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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)

MÃLØX

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

Mosawi Swiri

Essaouira's Maalem Houssam Gania Releases Entrancing 6-Track Gnawa Album On Hive Mind
 

Back in 2017 Brighton's Hive Mind Records posthumously released an 8-track album of studio recordings by the late and great Maalem Mahmoud Gania, master singer and guimbri player. Now following in his footsteps, [...]

Back in 2017 Brighton's Hive Mind Records posthumously released an 8-track album of studio recordings by the late and great Maalem Mahmoud Gania, master singer and guimbri player. Now following in his footsteps, 23-year-old Houssam Gania is set to continue his father's legacy and recently released his own 6-track album on the UK imprint.

"Mosawi Swiri" features indigenous sounds from the "Gnawa ceremonial repertoire", including "a number of songs from the Musawiyin Suite, the blue section of the trance ritual durch which they invoke Sidi Musa, the master of the spirits of sea and sky." Accompanied by his brother Hamza Gania, Mohamed Benzaid, Khalid Charbadou and Amine Bassi (on qraqabs), Maalem Houssam Gania plucks his guimbri and contributes his "earthy vocals" to the insitent, recurring grooves. 

This album is somewhat of a beautiful understatement, that doesn't force itself on listeners but rather invites them to revel in its undeniable glow as it slowly unfolds its charm. Head over to Bandcamp to buy/stream "Mosawi Swiri" in full, which is also available on cassette in a very limited edition of 100. If you are looking to hear more from Maalem Houssam Gania, you may also want to check out his 2018 collaboration with UK electronic music producer James Holden in the SoundCloud player above.

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Ploaia

Romanian Artist Cosima Releases Captivating 7" On Pingipung/Future Nuggets

Last Friday, German leftfield record label Pingipung teamed up with Romanian imprint Future Nuggets to present a hot new 7" release by Bucharest-based artist Cosima Opârtan, or simply Cosima, aka one half of [...]

Last Friday, German leftfield record label Pingipung teamed up with Romanian imprint Future Nuggets to present a hot new 7" release by Bucharest-based artist Cosima Opârtan, or simply Cosima, aka one half of proto-manele duo Raze de Soare.

Cosima – a trained architect, sound designer and co-founder of Queer Night (a local LGBTQ+ party series) – dubs her music widow pop, a melancholy blend of contemporary styles beckoning both to the past and the future, as if addressing a distant memory or a beloved person, who is beyond reach. Her voice has an ethereal yet unwavering quality and her music has thoroughly cast a spell on us. 

Lead-single "Ploaia" (Rain) features a catchy beat composed of steel-drums, a menacing bassline and what might be a sitar to accompany Cosima's siren call. "Ploaia" is definitely our favourite of the two tracks, which you can listen to in the clip below. On the flipside is a song called "Mai e și altfel de-a iubi" (There is another way to love), which is more of an electronic pop ballad but also strangely appealing. You can buy/stream the full release on Bandcamp.

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Nadi

Munich-Based Jazz Quintet Fazer Release Blissfully Stunning Sophomore Album

Their self-released 2018 debut was an absolute sensation and quickly sold out on vinyl, while "Mara" went on to become one of the most streamed jazz albums of the year. And rightfully so. The Munich-based jazz [...]

Their self-released 2018 debut was an absolute sensation and quickly sold out on vinyl, while "Mara" went on to become one of the most streamed jazz albums of the year. And rightfully so. The Munich-based jazz quintet's organic sound thrives on spacious arrangements, as they move freely and effortlessly between composition and improvisation, producing beautiful melodies over polyrhythmic drum patterns and dubby basslines. 

Mathias Lindermayr (trumpet), Paul Brändle (guitar), Martin Brugger (bass), Simon Popp (drums) and Sebastian Wolfgruber (drums) met as jazz students at the Munich Academy for Music and Theatre (Akademie für Musik und Theater) and decided to create their own, rich tapestry of sounds, drawing from a wide range of influences, including British pop/post-rock formation Talk Talk, Berlin techno-duo Rhythm & Sound and experimental US rock group Tortoise, as well as Fela Kuti, Indonesian Gamelan and classical music from India. 

Fazer's second album releases today and is entitled "Nadi", a term from traditional Indian medicine, describing the channels through which energies flow and connect at special points of intensity called chakras. As do the new album's eight tracks, recorded in London in just four days by Benedict Landin (Nostaligia 77). Though slower in pace than "Mara", "Nadi" is nonetheless blissfully stunning. Fazer's creativity seems boundless. Their music is at once sophisticated and accessible and quite simply a pleasure to listen to.

Watch the 'offishal' music video to album track "Wasi" below, directed by Johannes Brugger, or head over to Bandcamp to buy/stream "Nadi" in full. 

Fazer live
May 14th D-Cologne, Artheater
May 16th D-Berlin, Kantine am Berghain
May 17th D-Leipzig, Moritzbastei
May 18th D-Munich, Ampere

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Laylet el Booree

Blood, Sweat & Trance: Ifriqiyya Électrique Release Album #2

Several years ago Gianna Greco and François R. Cambuzat travelled to the Saharan Djerid desert of Tunisia to document the ancient, religious Banga ritual of Sidi Marzûq. With a background in the undergound [...]

Several years ago Gianna Greco and François R. Cambuzat travelled to the Saharan Djerid desert of Tunisia to document the ancient, religious Banga ritual of Sidi Marzûq. With a background in the undergound post-punk scene of continental Europe and after months of studying, recording, filming and bonding, the two proceeded to integrate their findings into their own musical output, which was to become the contemporary five-piece Ifriqiyya Électrique.

"Their original intention was not to join in the ritual but rather to research how this unique ceremony delivered 'pure elevation' to its participants. This state of elevation or trance, is something that they had experienced in their own music, and they were searching for instructive parallels and new perspectives."

We first reported on this extraordinary project of conjuring the ancient spirits with modern-day electronics back in 2016. In 2017, Greco and Cambuzat along with three musicians from the Banga community, aka Tarek Sultan, Yahia Chouchen and Youssef Ghazala, successfully released their debut album "Rûwâhîne" (Spirit), which "deftly brought together the hypnotic chants and metallic hand percussion of traditional Banga music with brutalist electronics and sheer rock volume." Following the album release, the group brought their up close and personal performance to stages throughout Europe for the next eighteen months.

"It quickly became clear that the Banga had not been pointlessly retooled for western consumption, but rather through the deep commitment of the five Ifriqiyya Electrique musicians – it had been transformed into something contemporary and unexpected. Ifriqiyya Électrique cryptically call this transformation a 'post-industrial ritual' and the actual experience of hearing this music certainly echoes this moniker. The band create a fertile space where ecstatic electronics and rock levitation intersect with timeless ceremony and community."

Last week, the group released its gripping and equally relentless second album "Laylet et Booree" (Night of the Madness) on Glitterbeat Records, referring "to the last part of the annual gathering of the adorcist ritual from the Bang of Tozeur – the night when the spirits actually take possession of the bodies." But as wild and frantic as the album may appear, "its purpose is to heal; with sweat, spirituality, electricity and trance being central to the almost overwhelming sensory experience." On "Laylet et Booree" Ifriqiyya Électrique join forces with new band member Fatma Chebbi, who adds her vocals and tchektchekas to the conversation. Head over to Bandcamp to read more and immerse yourself in a haunting world of sound.

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Ilana: The Creator

Tuareg Guitarist Mdou Moctar Releases First True Studio Album On Sahel Sounds

Over the past years, Saharan rock has become one of the African continent's biggest musical exports, due to the popularity of meanwhile world-renowned desert blues artists the likes of Bombino, Tinariwen and Mdou [...]

Over the past years, Saharan rock has become one of the African continent's biggest musical exports, due to the popularity of meanwhile world-renowned desert blues artists the likes of Bombino, Tinariwen and Mdou Moctar. The latter would appear to be "one of the most innovative artists in contemporary Saharan music" and has steadily been making a name for himself with "his unvonventional interpretations, original compositions and verbose poetry."  Master of the Tuareg guitar, Mdou Moctar was born in a small village in central Niger, where it was strictly forbidden to play foreign music. So he built his own wooden guitar and taught himself. 

"In 2008, Mdou traveled to Nigeria to record his debut album of spacey autotune, drum machine, and synthesizer. The album became a viral hit on the mp3 networks of West Africa, and was later released on the compilation 'Music from Saharan Cellphones.' In 2013, he released 'Afelan,' compiled from field recordings of his performances recorded in his village. Then he shifted gears, producing and starring the first Tuareg language film, a remake of Prince's 'Purple Rain.' Finally, in 2017, he created a solo folk album, 'Sousoume Tamachek,' a mellow blissed out recording evoking the calm desert soundscape. Without a band present, he played every instrument on the record." 

Now, Mdou Moctar returns to Christopher Kirkley's Sahel Sounds imprint to release his first actual studio album "Ilana: The Creator", accompanied by an all-star band, including Ahmoudou Madassane (Les Filles de Illighadad) on guitar, Aboubacar Mazawadje on drums and Michael Coltun on bass. The nine-track effort really stakes Mdou Moctar's claim as a relentless innovator in loud and shredding fashion, while remaining true to his sound. "I don't know what rock is exactly, I have no idea," he says. "I only know how to play in my style." Said style draws on modern and more traditional influences such as Tuareg folklore, hypnotic loops of takamba griots or vocal patterns from polyphonic nomad songs, all brought to frenetic fruition on his signature guitar. 

You can buy/stream "Ilana" via Bandcamp or watch Mdou Moctar's full 2018 for KEXP Seattle below.

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Corail

French Electronic Producer Loya Explores His Mascarenes Roots On New Album

As news reaches us about the ongoing decline of corals on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, we move to the other side of the globe to the Mascarenes, a small group of islands in the Indian Ocean, consisting of [...]

As news reaches us about the ongoing decline of corals on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, we move to the other side of the globe to the Mascarenes, a small group of islands in the Indian Ocean, consisting of Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues. A native of La Réunion, French producer Sébastien Lejeune, aka Loya, has spent the past years researching his own cultural heritage as well as the music he grew up listening to before moving to metropolitan France in the mid-90s. It was there that he first encountered electronic music from artists the likes of Autechre or Boards of Canada. 

Loya soon began to create his own music, "drawing from Intelligent Dance Music [IDM] and bleep techno to build complex rhythm arrangements and ethereal melodies [as he] gradually managed to tame the erratic nature of his machines to summon states of trance [and eventually] developed a trademark sound based on triple time beats, pointillist sound design and a taste for experimentation." He released his first self-produced album "Eruption" in 2014 and followed that up in 2016 with his "Indian Ocean" EP. 

Last September Loya unveiled his latest full-length "Corail" on Paris-based imprint Mawimbi Records and it is as just as beautiful as its namesake. On "Corail" Loya establishes "a fine balance between the soft, velvety ripples of modular synthesizers, the rawness of frantic percussion motifs and local field recordings". While exploring the sounds of his native archipelago, he produces "a myriad of sounds" both electronic and natural that are nothing short of breathtaking and recently inspired a stellar remix album

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Zawali Fitness Club

Tunisian Sonic Mastermind Ammar 808's New Single Is All About Survival

Tunisian producer and avid science fiction fan AMMAR 808, aka Sofyann Ben Youssef, just dropped our latest workout track, for free. The self-proclaimed "interstellar soldier on a quest for mean grooves and the [...]

Tunisian producer and avid science fiction fan AMMAR 808, aka Sofyann Ben Youssef, just dropped our latest workout track, for free. The self-proclaimed "interstellar soldier on a quest for mean grooves and the lowest bass possible" has slowly been making a name for himself, as the "sonic mastermind behind Tunisian sensation 'Bargou 08'" (2017, Glitterbeat Records) and last year unleashed his debut solo release "Maghreb United", collaborating with several vocalists from the region, i.e. Mehdi Nassouli (Morocco), Sofiane Saidi (Algeria) and Cheb Hassen Tej (Tunisia). And, what's more, he has a vision:

"The past is a collective heritage," explains AMMAR 808. “It’s what we all call on, what we all share. [...] I’m trying to weave threads from folklore and mythology into futurism. And I’m not necessarily projecting a positive image; from all we can see, things aren’t going in the right direction. What I hope is that it will raise an alarm.” And so he works his Roland TR-808 drum machine magic to merge "pan-Maghreb beats, timeless voices and futurist visions", connect the past with the future and offer up "a radical, electronic reinvention of ancient North African music."

His new single entitled "Zawali Fitness Club" is available on a name-your-price basis via Bandcamp and features Cheb Hassen Tej. "Zawali in Tunisian dialect means 'the poor man.' This song is for them. People who are in extremely impoverished life (or survival) situations, are not a reality that the world is interested in. They are the first to be hurt, they are the first to be stamped on, they are the first to feel the economic crisis when it hits, they are the first and the last to taste the uncertainty of a system that is not made for them," writes AMMAR 808. Indeed, the relentless track cuts straight to the chase behind a furious beat and what might be the deliriously winding sounds of a zukrah. Watch the companion video below.

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Estrellita

Violinist Daniel Weltlinger Announces Forthcoming Album With Late Grandfather's Favourite Tune

Sydney-born violinist Daniel Weltlinger (The Asthmatix, Karsten Troyke) moved to Berlin in 2013, where he has since established himself as a regular, playing in different musical constellations such as the [...]

Sydney-born violinist Daniel Weltlinger (The Asthmatix, Karsten Troyke) moved to Berlin in 2013, where he has since established himself as a regular, playing in different musical constellations such as the Gypsy-jazz collective Radio Django. We first saw Daniel perform at Ballhaus Berlin in 2017, for the release of his album "Samoreau" (aka part three of "his trilogy of recordings celebrating the musical legacy of the influential Belgian-born French Manouche guitarist/composer Django Reinhardt"), alongside world-renowned guitarist Lulo Reinhardt and other members of the Reinhardt family. The group's all-out musicality and jovial spontaneity were contagious and utterly engaging. We even received a copy of the album to take home, but simply never got around to show our heartfelt appreciation.

Fast forward to 2019 and Daniel Weltlinger is about to release his new project "Szolnok", a deeply personal affair. The album tells the incredible true story of his grandfather's violin and "guides the listener through time and across the continents. It is a story about an escape, an arrival and a return", named after the Hungarian city his grandfather was born in and the violin was built in. On "Szolnok", accompanied by the Daniel Weltlinger Quartet, Daniel retraces the instrument's and his family's history. And he does so, playing that same violin his grandfather "carried with him from Budapest to Vienna to Marseilles to Casblanca to Sydney," which now resides with Daniel in Berlin. 

Late last year, he took his Opa's violin out for a stroll through the neighbourhood of Wedding, an area that had initially inspired his move to Berlin. There, under a bridge, he paused to play a short yet meaningful tune called "Estrellita", which happens to be the closing track of his forthcoming album. "'Estrellita' by Manuel María Ponce is a song that is deeply etched within my being and is absolutely a part of my story of how I was inspired and entranced by my grandfather's violin playing before I could even talk, as he had played this piece of music on the violin more than any other," Daniel recalls. The album version was recorded as a field recording earlier last year in Budapest as well as in Szolnok along the banks of the Tisza river, morphing with the tranquil sounds of its native landscape and thus bringing a remarkable story full circle.

"Szolnok" releases May 3rd on DMG Germany/Rectify Records. In the meantime, go ahead and watch the video to "Estrellita" below, which merges into the pizzicato opening riff of album track "1921". 

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Talibé

Master Kora Player Dawda Jobarteh Releases Album #3 & Sheds A Light On Senegambia's "Begging Boys"

Hailing from The Gambia and now residing in Denmark, kora player Dawda Jobarteh is the heir to a long line of Gambian musical royalty. His grandfather was Alhaji Bai Konte, one of the country's most famed kora [...]

Hailing from The Gambia and now residing in Denmark, kora player Dawda Jobarteh is the heir to a long line of Gambian musical royalty. His grandfather was Alhaji Bai Konte, one of the country's most famed kora players. His father was Amadou Bansang Jobarteh, an equally respected kora player and the favoured musician of Gambia's first president. (He also happened to be the uncle of Sidiki Diabaté, father to Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté.) And the list goes on, as Dawda is also the nephew of the late Malamini Jobarteh who, together with Dembo Konte, formed the first kora duo to tour outside of Africa and whose album "Jaliya" released on Sterns Music back in 1985. But enough of the family accolades.

Sterns Music recently released Dawda's third solo album "I Met Her By The River",  which yet again yields a brilliant display of his melodic mastery: "Although his technique is prodigious, it's always subservient to the song. Although there are beautiful moments of contemplation, they are never saccharine or facile," reads the description. And indeed, Dawda's kora takes center stage as he is backed by fellow musicians and friends Preben Carlsen (bass), Salieu Dibba (percussion), Stefan Pasborg (drums) and Jacob Andersen (percussion). His choice of repertoire, meanwhile, reflects both his newfound home as well as his rich musical heritage:

"Jeg Gik Mig Ud En Sommerdag" (I went out on a summer's day), for instance, "is a Scandinavian melody that dates back to at least the 17th century", while "Afro Blue" and "Hello" are wonderfully arranged nods to Mongo Santamaria and Adele respectively. The most noteworthy track in terms of its message, however, would have to be Dawda's social commentary on "Begging Boys", a track that brings to attention the saddening and precarious condition of the so-called talibés. This is not a new phenomenon and extremely worrying to say the least, but it is true that in some countries in the West African region, parents are so poor, they are forced to give away their most precious 'possession': their child. 

"In Senegambia some parents send their boys to a certain kind of Quran school where they live and where part of their daily activities is to beg on the streets for food and money. In some places, you find these boys sleeping in the streets at night – hungry, dirty and wearing clothes full of holes. This song is for these boys, generally called talibé. I spent 10 days with talibés in 2018. They agreed to be filmed by me in their daily activities. During those 10 days I also spoke to adults who supported my attempt to shed light on the conditions of the talibés through this song and music video," Dawda recounts.

His hauntingly beautiful lament hits close to home as does the rest of the album, which we currently have on repeat. Frank Odenthal recently sat down with Dawda Jobarteh for the independent news outlet FAIRPLANET.org to find out more. Read the full story here. As for the album, you can stream/buy it via Bandcamp. And make sure to watch the video to “Begging Boys”, featuring the vocals of Souleymane Faye, below.

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Import / Export Mogadishu

Reviving The Sounds And Rekindling The Spirit Of Somalia's Golden Era
 

The Somali port city and capital of Mogadishu used to be home to a bustling music scene from the late 1960s up until the early 1990s, "teeming with pop and folk musicians whose influences spanned several genres of [...]

The Somali port city and capital of Mogadishu used to be home to a bustling music scene from the late 1960s up until the early 1990s, "teeming with pop and folk musicians whose influences spanned several genres of Somali traditional music alongside influences from abroad". Perhaps one of the most renowned groups of the era was the Dur-Dur Band who, free of government constraints, decided not to address politics or spread subversive messages, but rather concentrate on emphasising love and culture in their music, combining funk, disco and soul to a unique whole.

After going through several lineup changes, the Dur-Dur Band was most popular in the late 1980s and had released almost a dozen recording by the time civil war broke out in Somalia in 1991. The group disbanded and emigrated first to Djibouti and later to America.

"Today, only the audiotapes from the radio archives in Mogadishu and Hargeysa – saved from the war years and the music ban – testify to this rich musical heritage." In 2013, for instance, Awesome Tapes From Africa reissued the band's 1987 tape recording "Volume 5", which you can buy/stream in full on Bandcamp. While in 2017, Ostinato Records released its Grammy-nominated compilation "Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa".

Now building on the Dur-Dur Band's legacy is the London-based Dur-Dur Band International, composed of musicians from the Somali diaspora and reviving the legendary sounds and the vibrant spirit of the pre-war Somalia's golden era. The band is set to perform live in Berlin this Saturday, March 23rd, at Haus der Kulturen der Welt as part of the current "Find the File" festival. 

To get you into the mood, we would like to call your attention to a great new mixtape by Nicolas Sheikholeslami for Ostinato Records, which you can listen to in the SoundCloud player above. Entitled “Import / Export Mogadishu – Up & Down The Pentatonic” the selection features, among others, the voice of Xabib Sharaabi, "a key Somali figure of the 1990s", who will also be performing live on Saturday.

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1958

Blick Bassy's 4th Album Pays Tribute To Cameroonian Freedom Fighter Um Nyobé

Based in France, Cameroonian singer and songwriter Blick Bassy just released his fourth album "1958", which follows on the heels of his acclaimed previous album "Akö". His latest eleven track strong oeuvre is a [...]

Based in France, Cameroonian singer and songwriter Blick Bassy just released his fourth album "1958", which follows on the heels of his acclaimed previous album "Akö". His latest eleven track strong oeuvre is a resounding tribute to Cameroonian anti-colonialist freedom fighter Ruben Um Nyobé, who was killed by French forces in 1958.  

With his haunting yet soothing falsetto voice Blick Bassy calmly honours a man, whose name and legacy are rarely mentioned in modern-day Cameroon. In an interview with South Africa's "Mail & Guardian", Bassy recalls: "When I was in school, in our books, Ruben Um Nyobé was a terrorist, you know." Not too long ago, even mentioning Um Nyobé's name or that of his fellow UPC (Union des populations de Cameroun) activists could lead to imprisonment. 

"When you see what's happening in our country today, as well as in other African countries, it seems obvious that we've skipped at least one essential stage in our development, the stage of reconnecting with ourselves, our history and our values. We are striving to build our nations on foreign structures that have nothing to do with our ecosystem. Structures that have been imposed on us without our consent and that define various economic, educational, political and cultural models that in no way correspond to our needs or hopes for emancipation,"  Bassy points out in an interview with "Quotidien Mutations". 

On "1958" Blick Bassy sets out to explore Cameroon's forgotten history and give a name to those, who sacrificed their lives for their country's independence. As such, the album seeks to remind Cameroonian's today of their heritage, while also placing an emphasis on more universal themes, including "the bondage of neo-colonialism, the need for heroes, the relevance of history and the search for true identity."

Blick Bassy's work is subversively captivating. Far from inciting hate, sorrow or remorse "1958" is a beautiful call to action, with a sound both contemporary and rich in tradition. Watch the impressive companion videos to "Woñi" here and "Ngwa" below.

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Poison Fruit

Legendary Drummer Ivan "Mamão" Conti Releases Psychoactive New Album

If you are in any way familiar with Brazilian music, then you are bound to have heard of cult jazz-funk trio Azymuth. And if you know about Azymuth, then you will most likely also be familiar with the group's [...]

If you are in any way familiar with Brazilian music, then you are bound to have heard of cult jazz-funk trio Azymuth. And if you know about Azymuth, then you will most likely also be familiar with the group's drummer extraordinaire and living musical legend Ivan "Mamão" Conti, who is meanwhile in his early seventies and still going strong. "Mamão was at the root of the group’s 'samba doido' (crazy samba) philosophy, which warped the traditional samba compass with jazz influences and space age electronics."

Conti has always been keen on breaking new ground, tirelessly experimenting and innovating in an effort to champion new realms of sound (including an album with Californian hip hop producer Madlib, alias "Jackson Conti"). Now, in January, he released his first solo album in 20 years on Far Out Recordings. Entitled "Poison Fruit", the longplayer is a vivid exploration of Mamão's "zany Carioca character across eleven tracks of rootsy electronic samba and tripped out jazz, beats and dance music." 

The crisp organic soundscapes on "Poison Fruit" are absolutely invigorating and even inspired five remixes by Tenderlonious, Glenn Astro, Max Graef, Reginald Omas Mamode IV and Daniel Maunick (aka Dokta Venom), to be found on the digital and CD version of the album. Stream/buy the full release here, "take a bite of Mamão’s psychoactive papaya and join the maestro on a weird and wonderful stroll through the Brazilian jungle." Or listen to album track "Ilha Da Luz" below. For more info, read this nice piece by Eric Delhaye for Qwest TV. 

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