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Uhamiaji

Tanzania's Msafiri Zawose Premieres Two Tracks Off Forthcoming Album On Soundway
 

Browsing through the world wide web, we chanced upon a downright hypnotic track by Tanzania's vocalist Msafiri Zawose, "one of the biggest slept-on musical forces from the region". A descendant of the Wagogo people, [...]

Browsing through the world wide web, we chanced upon a downright hypnotic track by Tanzania's vocalist Msafiri Zawose, "one of the biggest slept-on musical forces from the region". A descendant of the Wagogo people, a Bantu-speaking, traditionally nomadic tribe inhabiting central Tanzania, "known for their musicality and made famous by Hukwe Zawose - Msafiri’s father, who toured the world as a part of Peter Gabriel’s Real World roster in the 80s and 90s", Zawose is now carrying the proverbial and musical torch.

Back in August 2016, Santuri, "a vibrant and creative East African underground network that allows artists and musicians the freedom to experiment and grow" , took a trip to the town of Bagamoyo, located on the Tanzanian coast, along with Sound Thread's Sam Jones, a music producer, who most recently worked with Orlando Julius and delivered some much lauded remixes for Mugwisa International (see video below) and Sarabi.

Zawose and Jones developed a mutually respectful yet "highly charged working relationship" and began laying the groundwork for a new album "that will redefine the boundaries of gogo music" and is set to be released on Soundway Records on September 1st. And if we are to judge by the first two tracks already premiered these past weeks, this collaboration promises to be nothing short of a revelation. The result is a body of work that "remains profoundly gogo, but is infused with an organic electronic aesthetic, brought about by Jones’ exceptional production and feeling for textures. The tracks give off a borderless feeling, soaking up influences from across the globe - an afro-futurist journey that takes in dub, balearic, ambient and electronic vibrations alongside Zawose’s hypnotic playing and emotive, plaintive vocals".

"Nzala Urugu" opens with a thrusting rhythm and ethereal vocal chants, before being carried away by a gorgeous flute line and descending deeper into electronic realms. The driving "Pole Pole" on the other hand, which you can listen to in the SoundCloud player above, embarks on a more rudimental sax solo and is then taken over by slighlty distorted sound effects and Zawose's emphatic verses, before returning to a more harmonic structure and suddenly finding an beautifully captivating 'chordial' groove. "Wow, what is this?", you may find yourself asking. And you may find yourself answering: "I have no idea, but I really dig this".

"Uhamiaji" will be released as 2LP, CD and digitally on September 1, 2017.

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Marching On

Our Jewish Monkeys Return To Germany To Present New Album "Catastrophic Life" Live
Greedy

With just a bit over two and a half weeks to go, our very own Jewish Monkeys have laced up their sneakers and ironed their matching sweatsuits as they prepare to hit the Autobahn once again. That's right fans, your [...]

With just a bit over two and a half weeks to go, our very own Jewish Monkeys have laced up their sneakers and ironed their matching sweatsuits as they prepare to hit the Autobahn once again. That's right fans, your favourite band of 'jewiatrics', Tel Aviv's self-proclaimed grandfathers of punk will be back in Deutschland shortly, bringing their current third studio album to life, "Catastrophic Life" that is.

This time, the band will be performing live in the cities of Chemnitz, Fürth, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Hannover, Darmstadt and their second home of Frankfurt. The Frankfurt date will be presented by German public radio hr2-kultur. Check our shows page for a comprehensive list of dates, ticket and event links. 

You can stream/buy the album below, which is now also available as a limited vinyl

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Subhana

Ahmed Ben Ali’s Sublime Libyan Reggae Is Habibi Funk’s Release Number 012

Finally some good news from Libya, we thought to ourselves. Musically speaking, that is, as Habibi Funk unveils release number 012. This one caught us by surprise. Not because we weren't expecting top-shelf [...]

Finally some good news from Libya, we thought to ourselves. Musically speaking, that is, as Habibi Funk unveils release number 012. This one caught us by surprise. Not because we weren't expecting top-shelf selection. Jannis Stürtz's Berlin-based reissue label has always been a provider of quality tunes. We were surprised because we had no idea that Libyan reggae was actually a thing. 

This latest release, again, widened our musical horizon, introducing us to Ahmed Ben Ali and two of his sublime tracks, which absolutely struck a chord. Born in 1971 in Benghazi and having spent time abroad in Canada and the UK, Ben Ali had never considered music a profession, but more of an important hobby, which, as time passed, friends encouraged him to pursue and so he did, releasing three albums since the early 2000s. 

Apparently in 2008, one of Ben Ali's friends set up a YouTube account for him and uploaded two of his tracks. Ben Ali himself uploaded two more tracks to said account, before (and I'm sure many of us can relate) losing the password. As a result, the account remained untouched for the next eleven years. However, two of the tracks "started gaining traction" and have meanwhile amassed over a million plays. 

Enter Habibi Funk, who've now gifted these two tracks their first-ever official 12" release. The first track "Subhana" will have reggae heads nodding in agreement, as Ben Ali explains: “The Libyan folkloric rhythm is very similar to the reggae rhythm. So if Libyan people listen to reggae it’s easy for them to relate because it sounds familiar. This is the main reason why reggae became so popular here. [...]We played the reggae Libyan style, it’s not the same as in Jamaica. We added our oriental notes to it and if you mix both it becomes something great.” 

It does indeed. But track number two is no less impressive. "Damek Majeb" is even more forward-thinking, though still clearly rooted in reggae and dancehall culture. Call it "new Libyan traditional music" as a friend of Ben Ali's did on YouTube, however, this is anything but folkloric. We'll let you decide for yourselves. All we know is that our order is placed. Now where do we find those other three albums that were mentioned? You can stream/buy both tracks and their instrumental versions below. Big up Habibi Funk for this one!

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Manjaano

Accra's Jowaa Unleashes Strictly Physical Five-Tracker Of Electric Kpanlogo-Inspired Club Tunes

It's the moment we've all been waiting for: the weekend is here! Sure, you might be running low on energy after yet another week at your nine to five, but we know a remedy that will have you getting down on the [...]

It's the moment we've all been waiting for: the weekend is here! Sure, you might be running low on energy after yet another week at your nine to five, but we know a remedy that will have you getting down on the dance floor in no time.

Hot on the heels of "Asokpor 1.0" Ghanaian producers Jowaa (aka Gafacci & BBRAVE) are back with another banging five-tracker.  "Manjaano" features a bass-heavy assortment of mind-bending club tunes, "fueled by Accra's rich rhythmic tradition."  

'Jo waa' means 'dance hard' in Ga, a language spoken in and around Accra. And there is little to no doubt that hard dancing is just what these tracks will have you doing. These here are "afrobeats for the rave age," an electrifying form of Ghanaian kpanlogo that is strictly physical. 

You can stream the full release below and even download it straight to your personal home entertainment system. Rest assured, your neighbours will love you.

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Penya Safari

Magnus P.I's Cosmopolitan Collective Penya Releases Collaborative EP With Tanzanian Vocalist Msafiri Zawose

Early in 2018, after extended field trips to Cuba, Morocco, Turkey and India, the multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer and percussive investigator Magnus P.I (alias Magnus Mehta) and his Afro-Latin collective [...]

Early in 2018, after extended field trips to Cuba, Morocco, Turkey and India, the multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer and percussive investigator Magnus P.I (alias Magnus Mehta) and his Afro-Latin collective Penya released their debut "Super Liminal" via London-based On The Corner Records to global critical acclaim. Preceding the release, Magnus P.I had been invited to East Africa by Tanzanian vocalist Msafiri Zawose, where the two spent some time together recording near Msafiri's hometown of Bagamoyo.

"We are standing in a bare, dark, dusty concrete compound with a couple of tiny windows. [...] I have one microphone and a computer, and I’m surrounded by Msafiri’s various instruments hanging on the walls - an array of zeze (string instruments) illimbas (thumb pianos), a marimba, and an array of hand drums and shakers", Magnus recalls. "We start recording at about 10am every morning. We capture the ideas immediately, without much discussion. [...] I ask Msafiri if we can add more voices, so he asks his sister Tabu and brother Bahat to come in – the three voices sound unbelievable."

However, this is not where the story ends. Magnus returned to London, trying to figure out how to bring the recording together and "produce a record that represents the intuitive musical journey [the two] had started."  He played the recordings to the band and decided to turn the original Bagamoyo sessions into a sort of collaborative effort.

"It was a tortuous process", Magnus admits. "Integrating the band's ideas with the Bagamoyo material required the creation of many different versions of each track, and it took a long time before any of them started to sound like they were fully integrated." But Msafiri liked the new mixes and willingly contributed fresh material to help advance the project.

Now, two years later, the "Penya Safari" EP features four original tracks "with vocal contributions in Swahili, ancient Yoruba, Finnish, Spanish, and made up languages," along with three remixes by the likes of Tom Blip, Cervo and Guedra Guedra, combining centuries-old musical traditions with modern electronics and club culture motifs. You can buy/stream the full EP below.

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Soleil Kréyol

French Multi-Instrumentalist David Walters Releases Album Tribute To Worldwide Creole Culture

Good things take time, goes a common expression that, in the case of Marseille-based multi-instrumentalist, DJ, singer/songwriter and producer David Walters, rings true. The co-founder of early 2000s Bordeaux [...]

Good things take time, goes a common expression that, in the case of Marseille-based multi-instrumentalist, DJ, singer/songwriter and producer David Walters, rings true. The co-founder of early 2000s Bordeaux collective Zimpala has been involved in multiple projects over the past two decades and spent the past five years globetrotting, meeting "the gatekeepers to the musical hearts of Africa, South America & Asia" as part of the French TV show "Les Nouveaux Explorateurs" (The New Explorers) on Canal +. 

The experiences he made on these travels now inspired his new album on Paris-based record label Heavenly Sweetness, a tribute to worldwide Creole culture as it converges in New York City. "It is around this hyperactive city that David Walters decided to set the scene for his new album [and] imbue his music with the state of mind and aesthetics that reigned in the 70s and 80s," the album description reads. And while some tracks ring overly radio-friendly to our ears others should be well worth your while.

Entitled "Soleil Kréyol" (Creole Sun) and produced alongside prolific musical mastermind Bruno "Patchworks" Hovart, the longplayer features eleven sun-drenched compositions and notable guest appearances by the likes of Seun Kuti, Ibrahim Maalouf, Celia W and Vincent Ségal. Even more so, it reveals a "maze of a culture that crosses the oceans and connects continents, [...] a deeply ingrained bond that allows Africa, America, Europe, and the Caribbean to converse with each other in a language as universal as music, dance, carnivals, or ceremonies."

You can stream/buy the full album below and/or watch the companion video to lead single "Mama", a track dedicated to David's late grandmother and the strong, charismatic Afro-Caribbean woman, whose voice can be heard on the track. "Mama" is also available as an EP version with three vibrant remixes.

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Rise & Shine

Frankfurt's Spectacular Piano & Drum Duo The OHOHOHs Perform Live On German Public Television
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While we haven't gotten around to formally introducing them to you, a look at our artist section will reveal Frankfurt-based two-piece The OhOhOhs, aka pianist Florian Waeldele and drummer Florian Dressler. The two [...]

While we haven't gotten around to formally introducing them to you, a look at our artist section will reveal Frankfurt-based two-piece The OhOhOhs, aka pianist Florian Waeldele and drummer Florian Dressler. The two music enthusiasts and perfectionists met at a young age and have since been inseparable. Together they create a remarkable range of sounds, music they compose or re-arrange for theatre plays, soundtracks, clubs and even festival stages (e.g. Fusion). 

A few weeks ago, Florian and Florian got to get up way before most would prefer to and head to the studio for an early bird interview and live performance on German public television (ARD MorgenMagazin). There the two talked about their relationship and sound, blending classical music with club beats. You can watch the full interview here (in German, available until January 21, 2021).

On the occasion of Beethoven's 200th birthday, The OhOhOhs also got to perform their version of Beethoven's famous "Moonlight Sonata" (Piano Sonata #14), from their 2017 debut album "Vierhändig". Asked about the level of difficulty for the piano, Florian Waeldele admits: "It's quite challenging because it's so fast. With Florian [Dressler] pushing the tempo on drums, I need keep up and don't have the option of slowing down the way a solo artist might. It's full throttle from start to finish." You can watch the full performance here (available until January 21, 2021). 

We'll be updating you on The OhOhOhs in the weeks come, but felt we had to share this with you right here, right now. You can watch their EPK below and/or find more information plus videos as well as live dates on their artist page.

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Platanito / Guacuco

Music With Soul Records Founder Alex Figueira Releases First Work Under Own Name

Released in August 2019 in a limited edition of 250, Music With Soul Records' founder Alex Figueira's scorching 7" sold out in a jiffy and recently received a repress. This may not come as a surprise to those who've [...]

Released in August 2019 in a limited edition of 250, Music With Soul Records' founder Alex Figueira's scorching 7" sold out in a jiffy and recently received a repress. This may not come as a surprise to those who've meanwhile given the two tracks a spin and thus revealed their undeniable dancefloor potential. Never mind the genre, the people love it and so do we. 

Side A opens up with a driving, funktified bassline, vicious, snaking grooves and superb drum fills. You may find yourself wondering, what it is you are listening to, influences ranging from Latin to afrobeat, psychedelic to vintage breaks. "'Platanito' is an uncompromised crossover between classic 70’s Heavy Funk, Ghanian / Nigerian Highlife, Angolan Semba and Venezuelan culinary traditions: the only lyrics on the song emphatically celebrating two of the most popular delicacies in the country: 'Platano Frito' (Fried Plantain) with 'Guasacaca' (a traditional green sauce made mostly out of avocados, pepper and celery)," the description reads.

Fair enough, we thought and flipped over to the B-side, only to fall captive to "Guacuco" or true steel drum madness. "'Guacuco' refers to a Venezuelan sea food delight, said to have extraordinary aphrodisiac properties and usually sold across the many coastal towns in the country. [...] This great instrumental incorporates a fairly healthy dose of African and Brazilian percussion, acoustic and heavily Wah’ed electric guitars, all elements meticulously colliding until the improbable grand finale, [...] reaching that gorgeous Caribbean beach you’ve been travelling to." Again, the description is on point, but you'll need to hear for yourselves.

"Platanito / Guacuco" is Alex Figueira's (prev. Fumaça Preta, Conjunto Papa Upa and more) first release under his own name and it's a doozy. No doubt the record's second run will be gone in no time, so be quick, but don't despair. You can always go for the digital release.

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Trompeteros

Madrid's Vampisoul Reissues Highly Sought-After Album From Peruvian MAG Label Catalogue

Musically speaking, 2020 is off to a very good start, as we continue to browse and select extraordinary releases from around the world for your listening pleasure. Just last week, the well-respected Madrid-based [...]

Musically speaking, 2020 is off to a very good start, as we continue to browse and select extraordinary releases from around the world for your listening pleasure. Just last week, the well-respected Madrid-based label Vampisoul (from the Munster Records family, whom you may remember from our piece on Los Saicos' "Demolición") reissued "one of the most sought-after titles from the catalogue of Peruvian label MAG," aka Sonora Casino's album "Trompeteros".

Originally released in 1972, the versatile longplayer features a funky array of guarachas, cumbias, descargas and bugalú. The most noteworthy track off the album, however, is likely a tune by the name of "Astronautas en Mercurio", a "cosmic descarga full of electronic effects, filtered voices and fierce guitars with wah wah and raw distortion," that absolutely propelled us into a different headspace. 

Sonora Casino was founded by timbalero Hugo Maceda back in 1964. After recording several albums for Philips, the group released their debut on MAG in 1970 with "Pochito", the cover of which featured Hugo Maceda's wife, the vocalist Lucía "Pochita" Rivera. "Trompeteros" was the follow-up, which you can stream/buy in full below. 

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Music From Saharan WhatsApp

Sahel Sounds Releases First EP Of New Monthly Music Series From West African Sahel

Christopher Kirkley's Sahel Sounds imprint (Mdou Moctar, Les Filles de Illighadad, Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla) jumpstarts 2020 with its catchy new "Music from Saharan WhatsApp" series: "Every month, we'll be releasing an [...]

Christopher Kirkley's Sahel Sounds imprint (Mdou Moctar, Les Filles de Illighadad, Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla) jumpstarts 2020 with its catchy new "Music from Saharan WhatsApp" series: "Every month, we'll be releasing an EP from a musical group in the Sahel. Every album will be recorded on a cellphone, and transmitted over WhatsApp, and uploaded to Bandcamp - where it will live for one month only. Available for pay as you want, 100% of the sales will go directly to the artist or group. After one month, the album will be replaced by another one, until the end of the year."

First off is Etran de L'Aïr (which translates to 'Stars of the Aïr', a mountainous region in Northern Niger), a group hailing from Agadez that established itself as a wedding band, playing three guitars simultaneously, "pushing their instruments to the extreme, soloing over one another and creating a dreamy cacophony of sound." Originally the band formed back in 1995 by Aghaly Migi. Owning only one acoustic guitar, "the rhythm section was a calabash floating in water 'hit with a sandal, to make a drum'." With time, however, the group evolved, instruments were added and their size now fluctuates between five to nine members, depending on the occasion. 

This three-piece session was recorded in their home in Abala. "We invited friends over to the home, for encouragement," says guitarist/vocalist Moussa "Abindi" Ibra. "But we asked them not to make too much noise, for the sake of the recording." You can stream/buy the full release below. 

Musicians on this recording are:
Moussa Ibra (guitar/vocals)
Abdourahamane Ibrahim Tahilo (guitar/vocals)
Abdoulaye Ibrahim (rhythm guitar/vocals)
Rhissa Ibrahim (djembe/vocals)

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Under The Sun

Athens’ Afrodyssey Orchestra Embarks On Another Cross-Continental Journey

Not too long ago, we made a surprise discovery at a Berlin independent vinyl market and decided to take the record home with us, if only for the beautiful, die-cut artwork and foldout sleeve. Let's just say that our [...]

Not too long ago, we made a surprise discovery at a Berlin independent vinyl market and decided to take the record home with us, if only for the beautiful, die-cut artwork and foldout sleeve. Let's just say that our initial hunch was instantly rewarded and the record remains among our prized possessions. Said album was the Afrodyssey Orchestra's "In the Land of Aou Tila", a seven-track experimental and instrumental advance towards the "remote banks of a West African river," blending all sorts of musical influences such as jazz, funk, psychedelia and traditional West African dance music.

Today, the Athens-based band, that originally came together back in 2013, released it's follow-up album on Sergi Roig's Berlin-based Altercat Records, a label with a penchant for "high-quality releases" and "sounds from the past." Their latest joint effort is entitled "Under the Sun" and again features seven instrumental tracks in an all-out brilliant display of musicality, combining multiple genres, driven by African percussion and instruments such as the Kamelen Ngoni (a sort of African harp), the Balafon, the Chekere, the Djembe or the Doun Doun.

These are tracks that will set your mind afloat and feet in motion as you dream of lands far away and quite literally dance under the sun, which just so happens to be the title of the album you can stream/buy below. You might also watch their 2017 live performance of a track called "Moroccan Dancer" for Sofar Sounds.

Afrodyssey Orchestra are:
Konstantinos Arvanitis (electric guitar)
Vassilios Ikonomidis (doun doun, balafon, percussion, keyboards)
Christos Konstantinidis (drums)
Vasilis Papastamopoulos (bass)
Narayan Protin (djembe, congas, kamelen ngoni, talkin’ drum, chekere)
Thodoris Rellos (tenor saxophone)

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Cuatro Suyos

Berlin-Based Label Eck Echo Releases DJ-Friendly Peruvian Four-Tracker

All good things come in fours, innit? Berlin-based Eck Echo imprint closed out 2019 with its second vinyl release "Cuatro Suyos", a DJ-friendly EP featuring four Peruvian artists on the move: "The 'Suyos' were the [...]

All good things come in fours, innit? Berlin-based Eck Echo imprint closed out 2019 with its second vinyl release "Cuatro Suyos", a DJ-friendly EP featuring four Peruvian artists on the move: "The 'Suyos' were the four regional divisions of the Peruvian society that ruled over a large portion of South America before their encounter with Europeans, which completely transformed history in 1532. You had the 'Collasuyo' or 'the region of the Llama' in the South East, the 'Chinchaysuyo' or 'the region of the Tiger' in the North West, the 'Antisuyo' or 'the region of the Jaguar' in the North East and finally the 'Contisuyo' or 'the region of the Condor' in the West," the description reads. 

Side A kicks off with the brilliant track "Aceitunas" (transl. 'Olives') by QOQEQA & Vitú, a hallucinogenic tribal chant with a gradual build-up that will have you reconsidering that ayahuasca retreat. Up next are Lima-based duo Dengue Dengue Dengue with "Los Arboles" (transl. 'The Trees'), a laid-back clapper bedded on catchy Afro-Peruvian rhythms and a somewhat menacing synth line. Side B ensues with Soktakuri "Camino a San Jerónimo" (transl. 'Road to San Jerónimo'), which brings us the rhythmic strumming of a charango, paired with soaring pan flute and vocal chops that slowly give way to a viscous, driving bass line. And finally we have Pawkarmayta's "Ctrl Alt Sol", quite possibly an echoey ode to the sun that is eerily ethereal, yet equally potent.

For the full effect, simply stream/buy the "Cuatro Suyos" below and enjoy a spiritual moment in contemporary Peruvian dance culture.

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Auma

Kenyan/German Duo Odd Okoddo Release Stunning Collaborative Album

While we're at it, here's another release from 2019 that we really felt, but didn't get around to covering. Put out on the wonderful Pingipung imprint (see also Anadol's "Uzun Havalar", Cosima's "Ploaia") back in [...]

While we're at it, here's another release from 2019 that we really felt, but didn't get around to covering. Put out on the wonderful Pingipung imprint (see also Anadol's "Uzun Havalar", Cosima's "Ploaia") back in October, "Auma" is a stunning collaborative project between the multi-talented Hamburg-based percussionist and producer Sven Kacirek – whom you may remember from his ear-opening "Kenya Sessions" (2011) – and Kenyan musician Olith Ratego, hailing from Ugunja, a small market town in the vicinity of Lake Victoria. The two first worked together on a track called "Too Good To Be True", to be found on Kacirek's aforementioned "Kenya Sessions" and in 2018 founded their collaborative project Odd Okoddo.

"Auma" then is the result of this extended artistic dialogue between Ratego's mesmerising, androgynous vocals and Kacirek's intricate rhythmic arrangements and compositions. "[The two] create a colourful, dynamic sound, which is defined by both Ratego's enormous vocal compass and range of timbres as well as Kacirek's outstanding skills as a sensitive percussionist," the description reads. "Olith Ratego sings in a musical style called 'dodo', [or 'dodo blues' as he calls it], high in pitch and soulfully expressive. His lyrics touch upon the topics of politics, family and of course: love. As a skilled luthier, [a craft he inherited in his late father's woodworking shop], Ratego builds his instruments himself, like the five-stringed Okodo, which lends its name to the project." 

Indeed, the nine tracks on "Auma" kept us glued to our seats for the full duration of the album, listening intently as the sounds enveloped us in a concentrated, dreamlike trance, filling us with warmth and admiration for this extraordinary exchange. In an article for German medium Das Filter, Sven Kacirek provides more in-depth information on Odd Okoddo and also takes time to reflect on his own role in all of this, being a white man from Europe, following centuries of colonialist exploitation and depredation of the African continent. An interesting and genuine read for sure, if you know German, but the article also includes a handful of worthwhile video content. Or you can simply stream/buy the full album below and let the music speak for itself.

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