Akwaaba Sound System

"Hey, Music Lover..."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Crickets Sing

The title track from Marcos Valle’s masterful 1971 release, Garra. I’ve yet to dip into his more recent releases on the UK label, Far Out, but this album (my copy is a shoddy vinyl to CD bootleg that Dusty Groove made available for a while- full of vinyl pop, crackle and snap and occasional bouts of level fickleness) has long been a breezy favorite. It’s unabashedly poppy, lush with all sorts of easy listening flutes, splashes of organ, strumming guitars, strings, twinkling pianos, and breathtaking arrangements made seemingly effortless. Every song is a gem but Garra, practically bursting at the seams with too-muchness, seems particularly well suited to introduce the albums many charms.

Marcos Valle:Garra (mp3)
Buy it here for the low price of $49.99

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Akwaaba is Welcome in Ghana

Welcome to the Akwaaba Sound System. We're a few music lovers who have enjoyed hearing new sounds posted on MP3 blogs around the net and who wanted to give a little bit back. We're also a group of friends who have DJ'd on the radio, on the internet, and on occasion, at parties.

Akwaaba is a greeting in Ghana. It's also the title of a 1984 album by Francis Bebey. Emailing about the album with Matt, who has a great MP3 blog, made me decide to go ahead and get this thing rolling.

Bebey's album is a kind of mysterious thing. He's better known for a mellow classical-style guitar approach, but this album is electric, funky, and dense. It sounds as though the level meters on the mixing board were blown, or no one could be bothered to watch them.

The album was the fifth release on John Storm Roberts' Original Music label. It's not really clear whether it was recorded for Roberts or reissued, although there is a re-mastering credit.

According to the liner notes:

The instruments used on this album are: two sanzas; string bass; metal bell; talking drum and various other drums and percussion; bottle struck with a fork handle; pygmy pipe of the type called Ndehou; and claves. The vocal techniques include head and chest voice, head voice alternating in and out breaths, double voice, hocketing yodel.
I'd like to post the whole album -- and who knows, maybe I will, track by track, over time. For now, let's enjoy the title track, a hypnotic, densely layered instrumental, and "Bissau," featuring a ripping ndehou part and an example of the double voice technique. This one grooves too, but it's quite a bit wierder.

Francis Bebey: Akwaaba (MP3)
Francis Bebey: Bissau (MP3)

Order Akwaaba "used" from Amazon
AllMusic Entry on Francis Bebey
Spotlight on Francis Bebey (WPRB) (Thanks, Chris R.!)