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Fatou

Re-Listening To Fatoumata Diawara's Spellbinding Debut Album

As the days grow shorter and this year draws to a close, we find ourselves thoroughly enjoying the distinctly introspective listening experience that acclaimed Malian-born chanteuse Fatoumata Diawara's astonishing [...]

As the days grow shorter and this year draws to a close, we find ourselves thoroughly enjoying the distinctly introspective listening experience that acclaimed Malian-born chanteuse Fatoumata Diawara's astonishing 2011 debut album "Fatou" (World Circuit Records) has to offer, her only solo full-length to date. Success was quick to follow, as Diawara toured with Damon Albarn's Africa Express supergroup, performed alongside Paul McCartney in London, collaborated with Herbie Hancock ("The Imagine Project"), Mulatu Astatke as well as Bobby Womack and joined forces with Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca, just to give you an idea.

But back to "Fatou", that absolutely "beguiling" (Pitchfork), "spellbinding" (The Guardian), "thrilling listen [...] that increases its hold with every play" (The Independent on Sunday) that instantly draws the listener in with an "air of wistful, understated beauty" (The Times). And indeed, when we returned to the album a few days ago, the overall smoothness of Fatoumata Diawara's vocals and guitar, backed by the mesmerising, repetitious nature of her emotional songs, were quick to make their mark. Beauty in simplicity.

So without further ado, we strongly recommend you (re)listen to the full album by either clicking on the clip below or heading over to Bandcamp.

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Cüneyt Sepetçi

Istanbul's Don Of The Roma Clarinet: Live In Berlin
 

When you visit Istanbul for the first time, it's the unexpectedness of it all that might catch you off guard; the unexpected views, the unexpected tastes and of course the unexpected sounds. Part of this megacity's [...]

When you visit Istanbul for the first time, it's the unexpectedness of it all that might catch you off guard; the unexpected views, the unexpected tastes and of course the unexpected sounds. Part of this megacity's indubitable marvel lies in its ability to reveal hidden beauty and meaning at any given moment, if only you look. In walking distance to Istanbul's famous Taksim Square and Istiklal Street is the now run-down neighbourhood of Dolapdere, which has meanwhile been heavily invested into and is soon to be turned into something more 'presentable'. For now, Dolapdere is still considered a no-go area by many locals, seeing as it has a reputation for sex work and drug trafficking. But it is and for a very long time has also been home to a large Roma community and master musicians, including clarinet virtuoso Cüneyt Sepetçi

In an article for The Wire (May 2018 / Issue 411), Heather Trost (aka one half of Albuquerque-based American folk duo A Hack And A Hacksaw and co-label head of the duo's Living Music Duplication imprint) relives her recent visit to the Dolapdere neighbourhood: 

"As we approach [...], the streets get smaller and less maintained. We pass by an austere yellowed cafe filled with men smoking, drinking tea, playing backgammon. This is where many musicians sit, gossip and wait for a gig when they're not playing [or busking] on the street. There don't seem to be a lot of set bands or groups here – everyone knows the same musical language and musicians are somewhat interchangeable. One day you're playing with your cousin, the next you're performing the same song with your neighbour. It makes for a very competitive environment. Sepetçi is one of the best, not to mention hardest working musicians in Dolapdere, and he adds his own musical style to familiar songs," she writes.

Along with her guide Özgür Akgül (also a musician and the director of the 2012 documentary "RomanIstanbul") she is invited into Cüneyt Sepetçi's home and later gets to attend a circumcision party, at which Cüneyt Sepetçi performs: 

"Things are slow to get going, but once they do, the party's on. Sepetçi takes to the stage to test out the PA, and without further ado begins. It's non-stop music for the next couple of hours. It's ear-shatteringly loud and almost psychedelic as it blasts into the changing evening light. The synthesizer player bends every possible note, ornamenting heavily as he follows the lilting, galloping clarinet; meanwhile Sepetçi trills, winds and whoops his way around the melody. The clarinet might have a pure tone, but he can make it howl and shriek if the song calls for it, alternating between sweet melodies and forceful, droned out marches," she describes, as the music and celebrations unfold around her. 

Cüneyt Sepetçi released his album "Bulgar Gaydas" on LM Duplication in 2017 and most recently took to the stage at Le Guess Who? in the Netherlands, dazzling the unsuspecting crown with his mesmerizing flourishes. This Sunday, November 18th, he will be playing live at ACUD in Berlin: 

"The indisputable don of Turkish Roma music and larger-than-life clarinettist [Living Music Duplication, Istanbul] Cüneyt Sepetçi will grace Berlin for the first time with an exclusive appearance. But beware, this is not for the faint at heart, uneven meters galore and musical adventures at break-neck speed," the event description reads. That being said, if you happen to get the chance, do not, we repeat, do not think twice. Also, feel free to listen to Cüneyt's 2014-performance at Roskilde Festival above or watch the official trailer to "RomanIstanbul" below to get yourself in the right mood.

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Guda

Hausa Rap Heir Kirani Ayat Shares Sublime Visuals To Latest Single
 

We're off to northern Ghana in the latest music video by Hausa rap heir Kirani AYAT of AYAT Music, who just dropped the wonderful music video to his equally impressive, NOVA-produced current single "Guda", directed [...]

We're off to northern Ghana in the latest music video by Hausa rap heir Kirani AYAT of AYAT Music, who just dropped the wonderful music video to his equally impressive, NOVA-produced current single "Guda", directed by David Nicol-Sey of North Productions. 

"Guda" is the second single off of Kirani AYAT's forthcoming debut album "Aisha's sun" and features his "signature blend of Hausa and English [as he] weaves a tale of struggle, perseverance, determination and the will to succeed," accompanied by beautifully captured images from Ghana's Bolgatanga region. "I want to show the world the Ghana they don't see everyday; the sounds, culture, dances and landscapes," he elaborates on Facebook

Kirani AYAT literally has his eyes on the throne and "Guda" embodies just that: "The song talks about me being the one. 'Guda' means the one, the chosen one. It also talks about a story of grass to grace; it's sort of like a motivational, inspirational song and also a bit braggadocious too," AYAT tells Okayafrica. Watch the official music video below, or listen to "Guda" in the SoundCloud player above and feel free to share.

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Asnakech

ATFA Readies Pivotal Release By Late Ethiopian Singer & Krar Player Asnakech Worku

Brian Shimkovitz's Awesome Tapes From Africa (ATFA) imprint is set to release another stunner on November 16th. This time the musical protagonist is the late Ethiopian musician, actress, dancer and cultural icon [...]

Brian Shimkovitz's Awesome Tapes From Africa (ATFA) imprint is set to release another stunner on November 16th. This time the musical protagonist is the late Ethiopian musician, actress, dancer and cultural icon Asnakech. As stated in the comprehensive liner notes"there is perhaps no woman more cherished in modern Ethiopian history than Asnakech Worku, [who] inspired and challenged society for decades, until her death in 2011. From her beginnings as Ethiopia's first theater actress in 1952 to her acclaimed film appearances to her days as a club owner-turned-master musician, [Asnakech] earned endless accolades across the artistic spectrum." She also became internationally known for her mastery of the krar, or six-stringed harp, "one of the oldest and most iconic traditional instruments in Ethiopia and Eritrea." 

Our first reaction to these distant, captivating and weirdly entrancing compositions was one of surprise. But as we listened, we became increasingly enthralled. As a matter of fact, this particular recording involves none other than legendary Ethiopian keyboardist and bandleader Hailu Mergia (check out his ATFA-reissued album "Lala Belu"): "In 1975, [Hailu] got a call from the owner of Misratch Music Shop to do a recording with Asnakech and he went for it. This recording is a nearly-forgotten artifact of the remarkable icon’s singular legacy, remastered and available outside Ethiopia for the first time. It also provides a rare glimpse into Mergia’s work as a arranger-sideman in the Addis Ababa music scene." 

Needless to say, Asnakech herself as well as their collaboration left a lasting impression on Hailu Mergia, who shares his personal admiration and adds his "Memories of Asnakech" to the release's liner notes, which we highly recommend you read. This quote here concerns the actual songs on the release: "Some of the songs are traditional, some are her compositions. You can listen to songs like these at home with family, while sitting or reading, in the after-hours at the club, while you’re washing the dishes. When you’re driving, a bunch of people listen while driving. It depends what time when you want to listen. Some people they listen to this kind of love music when they have a good relationship, somebody passed away or somebody stopped dating each other and have emotional flashbacks to what happened in their lives."

You can stream/buy the full release on Bandcamp. There you will also find more in-depth biographical information as well a track by track description. Thank you ATFA and thank you Asnakech.

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Roadtrippin'

The Jewish Monkeys Play The Netherlands Alongside Shantel And His Bucovina Club Orkestar
Greedy
 

Hot on the heels of an eventful summer, including another memorable show at Sziget, our Jewish Monkeys are well rested and ready to embark on another raucous roadtrip. 

This Sunday (November 11th) they will rev up [...]

Hot on the heels of an eventful summer, including another memorable show at Sziget, our Jewish Monkeys are well rested and ready to embark on another raucous roadtrip. 

This Sunday (November 11th) they will rev up their musical engines with an exclusive gig at Frankfurt venue Das Bett, before they head off to the Netherlands next Wednesday (November 14th) to support the inimitable Disko Partizani and friend of the Greedy family Shantel and his Bucovina Club Orkestar at five shows in Den Haag, Breda, Groningen, Amsterdam and Uden. You can find the details to all shows here

Rumour has it, the band is currently working on album number three, the follow-up to their 2017-released sophomore full-length "High Words". To set the mood, you can relisten to Yuriy Gurzhy and Uce's remix of the title track in the SoundCloud player above or watch the short JM teaser below. 

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Vaudou Game

Peter Solo’s Latest Album “OTODI” Is Nothing Less Than Spellbinding

Late last week, Paris-based Hot Casa Records served up another burner as they unveiled the highly anticipated new album by potent French-Togolese afro-funk collective Vaudou Game, the brainchild of bandleader, [...]

Late last week, Paris-based Hot Casa Records served up another burner as they unveiled the highly anticipated new album by potent French-Togolese afro-funk collective Vaudou Game, the brainchild of bandleader, singer and composer Peter Solo. Solo himself was born in Aného-Glidji, Togo, "the birthplace of the Guin tribe and a major site of the Voodoo culture". Meanwhile based in Lyon and backed by his band, he has channeled these ancient ritualistic sounds onto what is now his third album as Vaudou Game, entitled "OTODI". 

"OTODI" is the name of the former Togolese Recording Office, an abandoned yet fully functional recording studio in Lomé. "No one had been through those doors in years", the album bio reads. "Unchanged, seemingly untouched, just a guard watching over it. [...] Through thick layers of dust, the console was vibrating still, impatient to be turned on and spurt out the sound so unique to analog." The studio was closed in 1987, but reopened by Peter Solo and his crew earlier this year. And it is there that they recorded the 13 funk-heavy new tracks that now feature on the album. 

Vaudou Game had found the "space necessary to conjure the spirits of voodoo, those very spirits who watch over men and nature, and with whom Peter converses every day." As such, he was able to draw "the voodoo fluid directly from the source, once again using only Togolese scales to make his guitar sing, his strings acting as channels between listeners and deities." This time around he decided to entrust the rhythmic section to a Togolese bass and drum duo, "putting the groove in the expert hands of those, versed in feeling a type of musicianship that cannot be learned in any school." 

The album can be likened to a highly infectious ball of energy, enhanced by Roger Damawuzan’s James Brown type screams, a chorus of Togolese women or musical quotes from highlife and afrobeat. And, what's more, while referencing mystical, archaic rituals, "OTODI" remains absolutely modern in sound. In short, the entire affair is pulsating, trance-inducing and absolutely spellbinding. 

Preceding the album, Hot Casa dropped a 7" vinyl single containing the tracks "Tata Fatiguée" and "Anniversaire". You can listen to the latter in the live video below. As for the full album, you can stream/buy it on Bandcamp

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İstikrarlı Hayat Hakikattir

Istanbul's Gaye Su Akyol Releases Dreamily Insurgent New Full-Length On Glitterbeat
 

“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

As trying as times in her native Turkey may be [...]

“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

As trying as times in her native Turkey may be at the moment, Istanbul's Gaye Su Akyol is not one to shy away from the limelight or eschew artistic responsibility. With her first international, 2016-released album "Hologram İmparatorluğu" she quickly established herself as "one of Turkey's most compelling young voices and most exhilarating sonic explorers" as her multi-dimensional work "navigates the storied past, the hyper-connected present and the unscripted future". Growing up in Istanbul with influences as diverse as Selda Bağcan or Kurt Cobain, her artistic path sidesteps "tired Oriental/Occidental paradigmatic clichés", focussing rather on a richly nuanced sound that is as globally minded as it is locally anchored. Convincingly backed by her superb band, Gaye Su Akyol spent the past 18 months on the road, touring the Turkey, Europe, the Middle and Far East, "sharing her sharing her vibrant mix of raki laced traditional balladry, futurist surf and post-punk opposition".

Released last Friday on Glitterbeat Records, her latest full-length and third album"'İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir' [transl. 'Consistent Fantasy is Reality'] is a deeply poetic album; an album of personalized politics, an album that digs into the heart of our contentious, inexplicable contemporary experience. Never blinking. Always dreaming. Never giving in. Never giving up." Musically the album combines audible influences from the '60s/'70s Anatolian pop, rock and sub-genres thereof as well as Turkish folk. Also included in the diverse instrumental palette are more "conventional guitar-bass-drum trios and percussive elements, joined by violin, oud, cümbüş, bağlama, electronic beats and wind instruments". But there is a lot more to discover here as Gaye Su Akyol reveals:

"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 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."

Gaye Su Akyol and her band will be performing live at YAAM Berlin this Thursday (November 1, 2018), where they will lay further proof to their "growing reputation as a powerful live act", with local support from Mehmet Aslan and DJ İpek.

You can listen to the new album's title track via the Soundcloud player above or stream/buy the full album over on Bandcamp. Also, feel free to watch the companion video to the track "Yıllar Yılan" from Gaye Su Akyol's first studio album "Develerle Yaşıyorum" (2014) below.

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Souvenirs De Togo

My Old Friend Fred Martin Readies 45-Minute Mix Of African Treasures

Paris-based collective Les Mains Noires are back with another fascinating mixtape. In August, My Old Friend Fred Martin embarked on a month-long record digging trip to the West African nation of Togo, along with [...]

Paris-based collective Les Mains Noires are back with another fascinating mixtape. In August, My Old Friend Fred Martin embarked on a month-long record digging trip to the West African nation of Togo, along with Jean Toussaint of Les Diplomates

There he unearthed another batch of African treasures from Togo, Ghana, Nigeria and Benin, including two tracks by Togolese artist Ali Bawa.

He now compiled his best finds into a 45-minute mix, which you can listen to via Mixcloud. You can find more artwork on the LMN blog as well as a tracklist below. Enjoy!

Tracklist
MAMO LAGBEMA // Zambo Zambo (Togo)
CHRISTIE AZUMA and the Uppers International // Naam (Ghana)
ALI BAWA // Liwou Tikpe (Togo)
THON KOMLAN et orchestre Abass // Honam (Togo)
THE NIGERIAN POLICE DANCE BAND // Eko Ndun part 2 (Nigeria)
ALI BAWA // Labodja N°2 (Togo)
ANDY VANS // Dofo Nyi Ekyir (Ghana)
BB COLLINS // Anoma Antua (Ghana)
GNONNAS PEDRO // YirirYiribom (Benin)
GG VIKEY // Agoo (Benin)

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Gül Ahmet

Poland’s MLDVA & Çınar Timur Share Psychedelic Saz-Powered Track + Two Remixes
 

Heads up, here comes a 'sazzy' freebie for you! Earlier this year we shared a one-off track by Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek, taken from the strictly limited "Saz Power" compilation, released on Ironhand Records [...]

Heads up, here comes a 'sazzy' freebie for you! Earlier this year we shared a one-off track by Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek, taken from the strictly limited "Saz Power" compilation, released on Ironhand Records back in May. That being said, if you haven't yet checked it out, the selection features "eleven contemporary bands with saz-powered sounds from around the world, i.e. authentic sounds from distinctive saz minds". You can listen to the full album via the SoundCloud player above. 

This week, Polish combo MLDVA (Tomasz Jurecki, electric bağlama / Grzegorz Dąbek, synths / Szymon Piotrowski, drums) & Çınar Timur (acoustic bağlama), who delivered the compilation's opener "Gül Ahmet", shared their track along with two hallucinogenic remixes from the hands of Istanbul-based beatsmith Da Poet and Jerusalem-based producer/DJ Feller. The three-track release is available digitally on Bandcamp at a 'name your price' basis. So feel free to support. You won't regret it!

Below you can watch the beautifully animated "Saz Power" album trailer.

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Toto Bona Lokua

The Magical Trio Delivers Yet Another Timeless Body Of Work On “Bondeko”

Intrigued by the gorgeous album artwork, we just unearthed this equally inspiring and recently released musical gem on Parisian imprint NØ FØRMAT! by the wonderful trio Toto Bona Lokua. Composed of Gérald Toto [...]

Intrigued by the gorgeous album artwork, we just unearthed this equally inspiring and recently released musical gem on Parisian imprint NØ FØRMAT! by the wonderful trio Toto Bona Lokua. Composed of Gérald Toto from the island of Martinique, Richard Bona from Cameroon and Lokua Kanza from the Congo, this magical three-piece was quick to draw us in by its velvety cohesiveness. What struck us was the pure beauty of their vocal arrangements and utmost musicality in their delivery, providing a haven of soothing harmony and shared focus in times otherwise marked by so much noise, distraction and division. 

"Picked and strummed guitars, flute and discreet electro atmospherics (from producer Laurent Bizot) provide a dreamy backdrop, with the triumvirate of voices alternating between solo and immaculate sweet harmonies – an African Crosby, Stills & Nash, if you like. [...] it’s seamless stuff," Neil Spencer comments in his review for The Guardian. And indeed, Toto Bona Lokua provide listeners with somewhat of a blueprint for social togetherness or simply a mesmerising soundtrack to enjoy, when life seems all too rushed. 

More than thirteen years after their 2004-released longplayer "Totobonalokua", the twelve tracks on "Bondeko" are another timeless and ultra-modern body of work that cannot be unheard. Listen to the full album on YouTube or feast your eyes and ears on the official music video to album opener "Ma Mama" below.

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Masana Temples

Tokyo’s Kikagaku Moyo Ready Richly Flavoured Fourth Studio Album

Tokyo-based "psychedelic explorers" Kikagaku Moyo first came together in the summer of 2012 as street buskers, but quickly evolved into a tight-knit collective of free-minded multi-instrumentalists. Their sound [...]

Tokyo-based "psychedelic explorers" Kikagaku Moyo first came together in the summer of 2012 as street buskers, but quickly evolved into a tight-knit collective of free-minded multi-instrumentalists. Their sound "incorporates elements of classical Indian music, Krautrock, traditional folk and '70s rock", but "encompasses a broad spectrum of influence" and experimentation. Freedom and improvisation are key as the Japanese five-piece builds bridges "between the supernatural and the present"

Their recently released album "Masana Temples" is in fact their fourth full-length studio album, but the first we've heard of them. The longplayer's "shifting dimensions" are inspired by the band's mutual journey, including numerous tours and performances across the globe as well as a "pilgrimage" to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, to work with jazz musician Bruno Pernadas, who assumed production duties on the album. "The album's always changing sonic panorama reflects the spiritual connection of the band moving through this all together" and "challenging their own concepts of what psychedelic music could be". 

Nomadic in nature and multiplicitous in perspective, Kikagaku Moyo deliver a richly flavoured soundtrack that works on so many different levels it's hard to choose. That being said, this album will be sure to find appeal even among those, who may not consider themselves to be truly passionate about alternative rock or indie music. Stream/buy the full album here as well as their previous works and make sure to listen to their full live performance for Seattle's public radio station KEXP below. They'll be performing live in Berlin on November 13th.

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Ghosts & Robots

Den Sorte Skole To Open Berlin "100 Years Of Copyright" Festival W/ New "Ghosts & Robots" Live Show
 

Back in May Denmark's sample wizards Den Sorte Skole premiered their brand new audiovisual project "Ghosts & Robots" with three sold out shows at Copenhagen's grand Royal Theater (Det Kongelige Teater), treating [...]

Back in May Denmark's sample wizards Den Sorte Skole premiered their brand new audiovisual project "Ghosts & Robots" with three sold out shows at Copenhagen's grand Royal Theater (Det Kongelige Teater), treating audiences to "an experimental, dark and masterful piece of art combining music, sound, light-installation, video-projection and laser mapping" in collaboration with acclaimed Danish visual artist group Vertigo. 

"A complex 'Gesamtkunstwerk' that showed us how music - like life itself - can be violent, silent, beautiful, crazy, ugly and enchanting at the same time. Without compromises Den Sorte Skole give us a perspective on ourselves and the world we live in and should be considered the most important music project in Denmark at the moment," reads the rave 5-star Soundvenue revue.

Over the past years, the Danish sample-based producer and composer duo has been on a roll, unearthing and sampling countless records from across the globe, fusing multiple genres from various eras to create a magical tapestry of sound and take listeners on a trip through time and space. Their live performances resemble a dark symphonic journey, brought to life through samplers, turntables and effect-machines, though they've also composed classical symphonies and worked with choirs and live musicians from all over the world. 

Following the resounding success of their 2015 longplayer "Indians & Cowboys" the two-piece was awarded the Crown Prince Couples Award in 2017, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in Denmark. "Ghosts & Robots" represents their latest, mind-stretching odyssey in sound, as they set out to explore "a parallel world, where ancient ghosts and future robots communicate through heavenly spirituals and poisonous rhythms".

On October 18th they bring their amazing new live show to the large auditorium of Berlin's iconic Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt (HKW) to open the "100 Years of Copyright" festival, which runs through October 21st. The festival digs deep into the controversial and hard-fought concepts of 'the original', copyright and intellectual property and features concerts, panels, screenings, installations as well as breath-taking performances (find the full program here). You can relive a few minutes from Den Sorte's Skole "Ghosts & Robots" premiere in May below or listen to the track “Aiona” from the project, to be found in the SoundCloud player above.

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Saigon Supersound Vol. II

Jan Hagenkötter Releases Second Compilation Of South Vietnamese Tunes From 1965-1975

Not too long ago we featured Frankfurt-based DJ, label head and electronic music pioneer Jan Hagenkötter's inspiring selection of "Golden Age" tunes from South Vietnam. Now "Saigon Supersound" returns with Volume [...]

Not too long ago we featured Frankfurt-based DJ, label head and electronic music pioneer Jan Hagenkötter's inspiring selection of "Golden Age" tunes from South Vietnam. Now "Saigon Supersound" returns with Volume 2, which this time focusses on the period between 1965-1975, during which a lively South Vietnamese pop culture emerged under difficult circumstances. You may see it as a continuation of Volume 1, which had not yet gathered enough material to tell the full story. 

As a matter of fact, the tireless efforts to dig up music from this era and the release of Volume 1 actually paved the way to more finds and ultimately enabled the team to not only collect enough quality material for a second release, but also realise more projects, including the Vietnam Now Festival in Paris and London as well as a documentary film to be released in 2019.

"Saigon Supersound Vol.2" comprises 18 tracks and is accompanied by detailed liner notes from the pen of An Pham, who puts the selection into context and distinguishes the various styles and influences to be heard. You can stream/buy the entire release here and experience "the beautiful music of a short but significant period in Vietnam's history." Great work, again.

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