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Victoria Hanna

Israeli singer explores the space between rebellion and servitude.
(Songlines 01/01/19) +

“Israeli singer explores the space between rebellion and servitude – But there is more to the album than the juxtaposition between Victoria and Hanna. It delves into the very nature of the human voice, playing on the Kabbalistic differentiation between dibor (speech) and kal (voice). As Victoria Hanna says: ‘Voice is abstract… Speech is concrete.’
– Asher Breuer-Weil, Songlines, #144, Jan./Feb. 2019

Hanna is blessed with one of those voices that demands full attention, holding audiences rapt with her acrobatic voice and leaving mouths agape.
(Time Out New York 01/06/18) +

“Hanna is blessed with one of those voices that demands full attention, holding audiences rapt with her acrobatic voice and leaving mouths agape.”
Time Out New York

If Bjork was Middle Eastern, she might sound something like Victoria Hanna. She is magically chameleonic.
(New York Music Daily 21/04/18) +

“If Bjork was Middle Eastern, she might sound something like Victoria Hanna. You don’t have to speak Hebrew to fall under her spell. She electrified a sold-out crowd. She is magically chameleonic.”
New York Music Daily

Victoria Hanna is the freshest, edgiest, weirdest artist on the Israeli airwaves today. How did she reach that status? By singing — the alphabet!
(PRI The World 23/02/15) +

“Victoria Hanna is the freshest, edgiest, weirdest artist on the Israeli airwaves today. How did she reach that status? By singing — the alphabet!”
– Daniel Estrin, PRI The World, 2015

Jewish Monkeys

If you like the wilder klezmer bands, then step right up to the Monkeys.
(Folkworld Review 01/09/17) +

“Klezmer punk is what I was expecting and it is what this collective delivered. The pace is there, but there is a lighthearted nature to their approach, which keeps it fun and invigorating. So much gypsy punk is based on pace and energy with a certain craziness within. This has much of that, but it is far more relaxed and focused on melody, even with a slower song here and there. So if gypsy punk is something you are only half into, this may be the half you are looking for. And if you like the wilder klezmer bands, then step right up to the Monkeys.”
David Hintz, Folkworld Review, September 2017

A fine statement against the all too politically correct thinking.
(Written In Music 02/07/17) +

“A fine statement against the all too politically correct thinking, with a very nice soundtrack … This produces a very exciting, danceable album, which is undoubtedly worth seeing live.”
Philippe De Cleen, Written In Music, July 2, 2017

Anarcho-klezmer with a wink.
(Rebel Base / Tropicalidad 19/06/17) +

“The title track of this new album is an indictment of the establishment that is trying to appease the people with the kind of demagoguery we can still remember from the last world war, instead of focusing on real problems like inequality and ecology. But the fact they also have a lighter side, the band proves with ‘Alte Kacker’ (loosely translated: “old fart”), a cynical song about the ungracefulness of old age. Anarcho-klezmer with a wink!”
– Rebel Base (Belgium), June 19, 2017

Also available on: Tropicalidad (Belgium).

On ‘High Words’ the notorious klezmer punks take another swipe at a broad range of topics and deliver a satirical blow to any and all presumed taboos.
(Bayern 2 03/05/17) +

“On their new album ‘High Words’ the notorious klezmer punks take another swipe at a broad range of topics and deliver a satirical blow to any and all presumed taboos. This includes mercilessly self-pitying Yiddish songs dealing with old age (‘Alte Kacker’), anti-love songs such as ‘Pupik’ or title track ‘High Words’, detailing a righteous fury towards the establishment in the age of Global Warming, that is currently making a return to the demagoguery of the former World War era.”
Tobias Ruhland, BR.de, Bayern 2 (Bavarian radio), May 3, 2017

To try and pigeonhole them would be ridiculous.
(Musikexpress 01/05/17) +

“Album number two by the Israeli Balkan/Klezmer/Punk band once again lays proof to the fact that trying to pigeonhole them would be ridiculous… They manage to turn their fragmented identity in a unique pop statement, while masterfully riding diverse genres as they do languages, dialects and topics.”
4,5 / 5 stars, Thomas Winkler, Musikexpress, 05/2017

Here you have a bunch of creative individualists making completely unorthodox music.
(konkret 01/05/17) +

“Here you have a bunch of creative individualists, two of whom met in the Frankfurt synagogue’s boys’ choir in the ’70s, making completely unorthodox music. And even though their musical blend of punk, jazz, rock, Balkan beats and klezmer is suitable for the masses, their provocative lyrics, a mix of English, Yiddish, Hebrew and German, are filled with (self-)irony and address a more particular kind of listener. Their songs are hardly the material most Yiddish-speakers, seculars or the ultra-Orthodox would relate to. This in part is also due to the fact that their Yiddish is not authentic, but rather a stylistic device to transport folklore and Jewish tradition.”
– konkret Magazin (Monthly publication), 05/2017

The Jewish Monkeys are never malevolent, as they wrap their pungent lyrics in a fine blend of vintage cabaret, folk punk rock and anarchic speed klezmer
(Westzeit 01/05/17) +

“And they are still as audacious as ever: politicians, women, compatriots, no one is spared. Much less the gentiles. That being said, the Jewish Monkeys are never malevolent, as they wrap their pungent lyrics (‘I Wonder’) in a fine blend of vintage cabaret, folk punk rock and anarchic speed klezmer.”
– Karsten Zimalla, Westzeit magazine, 05/2017

Their uptempo songs are forceful and dirty, basking in the glow of their corny ballads.
(Deutschlandfunk Corso 22/04/17) +

“Klezmer, punk rock, Balkan sounds: The Jewish Monkeys deliver another great album alias ‘High Words’. Their essence is not actually political, but they do love satire. Anything that crosses their path is ridiculed. Their uptempo songs are forceful and dirty, basking in the glow of their corny ballads. Once on stage they include bouts of improvisation on guitar or trombone. Music you can really dance to.”
DLF Corso (National German Radio), April 22, 2017

If this is what the proverbial post-midlife dance sounds like, then I do not want to be one bit younger.
(Plärrer Stadtmagazin Augsburg 01/04/17) +

“If the Jewish Monkeys’ beat is what the proverbial post-midlife dance sounds like, then I do not want to be one bit younger.”
Plärrer, Augsburg (Local monthly magazine), April 2017

When played live, this vibrant mix releases an energy akin to a punk rock show
(OX 01/04/17) +

“Musically the Israelis blend ska, pop, klezmer and Balkan sounds. When played live, this vibrant mix releases an energy reminiscent of a punk rock show.”
– OX Magazin Nr. 131 (Hardcore fanzine), 04/05/2017

A wildly danceable mix of klezmer, punk and circus music, paired with uninhibited satirical lyrics.
(taz, Die Tageszeitung 11/03/17) +

“A wildly danceable mix of klezmer, punk and circus music, paired with uninhibited satirical lyrics.”
taz, Die Tageszeitung (German daily), March 11, 2017

Great. Stunning. A unanimous exaltation.
(Darmstädter Echo 10/03/17) +

“Loud, snotty, blunt: these musicians want to provoke. Jewish Monkeys concerts are fun and never cease to entertain, baffle or even confuse audiences… Great. Stunning. A unanimous exaltation.”
– Darmstädter Echo (Local daily), March 10, 2017

Such is the group’s nonconformity that dictates their every move, starting with their choice of music.
(musikansich.de 09/03/17) +

“That the Jewish Monkeys are not ones to stick to the many conventions of the music business is no longer news to the well-informed. Such is the group’s nonconformity that dictates their every move, starting with their choice of music: Their self-determined brand of klezmer punk will meet any three-chord aficionado’s expectations, but equally cause nervous palpitations among klezmer lovers. Punk in this regard is the band’s said nonconformity, though paired with a hunger for the most diverse musical surprises, feeding on multiple styles, take Balkan elements for instance… That being said, their entire setlist comprises just three songs in a major key, the rest is minor. But their innate ability to turn that into a cheerful live event lays further proof to the fact that this is not your ordinary band, making them all the more valuable. If you get a chance, go see them!”
Roland Ludwig, musikansich.de, March 9, 2017

Their autonomous mix of klezmer, punk, rock, Balkan music and pop is nothing less than an extraordinary circus act.
(Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung 08/03/17) +

“Merry, socio-critical, cutting, highly frivolous and politically incorrect are ways you may choose to describe their songs. Oh and filled with innuendos. As the accordion squeezes out Europe’s final countdown, revealing hidden quotes from the Beatles, their melodies stir up memories. This wild bunch from Tel Aviv, comprising eight musicians in all, sings in Yiddish and English. Eight men and just as many musical influences. At least. Their autonomous mix of klezmer, punk, rock, Balkan music and pop is nothing less than an extraordinary circus act.”
– Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung, March 8, 2017

From the Frankfurt boys' choir to Israel and back: Their music is thrilling as ever.
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 05/03/17) +

“From the Frankfurt boys’ choir to Israel and back: The Jewish Monkeys continue to baffle German audiences with their cheerfully frivolous brand of klezmer punk. Following a change in lineup, the still eight-man combo delivers another stellar album with High Words. Once again, the band digs deep into the profound Jewish tradition. Take ‘Titina’ for instance, a modern-day reinterpretation of the 1917 original, later used by Charlie Chaplin in his iconic film ‘Modern Times’. While ‘Romania’ pays homage to and equally mocks the glorification of Eastern European folklore, tracks such as ‘Post Midlife Dance’ or ‘Alte Kacker’ are gloriously self-deprecating. Their music is thrilling as ever.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (biggest German Sunday paper), March 5, 2017

Anarchists like the Marx Brothers the Jewish Monkeys are anything but kosher.
(Journal Frankfurt 01/03/17) +

“Tel Aviv’s impious rock & rollers see themselves as ‘Darwin’s final dillusion, the Jewish missing link of evolution’. Anarchists like the Marx Brothers they are anything but kosher. And although their two frontmen Jossi Reich and Roni Boiko originally met as choir boys in Frankfurt’s Westend synagogue, they were always more drawn to disco. The politically incorrect Jewish Monkeys are more than your ordinary klezmer punks.”
– Journal Frankfurt (Local magazine), 03/2017

No time to get all sentimental.
(AUDIO 31/03/16) +

“On ‘Mania Regressia’ the Jewish Monkeys demand listeners leave their sentiments at the door. The Tel Aviv trash combo employs an aggressive mix of cabaret, circus marches, Frank Zappa-ish horseplay and klezmer punk to shock its audiences, Jews and non-Jews alike.” – AUDIO, 04/2016

Building a Cultural Bridge between Tel Aviv and Dresden – An official statement
(Greedy for Best Music 21/01/16) +

“The concerts were a wonderful experience for the band. It was very moving to see how this ‘guerrilla event’ could magically transform the faces of these tired, fearful, uprooted and traumatised people. Young men danced the Dabke (a popular line dance in Syria) to old Yiddish songs and beaming children experienced their first rock concert. After the show they stormed the stage to touch the drums and guitars in awe. Careful at first, the band did not let the public know they were from Tel Aviv, however, some of the band members delighted their listeners with Arabic greetings and phrases of gratitude. During conversations with the public, when asked, ‘where do you come from?’, one of the band members, said: ‘Tel Aviv’. This answer did not cause animosity, but joy and surprise.”

– Greedy for Best Music

Hard times for a band specializing in klezmer-rock. A tour diary
(Die Welt 24/11/15) +

“Cooped up in a minivan, though way more comfortable than being in one of those cattle wagons from back in the days heading East, we embark towards our next destination, a street festival in Dresden. Upon arrival we face a small stage blaring Arab rap music for a bunch of belligerent looking adolescents, jumping up and down and waving their fists in the air. Then it’s our turn. We step on stage, Boiko and I share an awkward smile with the crowd, while Gael refreshes his Arabic. It all goes down as expected: They absolutely love us, singing along to our Yiddish ‘dai, dai, dais’ and dancing Dabke as if at an oriental wedding. It was delirious.”

– Jossi Reich, Die WELT (German daily)

In the end, entertainment wins.
(Badische Neueste Nachrichten 16/09/14) +

They pulled all the stops at their gig, engaging head and heart alike. They get people on their feet with familiar Balkan folk sounds and get them listening with complex rock arrangements and melancholic laments. How to describe Jewish Monkeys? A political band? Pure entertainment? Both? In the end, entertainment wins. The room is owned by ecstatic dancers.

– Badische Neueste Nachrichten

A fantastic live band in the spirit of punk
(Süddeutsche Zeitung 15/09/14) +

Jewish Monkeys pluck the flowers for their bouquet of clichés from a luxuriant garden of neuroses, burgeoning with self-irony, over-indulgent mothers and inferiority complexes. They are provocative, hounding their listeners out of their comfort zones and making them dance. Because this Klezmer ensemble living in the fast lane is first and foremost a fantastic live band in the spirit of punk. The trombone fires hot salvos at the singers while the guitar’s insistent off-beat rhythm pushes the band in the direction of Ska. Their live performance is overwhelming in its furiously unchained attack on tradition. At the anarchistic climax of the evening, Reich, Boiko and Zaidner launch Harry Belafonte’s famous Banana Boat off towards the Middle East, to bring peace to the region at last.

Süddeutsche Zeitung (one of Germany’s leading dailies)

A Sense of Nonsense: the Anarcho-Klezmer Band Jewish Monkeys!
(Deutschlandfunk Corso 10/09/14) +

A Sense of Nonsense: the Anarcho-Klezmer Band Jewish Monkeys!

Deutschlandfunk Corso(national German radio)

Shades of cinematic heroes such as Woody Allen
(Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/09/14) +

They ridicule the obscenities of international relations with the same tongue-in-cheek attitude they adopt toward their own culture, with a healthy mix of sophistication and anarchy. Shades of cinematic heroes such as Woody Allen, with an added dose of high-calibre party mood.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany’s leading daily)

Mildly disturbed eternal adolescents
(Spiegel Online 05/09/14) +

The Jewish Monkeys‘ album Mania Regressia plays on Jewish clichés and anti-Semitic reality. This post-Klezmer, post-Pop, post-Alija band from Tel Aviv has created an album brimming with love, rage and joy that reveals just how they are themselves: mildly disturbed eternal adolescents with a soundtrack for the panic attacks of our time. All of which makes Mania Regressia more than just music to listen to – from old and obscure songs with new geopolitical fire, such as Caravan Petrol or the satirical hit Johnny is the Goy for Me – and instead a rollicking, joyful, despairing peal of laughter on the margins of the western world.

Spiegel Online (Germany’s No. 1 political news website)

Spirited, disrespectful, Jewish humour at its finest
(3Sat Kulturzeit 03/09/14) +

Spirited, disrespectful, Jewish humour at its finest. A wild, cult-worthy mix of Klezmer, Balkan and Rock.

3Sat Kulturzeit (TV channel for Austria/Switzerland/Germany)

Trashy hits with lyrics that tumble helter-skelter between Yiddish and English
(Kulturnews 01/09/14) +

Their love songs are delightfully filthy, full of unexpected emotions and virtuoso hilarity. Jewish Monkeys wallow in trashy hits with lyrics that tumble helter-skelter between Yiddish and English. A truly international line-up!

Kulturnews(Germany’s largest culture mag)

An eagle eye on what is happening in the here and now
(Deutschlandfunk 29/08/14) +

They really do have some political cheek – highly critical, with an eagle eye on what is happening in the here and now. They make music that cuts to the quick, and that’s what I find so exciting: really good, thought-provoking lyrics.

Martin Kranz, Director of the Jewish Cultural Days, Berlin

If Hitler hadn’t nearly won the war
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 06/07/14) +

If Hitler hadn’t nearly won the war, Jewish music would sound like this: naturally stoned, fast, and madly melancholic.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (biggest German Sunday paper)

Racing polka beats, calypso, rumba and gutter blues redolent of Tom Waits
(Nürnberger Nachrichten 18/03/14) +

The incredible Jewish Monkeys from Israel epitomise the inexhaustible experimental drive of Jewish music. Jewish Monkeys manage, seemingly effortlessly, to transpose Yiddish songs into an impressive alternative World pop context worthy of any indie rock festival. Racing polka beats, calypso, rumba and gutter blues redolent of Tom Waits, with a dash of trombone, accordion and a distinctive guitar twang give the three singers plenty of dynamic impetus to launch their wackily irreverent, witty songs. Energetic fun that fires up the audience to fever pitch.

Nürnberger Nachrichten (biggest Bavarian daily)

Roof-raising, rambunctious rock
(Nordbayerische Zeitung 17/03/14) +

Roof-raising, rambunctious rock by the Jewish Monkeys – three singers at once, like animators moderating between pop and funk, with a smattering of traditional songs.

Nordbayerische Zeitung (Bavarian local daily)

A satirical emancipatory coup
(Fürther Nachrichten 17/03/14) +

The Jewish Monkeys from Tel Aviv unleash a satirical emancipatory coup at the Kulturforum with a show verging on cabaret. Tapping into the tonal syntax of the present day, klezmer strikes on a contemporary note. And the audience spontaneously goes along with it, as evidenced by their enthusiastic participation.

– Fürther Nachrichten (Bavarian local daily)

Whatever people say they are, that's what they're not
(Haaretz 07/01/14) +

At an age when most people retire, these guys are releasing their debut album – in English, Spanish, Esperanto and Yiddish. […] When three middle-aged men perform with wild abandon on stage, it’s clear to anyone watching that they have to conduct a restrained family life for the rest of the year. This is not a supergroup composed of rock stars who first came to prominence in the 1970s, nor is it a choir project of the neighborhood community center. Despite the men’s ages, the Jewish Monkeys (are) a young band at heart, whose members prove that you’re never too old to start performing.

– Ha’aretz (Israeli daily)

Klezmer and Caribbean rhythms meet film scores.
(Celtic-Folk-Punk Blog 27/03/13) +

“They play their own music in which klezmer and Caribbean rhythms meet film scores. There are no vocals, but they don’t need them. Their music is intended for dancing and they create atmospheres.” – Celtic-Folk-Punk Blog

From Balkan motives to cat's wailing.
(Habama 21/10/12) +

“MALOX – Eyal Talmudi’s crazy and impossible duet generates totally energetic music that fills the stage from Klezmer to Jazz. Warm and round sounds blend in distorted sounds. From Balkan motives to cat’s wailing. A crazy yet fascinating act” – Amos Oren, Habama

Referencing the Klezmer legacy.
(All About Jazz 11/01/08) +

“The bulk of Talmudi’s original compositions reference the Klezmer legacy. His energetic arrangements spice them up with updated sonic elements, including a bit of thick, and dub-influenced sax choir” – Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz

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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Mogadisco

Analog Africa Readies Fantastic Compilation Of Somalian Tunes From 1974-1991

Let us now travel back in time, metaphorically speaking of course. At the tail end of 2016, Analog Africa's Samy Ben Redjeb arrived in Somalia's capital city of Mogadishu and "began rifling through piles of [...]

Let us now travel back in time, metaphorically speaking of course. At the tail end of 2016, Analog Africa's Samy Ben Redjeb arrived in Somalia's capital city of Mogadishu and "began rifling through piles of cassettes and listening to reel-to-reel tapes in the dusty archives of Radio Mogadishu, looking for music that 'swam against the current'." It was there that he discovered a pile of unmarked recordings that apparently nobody had bothered to mess with. The senior employee accompanying him described that pile as "mainly instrumental and strange music," which no doubt struck a chord. 

"The pile turned out to be a cornucopia of different sounds: radio jingles, background music, interludes for radio programmes, television shows and theatre plays. There were also a good number of disco tunes, some had been stripped of their lyrics, the interesting parts had been recorded multiple times then cut, taped together and spliced into a long groovy instrumental loop," the release notes read. You may have guessed that some of these archive recordings now make up the recently released "Mogadisco: Dancing Mogadishu" compilation of Somalian music dated 1974-1991, featuring a fantastic selection of tunes from golden-era Mogadishu.

This music comes from a time when funk (James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations), afrobeat (Fela Kuti), reggae (Bob Marley) and later disco music (Michael Jackson) dominated the bustling local music scene, performed by live bands in nightclubs, luxury hotels and similar venues across town; bands such as Iftin, Shareero and the more widely known Dur-Dur Band. Make no mistake, putting together this compilation – "tracking down musicians - often in exile in the diaspora - to interview them and gather anecdotes", revealing dramatic stories from a country that to this date remains riddled by conflict – was no walk in the park and took a total of three years.

Bringing us back to the end result, being this superb compilation, accompanied by an extensive and equally informative companion booklet, including 50 rare photos, ensuring that this invaluable piece of Somalian culture and musical heritage is made available for generations to come. You can buy/stream the full release below. You may also want to check out these previous releases of Somalian music: "Au Revoir, Mogadishu" and "Import / Export Mogadishu".

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Invocation

From Budapest To Berlin With Influences From Africa And Brazil, Don't Sleep On Àbáse

While looking forward to all the new music of 2020, this 2019 release most definitely deserves a special mention: Budapest-born and Berlin-based keyboarder and producer Szabolcs Bognár, aka Àbáse, dropped his [...]

While looking forward to all the new music of 2020, this 2019 release most definitely deserves a special mention: Budapest-born and Berlin-based keyboarder and producer Szabolcs Bognár, aka Àbáse, dropped his astonishing debut on Cosmic Compositions back in May and went on to make several 'best of' lists. And even though we overlooked the initial release, we are now looking to make things right, by making "Invocation" one of our first picks for the new year.

Featuring "seven tracks recorded during a two-year period in different locations," Àbáse's EP is not readily pigeonholed and is bound to take an unforeseen turn, just as you think you've figured it out. Working together with the crème de la crème of Budapest's buzzing musical scene along with special guest performers from Africa and Brazil, Szabolcs Bognár can be heard playing Rhodes, clavinet and synths, while each track develops a distinctive life of its own.

"Invocation" goes on to cast its special blend of broken beats, global/tribal grooves, jazz and neo-soul harmonies, creating a wonderfully melodic yet incredibly intricate soundscape that is quick to work its magic. Just stream/buy the full EP below.

With contributions by:
Fanni Zahár (flute)
Tamás Heilig (bass guitar, Moog)
Ernő Hock (double bass, bamboo marimbula)
András Koroknay (Moog)
Levente Boros (drums)
Máté Jancsovics (drums)
Tamás Czirják, (drums)
Bálint Zsigri aka DJ Slow (percussion)
Dávid Szarvas (percussion)
Bence Táborszky (trumpet)
Máté Bartók (alt saxophone)
Gergő Kováts (baritone saxophone)
Viktor Sági aka Vanis (guitar)

And special guests:
Roque Miguel (conga, xequere, agogo on "Invocation")
Wayne Snow (vocals on "Align")
Stevo Atambire (vocals, kologo on "Sambo")
Joseph Ajusuwine (vocals on "Sambo")
Saïd Tichiti (vocals, oud, karkabat on "Ashek Ellil")

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Silenzio

Kyoto's Prog Pop Duo Viva Sherry Revs Engines With Eclectic Six-Tracker

We are back, alive and almost kicking. It's been some two weeks since our last post here, which we spent resting up, eating and enjoying some time-off with our loved ones. That being said, 2020 is well upon us, so [...]

We are back, alive and almost kicking. It's been some two weeks since our last post here, which we spent resting up, eating and enjoying some time-off with our loved ones. That being said, 2020 is well upon us, so here's wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful new year. Let's see what this decade has in hold for us. 

To get things rolling, we decided to share this blaring prog pop six-tracker with you, released late last October on London-based experimental pop and dance imprint mottomotto, that has been on a self-proclaimed mission since 2014 to create a space for "rougher, spontaneous recordings". And that is precisely what earned them a spot on our webzine. 

As you may have noticed, we are not big on pop music, or rather those glossy, over-produced sounds destined to meet the commercial demands of a shallow consumer's market. But this production by "Kyoto's prog pop virtuosos" Viva Sherry was too original to pass up. Entitled "Silenzio" this eclectic onslaught of melodic pop-tinged sounds is anything but silent. Brace yourselves for"spacey jazz jams and bursts of orchestral arrangements" that are all over the place and start the new year in convincing style.

Viva Sherry are:
Sato (left-hand-bass / vocals / flute)
Himeco (vibraphone / drums / sampling / pad / vocals) 

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Live Goes On

The Jewish Monkeys Release "Catastrophic Life" On Vinyl & Announce New Shows For 2020
Greedy

Following the release of their third album "Catastrophic Life", these past weeks have been positively hectic for our dear Jewish Monkeys. First, they embarked on a quick tour of Germany, the Czech Republic, France [...]

Following the release of their third album "Catastrophic Life", these past weeks have been positively hectic for our dear Jewish Monkeys. First, they embarked on a quick tour of Germany, the Czech Republic, France and Israel. Just ahead of their show at Paris' La Bellevilloise, French daily Libé/Libération wrote a short piece on them, which you can revisit here (if you are proficient in French). The article includes a charming quote by Omer Hershman, who co-wrote the new longplayer: "The idea was to expand our Jewish humour to different genres, from surf rock to afro beat, while preserving our self-deprecating vein. In any case, when I write, I can't help but see Jossi's mug before my eyes, making it hard to keep a straight face.”

The band then went on to unveil a special, first-ever vinyl release of their current album, limited to an edition of 50 and available on the Jewish Monkeys' Bandcamp page. They also announced a string of new shows across Germany, scheduled for March 2020, which you can check out on our Shows page. Don't sleep!

What's more, the Jewish Monkeys were recently featured by German public radio Deutschlandfunk Kultur, as part of their weekly show "Aus der jüdischen Welt" (From the Jewish World). Journalist Luigi Lauer met with frontman Jossi Reich to find out more about the "Tel Aviv grandfathers of punk." You can listen to the feature here (if you are proficient in German): "We've created a new sound, that is no longer rooted solely in Yiddish culture or based on cover versions," says Jossi Reich. "Backed by our new brass section, we've managed to diversify our sound and incorporate genres such as '70s funky or afro-soul. We've really progressed, but it's still Klezmer punk rock at its core."

You can stream "Catastrophic Life" in full below and don't forget to watch the eponymous official music video, which has meanwhile reached over 100K views!

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Chinal Ka

Heavenly Sweetness Releases First-Ever Anthology Of Gwo-Ka Great Erick Cosaque

It's winter time in the Western Hemisphere, which finds us reminiscing about that island life with a little help by ways of French imprint Heavenly Sweetness. A few weeks back, the label – home to Guts, Anthony [...]

It's winter time in the Western Hemisphere, which finds us reminiscing about that island life with a little help by ways of French imprint Heavenly Sweetness. A few weeks back, the label – home to Guts, Anthony Joseph, the Florian Pellissier Quintet and many more – released the first-ever anthology dedicated to the work of Gwo-Ka artist Erick Cosaque, as part of its Antilles Series. The release highlights Cosaque's most distinctive oeuvres from 1973-1995, an essential collection of tracks to be rediscovered by music lovers all around the world.

With a career spanning 45 years and twenty-something solo albums, Erick Cosaque is rightfully considered one of the major figures of Caribbean folk music genre Gwo-Ka (gwo ka being a French Creole term for big drum): "Strong, rough and plump [...] Erick Cosaque’s voice is made to go over and above the two boula drums and the makè drum which are associated in general, along a few light percussions, with the Guadeloupean gwo ka," the album description reads. 

Born into an era of slavery, Erick Cosaque's empowering voice is not just a thing of beauty, but also full of rebellious spirit, "deeply rooted in a complex historical and social context made of fights, pleasures, memories and desires." Compiled by Fred Martin (Les Mains Noires), "Chinal Ka 1973-1995" expertly lays out Cosaque's rich palette of sounds, including jazz, soul, spoken word, funk and zouk; all in a Gwo-Ka hue. These sounds are so diverse, we needed to check the playlist a few times, to make sure the album hadn't ended and the algorithm taken over.

You can stream the full 16-track anthology 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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