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Black But Sweet (Berlin @Rykestr-Synagoge, September 2014)

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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No Risk, No Fun

Israeli Animation Artist Osi Wald Takes On Malox's "Istanbul"
Greedy

Remember MALOX? Well, it has been something like two years, since we last reported on the potent Israeli duo (now trio), composed of Eyal Talmudi (sax, clarinet, bag-pipes) and Roy Chen (drums) as well as latest [...]

Remember MALOX? Well, it has been something like two years, since we last reported on the potent Israeli duo (now trio), composed of Eyal Talmudi (sax, clarinet, bag-pipes) and Roy Chen (drums) as well as latest band member Assaf Talmudi (keys). Back in 2016 Eyal and Roy released their album "Gaza Trip" and our ears are still ringing. 

One of the tracks on said album was a loony 8-bit synth composition entitled "Istanbul", which was created by cleverly sampling and re-arranging the band's sounds. The track definitely has a comedic feel to it and recently inspired Israeli animation artist and long-time friend of the band Osi Wald ("Waltz With Bashir") to create equally freaky, looping companion visuals

Watch below at your own risk. But hey, no risk, no fun, right? 

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My Voice, My Weapon Of Choice!

Berlin's "Jenseits von Nelken und Pralinen" Festival Returns To Challenge The Status Quo

For the first time this year, March 8th in Berlin will be a public holiday, giving us all the more reason to celebrate this momentous day. Which is exactly what the Berlin-based Pralinen collective has been doing [...]

For the first time this year, March 8th in Berlin will be a public holiday, giving us all the more reason to celebrate this momentous day. Which is exactly what the Berlin-based Pralinen collective has been doing for the past four years with its potent "Jenseits von Nelken und Pralinen" (transl. "Beyond the Carnations and the Chocolates") festival. 

Founded back in 2016, the annual event takes place on International Women's Day and is steadily gaining momentum. While, internationally speaking, the global movement and ongoing battle for women's rights and gender equality has definitely advanced over the past few years, visibility for women in music remains disappointingly low. A look at current club and festival line-ups continues to suggest that there is a deficit of female musicians, DJs and MCs.

This is one of the issues the collective's consciously curated festival aims to change. "My voice, my weapon of choice," is the festival's rallying cry as it brings 9 international female MCs to the stage at YAAM Berlin, handing over the mic for them to spread their powerful messages, ideas and art. It's time to set the record straight.

This year's programme includes Barcelona's urban rap/flamenco trap sensation Tribade (watch "Mujeres" below), Valencia's vicious rap crew Machete en Boca (watch "To' Lo Etiquetáis" here), class Californian electro-rap act Drowning Dog and Malatesta (watch "Power" here), Berlin's Loop Station and beatbox addict Lisaholic (watch "Push My Button" here) and fellow Berlin future bass/rap/trap/grime activist Kaye of Spoke & Kaye (watch "Jax" here). The aftershow party will feature the marvellous border-crossing duo of Eli Pavel & Freak Ass E on the decks as well as a live techno/emolektra set by Nomi Elektra. Click here to visit the official event page and here to secure your tickets. 

And, in case you were wondering what's up with the carnations and the chocolates? Well, back in the days of the GDR, it used to be customary for women to receive carnations, various accolades and boxes of chocolates on Women's Day. But enough of the past. This here is the present fighting for a better future. It's time to speak up!

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Que Vola?

Dazzling French-Cuban Jazz Collective Drops Debut Album On Nø Førmat

Que Vola? This simple phrase, which translates to 'what's up?', is not just a common greeting in Cuba, but also the name of a new French-Cuban jazz collective that is currently on the rise and has just delivered an [...]

Que Vola? This simple phrase, which translates to 'what's up?', is not just a common greeting in Cuba, but also the name of a new French-Cuban jazz collective that is currently on the rise and has just delivered an outstanding debut album on French imprint Nø Førmat (Toto Bona Lokua, Mélissa Laveaux, Oumou Sangaré). 

Back in 2012 French trombonist Fidel Fourneyron embarked on his first trip to Cuba, to find out more about the country that inspired his first name. With him he had his trombone and an address given to him by double-bassist Thibaud Soulas, who'd previously spent some time there: Calle Luz, 'the street of light'. Soulas also connected Fourneyron with three young Afro-Cuban percussionists, all members of the fabled Osain del Monte ensemble. 

Fidel immersed himself in the magical world of Cuban rumba and Yoruba rhythms, of ancient rituals and sacred chants. But it took another five years until the new ideas that had taken hold of him fell into place. Surrounding himself with talented French jazzmen, Fidel returned to Havanna to reconnect with his Cuban friends and when they in turn visited Paris, the dialogue intensified and the magic began to happen.

The group's self-entitled debut album contains seven dazzlingly virtuosic compositions, one of them being a track called "Calle Luz", which you can watch in the video below: "The video tracks the tune’s insidious, percussive groove and bright, taut bursts of horn section to a dawn-to-dusk glimpse into the life & music of Calle Luz. Speaking about the track, Fidel Fourneyron says, 'The musical theme played by the wind instruments is a hint to rumba singers - it’s a simple song with only 5 notes. 'Calle Luz' is a memory from this place, my first souvenir from Cuba'."

If you are just as intrigued as we are by this story, do check-out Que Vola's ongoing, five-episode web series. Here you go: ONE, TWO, THREEFOUR and FIVE. Now you know what's up. 

Que Vola? are
Adonis Panter Calderon (percussion)
Aymeric Avice (trumpet)
Barbaro Crespo Richard (percussion)
Benjamin Dousteyssier (alto sax)
Bruno Ruder (Fender rhodes)
Elie Duris (drums)
Fidel Fourneyron (trombone)
Hugues Mayot (tenor sax)
Ramon Tamayo Martinez (percussion)
Thibaud Soulas (double bass)

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Sew Lesew

Gili Yalo Returns With Powerful First Single Off Forthcoming EP

A little more than a year has gone by since Gili Yalo released his phenomenal, self-titled debut solo album, which was one of eleven African albums to receive a 5-star review by Songlines Magazine in 2018. "The [...]

A little more than a year has gone by since Gili Yalo released his phenomenal, self-titled debut solo album, which was one of eleven African albums to receive a 5-star review by Songlines Magazine in 2018. "The whole thing has a strut to its step," writes Jim Hickson. "With Yalo singing in both Amharic and English, his band cooks up a whole range of retro flavours, from golden-age Ethiopian horns and old-school synths to the classic R&B rhythm-section sound. [...] It’s a fantastic album; play it loud and you will feel like the coolest person alive. After Gili Yalo, of course."

The Tel Aviv-based singer of Ethiopian descent continues to wow audiences across the globe, including a fabled performance at last year's Trans Musicales festival in Rennes, followed by several more live shows in Israel, Portugal, Poland, France, Austria, USA, Canada, Hungary and Turkey. He will be back in France later this week in Annecy on February 28th, in Rouen on March 1st, in Coutances on March 2nd and finally in Boston, USA, on March 28th, where he will also perform his new single "Sew Lesew", releasing worldwide today. It's the first single off his forthcoming EP "Made in Amharica" and was produced by Niles City Sound (the Grammy winning team that worked on Leon Bridges' "Coming Home" LP).

"'Sew Lesew' is a song about being a human being towards another human being. Its lyrics reflect the issue of immigration and refugees, borders and discrimination of newcomers. The topic is an important one for Gili Yalo, whose own life path was marked by the challenges of migration. 'Operation Moses' was the covert evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan during a famine in 1984. These Ethiopian Jews fled from their native land on foot to refugee camps in Sudan. Together with his family, Gili Yalo made this perilous trip, walked through the desert towards the 'Promised Land' and sang to his beloved ones. The single reflects Gili Yalo’s concern about the contemporary crisis of human relations in Israel and around the world," reads the description introducing the release's official music video created by Nadav Direktor, which you can watch below.

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Planet Malek

Watch Habibi Funk's Short Documentary On The Legendary Algerian Musician Ahmed Malek

We love everything Berlin-based imprint Habibi Funk and main man Jannis Stürtz have been creating over the past years, including their notorious mixes of Arabic Funk. Back in 2016, as part of their globally [...]

We love everything Berlin-based imprint Habibi Funk and main man Jannis Stürtz have been creating over the past years, including their notorious mixes of Arabic Funk. Back in 2016, as part of their globally celebrated reissue series, they released an anthology of legendary Algerian musician, multi-instrumentalist and composer Ahmed Malek's beautiful film music, which you can still stream/buy over on their Bandcamp page

"Arabic records have become my number one hobby and luckily I got my hands on a copy of Ahmed Malek’s 'Musique Originale De Films' album. I already knew some of the tracks but listening to the music the way it was originally released, and not as a crappy Youtube version, made me fall in love with Malek’s compositions all the more. It manages to create this very special mood: melancholic and reflective, emotional and touching, but never depressing. Even without having seen any of the pictures created for this, it immediately brings visuals to one’s imagination," writes Jannis Stürtz. 

Haunted by Malek's sounds, Jannis teamed up with film maker and DJ Paloma Colombe and travelled to the late Ahmed Malek's hometown of Algiers, where they met with family and friends to create a wonderful short documentary on one of Algeria's most important musical figures and cultural representatives: 

"Ahmed Malek was born on March, 6th 1932 at Bordj El Kiffan, Algiers. He was the oldest son of a family of 3 brothers and one sister. He went to work at a young age in factories to help his father to raise the family. His mother died when he was 12. It was then that decided he wanted to become a musician, and after graduating school he studied at the Algerian Conservatory. He gained recognition for his craft from an early stage and won several prizes and medals nationally and internationally. He was the conductor of the 'Algerian Television Orchestra' for many decades and represented his country at international events such as the Expo In Japan, Canada, Cuba and Spain. During his time as an active composer he wrote the music for dozens of movies, television shows and documentaries. Then, in the late 90’s, his health deteriorated. He passed on the 24th of July, 2008, at his home in El Mouradio, Algiers," Jannis explains.   

The 20-minute film "Planet Malek" released in January and can be viewed via Apple Music as well as on YouTube (below). It is a touching and intimate portrait of a man, whose music remains. "He's not dead," says former neighbor and friend Hadjab Abdenour. "Artists like Djamel Allam or Rachid Taha, they are not dead." And it is true. Through his music, Ahmed Malek is eternal and through this invaluable documentary and reissues of his music, future generations will be able to rediscover his undeniable magic.

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Yanga

Wrap Your Heads Around This Thrilling Southern Californian Five-Piece

Situated in close proximity to the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, Southern California's Inland Empire was a major center of agriculture at the end of the 19th century. Today the enclave is home to the "sixth [...]

Situated in close proximity to the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, Southern California's Inland Empire was a major center of agriculture at the end of the 19th century. Today the enclave is home to the "sixth largest Spanish-speaking population among all US metropolitan areas" and remains fertile in the sense of a "growing scene of Afro-Latin independent music".

Among this new generation of "intrepid musical explorers" is Yanga, a thrilling five-piece led by "John D’Alessandro’s accordion and the fiery female voice of Eddika Organista (El Haru Kuroi)". The band has been on the rise with its "traditional bouillabaisse of [Colombian] Afro-Carib rhythms, the likes of cumbia, garabato, tambora or zambapalo" and recently delivered a stellar, beautifully designed, double-7" debut on Brooklyn-based imprint Names You Can Trust (Bixiga 70 / Frente Cumbiero / Malphino).

"Libérate (Volumen 1&2)" features four captivating tunes, bound to set alight the dingiest of bodegas. Did someone just say "Ron Con Limon"?! Head over to Bandcamp to indulge in Yanga's indelible sonic landscape, specked with "subtle psychedelia" and "classical sounds of the tropical '70s", making for "a pefect juxtaposition of vintage and modern". Or watch their latest live(ly) performance for Beats of All-Nations below.  

Yanga are
John D'Alessandro (acordeon)
Tony Martin III (bajo electrónico)
Eddika Organista (voz y semilla)
Daniel McCormick (tambora y voz)
Eduardo Valencia (tambor alegre)

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Alyona Alyona

Sky’s The Limit For Ukraine's New Hiphop Sensation
 

In her native Ukraine, alyona alyona's debut album has already become the most anticipated release of 2019. And within just a few months, the young kindergarten teacher from a village on the outskirts of Kiev became [...]

In her native Ukraine, alyona alyona's debut album has already become the most anticipated release of 2019. And within just a few months, the young kindergarten teacher from a village on the outskirts of Kiev became an overnight hiphop sensation. We first chanced upon her in a post by her booking agency More Zvukov. And although we couldn't understand a word she was saying, we fell in love almost instantly.

It all began, when she released the first companion video to her song "Рибки" ("Fishes") last October, which went viral on YouTube and has meanwhile collected over a million views. “Fishes” was alyona alyona's claim to fame, the reason she is now widely considered to be the future of Ukrainian rap and has been nominated for a YUNA Award in 2019 ("Best Hiphop Hit"). But she is far from being just another one-hit wonder. 

alyona alyona has so far released several tracks with equally engaging companion videos. Her track "Залишаю свій дім" ("Leaving My Home") is a personal story about her move to the big city, namely Kiev, while the companion music video directed by Delta Arthur has meanwhile accumulated over 2.5 million views. The b&w video to her second single "Голови" ("Heads"), directed by Sasha Prilutsky, sees the hefty rapper jogging through the countryside, never once stopping to catch her breath. Her third single "Відчиняй" ("Open Up")is a powerful hiphop manifesto to a new generation, with a fresh video directed by Israeli director Jan Bolotov, who also cooked up this fun, David Lynch-esque video to "Рибки 2" ("Fishes 2").

There is something about alyona alyona that goes beyond her no doubt impressive appearance, her confident attitude, her captivating flow, her (assumed) lyrical prowess, her sound delivery or her kindergarten alter-ego. Her success may simply boil down to an innate sense of authenticity that provides her hiphop persona with the necessary street credibility the genre thrives on. That and obviously the talent and creativity she continuously displays in her music.

We expect to be seeing and hearing a lot more from her in the near future and can't wait to witness her live on stage in Europe. That being said, there is no doubt in our minds that alyona alyona's got next.

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Murphy's Law

The Jewish Monkeys Premiere Hilarious Music Video To New Single
Greedy

We warned you last Friday. The Jewish Monkeys are back and paving the road to their forthcoming third album "Catastrophic Life", to be released in autumn. Which also means new music for all of us. Isn't life a [...]

We warned you last Friday. The Jewish Monkeys are back and paving the road to their forthcoming third album "Catastrophic Life", to be released in autumn. Which also means new music for all of us. Isn't life a beauty?

"All the Great Things" is the band's new single and first track off the new album and it too celebrates life in all its absurdity. The single is a catchy, Balkan-infused ska punk track, which features the Jewish Monkeys' new horn section and an infectiously optimistic groove: "All the great things happen, when you least expect them to happen / They happen to distract you from the sh*t that happens, in your life / All the bad things happen 'cause you're waiting for them to happen / They happen when you open your arms and invite them, into your life."

Below you can now watch the recently unveiled official new companion video to "All the Great Things"; a hilarious compilation of fail videos, brilliantly narrated by Gael Zaidner, who reveals the simple truth behind Murphy's Law and recommends we quite simply accept all the 'great' things life has in store for all of us, as painful and unforeseeable as they may be. The band will be on tour in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic this March. Check here for a show near you. 

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All the Great Things

The Jewish Monkeys Announce New Single And Tour Dates
Greedy
 

Great news from our favourite band of primates: Following their support shows for the one and only Shantel and his Bucovina Club Orkestar back in November, the infamous Jewish Monkeys stopped 'monkeying around' and [...]

Great news from our favourite band of primates: Following their support shows for the one and only Shantel and his Bucovina Club Orkestar back in November, the infamous Jewish Monkeys stopped 'monkeying around' and headed back to their concrete jungle of Tel Aviv to work on album number three. Boasting a very promising title, "Catastrophic Life" is set to be released this fall. So stay put. 

And no, we are not about to leave you hanging. Of course we've brought a little something along to reward you curiosity. Releasing March 8th on International Women's Day is the band's fittingly entitled new single "All the Great Things", which you can listen to in the SoundCloud player above. And, in case you were wondering, yes, it is indeed great! We will also be unveiling the official music video shortly. Very shortly. 

Finally, seeing as all good things come in threes, the band will take their new single on the road and play a total of seven shows in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic from March 7th through March 14th. This will be your first opportunity to see the Jewish Monkeys' new lineup, including newly circumcised, um, we meant certified band members Eylon Tushiner (saxophone) and Yaron Ouzana (trombone), who will quite literally blow your minds with their funk- and afrobeat-inspired brass. Expect a reload of the band's satirical standards, Yiddish bangers and some unexpected musical additions! Gut Shabbes!

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