You may have already heard “Sanctuary” by Dele Sosimi but now you’re going to hear it in an all new way. Titeknots has done a remix of it, so now you’re able to be captured by the warmth and feeling of Afrobeat and carry with you wherever you choose to roam. It’s a free download, courtesy of Bandcamp and Wah Wah 45.
When someone discovers a custom made album at a thrift store/charity shop or yard sale, it can either be the same old mundane junk or completely blow you away. If you have the means, you try to track down the artist and see if you can share it to a wider audiences, which is what the guys at Wah Wah 45’s have done with Henri-Pierre Noël not only once, but twice. Two years ago they reissued an album simply called Piano but now they’re handling one originally released in 1980, called One More Step. As the old saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, as the front cover looks like any other album you’d find at a thrift store, with someone trying to sell his records at shows or conversations, hoping not only to be heard but to make a living. The Haitian pianist, who has made Canada home, now finds a second album of his reissued not only digitally, but on vinyl because it’s that damn good. The album was remastered from the original tapes by Kevin Moonstarr, and you’ll hear why its rediscovery is worth sharing with all.
Mo Kolours was given an hour to explore on the Solid Steel radio show in London on Friday, and now you can listen to it in full and absorb the flavors shared. You may look at the full set list by clicking here.
London vocalist Lea Lea has released her debut album om Wah Wah 45’s. This summer, she released tracks for “Apartheid” and “The Road” and now you’re able to hear what she brought to the table, a nice 9-track album that combines the modernity of the electronica and dubstep and the roots of the motherland to create something that should be pleasing to many. You may stream the album in full below via Bandcamp.
First off, here’s the deal. I see a group who call themselves FU*K MONSTER and I’m going “what is this?” The album is called FU*K MONSTER Battles the Universe & Rescues Aphrodite from the Throngs of Heresy and then I’m thinking “holy crap, what is this?” When I discover the man behind the name, I then think “wait a minute, what is this?” Do I pronounce this as “FUCK MONSTER” and if so, why censor it as FU*K because when censored, it still reveals FUK. I’m listening to the music, and I’m thinking “this is very nice, so is this a suggestive way of saying that this is a FUNK MONSTER, with the N censored in a silly way so that it will reveal the funk?” There is a brief interlude where a female voice reveals that this is indeed FUCK MONSTER and I’m going “okay, what the fuck? FUCK MONSTER it is.”
Teddy Presberg has made some mighty fine music over the years, crossing a number of genres and perceived boundaries that have made me anticipate anything he releases. However, I was not aware Presberg had anything to do with FU*K MONSTER until I started reading more into the project. FU*K MONSTER could have been some experimental trippiness I may or may not have loved, but there had to be a reason for the moniker. I don’t know what it is yet but I was ready to listen to it anyway, knowing Presberg was involved. Even if it was called FUNK MONSTER, the first batch of songs sound like the type of funk George Clinton and friends would have played from 1969 to 1972, the primal psychedelic funk that also showed a richness for Detroit garage and acid rock, and it’s gritty too. As the album moves along, things chance a bit and I’m hearing electronic influences. Eventually we get into something that sounds a bit like jazzy reggae but wait… is it a step into Nigeria with a bit of Fela Kuti-flavored Afrobeat? I think it may be exactly that. The consistency here is the energy and the musicianship, the musical vibe may change throughout but it’s solid from start to finish and I found myself wanting to hear FU*K MONSTER in a live setting. Or whatever way Presberg wants to present himself as. His guitar work, as always, is sharp and I like how he feels comfortable with playing a bit of everything, with a need to expand his outlook and output. The name may be a means to catch the eye of potential listeners who are flooded with an overwhelming wealth of music, but this one is worth stopping for.
Beat Funktion are Swedish in origin, but their music sounds like they were raised elsewhere, be it in the United States, England, or in the case of the opening track “Kareem”, perhaps Nigeria with its nice Afrobeat feel. The group have been around for a few years and have released their second album, called Moon Town (Do Music), and yet the band have already released an album in Japan called Voodooland. Will we in North America get a chance to hear it? I do not know but for now, we concentrate on Moon Town.
These guys know how to play their jazz, funk, soul, disco, and Afrobeat well, creating the kind of luscious music and productions that were the standard throughout the mid to late 1970’s. It’s soothing, laid back, and packed with the kind of grooves and rhythms that will make you want to move, either on the dance floor or perhaps somewhere more sensual (a couch in a basement, perhaps?) I loved Daniel Lantz’ keyboard work, it sounds like a Fender Rhodes but regardless, the man can play and he is brilliant throughout this album. Also brilliant is bassist Pal Johnson and drummer Jon Eriksson, a rhythm section that sound like they could be a threat to pretty much anyone who would dare to battle them. The string section is a beautiful addition to the band’s already-developed sound. Covering Oliver Nelson’s “125th Street And 7th Avenue” puts you in the place where the song’s concept and feel originated, while John Coltrane’s “The Great Escape” manages to find a new home in the hands of Beat Funktion, a hard thing to do whenever Coltrane’s works are involved. First rate music played by a first rate band, who could easy do more albums on their own or accompany someone who would be able to take each other to a new sense of musical being. I like it, I have nothing more to say.
Fuzzed Up (Deep East) is an all new, all instrumental album from Los Angeles’ Orgone that was released earlier this year, but I was not aware of it until the other day, so I decided to check it out. They are a funk band who like to add in elements of rock, soul, jazz, and Afrobeat into their music so some tracks may sound like a deep Meters track, others may be along the lines of Poets Of Rhythm or Big Chief, while other times things may lean towards The Stooges or the MC5, as if they’re traveling to various funky cities and getting off on everything from food to women to stereo equipment from 1971. It’s blistering musically, and its ugly and gritty on the audio side, not bootleg by any means but it has the feel of something that was decided in a live room with live people playing this music live. A song like “Swinging Grits” may be perfect as background music for your latest skateboard, surfing, or skiing film, while “Deuce In The Hole” sounds like what would happen if the Edgar Winter Group decided to hang out with Art Neville and Zigaboo Modeliste while leaving the guys in ZZ Top to comb their beards in the hallway. The album title is perfect: Fuzzed Up, because that’s what these tracks are. Let this ride all night long until the sun comes up.
(To download the album as MP3’s or WAV files, head over to DeepEastMusic.com. It is free.)
For now, let’s make it not matter, but we know that the core of The Heliocentrics are Jake Ferguson and the almighty Malcolm Catto. The songs on this album are drenched in the sounds of the funky south, along with its roots firmly planted in Africa, but constructed in jam form. The band sound like they’re playing one big gigantic song, and the album is interrupted every now and then by a “guiding voice”, interrupting when the music feels like it could go somewhere even more adventurous. When that happens, the mood switches from one thing to another. The mix sounds like it was recorded in some dingy basement circa 1969 or 1970, where things aren’t exactly monaural, but “narrow stereo”, with the sarcastic hope that they are recording this for radio airplay when in truth they are playing because they get off on each other’s vibe. That’s how powerful these songs are, where from the outside these could all lead to incredible samples in future hip-hop songs, that whole “I found this in my uncle’s garage” vibe where his record section is soaked in dust and soot.
While some may not enjoy these songs sounding sporadic, I love the vibe of this, where one is unsure where these songs truly fade in or out, or if it’s truly just a band jamming for 50 minutes and it was someone’e smart ideal to slip in interludes every now and then. Psychedelic funk, trippy soul, mind blowing Afrobeat, there are so many ways one could describe 13 Degrees Of Reality but… I’m more curious how this music would sound if one smokes themselves into an inner reality. This is the kind of record that one could roll a joint on, in the hopes that the next person who hears it will get high before placing the platter on the turntable. In the vein of the Whitefield Brothers, Poets of Rhythm, and Medeski Martin & Wood, if The Heliocentrics have not entered your heart yet, allow them to with this.
With the 30th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller only a few months ago, there will no doubt be a wealth of celebrations for one of the biggest selling albums of all time. The Easy Star All-Stars have been known for honoring classic albums and groups for a long time, and this time around they cover the entire Thriller album, take it back to Jamaica and return it as Thrillah with a few surprises.
First off, Hawai’i gets representation with The Green, who sit in for “Baby Be Mine”. “The Girl Is Mine” is passed to Mojo Morgan and Steel Pulse, while “Thriller” is extended to over seven minutes with help from Mikey General and Spragga Benz. The great Luciano embraces “Billie Jean”, adds a nice synthy vibe to it and allows listeners to hear it in a new light while retaining its lyrical power.
The biggest surprise is the opening track, “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”, as JoWil and Ruff Scott take it into Afrobeat mode and help take the song and the spirit of Michael Jackson back to Africa, as the original intended to do with the Soul Makossa chant. Cas Haley’s approach to “Human Nature” would work as a hit in 2012 if it was pushed, but I’m not sure if mainstream music fans are ready for that kind of echo in the dub. Speaking of dub, “Beat It” is turned into “Dub It” and “Thriller” becomes “Close To Midnight”, and is the case with most dub mixes, you’re allowed to explore the original by entering the echo chamber, or simply enjoy it for what it is.
I wasn’t a fan of the cover of “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”, featuring Kirsty Rock on vocals and it’s not her that’s the program, but the arrangement, which is not that far from the original. At least with these other covers, they are given a reggae, ska, dub, or Afrobeat riddim but… it’s okay but not as exciting as it might be if twisted into something else. It falls flat for me. The rest of Thrillah manages to show how well the songs on Thriller hold up without getting too cheesy, sappy, or overly nostalgic, in fact in steps up on its own. It just so happens to be Michael Jackson songs you’re listening to, so even if you replaced the record, cassette, and CD over the years and have your MP3’s in a folder somewhere, you’ll find this tribute to MJ quite good and I’d like to think he would be honored to hear his songs performed this way.
A new compilation album called (RED) Hot + FELA will be a return to honoring the music of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti while also raising funds and and awareness to help deliver an AIDS Free Generation by 2015. All of this is being done through RedRush.com.
Yesterday (June 1st), a cover of Fela’s “Lady” was released to represent the forthcoming compilation album, and this is performed by tUnE-yArDs, Angelique Kidjo, ?uestlove, and Akua Naru, and the collaboration sounds incredible. This is not ?uestlove’s first time honoring the music of Fela, for he had a hand in putting together the Red, Hot & Riot album eleven years ago that brought his music to a new generation.
(RED) Hot & FELA will be released by Knitting Factory Records later this year. If you like this cover of “Lady”, you can order it from iTunes through the following links: