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Fantastic Man

A Documentary On The Late Nigerian Electronic Musician William Onyeabor

On Wednesday, NYC-based record label Luaka Bop shared the sad news of Nigerian electronic artist William Onyeabor's passing. In 2013 the imprint released a highly acclaimed compilation of Onyeabor's work entitled "[...]

On Wednesday, NYC-based record label Luaka Bop shared the sad news of Nigerian electronic artist William Onyeabor's passing. In 2013 the imprint released a highly acclaimed compilation of Onyeabor's work entitled "Who is William Onyeabor?" in reference to the "elusive mystery man of music" (Mike Rubin, New York Times, 2013). The release ranked among TIME Magazines best 10 albums of 2013. However, to this day, little is known about the man behind the music.

And so, leading up to the now notorious release, a team set out to find out more about a man, who "paved the way for a different kind of sound coming out of Africa in the 70s". The result is the 30-minute documentary "Fantastic Man" by Alldayeveryday director Jake Sumner, in association with Luaka Bop Records, featuring a host of prominent and less prominent contributors. 

But before we let you watch this invaluable piece of work, here are some introductory quotes from the film, to help set the mood and context. Enjoy!

"The Nigerian civil war lasted from 1967 to 1970. One thing that kept peoples' spirits up was music. You had a lot of young people forming rock'n'roll groups." –Uchenna Ikonne (music historian / DJ)

"They were into Western music, the sort of experimental, psychedelic rock and the blues and the soul. But they took it all and they just mashed it up with their own styles." –Damon Albarn (musician)

"Nothing sounds like William Onyeabor. It's like nothing that was being heard in Nigeria at that time. [...] 'Willy' took it to another dimension by using synths. To use them how he did, that's the extraordinary thing. [..] Even people who knew about he entire scene, knew very little about William Onyeabor. A lot of the other musicians had all played on the same circuit together [...] so they knew each other. But very few of them had ever come across Onyeabor." –Duncan Brooker (record collector)

"For years I guess I've been playing his song 'When the Going is Smooth and Good' in my DJ sets and people always respond, people always cheer like they know the song really well. The thing that sets his use of synthesizers in his later music apart is that he's using sequencers and drum machines to create this kind of perfectly robotic loop, using repetition as a primary element in making music, which was an idea that was definitely happening in the beginnings of dance music. He was developing the same kind of ideas that were developing at that time in the United States, but independently." –Dan Snaith/Caribou (musician / DJ)

"It was certainly groundbreaking. I had been a Kraftwerk fan and for me it was like, he was doing something similar to what Kraftwerk had been doing, but clearly in his own way and combining our own tradition/Nigerian context to an electronic format. No one as far as I knew was doing anything that avant-garde. It had constant airplay. The video was constantly being played. [...] There are people who had some knowledge of him, but then, no one really had anything to say about his personal nuances. It was more like, 'Oh yeah, I saw him drive past' or 'I went to his studio and we saw him in passing'. So he was practically all around us, but really nothing was know about him." –Ed Keazor (music historian) on William Onyeabor's "When the Going is Smooth and Good" (1985)

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Fédia Laguerre

Antangana Records Reissues The Haitian Singer’s Acclaimed Single “Divizion”

Founded this year by DJ/producer, percussionist and avid record collector Déni Shain (Space Echo, Pop Makossa), Marseille-based Atangana Records is set to drop its eagerly awaited first release on May 4th. [...]

Founded this year by DJ/producer, percussionist and avid record collector Déni Shain (Space Echo, Pop Makossa), Marseille-based Atangana Records is set to drop its eagerly awaited first release on May 4th. Originally issued in 1981 the label's premier 12" features the acclaimed single "Divizion" by Haitian singer Fédia Laguerre along with a remix by French afro-disco collective Voilaaa as well as an additional instrumental cut, which recently premiered on The Ransom Note (listen here).  

Atangana Records is result of almost two decades of musical exploration from Europe (Germany, France, Portugal) to West Africa (Guinea, Burkina Faso), Brazil and Mexico by the self-proclaimed "tropicalist globetrotter" Déni Shain, who now teams up with his partner Thomas Vicente to "to dig, reproduce & transmit cross-cultural music, usually unreachable and/or less known by the public"

And Fédia Laguerre's "Divizion" (available via Bandcamp) is just the right record to get things rolling. Listen to the original below and mark May 4th in your calendars.

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Ebo Taylor

Listen To The Ghanaian Legend's Latest LP & The Accompanying Chris Read Tribute Mix
 

Ghanaian legend Ebo Taylor has been in the music business for over 60 years and just released a brand new longplayer entitled "Yen Ara" on the London-based Mr Bongo imprint: "Listen to Yen Ara and you will not only [...]

Ghanaian legend Ebo Taylor has been in the music business for over 60 years and just released a brand new longplayer entitled "Yen Ara" on the London-based Mr Bongo imprint: "Listen to Yen Ara and you will not only hear the high-energy afrobeat, sweet highlife, jazz and konkoma influences that he’s famous for. There is also a disco pulse and hard-hitting percussive edge to the tracks, which were produced by Justin Adams (Tinariwen, Rachid Taha, Robert Plant)."

The 82-year-old veteran composer, arranger, guitarist and vocalist has played a key role in the steadily evolving afrofunk and highlife scene since the late 1950s, collaborating with the likes of Fela Kuti, the Apagya Show Band, C.K. Mann or Pat Thomas and leading his Ghana Black Star Band as well as the Uhuru Dance Band to deserved acclaim.

Hot on the heels of his newest release, which he himself describes as 'perhaps his finest to date', UK producer and DJ Chris Read (who has a host of ace jazz and hiphop 'Best Of' mixes to his name) was granted the honour of readying a mixtape of Ebo Taylor classics by Mr Bongo in collaboration with OkayAfrica. And the result is beautiful. Listen to the 40-minute mix on Mixcloud (tracklist below) and also be sure to stream "Yen Ara" in full via the SoundCloud player above.

Ebo Taylor will be touring Europe starting in May 2018.

Mr Bongo x OkayAfrica Guest Mix: Ebo Taylor mixed by Chris Read // TRACKLIST
1. Ghetto Concept - Certifed (Instrumental) [Samples Ebo Taylor - Come Along]
2. Chris Read - Theme #1 (Scratchapella)
3. My Love and Music
4. Maye Omama
5. Gyae Su Na Nkomo
6. Bra
7. Enye Nyame Niko
8. Will You Promise
9. Aba Yaa
10. Efi Na Matase
11. Ankoma'm
12. Ohye Atar Gyan
13. Come Along
14. No Condition is Permanent
15. Egya Edu
16. Victory
17. Atwer Abroba
18. What Is Life
19. Peace on Earth
20. Mind Your Own Business
21. Mumudey Mumudey
22. Break Through

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Bulgar Gaydas

Istanbul's Virtuoso Clarinetist Cüneyt Sepetçi Releases Piping Hot New Album
 

Upon listening to the piping hot sounds of Istanbul's Cüneyt Sepetçi, you may very well find yourself at a loss for words. As the virtuosic clarinetist delivers a mesmerising trip into modern Turkish wedding and [...]

Upon listening to the piping hot sounds of Istanbul's Cüneyt Sepetçi, you may very well find yourself at a loss for words. As the virtuosic clarinetist delivers a mesmerising trip into modern Turkish wedding and (circumcision) party music, words indeed, seem highly unnecessary. This is a celebratory music made for dancing, rooted deeply in Turkish and the surrounding regions' culture, "which each generation innovates and develops". Released at the tail end of 2017 via the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Living Music Duplication imprint, Sepetçi's second album "Bulgar Gaydas" (Bulgarian (Bag)pipes) takes these traditional melodies and banging time signatures to new heights:

"Sepetçi uses the bedrock of Volkan Sever’s synth insanity as a jumping off point for some truly crazy solos. His fluttering sheets of notes tie knots around the pulsating, fried synthesizer. For this recording session, Sepetçi brought in two drummers, Fatih Özden (tapan) and Samet Sertol (darabouka), to play along with the Turkish drum machine. A dense nest of rhythmic complexity is the result. And to further connect to this music’s rich past, the ancient double reed zurna of Ahmet Özden and Yaşar Uçar’s European violin weave ancient melodies and incredible solos throughout, [accompanied by Vahdet Ustaoğlu'on kanun]." 

What we have here then, are some of Istanbul's prime instrumentalists on one record, doing what they do best. All of the songs were recorded live as first takes, as Sepetçi leads his fellow musicians through the intricate and infectious arrangements. Also, rumour has it, that a first European tour is currently in the making for fall 2018. We will keep you posted. Until then, you can stream/buy the album via Bandcamp or listen to his live performance with Orchestra Dolapdere at the 2014 Roskilde festival (recorded by The Lake Radio) via the SoundCloud player above.

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Mushapata

Akuphone Pays Tribute To Legendary Afropean Boxer And Parisian Underground Musician
 

What would seem like somewhat of a contradiction, a champion boxer fighting for peace, is essentially the story of Mushapata. Hailing from the city of Bukavu, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the [...]

What would seem like somewhat of a contradiction, a champion boxer fighting for peace, is essentially the story of Mushapata. Hailing from the city of Bukavu, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the border with Burundi, Mushapata Kabangu emigrated to France in the late '70s to pursue a career as a professional boxer. However, confronted with the realities of the sports industry, he eventually became a personal protection agent. As such he escorted many celebrities, including the legendary Bob Marley during the latter's tour of France in 1980. 

This encounter proved to be highly inspirational as it led Mushapata to embark on his own musical path and, backed by his band Saba-Saba Fighting, to continue his lifelong struggle for peace through music: "Ignored by the record labels of the time, his first self-produced recordings reveal a rough mix of lo-fi reggae, afrobeat rhythms accompanied by a brass section close to free jazz. The nonchalant sounding voices of Mushapata and Tshayi complete this explosive cocktail and carry, in Swahili language, the Pan-African ideas of Lumumba and other great figures of African-American struggles." 

Now considered a legend of the Parisian African reggae underground scene in his own right, French independent label Akuphone just released a limited edition mini-compilation tribute to Mushapata, featuring four tracks off of his first two albums dating back to 1980 and 1984 respectively. You can stream the entire release on the imprint's Bandcamp page or listen to "Muanago Yé-Yé" and "Zambe Aponiyo" via the SoundCloud player above. Don't sleep on this!

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Ambassador Osayomore Joseph

A Tribute Mix To The "Fela Kuti of Benin"

Fresh off the holiday weekend, we would like to share with you this upbeat musical homage to the great Ambassador Osayomore Joseph, by the London-based MogaDisco crew, a passionate collective curating the African [...]

Fresh off the holiday weekend, we would like to share with you this upbeat musical homage to the great Ambassador Osayomore Joseph, by the London-based MogaDisco crew, a passionate collective curating the African continent's "finest sounds". Recently released as The Vinyl Factory's mix #129, the 50-minute selection pays tribute to an extraordinary personality and formidable musician, who has been likened to "the Fela Kuti of Benin".

Hailing from Benin City, capital of the Edo State in southern Nigeria, Osayomore Joseph has been active in music for nearly half a century. "Like Fela, he too was imprisoned for speaking out against the government in his music." Late last year, shortly after performing at the one-year coronation anniversary of the Oba of Benin, Osayomore was abducted at gunpoint. After spending more than a month in captivity, he was freed in exchange for ransom.

"The kidnappers called themselves forest soldiers. Those who came to kidnap me did not know me. It was when I got to the creek that some learned ones started singing my old songs. They did not know that I started fighting before they were born," Osayomore recalls.

Listen to the full tribute mix on Mixcloud (tracklist below). We also came up with a full live show, which has Osayomore on flute and vocals, entertaining as only he can. We're happy he's back.

VF Mix 129
1. My Name Is Money
2. Owa
3. Oyeye
4. Egua Oba
4. Soja Go Soja Come
5. Omongle
6. Alele
7. Teacher

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Nubia Nova

Ozferti Breathes Futuristic New Life Into East African Musical Traditions
 

We here at Greedy are always eager to explore new musical realms and ask ourselves: "What have we here?". And that is exactly the question we had in mind, when we chanced upon the French [...]

We here at Greedy are always eager to explore new musical realms and ask ourselves: "What have we here?". And that is exactly the question we had in mind, when we chanced upon the French beatmaker/multi-instrumentalist/electronic producer and illustrator Florian Doucet, who goes by the name of Ozferti. Now living in the Belgium capital of Brussels Ozferti has come to our attention by creating an alternative musical dimension, entirely his own. 

Having paved the way in 2016 with his debut album "Addis Aboumbap" in the spirit of Ethiojazz, featuring an intriguing sample-ridden blend of "traditional Ethiopian music with rap, psychedelic stairs, progressive dub and electronics", he followed that up with two Afrogrime EPs, aka "This is Afrogrime Vol.1" and "This is Afrogrime Vol. 2", ably mashing up UK Grime staples the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Wiley or Skepta with afro-beats or so-called "tribal patterns of African spirits"

All released via his own online label NUBIA NOVA records, his latest five-track EP release is sure to turn some heads. "The Call" is Ozferti beckoning us to enter his self-created NUBIA NOVA universe (watch the animated companion video here); a driving sonic odyssey of hypnotic chants, Ethiopian melodies and futuristic grooves, exploring the sounds of East Africa and beyond.

Or as Ozferti puts it: "Miles away from earth, in an alien place, where the sun embraces the sand, where old spirits meet electronic machines, where desert tribes meet futuristic cities and unknown species, there’s NUBIA NOVA, the purple planet."

Listen to his recently released free-download Nubian bass track "Ta Na Da Na Ta Na Da" in the SoundCloud player above and check out his mystical live performance of "Aturiye" below.

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Mambo Cósmico

Mexico City's Sonido Gallo Negro Are Simply On Another Level
 

Hold on tight, as Mexico City's 'loco' nine-piece instrumental combo Sonido Gallo Negro (Black Rooster Sound) is about drop its third album via the trusted Glitterbeat Records on April 6th. And, as the title [...]

Hold on tight, as Mexico City's 'loco' nine-piece instrumental combo Sonido Gallo Negro (Black Rooster Sound) is about drop its third album via the trusted Glitterbeat Records on April 6th. And, as the title suggests, it promises to be one heck of a trip.

Following up on their enticing 2011 debut "Cumbia Salvaje" (Savage Cumbia) and its equally mind-bending 2014 successor "Sendero Místico" (Mystical Path), the group's "exhilarating third album continues their exploration into the psychedelic richness and rhythmic pulse of Peruvian cumbia while at the same reaching for new sounds and textures – such as mambo, cha cha, porro and danzon".

Of the eleven tracks on the forthcoming "Mambo Cósmico", nine are originals, while the other two (namely "Tolú" by Lucho Bermúdez and "¿Quién será?" by Pablo Beltrán Ruiz) are cover versions. Watch them perform "Tolú" live in front of a passionate crowd at last year's WOMEX expo via WDR Cosmo (video only available until November 2018).

Sonido Gallo Negro's unique palette of sounds is clearly Latin, yet so much more. You may be tempted to call their "sonic collage" ritualistic, but that would be to ignore their wide-eyed mix-and-match approach to a far vaster musical cosmos. Not to mention their undeniable live presence, where they bring their "very impressive propositions"  to life. 

We can't wait to hear "Mambo Cósmico" in full. So until then, we leave you with "Cumbia Ishtar" in the visualizer below, the album's title track in the SoundCloud player above, as well as the Instant Grat track "Mambo Egipcio", which you can stream via Bandcamp.

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Na-You

Hot Casa Records Release Four Super Funky Tracks By Obscure Artist From The Ivory Coast

Always good for a rare dig are Paris-based Hot Casa Records, an imprint specialising in dusty afro soul and tropical funk and run by DJ Julien Lebrun alongside Djamel Hammadi (aka Afrobrazilero). 

Their latest find [...]

Always good for a rare dig are Paris-based Hot Casa Records, an imprint specialising in dusty afro soul and tropical funk and run by DJ Julien Lebrun alongside Djamel Hammadi (aka Afrobrazilero). 

Their latest find is an obscure artist from the Ivory Coast by the name of Deke Tom Dollard, who went on to record a total of four albums between 1979 and the early 1980ies. Two of these records, recorded in Abidjan and released on two different labels (War Records & As Records), were recently rediscovered by Afrobrazilero. However, he had a hard time finding out anything about the singer or the musicians involved. Even the original labels had pretty much lost all trace. 

Hot Casa nevertheless managed to license a selection of four amazing tracks, marked by "heavy basslines, traditional percussion, funky guitar riffs, nice horn sections and lyrics in Bété language. The song 'Demonde' is actually inspired by the harmonies to Herman Kelly's infamous 'Dance To The Drummer's Beat' from 1978" (listen below). Needless to say, these tracks will have afro funk lovers' hearts skip a beat, or two. Tune in on Bandcamp to stream Deke Tom Dollard's "Na-You" in full. 

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African Techno

Ghana's DJ Katapila To Drop Blazing New EP Via Awesome Tapes From Africa
 

Hailing from the Ghanaian capital of Accra is the one and only DJ Katapila, aka Ishmael Abbey, who was first brought to our attention by the always reliable Awesome Tapes From Africa, when the label reissued his now [...]

Hailing from the Ghanaian capital of Accra is the one and only DJ Katapila, aka Ishmael Abbey, who was first brought to our attention by the always reliable Awesome Tapes From Africa, when the label reissued his now internationally acclaimed debut album "Trotro" in 2016. The record went on to feature in renowned publications the likes of The New York Times, Pitchfork, Resident Advisor and FACT magazine among others, which ultimately launched Katapila's touring career, where he "brought Ghana’s street party culture to audiences overseas [and left] a wave of joy and happy dancers in his wake".

Upon first hearing his tracks, one could be tempted to decry them as simple, devoid of depth or sophistication. But don't be fooled. DJ Katapila's straight-forward, fast-paced and unpretentious catalog is marked by an honesty and originality that have made him "a growing and singular voice in West African music". As such, he continued to expand and work on his "minimalist electronic productions" while on tour in Europe and the UK and is now set to release his latest EP this Friday, March 23rd via AFTA. 

DJ Katapila's forthcoming "Aroo EP" is comprised of four tracks that are "steeped in his hometown rhythms" as much as they are inspired by his experiences abroad. "African Techno", for instance, which can already be streamed in the SoundCloud player above, draws from the contemporary sounds of London: “In Europe and the UK they like these techno songs and house music. They have songs that sound like African music, and we have songs that sound like house music and techno music,” he explains. That being said, you might also want to check out the blazing companion video to the EP's closer "Monkey" below. DJ Katapila is definitely back and turning heads!

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Down In The Basement

The Mauskovic Dance Band Is In It To Win It

The multi-talented drummer and producer Nicola Mauskovic is at it again. After he most recently resurfaced on our radar as part of the Amsterdam-based Turkish psych-folk outfit Altın Gün, who are set to release [...]

The multi-talented drummer and producer Nicola Mauskovic is at it again. After he most recently resurfaced on our radar as part of the Amsterdam-based Turkish psych-folk outfit Altın Gün, who are set to release their debut album at the end of this month, he now presents the four-track debut EP of The Mauskovic Dance Band, released last Friday on London's Soundway Records.

"Down in the Basement" presents "a potent, modern blend of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and space-disco", featuring "Afro-Colombian styles such as champeta, palenque, cumbia and the picó soundsystem culture [...] integrated with '80s No-Wave drum machines and synths," which in turn results in a unique, culturally diverse and highly combustible combination of dancefloor-targeted goodness. 

The band is made up of Donnie Mauskovic (vocals, keys, effects), Em Nix Mauskovic (guitar, synth, percussion) and Mano Mauskovic (bass), with "fabled underground cumbia producer" Juan Hundred joining the group on drums. So don't be fooled by the name because The Mauskovic Dance Band is in it to win it. Hear for yourselves.

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Les Filles de Illighadad

This Female-Led Saharan Avant Rock Group Is Reasserting Its Sound In A Male-Dominated Scene

We just can't get enough of these stories and most importantly this extraordinary music. Hailing from a secluded, hardly accessible village in central Niger, located at the edge of the Sahara, with little [...]

We just can't get enough of these stories and most importantly this extraordinary music. Hailing from a secluded, hardly accessible village in central Niger, located at the edge of the Sahara, with little infrastructure, no electricity or running water, Les Filles de Illighadad released their very first studio album at the tail end of last year on Christopher Kirkley's Sahel Sounds imprint. Led by Fatou Seidi Ghali, the all-female "avant rock group bring their new genre of Tuareg guitar mixed with traditional rural folk [...] that is unlike anything ever before recorded [and transports] rural nomadic song into the 21st century".

Their sound is typical of rural Niger, a music known as "tende". "Tende takes its name from a drum, built from a goat skin stretched across a mortar and pestle. Like the environs, tende music is a testament to wealth in simplicity, with sparse compositions built from a few elements, vocals, handclaps, and percussion. Songs speak of the village, of love, and of praise for ancestors. It is a music form dominated by women. Both collective and communal, tende is tradition for all the young girls of the nomad camps, played during celebrations and to pass the time during the late nights of the rainy season." 

What makes this story even more compelling, is the fact that the group's lead vocalist and performer Fatou Seidi Ghali, is one of the only Tuareg female guitarists in Niger. And this is where another interesting aspect needs to elaborated on: We've witnessed the increasing popularity of various genres of Tuareg music in the West, propagated by the rise to fame of international "desert blues" acts the likes of Tinariwen, Bombino, Mdou Moctar or the Algerian Imarhan. But what many do not realize, is that "guitar music is a more recent creation"

"In the 1970s young Tuareg men living in exile in Libya and Algeria discovered the guitar. Lacking any female vocalists to perform tende, they began to play the guitar to mimic this sound, replacing water drums with plastic jerrycans and substituting a guitar drone for the vocal call and response. The exiled eventually traveled home and brought the guitar music with them. In time, this new guitar sound came to eclipse the tende, especially in the urban centers. If tende is a music that has always been sung by woman, the Tuareg guitar was its gendered counterpart, and Tuareg guitar music is a male dominated scene."

Enter Fatou Seidi Ghali and her three-piece from Illighadad, who are now "reasserting the role of tende in Tuareg guitar. In lieu of the djembe or the drum kit, so popular in contemporary Tuareg rock bands, Les Filles de Illighadad incorporate the traditional drum and the pounding calabash, half buried in water". Their debut album "Eghass Malan", available via Bandcamp, was recorded while on tour in Europe after just a few concerts. But that in no way takes from the spontaneous and inspired feel of their sparse and unique groove, as "hypnotic guitar riffs, driving rhythms, and polyphonic resonant vocals combine to create an organic sound that is timeless and ancient, bridging ancient tradition and modern worlds".  

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Altın Gün

Watch The Group's Blistering KEXP Live Performance At Trans Musicales 2017

Hot damn! You might remember last year's post on this Amsterdam-based Turkish psych-folk formation's limited 7" release via Bongo Joe Records, which really set the tone and got us here all in a frenzy.

Now, the [...]

Hot damn! You might remember last year's post on this Amsterdam-based Turkish psych-folk formation's limited 7" release via Bongo Joe Records, which really set the tone and got us here all in a frenzy.

Now, the group, fronted by the magnificent Merve Dasdemir, released a KEXP live recording of them performing at the Halle de la Courrouze in Rennes, France, during last year's Trans Musicales Festival 2017.

Watch below as Altın Gün unleash the undeniable charm of "Kaymakamın Kızları", "Goca Dünya", "Şad Olup Gülmedim", "Cemalım" and "Tatlı Dile Güler Yüze". Note to self: Really need to see them play out live. Absolute heat!

Their debut album "On" releases March 30th on Bongo Joe Records. 

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