Akwaaba Sound System

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Le Grand Dome

Geir Jenssen began his career in the late 80’s as a member of the moody Norwegian synth trio, Bel Canto, before moving on in 1990 to record the album The North Pole By Submarine as Bleep. He then recorded a few fantastic albums at R & S Records in the early to mid-90’s as Biosphere, helping to launch their ambient focused Apollo label. He currently continues to refine his glacial sound at Touch records.

Le Grand Dome is from his Circue album. Plush, cotton swabbed ambience (thread counts of over 700!) rides on a bed of gently undulating rhythms and a deep, rolling bass. There’s a disembodied voice (speaking French, I presume?) that appears from time to time to echo and pan from speaker to speaker. When the whisky polyrhythms are dropped it becomes surprisingly funky. Ah. yes- Norwegian ambient funk! It’s a little known fact that Geir has his own Arctic compound and recently married 27 women wearing nothing but a pair of moon boots

Biosphere: Le Grand Dome (MP3) (Buy "Cirque")

Friday, February 04, 2005

In Praise of Kenyan Football & Farmers

Super Super Mambo Jazz is one of those Congolese orchestras that found fame in Kenya in the early 1970s. Gor Mahia F.C. was a classic hit, praising one of Kenya's best soccer teams. Gor Mahia F.C. formed in 1968, combined the two clubs of Luo Stars and Luo United, and won numerous titles (maybe because it was named after a famous traditional healer from South Nyanza?). I especially love the sebene in this song, the part where the guitarists and instrumentalists take over and drive the beat further and further.

Having just come back from Moshi, Tanzania, where the fields on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro are being prepared for maize planting, I have to add Super Super Mambo Jazz' song celebrating Kenyan farmers (Wakulima Wa Kenya). Yes, those are cows mooing in the background!

From the album Super Mambo Jazz '69 (1972):

Super Super Mambo Jazz - Gor Mahia FC (MP3)
Super Super Mambo Jazz - Wakulima Wa Kenya (MP3)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Time for The Peace

And time for me to contribute to our blog. I thought it might be nice to start out with The Peace, an obscure band out of Zambia's Copperbelt. If you visit Ndola these days, it is a rather quiet town, even a bit depressing, and certainly not a place that makes you think of funk or rock, but in the 1970s Ndola (the administrative capital of a once flourishing Copperbelt) must have been a rocking place, with bands like this one or The W.I.T.C.H. (aka We Intend To Cause Havoc - I'll get to them in a later post). Then, the Copperbelt had recording studios and at least one vinyl pressing plant. Edward Khuzwayo owned one of them: he's credited as musical director producer for Black Power, recorded at Malachite Studios in Chingola. I know little about them: someone told me that this was a band from the Zambian Air Force. Who knows?

I found it in Ndola through Khuzwayo's (grand)son and then only after we tracked down one of the former studio engineers (who's now handling truck engineering). It's one of those records I simply got because of the cover and track titles; after finally listening to it, for me, it's become one of those gems from Africa's diverse music scenes in the 1970s.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did (the sound is raw: I digitize it from vinyl without any restoration)!

The Peace - Black Power (MP3)
The Peace - Peaceful Man (MP3)

Long Live Mice In The Metro

Cecile Schott is a Paris based musician who records as Colleen and released her debut album Everybody Alive Wants Answers back in 2003 on the Leaf label. An English teacher in a secondary school in the suburbs of Paris, she began recording as Colleen in 2001 after being smitten by acquaintances deftly incorporating samples into their own music. Surprised by how easy it was to manipulate samples using the music software program, Acid,she began to cut and paste and explore her own sonic fascinations.

Long Live Mice In The Metro, like all the tracks featured on the album, is made entirely of samples, many found in the libraries of Paris or friends record collections. She’s fond of filters and sound processors that add dust and grit to the sound. Sampled fragments are looped, slowed down, smudged, isolated, run backwards and dipped into contrasting pools of reverberation. Bewitching and phantasmal, it conjures up moonless October nights and ghost shadows rippling across bedroom walls.

Colleen: Long Live Mice In The Metro (MP3) (Buy "Everybody Alive Wants Answers")