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Congo Beat The Drum

Kalbata And Mixmonster Release Documentary Retracing The Origins Of Jamaican Music

Fortuna Records' Kalbata, aka Ariel Tagar, teamed up with fellow producer Mixmonster, aka Uri Wertheim, to produce an album as well as a newly released documentary entitled "Congo Beat The Drum", retracing the [...]

Fortuna Records' Kalbata, aka Ariel Tagar, teamed up with fellow producer Mixmonster, aka Uri Wertheim, to produce an album as well as a newly released documentary entitled "Congo Beat The Drum", retracing the origins of Jamaican music. Well actually, the story goes a little something like this:

"Ariel and Uriwent into their home studio in Tel Aviv, Israel with the purpose of recording a 100% analogue dub album in the spirit of the late King Tubby and the early dancehall era of the late 70's and early 80's. A 16-track tape machine and an old analogue mixing desk were their main instruments, with musicians playing live all throughout the album. A year after recording the instrumental backing tracks, they travelled to Kingston, Jamaica and started tracking down their favourite singers and deejays from days gone by."

The result is not just a great album, featuring the likes of Puddy Roots, Little John, Major Mackerel, Mutabaruka, Trinity, Jah Thomas, Tullo T, Echo Minott or the late Prince Jazzbo, but also a highly entertaining and equally informative 1-hour documentary shot by Ariel himself, or as UK-based online mag Stamp The Wax puts it, "a unique musical journey into the forgotten corners of reggae of the seventies and eighties, and a rare glimpse into the smoky, dusty world of Rub-a-Dub and its past champions" . Watch below...

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YĪN YĪN

The Netherlands Meet Southeast Asia On "The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers"

Who would have guessed that Alpaca Mountain is an actual thing and if that doesn't sound too far fetched, who would have pointed to the Netherlands of all places? But then again, with YĪN YĪN nothing seems too [...]

Who would have guessed that Alpaca Mountain is an actual thing and if that doesn't sound too far fetched, who would have pointed to the Netherlands of all places? But then again, with YĪN YĪN nothing seems too far-fetched, now does it? Here we have a Dutch group bringing you a fresh, psychedelic blend of '60s and '70s Southeast Asian-inspired tunes, mixed with disco, funk, electronic music and the sorts.

Their story leads back to the summer of 2017, when Kees Berkers (Baby Galaxy, YAYAYA) and Yves Lennertz (Bounty Island) began "writing and recording in a ballet school in a remote village at the foot of the Plateau of Doenrade near [you guessed it] Alpaca Mountain." (Which happens to be a real alpaca farm in the village of Sweikhuizen). In any case, both of them being avid diggers, their music quite naturally included all kinds of different genres. 

After two 7" releases on Les Disques Bongo Joe, YĪN YĪN just dropped their highly anticipated debut album, promisingly entitled "The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers" and featuring a total of 13 tracks that absolutely blew our prefrontal cortex, as we embarked on a wild ride towards "an imaginary tropical island, [sipping] a strange cocktail made of discogrooves, powerful 'thaï beat' tunes and experimental tropi-synths." Again, this is not some heady leftfield experiment. It's actual music to make you dance and holler. Check their live performance of album track "Dis̄ kô Dis̄ kô" at this year's Transmusicales de Rennes and stream the full album below. This stuff is super lekker.

YĪN YĪN are:
Kees Berkers (drums, percussions, synths)
Yves Lennertz (guitar, phin, bass, organ, synths, vocals)
Robbert Verwijlen (organ & synth)
Remy Scheren (bass guitar)
w/ Gino Bombrini on mixing and extra percussion duties

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Atlas

Belgrade Producer Duo Tapan Meets Moroccan Desert Blues Outfit Génération Taragalte For One-Off Collab

Sometimes you just need to get together and jam and new things will happen, is what we were thinking, when we tuned into this one-off collaboration between Belgrade's "tribal / techno / industrial" duo Tapan [...]

Sometimes you just need to get together and jam and new things will happen, is what we were thinking, when we tuned into this one-off collaboration between Belgrade's "tribal / techno / industrial" duo Tapan (Nebojša Bogdanović & Goran Simonoski) and the "nomadic Touareg electrified desert-blues" five-piece Generation Taragalte. Hailing from two very different musical universes, the two outfits met in Marrakech back in 2018, apparently hit it off and decided to take things to whole new level. The swirling result of which was recently released on London's Soundway Records.

The "Atlas" EP kicks off with "", an 11-minute opus featuring an ominous, trance-inducing bassline, intricate rhythmic patterns, distant flutes (possibly a Ghita?) and occasional yelps, before the vocals kick in to dramatic effect. Up next is "", opening up on a type of Maqsoum belly dance rhythm, accompanied by yet another droning bassline as the cavalry eventually joins the free-spirited fray. "" is more Touareg guitar driven to start with, but then turns into a veritable snake charmer, agilely driving its point home, before "" sets flight. 

"A dark, desolate and potent collision of the electronic drone-jazz of Belgrade and the windswept, desiccated psych-guitar riffs of the Moroccan Sahara," the description reads and indeed, this seemingly natural synergy will take more than one listen to reveal its mesmerising beauty. Take it away!

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11th Street, Sekondi

Ghanaian Legend Gyedu-Blay Ambolley Readies 31st Album

From DJ Katapila and Alogte Oho to the legend himself, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley... We return to Ghana to cover the recently released 31st (yes, that is correct) album by the now 72-year-old renowned saxophonist, singer, [...]

From DJ Katapila and Alogte Oho to the legend himself, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley... We return to Ghana to cover the recently released 31st (yes, that is correct) album by the now 72-year-old renowned saxophonist, singer, guitarist and "originator of rap" Gyedu-Blay Ambolley; his second on Agogo Records. The album title, "11th Street, Sekondi", is a nod to the place he was born and that first home of his is actually pictured on the album cover. Blending Ghanaian highlife with various genres, including rap, Afro-funk and disco, the charismatic Ambolley proudly tips his hat to his rich heritage and trademark "Simigwa" style:

"Highlife, which started in Sierra Leone and Liberia, took hold in Ghana in the 1940s as a coming together of the musicians fed up with the foxtrot and quickstep parties originally hosted by English colonists. It began with big band horns and happy lyrics, popularised by artists such as E.T Mensah, before opening up in the ‘50s and ‘60s with a wave of guitar-driven, socially conscious and more danceable Afro-funk hits - a product of the easy movement of people between Nigeria and Ghana," the album description reads. Which was about the time Ambolley made his first musical moves.

The rest is history, but includes resounding names the likes of Ebo Taylor and Fela Kuti, Tricky Johnson’s Sextet, Sammey Lartey's Railways band, the Stargazers and the Uhuru Dance Band. On "11th Street, Sekondi" Ambolley takes an entertaining and instantly engaging look back at his accolade-filled life as well as "the areas and musical styles that shaped [him]," while also reflecting "the misguided pursuit of European ideals ahead of African values." You can stream the full release below.

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Zan Bezan

Liraz Calls On All Women To Join Her Personal Revolution

It's been a year since Israeli/Iranian actress, model and chanteuse Liraz Charhi dropped her stunning debut album "Naz" on Tel Aviv's Dead Sea Recordings, "taking cues from Iran’s fiery and defiant female musical [...]

It's been a year since Israeli/Iranian actress, model and chanteuse Liraz Charhi dropped her stunning debut album "Naz" on Tel Aviv's Dead Sea Recordings, "taking cues from Iran’s fiery and defiant female musical icons like Googoosh and Ramesh" and weaving her own narrative into the empowering mix. Now, 40 years after the Iranian Revolution and with the sad news of the situation in Iran going haywire once again, Liraz just released a powerful uptempo track entitled "Zan Bezan", a strong and colourful invitation to women all across the world to revolt and regain their freedom. 

In a message on her official Facebook page, Liraz recently shared a beautiful personal statement, which we would like to publish here:

"I wrote 'Zan Bezan' (Women, Sing) when I was eight months pregnant. I was sitting in my studio, wondering what I can do with these extreme feelings about how extreme Iran became.

I’m an Iranian born in Israel. My parents left Iran before the revolution. I grew up with parents who tried hard to erase their roots and be as Israeli as possible after they left all their memories behind. Although I inherited their culture and stories, all my life I felt foreign. Physically I was in Israel but my mind, heart and soul were in Iran.

There isn’t one second during the day when I don’t think of Iran. I feel my roots burning in my blood and calling me - asking me -to sing. In Farsi. My home language. I feel that is the only way to find the answers to my deepest questions. Who am I, where did I come from, and what I really want to be. What do I pass on to my two daughters. I can’t stop wondering what would have happened if I was born and raised in Iran. Would I be singing? or escaping Iran to be able to sing?

After growing up with the beautiful women in my family, who got married at ages 13, 15... and had been forced to be silent, I needed to raise my voice and try to make a little change with my art. For me it’s a dream coming true. Especially today, in these chaotic times in Iran. It’s been 40 years of silence for women.

Iran is not mine, nor my parents’s anymore. Yet I know exactly how to describe its beautiful places, it’s smells, it’s colours. The song I wrote is a symbol of struggle against the suppression of women. In the video, I am myself, singing with Iranian women and to all of you."

"Zan Bezan" is accompanied by a striking and beautifully choreographed music video, directed by Istanbul's Mu Tunç, which you can watch below. Our thoughts and hearts are with those, struggling to be free in Iran and elsewhere.

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Sounds Of Joy

Ghana's Alogte Oho Releases Joyous Gospel/Frafra Full-Length On Berlin's Philophon Label

Sweet Lord, this is it! A recent Instagram post by Brighton's Hivemind Records put us onto this equally recent and brilliant release on Berlin's Philophon imprint by Ghanaian gospel/Frafra artist Alogte Oho and his [...]

Sweet Lord, this is it! A recent Instagram post by Brighton's Hivemind Records put us onto this equally recent and brilliant release on Berlin's Philophon imprint by Ghanaian gospel/Frafra artist Alogte Oho and his Sounds of Joy backing band. Similar to Ghana's Kologo master Guy One, Alogte Oho was discovered by Philophon's main man Max Weissenfeldt on a trip to Ghana in 2013, when he stepped off the bus and heard one of Alogte Oho's songs blaring from a nearby speaker system. 

Having grown up in the rainforest of southern Ghana, Alogte Oho moved to "the land of the Frafra" in northern Ghana as a young boy and became fascinated by the "glorious moments he experienced at the church in Namoo, his father's village of origin." In 2007 he released his first album, but it took two more full-length releases, before he landed his first hit "Mam Yinne Wa" in 2012. Fast-forward to 2014, when Alogte Oho released his first single "Zota Yinne" on Philophon and joined an extended tour through Ghana alongside Max Weissenfeldt, some fellow musicians from Germany and the aforementioned Guy One. 

It was during that tour, that Alogte Oho revealed the repertoire, along with a new version of his single "Mam Yinne Wa" (re-released on Philophon in 2016), that now graces his eponymous first full-length release on Philophon. You can stream "Mam Yinne Wa" the album and watch the companion music video to "Mam Yinne Wa" the single below. You can also find a short documentary on Alogte Oho here. Rest assured, this music will bring joy to your life.

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Caramela

Milan-Based Producer Ckrono Readies First All-Italian Baile Funk Banger

Baile funk from Italy? Yessir! "Italy's most innovative tropical bass producer," aka Ckrono, just dropped his debut single "Caramela" on Daniel Haaksman's Man Recordings and is poised to leave his mark on the global [...]

Baile funk from Italy? Yessir! "Italy's most innovative tropical bass producer," aka Ckrono, just dropped his debut single "Caramela" on Daniel Haaksman's Man Recordings and is poised to leave his mark on the global club circuit. Formerly hailing from Florence, Ckrono moved to Milan in 2017, where he launched his "Balera Favela" tropical bass night, which meanwhile attracts a rough 1.500 visitors per event and is steadily creating a niche for these booty-laden sounds. 

Earlier this year, Ckrono revved up his engine in collaboration with Milan-based producer Mace and São Paulo's MC Bin Laden for a track called "Vroom Vau" on Diplo's Mad Decent label and earned coveted slots at festivals and clubs across Europe. Now backed by Florence's MC Ninjinho, Ckrono unleashes the shrill "Caramela", "the first official baile funk tune sung entirely in Italian." The track refers to everyone's favourite sweet, but also allude's to marijuana and, of course, sex. 

Like of rush of sugar to the head, "Caramela" is quick to reveal its potent punch and will no doubt set dance floors ablaze. The release comes equipped with a club mix and dub version. Watch the flashy companion video below and feel free to work it. After all: "E' tempo di muovere i culi!"

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DJ Katapila

A Short But Sweet Documentary On One Of Ghana's Best Kept Secrets
 

If you're familiar with Ghana's DJ Katapila, then you know his sounds hit hard. Hailing from Accra's Jamestown neighbourhood, DJ Katapila was first brought to our attention by Brian Shimkovitz's Awesome Tapes From [...]

If you're familiar with Ghana's DJ Katapila, then you know his sounds hit hard. Hailing from Accra's Jamestown neighbourhood, DJ Katapila was first brought to our attention by Brian Shimkovitz's Awesome Tapes From Africa imprint, who released his debut album "Trotro" in 2016 and followed that up with the "Aroo" EP in 2018, which you can read up on here. In short, DJ Katapila has been breaking ground for the past 20 something years, "blasting his unique sounds all over Accra, from house parties to funerals."

Creating a hybrid of bass-heavy hometown rhythms and minimalist electronic music, blending "traditional hiplife from Ghana's coast with Detroit techno" and Western house styles, DJ Katapila is adept at keeping crowds on their feet and has thus meanwhile gathered international acclaim. In 2016, Australia's DAT Films set out to Accra to explore DJ Katapila's world as well as the local techno scene.

"Growing up in one of Accra’s toughest and loudest neighbourhoods, DJ Katapila’s love of music was shaped at an early age. Chanting and rapping in Twi and Ga, languages unique to Ghana, he educates through lessons he learnt on the streets and inspires change in a rapidly developing Ghana," the description reads. Best listen to DJ Katapila tell it in his own words, by watching the full short documentary below. You can also listen to one of his insane DJ sets via the SoundCloud player above.

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El Relincho Del Tiempo

Argentina's Los Siquicos Litoraleños Present A New Batch Of Hallucinogenic Dub-Cumbia

This week finds us in a strange mood, which may just be that effect the month of November has, with the year slowly but surely coming to an end, temperatures and humanity in decline and what not. But then again, we [...]

This week finds us in a strange mood, which may just be that effect the month of November has, with the year slowly but surely coming to an end, temperatures and humanity in decline and what not. But then again, we always have that thing called music to pick us up again, that instant mood-changer there to set us on the right path or quite frankly take us far far away from here. How about Argentina?  

Today, we travel to Curuzù Cuatiá, a city in the northeastern Argentinian province of Corrientes, known as 'El Litoral'. Among this city's inhabitants is a group by the name of Los Siquicos Litoraleños (The Psychics of El Litoral), who popped up on our radar last year with their "Medianos Éxitos Subtropicales Vol.1" album on Italian imprint Artetetra and absolutely weirded us out, in a good way that is.

Luckily for us, the collective dropped volume number two "Medianos Éxitos Subtropicales Vol.2: El Relincho Del Tiempo" in October on Brighton's sure-handed Hive Mind Records and that turned out to be just the remedy we needed. Not that it made us feel any less strange about what it was we were actually listening to, but the group's unique brand of "mind-bending folklore" definitely opened our chakras to the lighter side of being. 

"In this remote region, cut off from the fashions of the city, Los Siquicos were able to nurture their obsessions, hone their craft, and develop a singular style that takes the traditional chamamé folk music of rural Argentina, then throws it in a blender with Latin-American cumbia and chicha, the tropicalia of Os Mutantes and Tom Ze, the free music of Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, The Residents, UFO conspiracies, radical philosophy, and a strong dose of the absurd," the release notes read.

And indeed, as if beckoning from some parallel universe, Los Siquicos Litoraleños entwine us in their twisted soundscapes of viscous, hallucinogenic "soupy dub-cumbia", inviting us to join in their "shamanic" hoopla and joie de vivre that happen to be just what the healer prescribed... Stream the full release and watch the trailer below.

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Le Grand Bazar

The Jewish Monkeys Call On Us To Unite In Buoyant New Music Video
Greedy

Our dear Jewish Monkeys are currently on the road in Germany and the Czech Republic, wowing the crowds with their recently released third studio album "Catastrophic Life", which sees the band venture into unfamiliar [...]

Our dear Jewish Monkeys are currently on the road in Germany and the Czech Republic, wowing the crowds with their recently released third studio album "Catastrophic Life", which sees the band venture into unfamiliar musical territory. And we dare see, they seem weirdly rejuvenated.

Shortly before the album's official release, the Jewish Monkeys unveiled the suave new music video to album track "Le Grand Bazar", an upbeat and liberating afrobeat-flavoured tune with French lyrics, inviting the people of the Southern hemisphere to free themselves from the victimisation of their colonial past and unite. Our planet is one great bazaar and our time is now. Let us stand as one.

The fun-filled video was shot in downtown Tel Aviv by director Dudu Vazana and is destined to spread the notorious energy of the Middle East, that same vibe that shaped the group's sound. But this wouldn't be the Jewish Monkeys if they didn't have a point to make. While everybody is out partying and dancing in the sun, the band members seem awkwardly detached from what is going on, unable to enjoy the moment. 

You can stream "Catastrophic Life" in full and enjoy every moment of "Le Grand Bazar" below. The Jewish Monkeys will be performing a few more gigs in Germany this weekend and then head on to Tel Aviv and Paris!

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Calico Soul

Berlin-Based Nomadic Duo Farafi Releases Free-Spirited Debut Album On Piranha Records

A recent release that took us by surprise? That would have to be "Calico Soul", the debut album of nomadic Berlin-based duo Farafi, whose striking combination of captivating vocals and percussive sounds were quick [...]

A recent release that took us by surprise? That would have to be "Calico Soul", the debut album of nomadic Berlin-based duo Farafi, whose striking combination of captivating vocals and percussive sounds were quick to enthral us. Their story is one of modern roots, travels across the globe and a love for music both heartfelt and spiritual. Darlini Singh Kaul and Joy Tyson met in Goa, in the coastal village of Arambol. There, they discovered their shared adoration of African music, began singing a capella and exploring different musical traditions, from classical Indian to Turkish folklore, Arabic maqam and Western jazz. It didn't take long, before they were joined by friends they had made "in this magical place."

The two were raised in musical families: Darlini in London with Indian/French roots, Joy in Florida with roots in Eastern Europe. Inspired by their diverse backgrounds, experiences and travels, their "eclectic collection of sounds" blends traditional African, Middle Eastern, Indian and Western contemporary music to danceable effect, as Farafi sing in several different languages:

"We resonate with the phonetics of Zulu, Xhosa, Swahili and Yoruba," says Joy. "We often translate English lyrics to multiple languages, and then look at what phrasing fits best for what we have to say." Darlini adds: "When I was a kid, I felt limited by English and French. As I started to sing African songs, a language I had no intellectual reference to, it made me look at the notion of invented languages as a tool to compose purely on a phonetic aspect. This allowed me to express feelings that were beyond a language and sing straight from my heart."

The name Farafi actually derives from the West African Bambara term 'farafina', which translates to 'land of the black skin'. In fact, the two have created their own 'farafish' language (incorporating African vernaculars), intended to "reach the depths of all humans" and resonate across the globe. They also play several instruments, including the cajon, Moroccan krakebs and frame drum as well as the West African ngoni, the kashaka and Indian Ghungroos. Their exhilarating sound celebrates the "beauty of expression." It's the "poetry of two free-spirited women, joining their voices together with a world-bound, cosmopolitan sound", spreading messages of "hope, togetherness and freedom." 

We recommend you stream the full album below and enjoy the companion music video to their empowering single "Djanya Wofu", "a true female warrior chant about resilience and resistance."

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Catastrophic Life: The Album

The Jewish Monkeys Release Triumphant Third Full-Length
Greedy

Thank G*d it's Friday! We survived another week, the world has not yet imploded and Agent Orange is still POTUS. Shabbat shalom everybody and l'chaim! Let us raise our glasses to life in all its glorious absurdity, [...]

Thank G*d it's Friday! We survived another week, the world has not yet imploded and Agent Orange is still POTUS. Shabbat shalom everybody and l'chaim! Let us raise our glasses to life in all its glorious absurdity, "Catastrophic Life" that is, as our Jewish Monkeys release their triumphant third longplayer and kick off a string of live dates. After all, who better to comment on modern-day ennui than this band of sharp-tongued, middle-aged, manly manly men?

That's right, Tel Aviv's grandfathers of punk are back to present their latest chef d'oeuvre. But wait, "grandfathers of punk"? Well, they're definitely grand and some of them are fathers and they all bleed punk so let's leave it at that. In fact, several talented young bloods have joined the ranks of the Jewish Monkeys over the past months, flashing polyphonic brass and shredding guitar riffs to keep the old guys on their heels.

The ten new album tracks were all written by the band itself and see the joyous expedition venturing into unfamiliar territory. While their two previous works "Mania Regressia" (2014) and "High Words" (2017) skillfully combined popular shtetl tunes with ska rhythms, this latest masterpiece turns the affair into a true melting pot of styles, adding afrobeat, reggae and funk licks, Caribbean flair, wild guitars as well as a pinch of Balkan sauce to the driving "anarcho-Klezmer" mix. 

And let's not ignore their trademark biting, satirical verses, quick to rub salt in the wound and point fingers at the elephant in the room. But the Jewish Monkeys equally prone to address their own inadequacies as they come to terms with old age, impotence, lying politicians and the incessantly rising temperatures on planet Earth. Social criticism is simply part of the game as is Jewish humour and a knack for emphasising one’s personal shortcomings:

"Today is a very exciting day for us," says the band. "Our new and third album, on which we’ve been working intensively for the last couple of years is out! In the process of making it we took the liberty of being more direct, more critical. We experimented and expanded our boundaries as a band with new genres; musically and textually. So here it is, our new baby: 'Catastrophic Life'. Also, tonight we are going to Germany to start our tour, and we can’t wait to meet new crowds and spread some Jewish Monkeys love!"

That being said, the band will bring its vibrant, life-affirming show to stages in Germany, the Czech Republic, Israel and France this month. Check our shows section to find out more. You can stream "Catastrophic Life" in full and check out the magnificent companion video below. Again, l'chaim!

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Polyhymnia

British-Bahraini Jazz Phenom Yazz Ahmed Dedicates Album #3 To Greek Goddess Of The Arts

What sounds like the distant sounds of an orchestra tuning, getting ready to play, subtly merges into the yearning lament of a trumpet, heralding a new dawn. Ethereal, poetic, sublime, abstract yet ever so melodic [...]

What sounds like the distant sounds of an orchestra tuning, getting ready to play, subtly merges into the yearning lament of a trumpet, heralding a new dawn. Ethereal, poetic, sublime, abstract yet ever so melodic are the opening moments to British-Bahraini trumpet player, composer and "high priestess of psychedelic Arabic jazz" Yazz Ahmed's recently released third album "Polyhymnia". Expectations for this one are sky high, considering the overwhelming global success of her gorgeous 2017-released sophomore full-length "La Saboteuse", which among numerous rave reviews has meanwhile received consideration as one of the top albums of the decade.

Based in London, a staple of the city's flourishing new jazz scene, Yazz Ahmed was approached by Tomorrow's Warriors back in 2015 and "commissioned to write an extended work, to be performed by members of their Nu Civilisation Orchestra, for a concert at the Women of the World Festival, on International Women's Day." Needless to say, this sparked a prolonged creative process, as Yazz Ahmed set out to gather inspiration and chanced upon the ancient Greek Muse of music, poetry and dance, Polyhymnia. She proceeded to conceive a "suite of moments, each dedicated to women of outstanding qualities, role models, with whom [she] felt a strong connection."

Instead of focussing on "the embodiment of [her] inner-destroyer as the catalyst for creation" on "La Saboteuse", "Polyhymnia" might be see as a sort of anti-muse, "inspiring an intense period of creativity", as the album's six pieces "evolved and expanded" Yazz Ahmed's to take on their current form. The track "One Girl Among Many" even contains parts of Malala Yousafzai's powerful speech to the UN Youth Assembly in 2013. Alongside numerous co-contributors on "Polyhymnia", Yazz Ahmed sets sail on a mission to inspire and achieve clarity through compelling complexity and honour "the stories and achievements of these exceptional women" throughout time. 

You can stream the full album and/or watch her perform the psychedelic version to her 2017 track "The Lost Pearl" below.

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