaian rapper/producer M3nsa alongside the shape shifting vision of legendary reggae producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

‘We met Scratch in Amsterdam airport,’ Zea remembers. ‘He and Ayisoba grabbed each other’s attention. We had a short talk, and they decided to do something together. It wasn’t planned. We already had M3nsa’s part on the track when we sent it off. That song created itself.”

“1000 Can Die” builds into a sonic epic; after that the all-acoustic “Grandfather Song” arrives like a plunge into deep water.

“It’s a preaching,” Ayisoba explains. “You can never cut the small stone. This means you have to stay strong, when you are big or small, they can never cut you when you are a stone.”

Alone or with beats, ultimately the power that propels 1000 Can Die comes from the band itself, from the sense of history that forms every piece of music. It’s there in every musician. They all go home and farm. They’re connected to the land, and the songs are part of the harvest they bring from the fields and from their own families.

“Ayisoba’s grandfather played the kologo,” Zea says. “But only in the house. He was a healer, a shaman. People would come and tell him their problems. He’d make a connection with the spirits, then play and start singing, and his stories would include solutions.”

It’s a force that Ayisoba has inherited. He’s absolutely compelling, charismatic. Not only in his imposing appearance, but in his kologo style – part rhythm, part melody – and singing. Whether the words are in Frafra, Twi, or his own style of pidgin English, the sense is always there: this is a man who has something important to impart. Every moment is intense and urgent. It leaps over the sounds of the album’s opener, “Africa Needs Africa,” and remains, gentle and soothing, on the acoustic last track, “Ndeema.”

“Ndeema is the name of your wife’s house, where the father- and mother-in-law live,” Ayisoba explains. If me and my wife get problem, the wife will go to her house and the father-in-law will support the wife. So this song is about how to solve the problem.”

Perhaps there are solutions in the music. There’s definitely hope. On 1000 Can Die, King Ayisoba is digging a new future from Ghana’s soil.

King Ayisoba – vocals, kologo

Abaadongo Adontanga – dancer, backing vocals, dorgo

Ayuune Sulley – Sinyaka, backing vocals

Gemeka Abobe Azure – guluku & dundun drums

Ayamga Francis – Djembe & Bemne drums


Jupiter & Okwess • Kin Sonic

01. Hello 
02. Musonsu 
03. Ofakombolo 
04. Benanga 
05. Pondjo Pondjo
06. Emikele Ngamo 
07. Nkoy 
08. Nzele Momi 
09. Le temps passé 
10. Ekombe 
11. Bengai Yo

With their second album Kin Sonic, Jupiter and Okwess transcend the Congo’s unexplored musical heritage and dive into a pool of modernity. We’re invited to savour his latest recipe, the Okwess (‘food’ in the Kibunda language) which is the fruit of all the encounters and influences he has absorbed during his many journeys around the world. It’s a recipe based on perfect alchemy, enriched by contributions from Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, violinist Warren Ellis of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds and Robert del Naja, aka ‘3D’, of Massive Attack.

Del Naja’s input comes in the form of a unique and powerful album cover, the fee for which he decided to donate to an NGO called La Fondation Etoile du Congo de Madame Princesse Kibinda Mariam Rita[1], based in Lemba, the neighbourhood in Kinshasa where Jupiter lives. Rita, who is the daughter of a traditional chieftain, is very attached to her roots, and she’s given herself the mission to help homeless children who live on the streets, especially those of Lemba. Jupiter is the Foundation’s ambassador.

Jean-Pierre Bokondji, aka ‘Jupiter’ (the nickname has since become his official first name), was born in Kinshasa on the 16th December 1963, three years after the Congo was given its independence. He spent a large part of his childhood and adolescence living in Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania and East Berlin, where his father worked as an attaché at the Congolese embassy. But in 1979, at the age of 17, he left East Germany, returned to Kinshasa and threw himself into another dimension, the antithesis of the life he’d known until then.

Growing up in Germany, Jupiter listened to the best American soul: James Brown, The Jackson 5, The Temptations and Kool and the Gang. Then, back in the Congo, he discovered the ultra-dominant Congolese rumba style, but also a multitude of other rhythms and styles that vegetate in the shadows of rumba, all strangely reminiscent of funk, soul and rock. With the spark provided by this apparent complicity between Congolese traditions and Western music, Jupiter decided to create his own mode of musical expression.

He set about writing his first songs, full of lyrics that question the accepted history of his country and the motives of the people who rule over it. It was a time when the Congo was teetering constantly between tyranny and anarchy. Barely 18 years old, he set his sights on a career in music, to the great disappointment of his father who was opposed to anything that might distract him from his studies. When the latter declared his intention to send his son back to Europe, Jupiter left the family home and began to live on the streets, sleeping in abandoned houses and earning a few coins as a tam-tam drum player at funerals. That’s how he earned the status of a grade one rebel, as well as his nickname, ‘Jupiter’, which has stuck to him ever since.

It was around this time, at the beginning of the 1980s, that he joined the band Famous Black, which later became Bongo Folk before finally settling on the name Okwess. Since then, Okwess has had many line-up changes but always kept the same captain at the helm.

In 2006, a documentary called Jupiter’s Dance directed by Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret revealed this extraordinary personality to the world, this lanky wading bird dressed in a general’s uniform, a sort of ghetto Don Quixote who, in a dilapidated and abandoned environment, has fought stubbornly against the odds to keep his band alive, using all the arts of tenacity and débrouillardise[2].

In 2013, the release of the album Hotel ‘Univers’ gave Jupiter a certain international legitimacy as well as the opportunity to tour the world several times over.

A few years ago, the French actress and film director Sandrine Bonnaire came to Kinshasa and met Jupiter. She was already a total fan. It felt logical to invite her to read an extract from the book Bandoki (‘The Sorcerers’) by Zamenga Batukezanga, an African philosopher and author with a vivid writing style who though little known outside the Congo, was a familiar face in the neighbourhood of Lemba, where he lived and died in 2000. Accompanying the song ‘Le Temps Passé’ (‘Time Passed’), which was written by Okwess’ drummer Montana during his hours of romance and nostalgia, the extract implores the ancestors for help with the arduous task of educating children in the harsh reality of Congo’s challenging environment. In some ways, by delivering this message, Sandrine took on the role of Princess Rita, helper of the children of Lemba. “When you’ve travelled down many roads, you inevitably make plenty of false steps. What’s important is to never give up.”

To never give up…in this country where life expectancy hovers around 50 years. Thanks to the Congo’s immense natural resources, half a century of independence dedicated to the enrichment of a small handful of people and the impoverishment of everyone else followed on from a colonial era in which the seizure of natural wealth was the only rule. Just like the writing of Zamenga Batukezanga, Jupiter’s lyrics focus on this painful past, and how to overcome it. It’s a discourse in which the truth advances prudently, on tiptoe, thanks in no small part to the dangers that lie in wait for those who talk too much. That’s why Jupiter uses stories and parables to denounce injustice in the song ‘Bengai Yo’, or to mock a ‘king’ who’s extravagant with other people’s money in the song ‘Benanga’. This kind of prudence could also be called ‘diplomacy’, a concept with which the Bokondji family are only too familiar.

Gathered around Jupiter are the Okwess faithful: Montana (of Staff Benda Bilili) on drums and Yendé on bass, guitarists Eric and Richard and the singer Blaise.

Every song on Kin Sonic presents its own slice of life, its own bundle of thoughts and reflections, its own singularity. But also its own slice of universality, augmented by the violin of Warren Ellis and the keyboards of Damon Albarn.

Produced by Marc-Antoine Moreau (Amadou & Mariam, Songhoy Blues) and François Gouverneur, Kin Sonic finds its voice in the exploration of a heritage that has remained totally hidden until now, and comes to take its place in a contemporary landscape where walls and borders are exploding in the face of men’s yearning to share moments of beauty and pure madness, all mixed up together.


[1] The Star of Congo Foundation of Mme Princess Kibinda Mariam Rita

[2] A French word meaning ‘hustle’ or ‘making do’.



Širom • I Can Be a Clay Snapper

01. Just About Awake (Malodane budnost)
02. Boats, Biding, Beware! (Čolni, čakam, čúvaj!)
03. Everything I Sow Is Fatal (Vseje usodno)
04. Maestro Kneading Screams of Joy (Maestro mane vriskanje)
05. Ten Words (Deset besed)

Hailing from Slovenia, Širom play vividly textured and (mostly) imagined, instrumental folk musics. Handmade and global instrumentation meets fearless sound exploration.

The 3rd release from Glitterbeat’s new label imprint: tak:til

Slovenia’s miniature, but incredibly diverse landscapes, echo through its distinctive cultural, historic and linguistic traits. When thinking about Širom’s geographical trajectories, as well as their musical ebb and flow, one has to consider the abundance of water that can be found in the individual regions where they come from. Cascading mountain stream lilt, lazy lowland river meandering and the mysteriously vanishing waters of Karst are most certainly inscribed into Samo Kutin’s, Iztok Koren’s and Ana Kravanja’s childhood memories and subsequently, their remarkable musical art.

“In the process of making the second album we decided to shoot a film,” Samo Kutin explains. “The idea was to visit the places we come from, the ones that are more difficult to access, to see how environment in which we grew up in and the memories it awakes, affect our musical improvisation. The film called Memoryscapes is a kind of a document of this experiment, but the experiment itself certainly influenced the creation of the second album.”

Watching the trio experiment and jam on ribab, frame drums, balafons, percussions and various other unusual or homemade instruments in the sinkhole Bukovnik in Karst, on the snowy mountain top of Kal above the village Čadrg and in bright yellow turnip rape fields in Prekmurje, the soundscapes they create symbolically depict the essence of Širom. The search for idiosyncratic sound where no one else is looking. A passion for exploring diverse sonic qualities as well as examining the constantly changing relations between the material (everything that produces sound), the environment, human experience and musical intervention.

But the journey towards I Can Be a Clay Snapper began with a rather different chord. Before plunging into improvisational and complex compositional musical waters, Ana and Samo cite punk rock as the starting point of their music ventures. While Ana was busy playing bass guitar in a punk band in Ljubljana, Samo, along with his twin brother Jani, formed numerous local line-ups including the punkish Štrudls; the more acoustic Migowc and Čarangi; while eventually morphing into the experimental collective Salamandra Salamandra, which still enjoys a somewhat legendary status amongst Slovenian music aficionados.

“As a schoolboy I experienced a strange feeling of shame when listening to music, so I just didn’t. Later, when I indulged myself in music, I realized that this was because it was a very powerful medium for me,” admits Iztok, who cut his teeth in noise, metal and post rock bands such as ŠKM Banda and Hexenbrutal.

Samo and Ana first met at the improvisational music workshops, conducted by the leading Slovenian “improv-man” Tomaž Grom and Japanese improvisational percussionist Seijiro Murayama respectively. Other shared influences include classical minimalism and global musics. The couple eventually formed the kalimba-based duo Najoua.

Iztok lent an ear, liked what he heard and invited Najoua to join his band on a European tour, during which time they decided that the three of them should collaborate. But at the beginning it was not a smooth ride, as Samo recalls: “It was not easy to create music that would satisfy all three of us, but that’s kind of crucial, since it is this intersection of different personalities that created Širom. It is through conflict that new ideas emerge.”

The band’s emergent sound oscillates between a wide array of acoustic folk sounds and contemporary post rock meditations, often drifting from improvisation to structured composition and then back. It is described by the members themselves as imaginary folk or folk from a parallel universe. “Our music creates emotional landscapes. When I was still painting every day (Ana holds a degree in painting) I was trying to paint my dreams but that didn’t work out,” Ana remembers. “I discovered that by using an abstract image I can draw nearer to what I felt in my dreams. Our music is based on a similar principle.”

According to Samo, the guiding concepts of their music-making are: “To play on acoustic instruments, to work with repetition and a common sound. Each of us can play a simple thing, but the overall result is that a complex thing comes to life. The quality of sound depends on the combination of the instruments and that’s why we modify and prepare instruments or create our own.”

As an avid sound-seeker, Samo began to develop an interest in building instruments out of everyday objects like drawers, computer boxes and other “junk” (as he lovingly calls his creations) as well as re-tooling the ones he brought back from his globetrotting adventures that have included personal encounters with local musicians in India, Morocco, Mali, Greece and elsewhere.

Ana, who also nurtures a very personal relationship with music paraphernalia, adds: “There is a different attitude at play if you make an instrument yourself. It already tells you a story. If you buy it, it takes longer to get to know it, to tame it.”

In the little village of Lesno Brdo, tucked in the rolling hills ten kilometers south of Ljubljana, Ana and Samo organize music performances and festivals on a farm they rent, and divide their time between music making and vegetable farming. A close connection with nature is also important to Iztok who now resides in the capital city. “It’s a sort of a contact with the past but it also has its own life in the present.”

Fearlessly textured sonic landscapes – both linked to and unbound by – the past and present, geography and tradition, the real and imagined. Hypnotic, otherworldly and epic.

Širom’s music moves like the restless waters of their homeland. No matter how hushed or slow it may seem, it is never ever standing still.


Širom are:
Iztok Koren – banjo, three string banjo, bass drum, percussion, chimes, balafon, various objects
Ana Kravanja – violin, viola, ribab, cünbüs, balafon, ngoma drum, mizmar, various objects, voice
Samo Kutin – lyre, balafon, one string bass, frame drums, brač, gongoma, mizmar, various objects, voice

All compositions written and arranged by Širom.
Recorded without overdubbing, Lesno Brdo, Slovenia, February 2017.

painting Marko Jakše
photo Nada Žgank
translation Gregor Zamuda
design Eva Kosel
recorded by Iztok Zupan
mixed by Chris Eckman
mastered by Gregor Zemljič




Abatwa (The Pygmy) • Why Did We Stop Growing Tall?

01. Sida Ni Mbi (“AIDS is Bad”) written & performed by Christoph Ntabanganyimana with Bihoyiki Dathive.
Improvised rap with battery operated loop machines    

02. Rwanda Nziza (“Beautiful Rwanda”) written & performed by Emmanuel Hatungimana
one-string Umuduli player (single string instrument featured on cover)          

03. Igira Hino (“Come Closer”) written & performed Bihoyiki Dathive
Improvised rap with battery operated loop machines

04. Umuyange (“Protect the Environment”) written & performed Teonesse Majambere
11-string Icyembe vocal duet

05. Urwanikamiheto (“War Song”) written & performed Beatrice Mukarungi
67-year-old mother leading her sons in song

06. Umwana W’umuhanda (“The Child from the Streets”) written & performed Rosine Nyiranshimiyimana
Improvised rap by 19 year-old with battery operated loop machines

07. Nzagukorera (“I Will Serve”) written & performed Emmanuel Hatungimana
one-string Umuduli player with battery-operated distortion amp

08. Umutesi (“I’ll Follow You Until You Kill Me”) written & performed Ruth Nyiramfumukoye (mother) & Patrick Manishimine (son)
dueling one-string Umudulis by mother and son

09. Cyabusiko (“Night Streetwalker, Who Will Care for My Children?”) written & performed Jean Claude Nzabonimpa
Mbira, thumb piano with found-metal, rattle distorters

10. Nyirandugu (“The Hard Worker”) written & performed Jean Baptiste Kanyambo
Iningidi, one-string fiddle

11. Ihorere (“Stop Crying Now”) written & performed Emmanuel Habumuremy (husband) & Ange Kamagaju (wife)
11-string Icyembe vocal duet by husband and wife

12. Why Did We Stop Growing Tall? written & performed Ruth Miramfumukoye
one-string Umuduli player

In a land where men lead each other hand-in-hand, but homophobia runs rampant, we drove off the main road and miles up the ridge to one of the pockets hardest hit by the genocide— a place where the residents stopped waving back. An area so very isolated, it was as if the genocide had never ended. Topping that, we were traveling this dirt trail with two Tutsis in an area where they had recently been “hunting Rwandans,” and a sense of discomfort was tangible, as if an invisible line had been crossed and we’d entered ibiwa (“problems”).

The man on the tricked-out bike with “One World, One Love” mudflaps, did not know who Bob Marley was, but professed to me that those were the words of God. With him, the message had outlived the fame— just as it should.

Amidst a village where the singers said that they were too tired to sing due to being sick with Malaria, they don’t have to be “taught” recycling. Every last item is reused, some purpose found. Just as it has always been, eons ahead of western “progressives.” There, plastic bottles lend prestige, and children fight over the remnants if cast out by passing cars.

It was here that we found the hunchback, teenage break-dancer that with his Intore moves, could out-battle any south Queens sidewalk challenger.

We’d already survived a Katy Perry onslaught at the machine-gun guarded mall— her sound still remaining sterile even when blasted through cracked, tropically humidified speakers. Worse was the tag-team lounge duo playing an off-key Bob Marley medley, as a local village audience kept straightening out the beat, clearly entrained to European 4/4 mechanical rhythms.

The Abatwa (“pygmy”) tribe is identified as one of the most marginalized, voiceless and endangered populations in Africa. In fact, their name is frequently taken in vain as a generalized slur towards others unrelated to them. In fact, their name is frequently taken in vain as a generalized slur towards others unrelated to them. Still, many among their group prefer the term to the official, PC mouthful/post-genocidal replacement moniker that they have been straddled with out of clear overcompensation: “The people who were left behind because of the facts of Rwandan history.”

Historically, the tallest Abatwa women have attracted outside attention and then been taken as wives by other tribes. This has contributed to the growth of their tribe remaining limited physically. Though for the most part they were left alone during the genocide, some members of the tribe actually participated in committing acts of genocide.

This made the hotel staff misnaming a disabled-access room as the “kidnap” room, all the more unsettling.

With coffee beans and gorillas are on the currency, one had to step-up onto a rickety bench to clear a urinal that was inadvertently mounted too high to reach even for an NBA star— and then was simply left that way rather than corrected. We were lucky enough to experience a 19-year-old female freestyle rapper, Rosine Nyiranshimiyimana, who is grittier than most any gangsta’. And right by her side, stood, Emmanuel Hatungimana, the mohawk-cut traditional music master, along with the husband/wife team that traded in eerie harmonies that nearly make Black Sabbath sound a bit trite. And keeping it in the family, mother and son, Ruth Nyiramfumukoye and Patrick Manishimine struck dueling Umudulis.

A featured instrument is the 11-string Icyembe, one that has a resemblance not unlike a surfboard and when turned upright, stands taller than some of its Abatwa players. Many of them are relegated to government designated villages, after having been herded in from eons-old nomadic ways. Alcoholism and depression hang thick through the air, not unlike the fractured spirit of many pre-casino era American Indian reservations.





Saz’iso • At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song

01. Tana
02. Kaba me violinë
03. Penxherenë e zotrisë sate
04. Valle Postenançe
05. Trëndafili fletë-fletë
06. Goca e berberit
07. Valle Minushi
08. Nënockë
09. Kaba me klarinetë
10. Bëje dru në përcëllime
11. Fole moj mike një fjalë
12. Valle e Osman Takës
13. O bandill mustaqezi
14. Avaz
15. Doli Laceja nga stani


Saz’iso – Artist Biographies

Donika Pecallari learned to sing during the joyful family celebrations in her Përmet home village, making her first major appearance at the National Folklore Festival in Gjirokastër in 1983. Thereafter, she represented Përmet at numerous national and international festivals and concerts. Like many, Donika fled the chaos following the economic collapse in 1997. She settled in Greece, but was determined to not lose the connection to the music scene of her homeland. On one occasion, she even braved strict border controls by crossing the mountains on foot, carrying her young child, in order to sing at an important festival. With her powerful voice and wide vocal range, Donika is considered one of the most important singers in the Saze tradition today. Adrianna Thanou also grew up in the Përmet tradition, where, as a teenager, she caught the ear of Saze legend Laver Bariu while singing along from the back of a room. Invited by the great master to join his group, she became the first woman soloist of his Përmet saze. She continued to perform both in Albania and abroad until leaving for Athens in the 90s, where she stopped singing altogether for almost two decades. Only recently, she has taken up performing again in Greece for the diaspora community. Adrianna is known for the soft and warm timbre of her voice and is, despite her long absence, considered one of the outstanding contemporary singers in the Përmet style.

Robert Tralo graduated as a trumpet player from music school in Korçë, but soon found his voice as a singer and returned to his native Përmet. He became renowned as a distinguished ‘cutter’ (second voice), delivering a legendary performance with Adrianna Thanou at the 1983 Festival in Gjirokastër. With the collapse of communism in 1991, he abandoned his musical career to follow a calling as a priest in the Orthodox Church. Today, he looks after a number of village churches in the Përmet region, while permitting himself the occasional Saze performance – but only when outside his parish.

Aurel Qirjo attended music school in his native Korçë and later graduated as a conductor from the High Institute of Arts in Tirana. From a very young age, he ‘moonlighted’ on violin with Korçë’s renowned Lulushi saze. With his vast repertoire and brilliant technique, Aurel made his name as one of the leading violinists of the Korçë tradition and beyond. He emigrated to Greece in the 90s, teaching violin and performing for the Albanian community. Now based in London, Aurel plays and records with the Greek band Kourelou as well as an Albanian and a Turkish ensemble. He tours regularly and often returns to perform in Greece and Albania.

Telando Feto is a well-known folk clarinet player from Korçë and a member of the city’s Skanderbeg Ensemble. Known for the rich colour of his tone and the musicality of his playing, Telando performs with different sazes in the region and frequently appears as session musician with popular Albanian singers in concert and on television. As a music teacher in the Korçë region, he instills a love of tradition in the younger generation; his son is an emerging folk violinist who follows in his father’s footsteps.

Agron Murat not only is a master llautë (lute) player but also a skilled instrument builder and collector. A veteran of Korçë’s Lulushi saze he is now a member of his hometown’s Skanderbeg Ensemble. Agron has toured abroad widely and now lends his skills to a variety of music projects. In Saze, the llautë normally plays the iso or drone, but on this recording, Agron also performs a rare solo in the “Avaz”.

Agron Nasi is Korçë’s leading percussion virtuoso on the dajre (frame drum), with a long history of playing and touring. He is known for his distinctive and original approach to the composite and mixed rhythms of Saze. A long-time friend and colleague of Agron Murat in the Lulushi and other sazes and now the Skanderbeg Ensemble, the two musicians constitute a tight and harmonious rhythm section that binds together the live performances on this album.

Pëllumb Meta is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist and virtuoso on all manner of flutes and pipes with an extraordinarily wide repertoire from all Albanian regions. Raised in an orphanage, his musical talent was discovered and encouraged by a teacher. For his military service he was stationed in the Përmet region, where local musicians heard him perform in the military band and regularly invited him to play with their saze. Back in Tirana, he joined the city’s ensemble and has toured the world with many different groups including the Albanian National Ensemble. Besides his playing, he builds instruments and makes traditional costumes.



Jon Hassell • Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Vol. 2

01. Chor Moiré
02. Courage
03. Dream Theory
04. Datu Bintung At Jelong
05. Malay
06. These Times…
07. Gift Of Fire
08. Ordinary Mind (bonus track)

When speaking of his musical journey — a journey that that spans more than five decades — Jon Hassell recently noted: “without overstating it too much I don’t know who else has had the kind of experience that I’ve had in various kinds of music.” It is very hard to argue with his self- estimation. Hassell’s soundworlds have been varied and bold and their influence on contemporary musics, discernable and ongoing.

A childhood in Memphis; a classical conservatory education studying the trumpet; composition and electronic music study with Stockhausen in Cologne; a passage through the New York minimalist sphere with Terry Riley, Lamonte Young and Phillip Glass; a singular and radicalized approach to the trumpet developed after a mentorship with the Indian vocal master Pandit Pran Nath; collaborative excursions with Eno, The Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian, Bjork and Ry Cooder; a continuous questioning of the dichotomies between North and South, sacred and sensual, primitive and futurist.

 These cross-pollinating influences and pan-cultural musical educations led Hassell to seek sonic solutions outside of the didactics of western music. The result of this search was the gradual development of musical concepts and gestures that he grouped under the umbrella theory: “Fourth World.” In a 1997 interview he describes the genesis of these ideas:

“I wanted the mental and geographical landscapes to be more indeterminate- not Indonesia, not Africa, not this or that…something that could have existed if things were in an imaginary culture, growing up in an imaginary place with this imaginary music…I called it ‘coffee-colored classical music of the future’…What would music be like if ‘classic’ had not been defined as what happened in Central Europe two hundred years ago. What if the world knew Javanese music and Pygmy music and Aborigine music? What would ‘classical music’ sound like then?”

In the late 1970’s in New York, Hassell began to produce a series of astonishing albums where his trumpet explored both non-western modalities and dramatic sound processing (deftly rendered by nascent digital effects like the AMS harmonizer). Brian Eno, who was living New York at the time was thrilled by Hassell’s debut album Vernal Equinox and sought out its creator. Eventually they began an in-depth (and at times contentious) collaboration that resulted in the classic album Fourth World Vol.1: Possible Musics (also reissued by Glitterbeat Records).

While the partnership with Eno surely introduced Hassell’s music to a wider audience, it also left raw feelings and unresolved issues. As Eno charged headlong into “Fourth World”-ish collaborations with a new partner, David Byrne from The Talking Heads (My Life in The Bush of Ghosts / Remain in Light), Hassell began to feel that at best they were heavily borrowing concepts and sounds he had introduced them to, and at worst, that a full-scale appropriation was taking place.

As Hassell undertook the process of recording and finalizing Dream Theory in Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two — the follow-up to Possible Musics — Brian Eno was again present, as both mixer and musician, but this time the album was clearly ascribed to Hassell. The back cover credits leave no room for interpretation or confusion: “All compositions by Jon Hassell. Produced by Jon Hassell.”


An excerpt from the essay Dream Theory in Malaya by Kilton Stewart
In the West the thinking we do while asleep usually remains on a muddled, childish, or psychotic level because we do not respond to dreams as socially important and include dreaming in the educative process. This social neglect of the side of man’s reflective thinking, when the creative process is most free, seems poor education.


Jon Hassell’s liner notes for Dream Theory in Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two

Someplace I ran across an essay called Dream Theory in Malaya by an adventurer-ethnologist named Kilton Stewart describing a “dream tribe”—the Senoi—in Malaya (before it become “Malaysia”). Soon I’m having an affair with the cinematic sound of the word “Malaya” and all that it evokes: exotically-tuned melodies, gongs, birdcalls in the jungle. (Later I’ll have a little romance with an exotically-tuned woman from Kuala Lumpur that fills in the rest of the fantasy.) I’m in a different loft in the same building on Park Avenue South, practicing an invented exotic scale on top of a tambura-like drone consisting of a set of sine tones that I’ve tuned as a guide to keep me on the Indonesian-type tuning that nobody ever tried to play on a trumpet before.

A book called Primitive Peoples had a record inside with little snippets of music recorded around the world by a BBC team accompanying the Queen on her tour of the Commonwealth and one of them is this beautiful watersplash rhythm with giggling children and birds from a tribe—the Semelai—which, on my map, doesn’t look too far away from the Senoi so l built a rather elaborate musical form by cutting and pasting a few selected bars of this, and that became the basis for “Malay”, the centerpiece of the record.

I had heard from Brian about a couple of enterprising and talented brothers, Bob and Daniel Lanois who had set up a nice studio in a house on Grant Ave., in Hamilton, not far from Toronto, who were offering exceptional rates and I decided to make this record there, commuting from Michael Brook’s house in Toronto with my dog, Beeper. Michael was helping to coordinate the recording and I’d do sketches in his basement studio then drive to Hamilton where Brian was hanging out at chez Lanois and start to put things down on multitrack.

The opening track —“Chor Moiré” — is a fanfare of trumpets, looped and live, which suggest a kind of musical “moiré” patterning. Walter DeMaria (who was not only a groundbreaking artist but also the first drummer with the Velvet Underground ) came up to Canada for the studio fun and I swear he’s there doing “distant drums” someplace within Brian’s quasi-Polynesian drumming marking the ceremonial gait of the mass trumpets of “Courage” (named not only for the obvious but also a reference to the name of the lowest string on the tambura) which then reprise in the next track, transformed into the magical, dub-like atmosphere of “Dream Theory.”

Brian is probably under-credited on this record—maybe a reactionary move on my part to reaffirm an independent identity after the experience of finding Possible Musics—my music—in the “Eno” bin in record stores. Anyway, I gave him the trumpet solo on “These Times…” which he worked into the texture of his record, On Land. An effervescent Chinese girl and a hot, undercover summer in New York lead to the multileveled title, “Gift of Fire”: I’m thinking of her, I’m thinking of the fire pit in the cover painting, I’m thinking of that moment in the history of Homo Sapiens.  



Dirtmusic • Bu Bir Ruya

01. Bi De Sen Söyle

02. The Border Crossing

03. Go the Distance

04. Love is a Foreign Country

05. Safety in Numbers

06. Outrage

07. Bu Bir Ruya

Dirtmusic return for their fifth album, a full-scale collaboration with Turkish-psych visionary Murat Ertel from Baba Zula. Recorded in Istanbul, the album navigates hypnotic rhythms, cinematic atmospheres and dark political realities.

‘We need music like this to stay sane’ – Murat Ertel

The striking figure of Murat Ertel is standing at the door of his home studio, a converted mechanic’s garage in a suburb of Istanbul. The Turkish capital is a tense and conflicted place these days, but Baba Zula’s leader and saz man is on fine form. Before him stand those current and former musical nomads, Chris Eckman and Hugo Race, guitars in hand. Dirtmusic are about to take on their latest, and perhaps most thrilling, form.

But let’s rewind a little, for Dirtmusic’s story is worth your time (although it perhaps makes more sense to talk about Dirtmusics plural).

Originally a straight-talking, mainly acoustic trio mining blues and country for 21st century gold, the band’s first happy accident was to stumble upon Tamikrest at the fabled Festival au Désert in Timbuktu in 2008. A musical love story began, running through that joyous first collaboration with Tamikrest in BKO (2010), followed by Troubles (2013) and Lion City (2014), which expanded the roster to include Ben Zabo, Samba Touré and a host of other superb Malian musicians. In the meantime, however, the Islamist takeover of Northern Mali in 2012 had darkened the sound and the songwriting, giving them a tone that continues to resonate through the new record.

Back to that garage. True to form, Eckman and Race look to improvise, for that line to the Bamako years is still strong. They’ve come with a couple of beats and loops – and they’re not even sure whether they will attach any words to this year’s Dirtmusic. But Ertel knows they need to tell a story. The time and the place demand it. This is being recorded in Istanbul after all, and Eckman has flown there from Slovenia, a country that has secured its southern border with razor wire – and Race from Australia, where sea-borne refugees are detained indefinitely on remote islands. And so it goes, a tale of borders and walls, of cold fronts and cold hearts.

The opening track, ‘Bi De Sen Söyle’, is a statement of intent, musically and lyrically: shared vocals that mass in urgent call-and-response, the psychedelic grip of Ertel’s saz, which barely leaves the record for a second, and percussion from Ümit Adakale that tells us that this is music for clubs and parties as much as for private spaces. It shares this with ‘The Border Crossing’, the prime slice of Pop Group-inflected postpunk-funk that follows it, with its voice of hard truth, perhaps even of cynicism, but also of ambiguity. Both tracks ask you to consider who is speaking. The world is indeed ‘getting smaller’, but for whom? Is it the privileged traveller who’s in trouble here, or the refugee? Everyone has a story to tell, even if we can only catch glimpses of it. The shadow of the new despots hangs over them, but the refusal to preach, that insistent ambiguity again, asks just as many questions of the liberal challenge.

It’s a questing, restless record for the head, but perhaps more so for the body. It broods throughout, as post-punk, Turkish psych, funk, rock and electronics stalk the grooves with widescreen intent – listen to ‘Safety in Numbers’, for example, an instant classic that sees Race in imperious form, or ‘Love is a Foreign Country’, which features a startling appearance by Gaye Su Akyol, a treat for those who loved her Hologram İmparatorluğu, one of the most striking Glitterbeat releases of 2016. Fans of Baba Zula, Turkey’s premier psychedelicists, will also have more than enough to chew on, particularly in the remarkable title track that closes the album.

‘We need a story,’ said Murat. This year’s Dirtmusic summit has given us another one to think about and, as importantly, to dance to. The desert tent has been swapped for the garage in Northern Istanbul, for now, but the concerns remain the same: to tear down borders, real and imagined, as quickly as they can be thrown up. Ten years in, this singular band with a plural soul have made their finest record yet.

‘Recording like this is truly in the moment, there are no preconceptions to satisfy and the music and words are improvised. We drew inspiration from the atmosphere of Istanbul, the general disaffection with the state media and the uncertainty of the immediate future’ – Hugo Race

‘[Murat’s] studio is really a warm and relaxed place to work. I think if we had tried the same thing at a slick studio, with the clock running, it wouldn’t have come together so easily. By the end of the first day the friendships were already forming and we were having a hell of a good time’ – Chris Eckman 


Hugo Race: vocals, guitars, bass, loops, programming
Chris Eckman: vocals, guitars, loops, kalimba
Murat Ertel: vocals, electric saz, divan saz, bağlama rhythm machine
Ümit Adakale: darbuka, davul, bendir, percussion

Gaye Su Akyol vocals (4)
Brenna Mac Crimmon vocals (1,5)
Görkem Şen: yaybahar (6,7)


Produced by Murat Ertel, Hugo Race & Chris Eckman
Recorded in İstanbul, December 2016 at Saniki Studio, Maslak & A2 Studio (Tünel)
Mixed at Studio Zuma, Ljubljana, July 2017



Park Jiha • Communion

1. Throughout The Night (04:56)
2. Accumulation Of Time (06:38)
3. Communion (06:52)
4. Sounds Heard From The Moon (09:05)
5. The Longing Of The Yawning Divide (03:15)
6. All Souls’ Day (09:03)
7. The First Time I Sat Across From You (08:28)

Park Jiha first gained attention as the leader and producer of the neo-traditional Korean duo 숨[suːm]. Her music combines the formalism of classical minimalism, the rootedness of Korean folk motifs and the dynamics of post-rock and contemporary jazz.

A calm from within the storm.
“I don’t want to play only traditional music. I want to play my own music…my own stories.”
– Park Jiha

Over the last few years a rising tide of new Korean artists have staked a place in the global music conversation. Groups like Jambinai, Black String and Park Jiha’s earlier duo 숨[suːm] have created exciting soundworlds that deftly combine the instrumentation and complex expression of Korean traditional music with an array of contemporary sounds such as post-rock, doom metal, downtempo jazz and classical minimalism.

While Park Jiha’s most recent musical endeavor, her debut solo album “Communion,” is another decisive step towards a more personal and forward-looking musical vocabulary, it also is deeply rooted in her traditional music education and background.

“I play a traditional Korean instrument called piri which is like an oboe. Piri is a double reed bamboo flute so it can be quite loud. Another traditional instrument I use is a saenghwang. A saenghwang is an instrument made of bamboo which has many pipes. It is similar to a mouth organ. It’s an instrument where the sound is made from inhaling and exhaling the air.”

“My main instrument is piri. But I choose saenghwang (mouth organ), yanggeum (hammered dulcimer), percussion or vocal according to the type of music I’m composing. Picking an instrument has to do with the voice in which I choose to talk. Just like human voice, every instrument has its own charm. Piri, which has the simplest structure – yet holds so many variations in playing – is for me the most attractive of all. The shape of the instrument is humble but it can express sensitive yet deep energy. I feel most like myself when I play piri.”

Though she has played piri since her youth, Park Jiha started her music career by founding the duo 숨[suːm] with Jungmin Seo in 2007 – after she had finished her musical studies. 숨[suːm]’s music, composed with an array of traditional instruments and buoyed by unorthodox musical structures, was an immediate and profound influence on the new Korean music scene. The duo released the album ‘Rhythmic Space: A Pause for Breath’ in 2010, and ‘숨[suːm] 2nd’ in 2014. Their innovative, neo-traditional compositions began to echo outside of Korea and they were invited to acclaimed international festivals such as WOMAD and SXSW.
But Park Jiha started hearing a much different music – one that directly interacted with more distant sound traditions and a more eclectic instrumental palette. Putting 숨[suːm] on pause for the moment, she started collaborating with John Bell (vibraphone) and Kim Oki (bass clarinet, saxophone) to create “Communion,” her first solo album. Originally released in Korea in 2016, the album’s compositions are sometimes hushed and other times slowly swelling and dynamic. But they all share a stark rejection of ornamentation. It is a music of fundaments and clarity. It skillfully unites hypnotic minimalism and experimental strategies with Park Jiha’s distinctive mastery of the piri, saenghwang, and yanggeum.

‘The Longing of the Yawning Divide’ is inspired by the solemnity and resonance of a monastery in Leuven, Belgium, a space where Park Jiha once rehearsed her band. ‘All Souls’ Day’ constructs harmony and rhythmic lift between an unlikely grouping of instruments: the yanggeum, piri, saxophone, vibraphone and the jing. The album’s opening composition, ‘Throughout the Night’ is a precise and keening dialogue between the piri and the bass clarinet.
The atmosphere is calmly radiant. The music navigating the world’s abundant noise, in an almost silent way.

One can sense that this music is deeply connected to its composer. It is not an abstraction. It carefully and conscientiously draws in the world around her. The flow of water and the dawning of seasons. Love and loss. Light. Shadows. Nothing superfluous. A meticulous balance. A communion.

“I don’t know what kind of music I will play in ten years. But I know for sure that I will have been living sincerely.”

Park Jiha:
Composer/producer, piri (double reed bamboo flute), saenghwang (mouth organ) & yanggeum (hammered dulcimer)

Kim Oki:
Tenor saxophone, bass clarinet

John Bell:

Kang Tekhyun:




Sonido Gallo Negro • Mambo Cósmico

01. Mambo Cósmico 3:57
02. Tolú 3:02
03. La Danza de los Diablos 4:34
04. Cumbia Ishtar 3:24
05. ¿Quien será? 2:43
06. La Focá (Cha Cha Chá) 3:10
07. Catemaco 3:39
08. Mambo Egipcio 2:39
09. Danza del Mar 3:35
10. Danzón Fayuquero 3:44
11. Cumbia de Sanación 9:57

Hailing from Mexico City, Sonido Gallo Negro’s exhilarating third album continues their exploration into the psychedelic richness and rhythmic pulse of Amazonian cumbia while at the same reaching for new sounds and textures – such as mambo, cha cha, porro and danzon.

Filled with frenetic, red-hot identities and sonorities, Mambo Cósmico galvanizes the international reputation Sonido Gallo Negro has earned through their powerful concerts and their earlier records – Cumbia Salvaje (Savage Cumbia, 2011) and Sendero Místico (Mystical Path, 2014 – released outside of Mexico by Glitterbeat).

Mambo Cósmico is a sonic collage that is not only musical, but also cultural and historical. This combo of nine musicians, seek out a new and unexpected musical cosmos that goes beyond their well-honed Mexican and Latin American influences. Their navigational charts point towards an additional synchronicity of sound and imagination with the Middle East, the Hispanic old world and Africa, as embedded within the Americas.

Of the eleven tracks included on Mambo Cósmico, nine are group originals, Tolú by Lucho Bermúdez and ¿Quién será? by Pablo Beltrán Ruiz being the only cover versions. Also, for the first time some of these pieces include vocals and group choruses.

Let’s look closely at Mambo Cósmico’s wildly addictive compositions:

1. Mambo Cósmico is the psychedelic mambo that opens and names the album. To start with a mambo is to begin by sharing a new set of coordinates for the group: “I am your destiny, cosmic forces the explanation of the astrological tendencies that condition the forces in your Zodiac sign, listen…” states the recording that initiates the track and sets the route that will follow…
2.Tolú is a porro by the 50’s Colombian musician Lucho Bermúdez. It is said that porro was born in the pre-Colombian era, and was played by indigenous gaiteros bands, and later enriched by African rhythms. Porros were also played exclusively with drums, voices and hand clapping.
3. La Danza de los Diablos is a carnival piece played and danced to at the Mexican Costa Chica, shared by Guerrero and Oaxaca. Within Sonido Gallo Negro’s prism the track is dedicated to Gaspar Yanga, the only black Mexican warrior, who fought and led an Afro-Mexican uprising.
4. Cumbia Ishtar further features the historic prism Sonido Gallo Negro has travelled into: it is a cumbia dedicated to Ishtar, the enigmatic Babylon deity of fertility, love, war and sex, who guards the secret of humanity’s beginning, and henceforth of the beginning of all music.
5. ¿Quién Será? is a famous mambo by the vintage Mexican bandleader Pablo Beltrán Ruiz, which has been turned into a sweaty psychedelic twist in Sonido Gallo Negro’s version. It reminds us both of Frank Sinatra and the Mexican contemporary idol Pedro Infante as it sends us giddily back to the future.
6. La Foca Cha Cha Chá: This popular Cuban music genre evolved from the 50’s danzon – porros lineage and eventually took over the world. This track is a tribute to the dance and to its master Perez Prado, affectionately nicknamed Cara é foca (Seal Face).
7. Catemaco is a Mexican cumbia that honors one of the most emblematic towns of Mexico’s magic geography. The town is a home to sorcerers and shamans. It is a place where all types of holistic healings, both white and black are performed next to a lagoon within one of the country’s Southeast jungle landscapes. In the end “It is written that everyone who knocks at the doors of the occult shall have an answer”.
8. Mambo Egipcio is doubtlessly psychedelic, frantic, singular and Sonido Gallo Negro’s first mambo. It testifies that Cuban Dámaso Pérez Prado chose Mexico as the cradle of the genre – hip hip hooray! The album’s artwork includes an illustration of the Egyptian Thot, God of music with its long-beaked avian head alluding to this piece.
9. Danza del Mar is essentially a 50ish porro/cumbia hybrid with a proper coastal flavor, which takes the listener’s hips to the sand, the night, the sea – to its sounds and dances.
10. Danzón Fayuquero: In Mexico the danzon tradition is preserved with all the elegance and formality of the ceremonial dance’s mathematical formulas of stop and start foot movements. In Sonido Gallo Negro’s hands, this becomes a sensational merry go round. In Mexico City, the contraband quarter par excellence is called Tepito. It is the next door neighbor to the most famous dance hall for danzon, mambo, cha cha and cumbia: Salon Los Angeles.
11. Cumbia de Sanación is a downtempo cumbia that aims to generate a hypnotic, psychedelic, healing feeling. It was first publically shared track from Mambo Cosmico, when it was uploaded to online platforms, barely three days after the recent Mexico City earthquake.

Sonido Gallo Negro are:

Edwin Irigoyen: congas

Truc Casasola: timbales, bass drum, snare.
Gabriel López: lead guitar and Farfisa organ
Israel Martinez: bass

Lucio de los Santos: flute and bongos

Julian Sampler: sampler and organ

Jorge Alderete: theremin and visuals
Roberto Vargas: güiro and percusion


Alex Gonzalez Villaseñor Escobar: trumpet in Mambo Cosmico,Tolú, ¿Quien será? and La Foca Pascual Montaño: trumpet, Mambo Egipcio
Mitze Maíz: vocals, Catemaco and Danza del Mar
Alexis Ruiz: vibes, Mambo Cósmico and La Foca
Master Javier Carrillo Velazquez: violin, Danzón Fayuquero
Isaias Chay Martinez: arcusa, La Danza de los Diablos
La Bruja de Texcoco (The Texcocan Witch) string harp, Catemaco  

Visuals, are as usual by Dr. Alderete, and they capture a map of images that leave an open door to all kinds of cosmic journeys.

Gabriel López recorded, mixed and mastered the record.
T-Vox Records, his studio, was the recording venue.



Yonatan Gat • Universalists

01. Cue the Machines 3:05
02. Post-World 1:22
03. Fading Casino 2:50
04. Cockfight 2:23
05. Medicine 4:54
06. Projections 2:13
07. Sightseer 3:51
08. Dream Sequence 2:58
09. Chronology 6:37
10. The Imaginary 2:47

Yonatan Gat is a guitarist, producer and experimental composer based in NYC. Gat’s second album – Universalistsfuses the physical garage punk and freewheeling improvisational sounds of his past with elements of avant-garde composition, electronic production and the sound of his genre-bending, inimitable guitar.

Gat became known as one of the world’s top performers as founder and guitarist of Monotonix, hailed by SPIN as “the most exciting live band in rock’n’roll,” with concerts that quite literally destroyed the border between performer and audience, and were controversial enough to get them banned from playing their home country.

Gat then relocated to New York City. He began recording and performing as a solo artist, and in 2014 released the Iberian Passage EP, a debut that maintained his signature raw energy while switching the focus away from the shock-performance style of Monotonix to a more ritualistic, improvised, shamanic musical exploration. 2015 brought the genre-bending full-length Director. Composed mostly of live-to-tape improvisations by his trio and field recordings made by Gat, the record was a mind-melting exploration through many different styles of music, from Brazilian psych and Afrobeat to free jazz, surf, and 20th century avant-garde.

Three years on, Gat returns with Universalists, an album that marks an ambitious and expansive next step. As on Director, Universalists once again showcases the muscular trio of Gat on guitar with Gal Lazer on drums and Sergio Sayeg on bass, and the performances are breathtaking, showcasing a band of fire and finesse. Charged with a confrontational urgency and hurtling through space on a helter-skelter global time warp, this is a record that bursts with transcendent energy: ripping punk, brutal noise, composed moments of pristine beauty, live-to-tape improvisation, cutting-edge vocal sampling, all brought together by Gat’s sui generis guitar playing.

The sources of inspiration on Universalists are vast. Opening song ‘Cue The Machines’ begins with Alan Lomax field recordings of a choir in Genoa, Italy in the 1950s – the voices sampled and chopped into a skittering rhythm underneath merciless punk. “There’s a vocal style from Genoa called Trallaero,” explains Gat. “One can almost hear a similarity between the way they roll their R’s to the glitches of contemporary electronic and hip hop beats.”

‘Post-World’ uses Gat’s guitar to reframe a traditional Mallorcan work-song into a mysterious, yearning ballad. ‘Cockfight’ has its roots in Balinese gamelan music, revved into wild punk; ‘Chronology’ unfurls in segments, beginning with a Middle-Eastern guitar solo, followed by Gat’s trio churning through an intense instrumental, quickly followed by a breathtaking vocal sample of a Spanish harvest song, then on to a passage from Antonín Dvořák’s “American Quartet” (1893) arranged for electric guitar and electric piano, and ending with collage of different live recordings of Yonatan’s band that have been rendered into rhythmic juxtapositions – a brutal wall of sound.

On ‘Medicine,’ Gat is joined by the Eastern Medicine Singers, a powwow drum group from Rhode Island whom Gat first encountered at SXSW. “The first time I saw the Eastern Medicine Singers they were playing outside the venue just before we went on. I loved their music and asked if they wanted to improvise with us during our concert. We had never met before, and they immediately replied ‘No.’ I suggested that if they liked our music and changed their minds, they’d be welcome to join. By the second song they were hauling their gigantic drum inside and we started playing together in the middle of the room – two bands forming two circles, with the crowd around us – dancing, trancing, many in tears.”

Universalists is a conceptual and crafted snapshot of an artist evolving and experimenting, fusing the physical garage punk and freewheeling improvisational sounds of Gat’s past with elements of avant garde composition, electronic production and the signature sound of his genre-bending inimitable guitar.

Set to be released in the hostile political climate of 2018, the album is inevitably charged with a sense of confrontational urgency. But while Universalists is indeed a provocative work, it goes beyond exploring the distress of our time. It reveals not the distinction between cultures but the complex similarities, expressing our shared need for musical ritual celebration – in any time and at any place.

Produced by Yonatan Gat / David Berman



Samba Touré • Wande

01. Yo Pouhala / Blah Blah Blah 5:10
02. Hawah 5:00
03. Yerfara / We Are Tired 4:45
04. Goy Boyro / The Good Work (Well Done) 4:51
05. Wande / The Beloved 5:39
06. Irganda / It Is Our Land 4:31
07. Mana Yero Koy / Where To Go? 4:26
08. Hayame / Be Careful! 4:50
09. Tribute to Zoumana Tereta 4:30

Sometimes the unexpected happens and it becomes a gift. Serendipity, good fortune. Think of it as life handing you what you need, not what you thought you wanted. When Malian singer and guitarist Samba Touré was planning Wande (The Beloved), his third Glitterbeat release, he had strong ideas for the way it should sound. But once the sessions were over, he knew he had something entirely different, something even more satisfying: a collection of songs where warmth filled the grooves of every song. An album that seemed like home.

“We had a totally different album in mind,” Touré admits, “a return to something more traditional, almost acoustic. I think this album is less dark than the previous ones. It has some sad and serious songs, but it sounds more peaceful. All the first takes have been kept, I didn’t re-record any guitar lines, the first takes are the one you can hear on the album. There are less overdubs than in previous albums, we didn’t try to polish or make anything perfect, it gives a more natural feeling.”

That spark of spontaneity fires across the whole disc. It was recorded quickly, in “about 2 weeks, only in the afternoons and with breaks on week end to play in weddings, so it was very relaxed! One of the main difficulties we have in Mali is to reunite everyone at same moment. Every young musician plays in at least three bands or have a side job, only a few musicians in Mali can live from music, and have to work, so they are always busy. For the most part, I recorded the guitars first, then came percussion and bass. But on “Hawah,” a song I played before, I was totally unable to play the guitar without singing it so I just decided to record guitar and vocal together.”

The sense of change, of something different and fresh pervades every note of music. Wande is just as direct and powerful as Touré’s previous work, but everything moves with a bright, danceable sensibility. Gone are the intense guitar and ngoni duels, replaced with with short, incisive guitar solos and a solid, laid-back groove. Only two songs had been written before going into the studio: the title cut, which is a love song to his wife, and “Tribute to Zoumana Tereta,” a memorial to the late sokou fiddle player who often collaborated with Touré, and who lives on in a sample that weaves throughout the track. Everything else came together almost on the spot, like the rhythmic “Yo Pouhala”, composed one afternoon and recorded the next, or “Yerfara”, with an impeccable, chunky rhythm guitar riff to make Keith Richards weep with envy.

The emphasis throughout is on rhythm, and the tama talking drum that’s always been a feature of Touré’s music takes a place near the front of the band.

“I’ve always loved tama, for its sounds, it’s the only drum that can play eight notes. It’s so energetic. And I love tama for its symbol, its tradition. Before cellphones, when something important happened in a village, people would reunite on a place by the call of tama player. It’s a symbol of call to reunion.”

Wande is a record that reconciles continuity and change. But both have been the hallmarks of Touré’s career. Starting out as a guitarist in a soukous band, everything was altered when he became an accompanist to Mali’s greatest legend, the late Ali Farka Touré (with whom his mother had performed). Later, as a solo artist, he’s become renowned across the globe for his passionate guitar work and fiery singing, one of the masters of his art, a man who’s learned from the greatest and gone on to develop a sound that’s completely his own. But, Touré says, don’t call it desert blues. Don’t call it African Rock. That’s lazy. It doesn’t need labels like that.

“It’s contemporary music from Mali,” he insists. “Maybe our traditional music has changed. We live all in the same world wherever we are on that planet, we all have the same music on radio or TV, we hear the same music in movies, so even if we don’t really know what’s rock music in Mali, we hear some everywhere every day, it has become part of our inspirations, easy inspirations because it’s sometimes so close to what we do traditionally. If you attend a traditional ceremonies in villages north of Mali, you’ll see that musician always use distortion at maximum level but they don’t know anything about rock or blues. But believe me they do some. And desert blues…to me it’s a way to name music from the region north Mali, Niger or Mauritania but it has no more sense.”

Instead, call Wande the unexpected. Call it joyous. Call it the music Samba Touré is making right now.




AMMAR 808 • Maghreb United

01. Degdega (03:09)
02. Sidi kommi (03:44)
03. Ain essouda (04:03)
04. El bidha wessamra (03:23)
05. Layli (02:43)
06. Alech taadini (03:47)
07. Ichki lel bey (03:43)
08. Kahl el inin (03:29)
09. Boganga & sandia (04:43)
10. Zine ezzine (03:43)

Deep TR-808 bass meets pan-Maghreb beats, timeless voices and futurist visions. AMMAR 808 is Sofyann Ben Youssef, the sonic mastermind behind the Tunisian sensation: Bargou 08.

The future is right now. We have driverless cars, robots taking over jobs, and commercial space travel is on the event horizon. Somehow, humanity has slipped into a science fiction life. But you can’t have a future without a past, something AMMAR 808 knows very well. On his debut release, Maghreb United, featuring the singers Mehdi Nassouli (Morocco), Sofiane Saidi (Algeria) and Cheb Hassen Tej (Tunisia), he connects the two to offer a radical, electronic reinvention of ancient North African music.

“The past is a collective heritage,” explains AMMAR 808. He started the project a year ago, after working with the lauded Bargou 08, searching for something to link the sense of what has been with what will be. “It’s what we all call on, what we all share. The music on Maghreb United is the past with now and the future with now. I’m trying to weave threads from folklore and mythology into futurism. And I’m not necessarily projecting a positive image; from all we can see, things aren’t going in the right direction. What I hope is that it will raise an alarm.”

Yet there’s also plenty of hope here. With singers from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, songs from the Targ, Gnawa, and Raï histories, and a TR-808 alongside a distorted gumbri (Nassouli), gasba flute and zokra bagpipes (Lassaed Bougalmi), this is an album that reaches out to encompass the entire Maghreb area of North Africa.

“In the past the Maghreb was one huge region, yet very diverse within its borders. But today, the world keeps every person separated. The album isn’t so much about a united Maghrebi region, but how we can connect while observing our differences – our differences are also our connection – and using them to unify as humans. This is an example of that.”

The choice of songs was also very deliberate for AMMAR 808, with nine of the ten cuts taken from the deep tradition.

“It makes a difference when a song survives,” he observes. “It has power. We all die, but a song lives on, it travels through time. I’m trying to pass it forward in a different shape, trying to predict the music in 10, 50, 100 years. Not today, but tomorrow. And if you understand what’s important in the songs, you can use it to bring even more power to the tracks. I grew up with some of those songs; knowing them inside out gives a different perspective. It’s an album that brings power and traditional music together.”

The idea for Maghreb United (which is also the name for the album’s performing group) has long been burning in AMMAR 808, but it burst into flame after the musician and producer met all the singers on his regular trips in the region, before returning home to start building the tracks.

“The recording itself didn’t take long; everyone involved is very professional. The production took much longer. I ended up with 25 tracks, and I had to pare it down to the one idea that connected them all.”

The deep, rumbling growl of the gumbri, the dry, airy tenderness of the gasba, and the softly slithering zokra give a powerful North African root to the music, a thread that spins back through centuries. And the singers burn with fire and grace and passion on lyrics like ‘Tonight our happiness will be complete/Tonight our energy will be complete’ (Layli). But it’s the TR-808 that’s at the heart of Maghreb United and sends it spiraling into the future.

“As soon as you put on distortion, filters, samples, the 808 can shape the sound any way you want,” AMMAR 808 points out. It’s a sound shifter, another sense of the future now. “I’m a big science fiction fan; I dream about it. This project is a way to try and build a possible understanding of the world and the musical identity of the world today. It puts everything in a futuristic frame that opens ways to reflect on the present.  Experimenting is my way of doing things, and this project is an experiment about a possible future through music and video. Not what will happen, but one possible outcome.”

AMMAR 808 intends Maghreb United to be a completely immersive experience, something that will carry over into the live shows.

“We’ll be accompanied by a VJ,” he says. “We’ve worked with a team of visual researchers, designers and actors to create a vision, to give the audience a total experience in real time, with everything coming together. The music is quite brutal live, all that bass and heaviness, and it’s not all pre-programmed. I can switch on the fly and go in any direction, we can change arrangements just by looking at each other.”

Things can change in the blink of an eye. In life as well as music.

“When you talk about today’s problems,” Ammar 808 says, “it’s already too late. People talk about what should be, when you need to project about the future.”

And with Maghreb United, that’s exactly what AMMAR 808 does. It’s the great reinvention of a region’s music. It’s a call to action. It’s the future, right now.



Stella Chiweshe • Kasahwa: Early Singles

1. Ratidzo / Managing to do what people considered impossible (03:03)
2. Chipindura / The herb that transforms anything (04:18)
3. Kasahwa / Innermost emotional pain is like a fishbone stuck in the throat (02:54)
4. Gomoriye / That Mountain of white rocks has fallen (03:18)
5. Gwendurugwe / Game of Hide & Seek (03:10)
6. Mayaya (Part 1&2) / The effect of healing herbs (08:11)
7. Musarakunze / An orphan seeing what the late elders never saw (04:25)
8. Nhemamusasa / Cutting branches for a temporal home (02:55)

A captivating collection of early singles by the renowned Zimbabwean Mbira master and a true African music icon. The songs were mostly recorded in the 1970’s, during the buildup to the Chimurenga revolution, and were only ever released in Stella’s home country. Deep resistance & culture.

„I am a rebel,“ smiles the 70-year-old Stella Chiweshe. Her album „Kasahwa: Early Singles“ offers a fascinating introduction to the world of Mbira, with the term not only referring to the instrument, consisting of 22 to 28 metal keys mounted on a wooden healing tree body, but also to a musical genre – and on a much wider level, to an entire culture and deeply spiritual lifestyle, very much at the core of the young Zimbabwean nation. Mbira is an ancient mystical music which has been played for over a thousand years by the Shona people, a group which forms the vast majority of the country’s population. Mbira pervades all aspects of Shona culture, both sacred and secular. Its most important function is as a “telephone to the spirits of people, water, trees, stones and birds,” used to contact both deceased ancestors and tribal guardians, at all-night ceremonies. „Kasahwa“ is a collection of impossible-to-find early seven inches, eight cuts spanning the period from 1974 to 1983 and representing Mbira in its purest form. None of these songs has been released outside of Africa so far.

In her humble beginnings, little pointed to the fact that young Stella at sixteen would become „The Queen of Mbira“ and nothing short of a national icon. Growing up on a musical diet of white American Rock’n’Roll and Country with Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Jim Reeves, and The Everly Brothers being favorites, she initially showed little interest in local traditional music. She continued to stay unimpressed when her grandparents invited a group of Mbira players from another region for an overnight ritual. It was not until two years later, that Mbira started to ring inside her head “loud and endlessly.” This overwhelming, mystical experience turned Chiweshe into an avid student of the instrument and the philosophy connected to it. But playing Mbira music was by no means a career option for women in the British colony of Rhodesia: None of the (male) musicians were willing to teach her. And, almost worse, none of the instrument makers agreed to build an instrument for a woman. Stella ended up recording her debut single „Kasahwa“ (1974), the title track of her upcoming Glitterbeat album, on a borrowed thumb piano.

It was not only observations like these which turned the free-spirited Chiweshe into an outspoken feminist.

„Kasahwa“ made Stella a local sensation with the artist at first finding it hard to cope with her newly achieved popularity. After the country had become independent in 1980, Chiweshe started to tour internationally, first as a featured soloist of the new „National Dance Company of Zimbabwe,“ and later under her own name. This quickly made her into a star, during the first international boom of African and „world music” in the late 1980’s. Zimbabwean music was then championed by fans and influential DJs including John Peel alike (Stella has recorded two of Peel’s legendary Sessions). For more than 35 years, Stella Chiweshe has crossed between Zimbabwe and Germany, where she has a second home in the city of Berlin. In the last few years, things have become a bit quiet around her, which feels unfair, since Chiweshe is still a performer of a breath-taking intensity. You can, therefore, call „Kasahwa: Early Singles,“ her first release in more than a decade, a comeback.

The brilliant new mastering by Nick Robbins from London’s Sound Mastering studio, reveals the urgency of these songs by separating the music’s key elements (Mbira, vocals, and shakers) so that they gain an almost sculptural effect.

Artist: Stella Chiweshe
Title: Kasahwa: Early Singles
Release date: 14.09.2018
Label: Glitterbeat Records
Catalogue: GBCD 061



Bixiga 70 • Quebra Cabeça

1. Quebra Cabeça (5:02)
2. Ilha Vizinha (5:48)
3. Pedra de Raio (5:34)
4. 4 Cantos (5:26)
5. Areia (3:40)
6. Ladeira (3:56)
7. Levante (5:14)
8. Primeiramente (4:27)
9. Torre (4:17)
10. Camelo (5:36)
11. Portal (5:58)

São Paulo’s acclaimed 10-piece instrumental collective return for their 4th album. Urban Afro-Brazilian grooves, empowered horn-driven melodicism and massive dance floor inspiration.  One of South America’s most exhilarating musical propositions.

Almost four centuries after the first slave ships loaded their cargoes and set sail, the connection between Brazil and West Africa remains firm and deep. It was African slaves who created the culture of Brazil in all its sorrows and its joys, and those memories have flowed down through the generations. Africa is everywhere in Brazil, and it pulses through the music on Quebra Cabeça (Puzzle), Bixiga 70’s second studio album for Glitterbeat, where two continents dance together across the black Atlantic.

“From the very beginning, what we have always had in common is African-Brazilian music,” explains baritone sax player and flautist Cuca Ferreira. ‘Some of us come from candomblé (the African-Caribbean religion), others from jazz, reggae, dub, everything. The whole idea of the band has been to take all these different elements that form us, from Africa and Brazil, and create a hybrid from them.”

With Quebra Cabeça, that hybrid has taken on a slightly different form. As Ferreira notes, this time Bixiga 70’s music “is more complex. We worked harder on the compositions than in the past, spent more time on them. Each song has a lot of different parts, they can seem like a journey.”

That’s apparent in the shifts and turns of a piece like “Pedra De Raio” or “Levante,” where the melody shifts and swerves, one section flowing naturally into the next, adding layer upon layer to create something astonishing and utterly satisfying in its power. In large part, this change has come from the band’s relentless touring over the last few years.

“We’ve been exposed to so much,” Ferreira notes. “So many of the people we’ve played with have had an impact on us, like Pat Thomas, the Ghanaian highlife singer or [Nigerian saxophonist] Orlando Julius. And then we toured and recorded with João Donato. He’s over 80 now and still playing piano, one of the icons of Brazilian music. We’ve learned from them all, they’ve made us think about what we can do with our music. Those new ideas have found their way into this album.”

One result is the new, shining lyricism of the melodies, with the horns pushed even more to the fore, parading around with a singer’s swagger.

“We want people to relate to our melodies, to take the line a vocalist might use and play it on the horns. Sometimes in instrumental music, the players are so good it ends up putting the listener at a distance. We make music as a celebration, a way to connect and bring some joy. We want to draw them in. We try to write something very memorable.”

And Quebra Cabeça is a very memorable set of hummable earworms, from the title cut that opens up the album and continuing, sinewy and cool and relentless, all the way to the final note of “Portal.”

Throughout though, the heartbeat of everything remains utterly African, refracted through the prism of the band’s home in the Bixiga neighbourhood of São Paulo. “What we put on top of that is essentially urban São Paulo music. This city has been a huge influence on us. It has that sense of urgency, always running to catch up. It’s expensive, and services are awful, with so much pollution and violence. But it’s our home and it was developed through immigration. Bixiga is where people come first of all. It’s always had that influx; it’s the story of São Paulo in miniature.”

And Bixiga 70 has always been a reflection of the streets where they live. The band played their first show in October 2010 and released their debut album a year later. Eight years on they are still the same 10-piece collective, honing and shaping the music, evolving towards the changes found on Quebra Cabeça.

“We knew we wanted this record to be different. Our other three albums were all recorded live in the studio, because we’re more of a live band, the stage is our habitat. This time we decided to use the studio to experiment with arrangements and voicings. We began composing in early 2017. It took us a year to write everything, then we began recording in May this year. And for the first time we used a co-producer, Gustavo Lenza (Céu, Marisa Monte). He was a friend even before we formed the band, but it recent years he’s become a very big producer in Brazil.”

The result still captures the incendiary excitement of Bixiga 70 live, but the freedom of the studio brings more shade and subtlety than before. The rhythms are more sinuous than ever, snaking through the funk in way that looks more to Ghana or Nigeria than Memphis or Muscle Shoals, while the horns strut in powerful harmonies. It’s music that forges connections and retraces history while sounding absolutely contemporary. But for Bixiga 70, African will always be the root, and Brazil its beautiful, vibrant flower.

Bixiga 70:
Chris Scabello: guitar
Cuca Ferreira: baritone sax, flute
Daniel Gralha: trumpet
Décio 7: drums
Daniel Nogueira: tenor sax
Douglas Antunes: trombone
Marcelo Dworecki: bass
Maurício Fleury: keyboards, guitar
Rômulo Nardes: percussion



Gaye Su Akyol • İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir

1. İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir (5:22)
2. Bağrımızda Taş (4:00)
3. Laziko (4:05)
4. Gölgenle Bir Başıma (5:08)
5. Meftunum Sana (4:21)
6. Şahmeran (3:53)
7. Bir Yaralı Kuştum (5:12)
8. Hemşerim Memleket Nire (5:00)
9. Boşluk Ve Sonsuzluk (1:41)
10. Halimiz İtten Beter (4:28)

“Su Akyol’s voice is light but elegant, and her songs are by turns urgent, sultry and romantic and politically barbed. The new sound of Istanbul.”
–The Observer

“The Turkish singer Gaye Su Akyol has emerged at the fore of her country’s revitalized music scene… mixes Turkish modes and scales with surf rock, and psychedelia.”

With the release of her first international album “Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu” (2016), Gaye Su Akyol established herself as one of Turkey’s most compelling young voices and most exhilarating sonic explorers. Her work as a singer-songwriter, producer and audio/visual conceptualist, simultaneously navigates the storied past, the hyper-connected present and the unscripted future.

Growing up in cosmopolitan Istanbul listening to Anatolian music icon Selda Bağcan and Kurt Cobain in equal measure, Akyol skipped right over the tired Oriental/Occidental paradigmatic clichés. Gaye’s music was global in concept and local in spirit and nuance right from the very beginning.

Following the widespread critical acclaim for “Hologram Ĭmparatorluğu” Gaye and her sublime band spent 18 months travelling up and down Turkey, Europe and the Middle and Far East sharing with audiences a vibrant mix of raki laced traditional balladry, futurist surf and post-punk opposition. The new album, produced by her and guitarist Ali Güçlü Şimşek, is arguably more immediate and visceral than the first two, reflecting her and the band’s growing reputation as a powerful live act.

“Istikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir,” which translates as “Consistent Fantasy is Reality,” is a deeply poetic album; an album of personalized politics, an album that digs into the heart our contentious, inexplicable contemporary experience. Never blinking. Always dreaming. Never giving in. Never giving up.

Play that song, play the vinyl, Let the storm turn around.
Istikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir (Consistent Fantasy Is Reality): An artist statement

“Consistent Fantasy is Reality” is the third album in my discography. Just like the previous two it is a completely independent and liberated album that embraces a “DIY” philosophy, and a revolutionary album which no capitalist or top-down imposed obligations can restrain or contaminate.

Like my second album it is published by our own record company in Turkey and by Glitterbeat worldwide.

In terms of its philosophy, lyrics, music and motto, this album is the dream of pure freedom, of showing the courage to be yourself, of looking at the culture I was born into without alienation, a “dreaming practice” propounded into a country and world that is increasingly turning inward and becoming a conservatized prison.

Musically the album combines influences from the Anatolian Pop/Anatolian Rock genre that emerged in Turkey during the 60s and the 70s with Turkish classical music scales and vocal aesthetics, and various subgenres of Rock, bringing together strong ballads, Turkish folk tunes, the conventional guitar-bass-drums trio and percussions, joined by violin, oud, cumbush, and – as new additions that the previous albums did not have – baglama (Turkish native instrument), electronic beats and wind instruments like saxophone and trumpet, together making up a very rich instrumental palette.

With this album I pursued new sounds in the deep waters of this geography, dug up the manifestation of my experiences, all the music, the people, the pain, the dreams and countries I have heard and was touched by, followed the footsteps of a personal archeology and tried to add my lost territories to these. As in my previous albums I wrote all the music and lyrics, except for one song. I was involved in all stages of production, arrangement and recording as co-producer, and in the visual language and graphics of the album as the art director. Although I did not try to emphasize this aspect in regards to my previous albums, I came to be fully convinced that the existence and power of women needs to be specifically pointed out in a world that is becoming almost caricaturized with masculine displays of power, where everyone except whoever is holding power is deemed invisible. As a woman born and raised in Turkey, who makes her own music, who created a playground outside the masculine system by founding her own record company, who participates in every stage of this work from creation to production in a masculine dominated geography and an ever conservatized world, I think it is necessary to make these stories of “consistent dreaming” visible and I hope to inspire other women and people who are producing and claiming their own dreams. In this sense this is an extremely feminist, revolutionary and idealist album.

About the name and the content of the album; there are two important facts, the first one being the physical reality:
In a difficult country like Turkey, bordering the Middle East, Europe and Russia, in an atmosphere that is increasingly conservative and in a world that contributes to this darkness with its own chaos and power struggles, I believe that we need to create a counter reality in order to challenge organized evil and the horrible reality it creates, and the strongest option here is “consistent dreaming”.

And the other fact is a personal awakening:
The materialist world view attributes supreme meanings and values to the confirmable, accumulated world that it calls “real,” while almost ignoring the enormous power, amazing nature and value of dreams. My superpower as a child was dreaming (almost like the other children) and although I nearly forgot it for a while, I remembered my real power eventually. There is nothing as spectacular and beautiful as a free mind… As soon as I realized that the only difference between dreams and reality was “consistency” in my mind, the universe became a better place. This is where this album is coming from.

On the cover of the album, there is a “fantasy world” that promises whatever you fantasize constantly becomes your reality. We designed a “non-existent creature in any culture” with a majestic, glittered body and with a holy light on its head that symbolizes that the dreams of the individual are one’s holy key to open the new chapters in life.

On the back of the cover there is an ancient motif called “eli belinde” from Anatolian culture.
Eli belinde (Turkish for “hands on hips”) is a motif of a hands-on-hips female figure. It is widely used on kilims. It is a “matriarchal symbol” that symbolizes feminine power, wealth, fertility, good fortune, happiness…etc. But in this case, the reasons to put it on the back cover are the feminine power she carries and the polysemous structure of the word “fertilization” which I take to mean “the fertility of a free mind and fruitfulness of dreaming.”

We are masses moving within a huge chaos. We are the disaster seeds of a cultural collapse which infiltrates the human mind and inhibits dreams. In an age when we are forced to forget dreaming, as societies we become weak signals of the barren mind. We are descendants of unqualified herds that follow grunts. We are the miserable, standardized, un-rebellious and unfounded robots of the new world.

What could be the one thing that could separate us from this herd, these masses, these crises of ambition ground down by the things we memorize?

This album is in search of the great crisis of existence, the assorted peculiarities that you are subjected to when you refuse to get used to and are alienated by things such as war, or death, a sudden separation forever from a loved one, dreams for instance, the nature of species, what we look for in this weird planet, what we are not able to find, what we call real and what we turn down as dreams.

Dreams keep you awake and it is time to wake up!

— Gaye Su Akyol

Gaye Su Akyol: vocals, percussions, electronics
Ali Güçlü Şimşek: electric & acoustic guitar, back vocal
Görkem Karabudak: bass & acoustic guitar, keyboard, electronics, back vocal
Ediz Hafızoğlu: drums

İlhan Erşahin: saxophone
Barlas Tan Özemek: classical guitar (şahmeran)
Ahmet Ayzit: violin, oud, electro saz, cumbush
Ismail Darıcı: percussions
Oğuz Can Bilgin: trumpet

Producers: Ali Güçlü Şimşek, Gaye Su Akyol, GK
Recorded & mixed in Istanbul at: Hayyam Stüdyoları Dunganga Ev Stüdyosu kayıt



Fofoulah • Daega Rek

1. Nyari Garong 01:10
2. Ndanane Fofoulah04:41
3. Seye Fofoulah 03:54
4. Daega Rek 03:44
5. Njita Fofoulah05:18
6. Chebou Jane06:02
7. Knicki Fofoulah 03:20
8. Kaddy 06:30
9. Pulo Fofoulah 05:40


“Fofoulah’s foundations are dub and jazz, but these are beefed up with electronics…and, most persuasively, the sabar and tama drums of West Africa.”

“Bravely adventurous” –The Guardian

“Avoiding pastiche or casual borrowing…Fofoulah have set sail toward an original sound.”
–The Wire

The London based afro-dub ensemble Fofoulah, have followed-up their trailblazing debut album (“Fofoulah”/Glitterbeat 2014) with an even more shapeshifting and adventurous recording. Slippery sabar beats, dystopian electronics and echoing, shamanic chants ratchet up both the dub quotient and the dramatic tension. Creating a soundworld that is both earthy and urban, futurist and rooted – the new album “Daega Rek” (The Truth) is brought into sharp focus by the rhythms and vocals of Gambian sabar drummer Kaw Secka and the vivid production of keyboardist/saxophonist Tom Challenger.

After the release of their self-titled first album, the band played extensively in the U.K. and Europe where – spontaneously – every concert would see Kaw Secka rise to the microphone (with his tama – a talking drum) and rap over the last song, cuing rhythmic patterns for the group to play in unison (called Bakas). It was decided to take this exploratory part of the shows forward into the next realm.

The concept that emerged for the new album – “Daega Rek” – involved combining recordings of drums and percussion (laid down at Real World Studios) with improvisatory vocalizations and a production aesthetic that pushed the band’s collective sound in a much more electronic and dub-based direction.

The resultant tracks were shaped by Challenger in his studio (Brockley, London), fusing the new rhythm sessions with a variety of manipulated, previous recordings of the band – while also adding an array of synthesizers and a vast sample palette. Secka then came in to lay down vocals and it was these contributions that went on to define the final songs.

Every song has a different meaning, or message, all of them sung in Wolof, a language central to coastal West African countries such as The Gambia and Senegal. Secka’s lyrics explore a myriad of topics – ‘Njite’ for example, focuses on the importance of leadership, and all that it entails; ‘Seye’ (Marriage) explores the nature of human connection; and the title track ‘Daega Rek,’ sets its lens on truth and the riddles of reality.

Says Secka: “The truth is only true; Where is death coming from? Something true, but what is the truth?”

The rhythmic propulsion of the initial recordings made by drummer Dave Smith and Secka at Real World, melds with a backdrop of constantly shifting sonic colors – Johnny Brierley’s deep, melodic bass lines, underpin the evolving patterns of Phil Stevenson’s guitar which in turn, intersect with Challenger’s keyboards and the urgency of Secka’s incantations. The emphasis on the sonic structure and the identity of the material showcases its influences – traditional sabar drumming meeting glitchy electronics; and dub textures blending with elements of footwork and drum & bass.

Moving outward, the band will tour their new show – alongside their original singer and dancer Batch Gueye – and will not only feature the music of “Daega Rek,” but also sounds from their past catalogue cast through a new lens.

Fofoulah remind us that sonics and human experiences combine, resonate and land where they will. “Fortress” mentalities can slow this down, but the spirit of morphing and connectivity still flashes forward.

Song descriptions from Kaw Secka:

Meaning star. The first child of a family is called this: taaw. He should always set a good example; the family will be dependent on him as well as his followers. He will bear the burden of responsibility when his parents pass. He should be a good person, should avoid wrong doing and maintain the characteristics of the family. ‘Lou y rendi sisa loho yee lai natcha.’ If you slaughter ‘it’, only ‘it’ bleeds in your hands.

Meaning Marriage. Where is the first connection coming from? Who makes the link to ensure that you meet so that you may fall in love, get married and start a family? You must have seen something special on both sides, that’s why we should do it for the sake of that person – which is God. Whatever happens, we should do it for God’s sake. Love is only love. ‘Sa baga baga sa am am ci man ci man lolou louko waral.’

Daega Rek:
The truth is only true
Where is death coming from?
Something true; but what is the truth?
‘Lee reka la’ – as you walk past the grave yard you pass the graves, but no one is talking to each other. Even when you are the richest you will walk past something that doesn’t belong to you. ‘Loh wakhadi wakhadi wakhadi boh guisay nen neh nen nagui’ – even when you don’t want to speak, if you see an egg, then say this is an egg. Accept it, believe it is the truth.

I say, as a leader, Imam, manager, president – please don’t think about favoritism or populism. Think about the responsibilities of your role – you are dealing with human beings (who are very difficult to know). Do what you have been chosen for. Look at Mam Cheikh Ibrima Fall; The leader of the Baye Fall, followers of Serigne Touba. Look at Imam Abdalah Bah, Mam Baye Nyass and prophet Mohamed Salahou (Alaihi wa Salam). The third president of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, should take heed from these special leaders.

Chebou Jaine:
Dedicated to my first cousin, Yama Secka Ndure. The national dish of Senegal/Gambia but it’s now international. Rice with fish, delicious and popular. At most weddings or naming ceremonies they will cook this special dish for guests. If you cook this dish, you have to give the time it needs. I remember those days in Sweden – if I missed home, I would go to my cousin Yama’s house to cook it for me. The best Chebou Jaine I ever had was cooked by her.

In life there is an original and there is a photocopy. The king will do his washing and put it out on the sun, and God will rain on it. ‘Yallah la aye ci putout burr.’

About the Grenfell disaster that happened in West London (Kensington). We lost a great talented artist and composer – Khadijah Saye.


Refree • La otra mitad

1. Que te vayas (1’29”)
2. Dar a Luz (3’09”)
3. Ramírez 11012017 (1’44”)
4. La otra mitad (1’52”)
5. LG0 24022017 (1’11”)
6. Telecaster 01032017b (3’38”)
7. Niño perdío (1’23”)
8. Barbacoa (1’20”)
9. Tiranía (1’25”)
10. Ramírez 19022017b (1’40”)
11. Ramírez 19022017a (2’57”)
12. Fandangos Negros (4’59”)
13. Cuando salga el sol (3’40”)
14. LG0 28022017 (3’56″)
15. Mariscar (2’45”)


Raül Refree is one of the most acclaimed Spanish producers of the last decade. Working with ground breaking artists such as Silvia Pérez Cruz and Rosalía he has been at the forefront of the so-called “new flamenco” movement. He also collaborates with rock experimentalists like Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth – both playing in his band and co-producing Lee’s last album “Electric Trim.”

But Raül’s musical life doesn’t stop there. He is also a noted songwriter/composer/musician who has released 6 previous solo albums, acclaimed film soundtracks and an overflowing discography of
genre-skewing projects.

It is this merging of soundworlds that makes Raül’s new solo release La Otra Mitad (The Other Half) – under the moniker Refree – such an immersive and transportive listen.

Mesmerizing acoustic and electric guitar explorations meet sampled street recordings,
haunted voices and hushed electronics. Nuanced and boundless.

The latest from Glitterbeat’s label imprint: tak:til.


The Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida said, more or less, that “an artist should always try to do what he still does not know how to do.” Without actually knowing this quotation but only the sensation and the wakefulness behind it, Refree’s musical art seems to subscribe word for word to Chillida’s edict.

Having spent the last years as an inspired facilitator for, and co-creator with, a plethora of storied musicians (American songwriter Josh Rouse, the aforementioned Cruz, Ranaldo, Rosalía and many more), in 2017 Refree undertook the production of two instrumental leaning 10-inch solo EPs. The first of these, Jai Alai vol.01, is mostly a collection of reflective solo guitar music, with each title named according to the instrument used on the track and the date on which it was played (“Ramirez 11012017” / “Telecaster 01032017b”). The second Jai Alai volume is quite a different proposition, with the material coming from a soundtrack project, and the sound palette expanded to include recordings of street music, voices and a subtle electronic dimension.

The tak:til release La Otra Mitad is a full-length album that weaves together the two Eps and creates a dramatic new entity in itself. Whereas the guitar tracks included from Jai Alai vol.01 echo the spontaneity and sturdy simplicity of Derek Bailey or Durutti Column, they are balanced beautifully by the more textured soundtrack compositions from Jai Alai vol.02, that make up the majority of the album. One senses the search and discovery in all of this, especially when listening to how these tracks merge together. It feels boundless. The only self-imposed limit being no discernible limits. A skillful artist figuring out how to do, what he doesn’t know how to do. Refree gives us a glimpse into the album’s genesis:

“I started the first 10″ collection because I didn’t feel like waiting for an album to be recorded and I was feeling more attached to showing what I was doing, and how I was feeling about music, right then. More like a work in progress. I also thought it was more related to the way music works nowadays. But after Jai Alai vol.2 I thought these two releases had a strong relation between them, in the way one is the evolution of the other. I wanted to do instrumental music, but at the same time I wanted vocal recordings to be the inspiration of some compositions. There’s no singer but there is one. There’s no more than just me on every song but at times there’s something like a whole orchestra.”

It is revealing that much of La Otra Mitad is music made for a movie. Or maybe, it could be called music from a movie (not all songs appear in the film). Or, perhaps also, music made during the construction of a movie. The film in question is “Entre dos aguas” by Isaki Lacuesta, a drama which explores the world of flamenco and uses non-professional actors. The director Lacuesta explains the soundtrack’s unconventional creative process:

“It was very good that Raül came to the filming in San Fernando, because he worked in the field just like us. Sometimes he was there during the filming of a scene and kept a recording of the voice of one of the characters, which then became a piece of music. Other times we would set up a barbecue with the team where he was invited and the next day, he would come back with a track called precisely that, Barbacoa. And on other occasions we showed him something in the editing room and worked the sound part right there, like Neil Young when he played music for Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Dead Man,’ which is a reference that I always had in mind during this process.”

Refree himself says that the referent that haunted him most was not Neil Young, but Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, the magnum opus of Gavin Bryars. In that piece, a cassette recording of a melody intoned by a homeless man is looped and repeated ceaselessly until a rare and at the same time ultra-emotive spiral climax is reached. The soundtrack pieces are an exercise in voices found and then converted into samples: that of flamenco singer Rocío Márquez, that of El Bolita, a boy who participated in the film and who spontaneously started singing in front of Raül, or the discarded vocal sketches from El Niño de Elche’s celebrated “Antología del Cante Flamenco Heterodoxo” which was co-composed and produced by Refree.

“I was very interested in the idea of making music with voices that were not recorded on purpose for this record,” says Raül. “They had to be recorded in other contexts, with another objective. This decision made me much more open to unforeseen things happening. And, in the end, this spirit fit with a line of work that I had been exploring for some time: to see what other areas can be reached with flamenco, something based on a certain idea of the South’s environment.”

Throughout the process of making La Otra Mitad, Raül Refree also found another voice: his own; always changing, always expanding in richness and always open to saying, what he does not yet know.



Ustad Saami • God Is Not a Terrorist

1. God Is (3:14)
2. My Beloved is on the Way (5:28)
3. Twilight (10:28)
4. Hymn (1:09)
5. War Song (7:31)
6. Longing (18:51)

Hypnotic, unvarnished recordings by one of Pakistan’s most revered and iconic classical singers.

The roots of Saami’s music go back over a thousand years – but it’s message is contemporary and universal: “to sing is to listen.”

Produced by GRAMMY Award winner Ian Brennan
Vol.5 of Glitterbeat’s acclaimed Hidden Musics series.

Hawks crowd the skies above Karachi as a blessing. They are fed the scraps from animal sacrifices due to the prayers of the non-verbal being thought to reach God more powerfully.

75-year-old, Ustad Saami risks his life daily in Pakistan to keep alive his microtonal, pre-Islamic, multilingual (Farsi, Sanskrit, Hindi, the ancient and dead language of Vedic, gibberish, Arabic, and Urdu) music. Handed down by his ancestors for over a thousand years, he is the only practitioner of Surti left in the world and when he passes, this music will die with him as well. Extremists resent his work as they do anything else pre-dating Muhammad.

In the land where Osama Bin last hid, Master Ustad Naseeruddin Saami has spent his entire life mastering the nuances of every given note.

It has been said that India always had a region where all of the greatest singers came from. And that place is Pakistan.

One of just nine countries in the world to possess nuclear arms and the only Islamic nation to do so, the Pakistani state is so feared that the US government does not allows its staff to stay in hotels anywhere in the entire country. Any hotel— about as daunting a travel warning as could be issued.

Driving in from the airport I noticed a man cleaning what I thought was a musical instrument, but then realized was a machine gun. Weaponry is another visual motif throughout the city. Enroute, we passed celebrity-soldier sponsor billboards for house paint. Here, army officers carry a similar hollow cache to reality stars in America.
“To sing is to listen.” These are the words of the master. The translation of his own last name, Saami, even means “to hear.”

For him, everything centers on one note. From that, all else grows and music is seen as a sixth sense for people to better communicate with each other. With great precision, Saami utilizes 49-notes versus the West’s mere seven. The scale was founded by a mix-raced royal whose lifelong endeavor was to make peace with duality through art. This predecessor of Qawwali music is called Khayál, the Arabic word for “imagination” and in it the melody carries the meaning. The lyrics are almost incidental during these call-and-responses.

But today neophyte, urbane media-moguls tell the master that he doesn’t know how to sing since his notes fail to align on a sanitized and dumbed-down grid. Engineers are unable to see his notes on their Pro Tools system, so they assume that it is the artist not the machine that is mistaken. But it is the uneven pitches that the master values as being the most searching, while those with even numbers too stable.

A compounding cultural force is that extremists are driving the music out of Islam, viewing it as having no place in a righteous society. So now the five calls to prayer blasted over intercoms around the clock are harsh and off-pitch. Harmonium, the instrument that is now so strongly associated with the region, was actually introduced by missionaries and banned from the radio until 1962. That was D-Day culturally for Pakistan. The instrument restricted music to off/on keys, excluding all other possibilities.

As we sat being interviewed by a local journalist in a hotel lobby, there was an irony to the endless loop of Christmas songs that filled every corner in the background. And badly rendered MIDI versions at that.

Pakistan was created by the largest mass migration in history as Muslims and non-Muslims swapped sides of the border. Most westward migrants ended-up in the port city of Karachi with the promise that they would eventually be relocated and integrated throughout Pakistan. But that promise remains unfulfilled and these relative newcomers remain cordoned off in the city, forming micro-regions that reflect wherever they migrated from in India before first alighting.

The master shapes the notes with his hands as he sings like conducting a Theremin. Most master’s now hide their knowledge, possessively passing their skills down through family only. Subsequently, traditions have died and wither. Master Saami’s mission is to share his knowledge with the world, so that the music may live on freely.

With the musician’s tongues reddened and teeth devastated from chewing Paan, we recorded all night long taking only a short break for a meal. In the morning after the sun had come up, the younger players were understandably collapsing from exhaustion. The master, though, displayed markedly more energy than when we had begun the night before. He urged the others to keep going, but was unsuccessful. His power proved too much for them to keep up with.

— Ian Brennan



Kel Assouf • Black Tenere

1. Fransa (4:41)
2. Tenere (4:42)
3. Alyochan (3:55)
4. Tamatant (5:28)
5. America (3:55)
6. Amghar (4:08)
7. Ariyal (7:22)
8. Taddout (5:17)
9. Ubary (3:11)

On the heels of their acclaimed album Tikounen – a recording The Guardian called ‘a leap forward in the modern Tuareg sound…truly radical’ – Kel Assouf return with an even more transformative collection: Black Tenere. Produced by the band’s keyboardist Sofyann Ben Youssef, the mastermind behind the highly touted AMMAR 808, the new album strips things back to a power trio lineup and focuses on the crackling, forward-looking energy of Nigerien front man Anana Ag Haroun’s next level Kel Tamashek (Tuareg) rock songs.

Anana exudes a steadied yet powerful charisma when he walks onto a stage. Wearing his trademark Panama hat and holding one of rock and roll’s most archetypal guitars – a Gibson Flying V – both his presence and his music personifies the interconnected paths he has travelled in the past years. Born and raised in Niger, but transplanted to Brussels eleven years ago to be with his wife and to raise a family – he acknowledges there is a duality to his world-view: “My three daughters were born in Belgium, so the country became a part of my identity. These days I’m a Belgian when I’m in Niger and a Nigerien when I’m in Belgium.”

Kel Assouf’s musical journey has flowed seamlessly from the well-spring created by Ishumar desert rock pioneers Tinariwen – that Haroun first encountered as a young musician in Niger – towards sonic horizons that include the rock classicism of groups like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age and the club beats and astral ambiance of European electronic music. On Black Tenere, the band pushes these different textures and influences towards a persuasive, raw-edged crescendo. Ag Haroun see’s the path to the new album and its new sound this way: “my musical tastes didn’t change but they are expanding further thanks to my different encounters and my curiosity. Black Tenere is a rock album. it’s a choice to give a more original touch that builds up the identity of Kel Assouf and differentiates it from the other groups of Ishumar music. For me the music has to travel and it has to be open to other sounds so that everyone can listen to the messages it carries.”

The messages found in Ag Haroun’s lyrics are indeed potent, tragic and inspiring in their defiance.
The struggle of the stateless Kel Tamashek (a name they prefer to the colonial moniker “Tuareg”) to maintain control of their ancestral lands, their dignity and their nomadic way of life, has only recently entered the fringes of Western consciousness. But as the song “Fransa” points out the story is well-worn, complex and ongoing:
The war during the French colonization was won
by the swords, shields and spears of our ancestors.
How do you want potential allies to provide you with modern cannons and missiles?
Do you see your sisters every day climbing the border mountains (Tassili),
clandestinely, exhausted, on their knees with bruised feet.

This is not a band in search of a theme. Ag Haroun’s lyrical intentions on the album are clear and transparent. As he puts it, “Black Tenere talks about the Tamashek tragedy, its history since colonization until today, and the geopolitics that unfolds in the desert for its natural resources.” But infused into the sharp, unswerving social analysis and the calls for resistance, there is also the shimmer of nostalgia and a poetry of deep longing. The recognition that the very fabric of desert life is at stake and has possibly already been lost. On “Taddout” Anana sings:
I follow the traces of antelopes,
I live in the desert and its storms,
my favorite flower is that of acacia. It’s called Tabsit.
Its perfume is that of freedom and loneliness,
Far from the tumult of city life.

To record the energized soundscapes of Black Tenere, the trio (Ag Harouna plus drummer Oliver Penu
and keyboardist/producer Sofyann Ben Youssef) setup at Stureparken Studio in Stockholm. Ben Youssef,
a fast rising producer responsible for the previous Kel Assouf album and recent records by Algerian
rai provocateur Sofiane Sadi and AMMAR 808 (his own project of Pan-Maghreb futurism) picks up the story:
“Stureparken is a studio owned by musicians, one of them is a friend and fellow producer. The thing that is special about the studio is that it has a huge collection of keyboards, synths, guitars, basses and drums as well. All of them are vintage instruments, with some being rarer than others. The idea was to have more choices of good or weird sounding instruments. We were trying to find some special sounds and kept experimenting around that idea.”

Ben Youssef, like Ag Haroun is also a rock fan, though his more recent projects also show a deep understanding of ambient music and club culture. Through his dual roles, as both a band member and as the producer, he deftly integrated these different sonic dimensions into the album. He describes the process this way:
“I have a been rocker since my teens. I was trying to translate the Kel Assouf trio into a sound half way between its Nigerien roots and 70 ’s rock, but also stoner rock, which is a music I played for many years. The rhythmic parts and synths show something from my electronic alter-ego AMMAR 808. I tried to tie together my disparate influences: electronic, ambient and rock. It was a natural thing to do after playing with Kel Assouf for all these years. The sound of the album is inspired from the musicians and their personalities, including myself.”

The recordings brilliantly reflect the strong collective heart of the band – each musician supporting the
album’s propulsive, hypnotic purposes – yet on many occasions stepping forward in thrilling ways. “Alyochan” is unimaginable without the motorik pulse of Penu’s trance-like drumming. Ben Youssef’s Hammond organ creates a gorgeous defining space (and an unresolved tension) throughout the long intro of “Ariyal” – and then the band kicks in and things shift to another landscape. While Ag Haroun’s guitar is often wrapped in distortion, on “Tamatan” he pulls things back, and with the help of Enoesque treatments, his guitar feels star bound and weightless.

Kel Assouf is a triangle of influences, cultural expressions and complex identities. Oliver Penu, a young jazz drummer from Belgium. Sofyann Ben Youssef, a renowned electronic producer and rock fan, born and raised in Tunisia. Anana Ag Haroun, a second generation Ishumar guitarist and singer-songwriter from Niger – living in Brussels, one of Europe’s most multi-ethnic capital cities. The band is a reflection of how contemporary music works and enriches us. In an era where borders are being redrawn and walls are being erected, Kel Assouf shows us other possibilities. Ag Haroun states this beautifully: “music is a weapon of war without violence. It is a claim for justice and it is also the soul of humanity. It brings together human beings from different cultures and different languages and from different countries. If we were to invest more in culture today and less in weapons, the world would be different. Music is peace for our souls”

Kel Assouf: Impassioned and defiant. Wired and spectral. Boundless and innovative. Ishumar sonics 3.0




Ifriqiyya Electrique • Laylet el Booree

01. Mashee Kooka (2:33)
02. He Eh Lalla (3:36)
03. Beesmeellah Beedeet (4:52)
04. Moola Nefta (5:50)
05. Habeebee Hooa Jooani (4:46)
06. Nafta Naghara (5:07)
07. Danee Danee (3:38)
08. Wa Salaat Alih Hannabee Mohammad (1:37)
09. Mabbrooka (5:11)

Fusing the rhythms and invocations of the ancient Saharan Banga ritual with an electrical storm of contemporary sonics, Ifriqiyya Electrique’s second album both grips and awakens.

In Tunisian, Banga means “huge volume” and one cannot think of a more apt description of Laylet el Booree than that.

Maximalist & relentless. Blood, sweat & trance.

In the West, music performances and audiences are widely cut from the same cloth. There is a secure dividing line between the stage and the hall, the audience and the performer. But profoundly different experiences can be found on the southern side of the Mediterranean Sea, deep in the Tunisian desert, where the group Ifriqiyya Electrique was born and has performed the most. Several years ago, two of the musicians who make up the five-piece Ifriqiyya Electrique – Gianna Greco and François R. Cambuzat – ventured to the Djerid desert of Tunisia to investigate and confront the religious ritual of the Banga, a ritual of legendary intensity indigenous to the region. The musical duo’s background is in the underground post-punk scene of continental Europe, as members of Putan Club and as collaborators with the venerable Lydia Lunch. But they are also voracious travellers and seekers of global sonics that are at least partially hidden from the western gaze. Previous trips to the Uyghur region of China and the Kurdish regions of Turkey had in part prepared them for the musical immersion they would undertake in Djerid. Their original intention was not to join in the ritual but rather to research how this unique ceremony delivered “pure elevation” to its participants. This state of elevation or trance, is something that they had experienced in their own music, and they were searching for instructive parallels and new perspectives.

But after living in, and travelling throughout the Djerid for years, things began to morph. The beginnings of a group began to take form. There was a shift towards direct engagement. Their first “appearance” ended up being in Nefta, in the city of Sidi Marzug. It was terrifying: after all the months of studying, filming, recording and bonding, could Ifriqiyya Electrique actually participate in the Banga ritual? The first ten minutes were in fact distressing, the Banga adepts from the town initially shocked. But eventually the locals recognized a shared music of the spirit and everything rocked together: people sang, danced, went into trances, were healed and the entity that became to be known as Ifriqiyya Electrique passed an unwritten test of inclusion. Remember: Ifriqiyya’s music was never composed for a Western audience in the first place. It was brought to life in real time, on the same streets in which the Banga has been practiced uninterrupted for centuries. Within the ritual there is no leader nor primadonna. It is a collective improvisation. Sufism. A ritualized, social bond where no one stands above anyone else.

In the oases of Southern Tunisia, those frequented by the caravan traders of past centuries, black slaves worked in houses and in the fields, where they planted crops and dug irrigation channels. A native of Sub-Saharan Africa, purchased in Timbuktu by the Beni Ali family, Sidi Marzug (the black saint) was a slave whose first owner was Sidi Bou Ali (the white saint), a celebrated Sufi mystic who had made his home in Nefta during the 13th century. The popular image of Sidi Marzug is that of a powerful saint who had at his disposal a diwan (assembly) of rûwâhînes (spirits), who were his servants and allies. The black communities of Tozeur, Nefta and Metlaoui commemorate him with a ritual called the Banga, which is less of an exorcism than an “adorcism”: intended to placate and calm the spirit who possesses – and who will always possess – the initiate who participates in the Banga. The modern day sanctuary (zawya) which holds the body (thabût) of the black saint is in the suburbs of the city of Nefta, to the far west of the Djerid oasis. In the Djerid desert region, the ritual of the Banga of Sidi Marzuq is an extremely popular ceremony, which takes place both in the marabout (holy tomb), but more commonly in private houses and in the city streets. The songs and dances are passed down in this way to the younger generations, and the songs are still sung in ajami, the original language of the Hausa who were forcibly brought to the area as slaves.

In 2017, Ifriqiyya Electrique released their debut album Rûwâhîne, an album which deftly brought together the hypnotic chants and metallic hand percussion of traditional Banga music with brutalist electronics and sheer rock volume. Three members of the Banga community – Tarek Sultan, Yahia Chouchen and Youssef Ghazala – joined forces with Gianna and Francois not only on this acclaimed album, but also onstage throughout the eighteen months of European touring that followed the record’s release (tour stops included: Womad, Womex, Sziget, Vieilles Charrues & FMM Sines). It quickly became clear that the Banga had not been pointlessly retooled for western consumption, but rather through the deep commitment of the five Ifriqiyya Electrique musicians – it had been transformed into something contemporary and unexpected. Ifriqiyya Electrique cryptically call this transformation a “post-industrial ritual” and the actual experience of hearing this music certainly echoes this moniker. The band create a fertile space where ecstatic electronics and rock levitation intersect with timeless ceremony and community.

The title of the second album Laylet el Booree translates as the “Night of the Madness.” It refers to the last part of the annual gathering of the adorcist ritual from the Banga of Tozeur – it is the night when the spirits actually take possession of the bodies. Like the ritual itself, the album is wild, frantic, and never caresses the listener’s expectations. But its purpose is also to heal; with sweat, spirituality, electricity and trance being central to the almost overwhelming sensory experience. With the band now joined by new member Fatma Chebbi (on vocals and tchektchekas hand percussion) one senses that the musical and cultural conversation is even deeper this time around. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a speculative conversation at all, but rather something fully formed and undeniable. An emergent ritual in itself.


Yahya Chouchen: vox, tabla, tchektchekas

Fatma Chebbi: vox, tchektchekas

Tarek Soltan: vox, tabla

Gianna Greco: bass, vox, video

François R. Cambuzat: guitars, vox, video, computer


Recorded in Tozeur (Djerid, Tunisia), Casa Musicale (Perpignan, France, by Joseph Poubill) and La Carène (Brest, France, by Paul Legalle).





Mekons • Deserted

01. Lawrence Of California (04:37)
02. Harar 1883 (03:12)
03. Into The Sun (04:55)
04. How Many Stars (04:02)
05. In The Desert (04:50)
06. Mirage (04:55)
07. Weimar Vending Machine (06:02)
08. Andromeda (04:27)
09. After The Rain (05:01)

“There’s never been a band quite like the Mekons. Unmarred by breakups or breakouts, undefined by genre, geography, or ego-trips…no rock outfit’s ever been this committed to behaving like a true band, with all the equanimity and familial bonding implied.” – Rolling Stone

This legendary group from Leeds, have written contemporary music history for the last 40 years as radical innovators of both first generation punk and insurgent roots music. Their new album was recorded in the desert environs of Joshua Tree, California and is drenched with widescreen, barbed-wire atmosphere and hard-earned (but ever amused) defiance.

The return of one of the planet’s most essential rock & roll bands.

When punk exploded in London, fast and brash and full of fury, up in Leeds the Mekons came blinking into the light at a much slower pace. Singles like “Where Were You” and “Never Been in a Riot” (both from1978) fractured punk’s outlaw myth with the ordinariness of real life. During the next decade, as country singers donned cowboy hats and slid into the stadiums, the Mekons celebrated the music’s rough, raw beginnings and tender hearts with the Fear and Whiskey album (1985) and went on to demolish rock narratives with Mekons Rock’n’Roll (1989). For more than four decades they’ve been a constant contradiction, an ongoing art project of observation, anger and compassion, all neatly summed up in the movie Revenge of the Mekons, which has ironically brought an upsurge in their popularity around the US as new audiences discovers their shambling splendour. And now the caravan continues with Deserted, their first full studio album in eight years.

And desert is an apt word. This time there’s an emphasis on texture and sounds, a sense of space that brings a new, widescreen feel to their music, opening up songs that surge like clarion calls, like the album’s opening track, “Lawrence of California.”

“We were recording at the studio of our bass player, Dave Trumfio,” Langford recalls. “It’s just outside Joshua Tree National Park. Seeing Tom [Greenhalgh, the group’s other original member] wandering in that landscape looked like a scene from Lawrence of California.’ And then, ‘Wait a minute, there’s a song in that.’

The band arrived with no songs written, only a few ideas exchanged by email between Langford and Tom Greenhalgh, the group’s other original member.

“Things emerged. At one point we had a sheet with a few words written here and there. Everyone added bits and by the time it was finished, it only needed a few changes to be able to sing. Somewhere else there are two lyrics sung over each other.”

Five days of brilliant chaos let their thoughts run free, from the almost-folk wonder of “How Many Stars” and the wide open space of “In The Desert,” to the oblique strangeness of “Harar 1883,” a song about French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s time in Ethiopia, inspired by photographs Greenhalgh has of the period. And then there’s “Weimar Vending Machine.”

“That starts off about Iggy Pop in Berlin,” Langford explains. “There’s a story that he went to a vending machine and saw the word ‘sand’. He put his money in and a bag of sand came out.”

It’s a gloriously unlikely, cinematic image to use as a springboard into the album’s longest song, a piece that shifts between darkness and joy, powered by Rico Bell’s piano and Sally Timms’s clarion voice. It’s one to provoke thought and questions, but that’s hardly unusual for the band. They’ve always revelled in the surreal and the bizarre. What stands out on Deserted, though, is the space and clarity in the sound, with Susie Honeyman’s violin taking a more prominent role on a couple of the tracks.

“Susie’s wonderful,” Langford says. “You play something to her, she thinks for a minute them comes out with this haunting Highland beauty.”

Even the impromptu instrumental sessions find their way into the record, sometimes transformed and spacy to add texture to a song, elsewhere simply allowed to float free and form the tail to “After The Rain,” the album’s closer. The studio itself becomes an instrument here, and much of that is down to Trumfio, whose production credits at his Kingsize Soundlabs include Wilco and the Pretty Things.

“Even during the mixing, Dave pushed us into some new sonic territory all the way through,” Langford recalls.
The tweaking and effects take them about as far as they can go from 2016’s Existentialism, which saw all eight members crowded around a single microphone in a tiny theatre in Red Hook, New York, recording live in front of an audience. Deserted offers a different kind of freedom. Of space and stars and wide-open land. Of possibilities and past. But mainly of the future.

It’s fresh territory. But that’s always been what attracts the Mekons. They show that four decades doesn’t translate to becoming a heritage act. Instead, they keep experimenting, from the jagged, spaced throb that powers “Into The Sun,” revolving around the drums of Steve Goulding and Trumfio’s bass to the barely controlled anarchy that’s “Mirage,” or a countrified homage to “Andromeda.” Everything is possible, everything is permitted. 41 years after that first single they’re still moving. Still defiant, still laughing, still joyful. Never underestimate some happy anarchy, and never write off the Mekons.
Deserted, perhaps, but they’re back to tip the world on its axis. Again.

Susie Honeyman: violin
Sally Timms: vocals
Eris Bellis AKA Rico Bell: vocals, accordion keys
Lu Edmonds: Saz, Cumbus
Jon Langford: guitar, vocals
Steve Goulding: vocals, drums
Tom Greenhalgh: guitar, vocals
Dave Trumfio AKA The Baron: bass, vocals





Ifriqiyya Electrique • Laylet el Booree

01. Mashee Kooka (2:33)
02. He Eh Lalla (3:36)
03. Beesmeellah Beedeet (4:52)
04. Moola Nefta (5:50)
05. Habeebee Hooa Jooani (4:46)
06. Nafta Naghara (5:07)
07. Danee Danee (3:38)
08. Wa Salaat Alih Hannabee Mohammad (1:37)
09. Mabbrooka (5:11)

Fusing the rhythms and invocations of the ancient Saharan Banga ritual with an electrical storm of contemporary sonics, Ifriqiyya Electrique’s second album both grips and awakens.

In Tunisian, Banga means “huge volume” and one cannot think of a more apt description of Laylet el Booree than that.

Maximalist & relentless. Blood, sweat & trance.

In the West, music performances and audiences are widely cut from the same cloth. There is a secure dividing line between the stage and the hall, the audience and the performer. But profoundly different experiences can be found on the southern side of the Mediterranean Sea, deep in the Tunisian desert, where the group Ifriqiyya Electrique was born and has performed the most. Several years ago, two of the musicians who make up the five-piece Ifriqiyya Electrique – Gianna Greco and François R. Cambuzat – ventured to the Djerid desert of Tunisia to investigate and confront the religious ritual of the Banga, a ritual of legendary intensity indigenous to the region. The musical duo’s background is in the underground post-punk scene of continental Europe, as members of Putan Club and as collaborators with the venerable Lydia Lunch. But they are also voracious travellers and seekers of global sonics that are at least partially hidden from the western gaze. Previous trips to the Uyghur region of China and the Kurdish regions of Turkey had in part prepared them for the musical immersion they would undertake in Djerid. Their original intention was not to join in the ritual but rather to research how this unique ceremony delivered “pure elevation” to its participants. This state of elevation or trance, is something that they had experienced in their own music, and they were searching for instructive parallels and new perspectives.

But after living in, and travelling throughout the Djerid for years, things began to morph. The beginnings of a group began to take form. There was a shift towards direct engagement. Their first “appearance” ended up being in Nefta, in the city of Sidi Marzug. It was terrifying: after all the months of studying, filming, recording and bonding, could Ifriqiyya Electrique actually participate in the Banga ritual? The first ten minutes were in fact distressing, the Banga adepts from the town initially shocked. But eventually the locals recognized a shared music of the spirit and everything rocked together: people sang, danced, went into trances, were healed and the entity that became to be known as Ifriqiyya Electrique passed an unwritten test of inclusion. Remember: Ifriqiyya’s music was never composed for a Western audience in the first place. It was brought to life in real time, on the same streets in which the Banga has been practiced uninterrupted for centuries. Within the ritual there is no leader nor primadonna. It is a collective improvisation. Sufism. A ritualized, social bond where no one stands above anyone else.

In the oases of Southern Tunisia, those frequented by the caravan traders of past centuries, black slaves worked in houses and in the fields, where they planted crops and dug irrigation channels. A native of Sub-Saharan Africa, purchased in Timbuktu by the Beni Ali family, Sidi Marzug (the black saint) was a slave whose first owner was Sidi Bou Ali (the white saint), a celebrated Sufi mystic who had made his home in Nefta during the 13th century. The popular image of Sidi Marzug is that of a powerful saint who had at his disposal a diwan (assembly) of rûwâhînes (spirits), who were his servants and allies. The black communities of Tozeur, Nefta and Metlaoui commemorate him with a ritual called the Banga, which is less of an exorcism than an “adorcism”: intended to placate and calm the spirit who possesses – and who will always possess – the initiate who participates in the Banga. The modern day sanctuary (zawya) which holds the body (thabût) of the black saint is in the suburbs of the city of Nefta, to the far west of the Djerid oasis. In the Djerid desert region, the ritual of the Banga of Sidi Marzuq is an extremely popular ceremony, which takes place both in the marabout (holy tomb), but more commonly in private houses and in the city streets. The songs and dances are passed down in this way to the younger generations, and the songs are still sung in ajami, the original language of the Hausa who were forcibly brought to the area as slaves.

In 2017, Ifriqiyya Electrique released their debut album Rûwâhîne, an album which deftly brought together the hypnotic chants and metallic hand percussion of traditional Banga music with brutalist electronics and sheer rock volume. Three members of the Banga community – Tarek Sultan, Yahia Chouchen and Youssef Ghazala – joined forces with Gianna and Francois not only on this acclaimed album, but also onstage throughout the eighteen months of European touring that followed the record’s release (tour stops included: Womad, Womex, Sziget, Vieilles Charrues & FMM Sines). It quickly became clear that the Banga had not been pointlessly retooled for western consumption, but rather through the deep commitment of the five Ifriqiyya Electrique musicians – it had been transformed into something contemporary and unexpected. Ifriqiyya Electrique cryptically call this transformation a “post-industrial ritual” and the actual experience of hearing this music certainly echoes this moniker. The band create a fertile space where ecstatic electronics and rock levitation intersect with timeless ceremony and community.

The title of the second album Laylet el Booree translates as the “Night of the Madness.” It refers to the last part of the annual gathering of the adorcist ritual from the Banga of Tozeur – it is the night when the spirits actually take possession of the bodies. Like the ritual itself, the album is wild, frantic, and never caresses the listener’s expectations. But its purpose is also to heal; with sweat, spirituality, electricity and trance being central to the almost overwhelming sensory experience. With the band now joined by new member Fatma Chebbi (on vocals and tchektchekas hand percussion) one senses that the musical and cultural conversation is even deeper this time around. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a speculative conversation at all, but rather something fully formed and undeniable. An emergent ritual in itself.


Yahya Chouchen: vox, tabla, tchektchekas

Fatma Chebbi: vox, tchektchekas

Tarek Soltan: vox, tabla

Gianna Greco: bass, vox, video

François R. Cambuzat: guitars, vox, video, computer


Recorded in Tozeur (Djerid, Tunisia), Casa Musicale (Perpignan, France, by Joseph Poubill) and La Carène (Brest, France, by Paul Legalle).





Altın Gün • Gece

1. Yolcu (2:38)
2. Vay Dünya (4:18)
3. Leyla (3:17)
4. Anlatmam Derdimi (4:12)
5. Şoför Bey (3:15)
6. Derdimi Dökersem (3:53)
7. Kolbastı (3:26)
8. Ervah-ı Ezelde (4:45)
9. Gesi Bağları (2:02)
10. Süpürgesi Yoncadan (5:30)

Following their hotly tipped 2018 debut album “On” –  Altın Gün returns with an exhilarating second album. “Gece” firmly establishes the band as essential interpreters of the Anatolian rock and folk legacy and as a leading voice in the emergent global psych-rock scene. Explosive, funky and transcendent.

The world is rarely what it seems. A quick glance doesn’t always reveal the full truth. To find that, you need to burrow deeper. Listen to Altın Gün, for example: they sound utterly Turkish, but only one of the Netherlands based band’s six members was actually born there. And while their new album, Gece, is absolutely electric, filled with funk-like grooves and explosive psychedelic textures, what they play – by their own estimation – is folk music.

“It really is,” insists band founder and bass player Jasper Verhulst. “The songs come out of a long tradition. This is music that tries to be a voice for a lot of other people.”

While most of the material here has been a familiar part of Turkish life for many years – some of it associated with the late national icon Neşet Ertaş – it’s definitely never been heard like this before. This music is electric Turkish history, shot through with a heady buzz of 21st century intensity.
Pumping, flowing, a new and leading voice in the emergent global psych scene.

“We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ‘60s and ‘70s,” Verhulst admits. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”

And what they create really is theirs. Altın Gün radically reimagine an entire tradition. The electric saz (a three-string Turkish lute) and voice of Erdinç Ecevit (who has Turkish roots) is urgent and immediately distinctive, while keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, and percussion power the surging rhythms and Merve Daşdemir (born and raised in Istanbul) sings with the mesmerizing power of a young Grace Slick. This isn’t music that seduces the listener: it demands attention.

Altın Gün – the name translates as “golden day” – are focused, relentless and absolutely assured in what they do. What is remarkable is the band has only existed for two years and didn’t play in public until November 2017; now they have almost 200 shows under their belt. It all grew from Verhulst’s obsession with Turkish music. He’d been aware of it for some time but a trip to Istanbul while playing in another band gave him the chance to discover so much more. But Verhulst wasn’t content to just listen, he had a vision for what the music could be. And Altın Gün was born.

“For me, finding out about this music is crate digging,” he admits. “None of it is widely available in the Netherlands. Of course, since our singers are Turkish, they know many of these pieces. All this is part of the country’s musical past, their heritage, like ‘House of The Rising Sun’ is in America.”

As Verhulst delves deeper and deeper into old Turkish music, he’s constantly seeking out things that grab his ear.

“I’m listening for something we can change and make into our own.  You have to understand that most of these songs have had hundreds of different interpretations over the years. We need something that will make people stop and listen, as if it’s the first time they’ve heard it.”

It’s a testament to Altın Gün’s work and vision that everything on Gece sounds so cohesive. They bring together music from many different Anatolian sources (the only original is the improvised piece “Şoför Bey”) so that it bristles with the power and tightness of a rock band; echoing new textures and radiating a spectrum of vibrant color (ironic, as gece means “night” in Turkish). It’s the sound of a band both committed to its sources and excitedly transforming them. It’s the sound of Altın Gün. Incandescent and sweltering.

Creating the band’s sound is very much a collaborative process, Verhulst explains.
“Sometimes me or the singer will come in with a demo of our ideas. Sometimes an idea will just come up and we’ll work on it together at rehearsals. However we start, it’s always finished by the whole band. We can feel very quickly if it’s going to work, if this is really our song.”

Just how Altın Gün can collectively spark and burn is evident in the YouTube concert video they made for the legendary Seattle radio station KEXP. In just under 20 minutes they set out their irresistible manifesto for an electrified, contemporary Turkish folk rock. It’s utterly compelling. And with around 800,000 views, it has helped make them known around the world.

“It certainly got us a lot of attention,” Verhulst agrees. “I think a lot of that interest originally came from Turkey, plenty of people there shared it.”

That might be how it began, but it’s not the whole tale. The waves have spread far beyond the Bosphorus. What started out as a deep passion for Turkish folk and psychedelia has taken on a resonance that now travels widely. The band has played all over Europe, has ventured to Turkey and Australia and will soon bring their music to North America for the first time.

“Not a lot of other bands are doing what we do,” he says, “playing songs in that style and seeing folk music in the same way.”

Altın Gün are:

Ben Rider (guitar)
Daniel Smienk (drums)
Erdinç Ecevit (synths, saz, vocals)
Gino Groenveld (percussion)
Jasper Verhulst (electric bass)
Merve Daşdemir (vocals, keys)




Orkesta Mendoza • La Caminadora

1. La Banda (Llego La banda) 03:08
2. La Caminadora 03:20
3. Luna De Miel 03:11
4. Cuando Yo La Conoci (Noche de Luna) 03:12
5. Sombras 03:49
6. Tanger 03:37
7. Tusk 04:18

Sergio Mendoza is a true border crosser – born in Nogales, Sonora, but later raised the other side of the Mexico-U.S. divide in Nogales, Arizona… his musical upbringing traversed similar paths.

But it was only upon later arriving further north in Tucson and through his playing, writing and producing with the band Calexico that he came to realise the true potential and positivity of this apparent culture clash.

Having already explored the world of uniquely inventive re-interpretations alongwith Mexican Institute of Sound’s Camilo Lara as the arrangers behind Mexrissey, Sergio returns to the form here on a selection of tunes from the past, variously of Mexican, Cuban, Peruvian, North American …. and North Aegean origin – ranging from the surf-punk twang of “Tanger” (originally composed for just voice and piano), to what Sergio describes as “one of the most beautiful melodies ever written” – “Luna De Miel”, whilst also exploring the poppier end of the spectrum, even veering towards kitsch, on “Sombras” and finishing off with the classic “Tusk” – given a Fleetwood Mex makeover.

Recorded at Wavelab Studio in Tucson, AZ, the EP was produced and arranged by bandleader Mendoza with Orkesta stalwarts Jaime Peters, Sean Rogers and Marco Rosano. Sergio then invited some of his friends to come and sing. Collaborators include Phoenix, AZ native Quetzal Guerrero, taking lead on the title track; Brian Lopez, co-frontman of cumbia-psyche sensations XIXA (and an original member of the Orkesta), provides both harmonies and lead on “Cuando Yo La Conoci”; and opening up proceedings on “Llego La Banda” is Portuguesse fado artist Raul Marques.

says Sergio: “‘La Caminadora’ is our take on these songs that we love so much. It’s also the best example of how the band sounds since it was all recorded and mixed in less than one month. Edits were minimal, therefore creating one of the most raw recordings of the band.”

Vacilando ‘68’s own involvement with Sergio stems from a trip out to Tucson in 2012, when we were introduced to him by Marianne Dissard, with whom Sergio was working at the time as co-writer and main musical foil on her third album ‘The Cat.Not Me’. Over lunch at Sergio’s favourite downtown haunt Cafe Poca Cosa vinyl plans were discussed which finally came to fruition with the release last year of side project Los Hijos De La Montana [critic/DJ Pete Paphides’ most played album of 2017]. Vacilando ‘68 is delighted to be part of this continually evolving journey.

Sergio Mendoza
Jaime Peters
Sean Rogers
Marco Rosano
Brian López
Raul Marqués