Sun Ra Planets final cover

Record Store Day 2015: Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Research Arkestra: Planets Of Life Or Death

In celebration of Record Store Day 2015, Strut and Art Yard join forces once more for the first release anywhere […] Read More…

Pat Thomas final lo res

Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band

“I’m an afrobeat drummer but Pat Thomas is highlife. That is what he does so well.” -Tony Allen Coming in […] Read More…

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Get To Know Peruvian Psychedelic Folk Collective Kanaku Y El Tigre

Strut in association with Tiger’s Milk proudly present the latest artist signing to the label: Lima, Peru’s Kanaku Y El […] Read More…

Dance Mania Cover Illustrator James Wilson_crop

An Interview With ‘Ghetto Madness’ Cover Illustrator James Wilson

Our second foray into the incredible catalog of Chicago’s Dance Mania Records focuses specifically on the hyper-sexualized “Ghetto House” strain […] Read More…

Strut Worldwide Awards photo square

Strut Wins “Label Of The Year” At Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards!!

BBC 6Music DJ Gilles Peterson celebrated the global music underground with a feast of great music on Saturday at his […] Read More…

Next Stop Soweto 4 final cover

South African Disco, Rock & More On Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4

This March, we return to the rich archives of South African music to spotlight the fertile era of the late […] Read More…

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Afro-Beats Digital Collection

Here at Strut, we’ve been captivated with African music of many varieties ever since we first dipped our toes into […] Read More…

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Strut’s Favorite Releases Of 2014

To mark the end of the year, we thought it would be worth asking Strut’s Quinton Scott to pull out […] Read More…

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Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness

This January, we’re returning to the archives of seminal Chicago house label Dance Mania for Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness. This […] Read More…

Watch Kanaku Y El Tigre Perform ‘Pulpos’ Live In Their Studio

kanaku3 Kanaku Y El Tigre are experts at using the recording studio as an instrument. Their records are densely layered, to the point that discerning the players or instruments responsible for specific sounds can become a pleasant challenge. This live video, recorded at Kanaku Studios in Lima pulls back the curtain on some of the mystery. Performing with precision, the band delivers a flawless rendition of the song ‘Pulpos’ from the upcoming album Quema Quema Quema.

Quema Quema Quema is out June 15th on Strut / Tiger’s Milk. Pre-orders are available now on iTunes and the Strut Store.

Record Store Day 2015: Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Research Arkestra: Planets Of Life Or Death

Sun Ra Planets final cover
In celebration of Record Store Day 2015, Strut and Art Yard join forces once more for the first release anywhere of a live Sun Ra performance from Amiens, France in 1973, Planets Of Life Or Death. Recorded direct from the soundboard and mastered from first generation reel to reel, the title is exclusively available for Record Store Day 2015.

Sun Ra and his Arkestra had just completed a residency at the legendary Gibus in Paris in October before traveling to Amiens for a visceral Sunday afternoon concert. “Sun Ra’s use of the Arkestra as his instrument in an onslaught of sound, colour and movement stimulated and even shocked the senses and the shakras of audience participants onto a higher plane of spirit consciousness,” explains the Arkestra’s Knoel Scott.

On Side 1, the session kicks off with the theatrical overture, ‘Enlightenment’ as Sun Ra and vocalist June Tyson invite the audience to “be of our space world.” Ra then moves into a rare instrumental version of ‘Love In Outer Space,’ transforming the perennial Arkestra classic into a raw, ritualistic experience.

Side 2 of the album opens with the glistening ‘Lights On A Satellite’ led by the spiritual tenor sax of John Gilmore. Closing track, the epic, chaotic, anxious ‘Discipline 27-II / What Planet Is This’ features Sun Ra and June Tyson take a thinly veiled psychedelic swipe at life on earth: “If this is a planet of life, why do people die here?”

Planets Of Life Or Death follows 2014’s landmark compilation presented by Marshall Allen, In the Orbit Of Ra. The release features rare photos from Sun Ra’s 1973 European tour by photographer Jan Persson with sleeve notes by Knoel Scott.

Stream a track from the album below. Information on participating stores for RSD 2015 is available here.

View Peru Through The Eyes Of Young Skaters In Kanaku Y El Tigre’s New Video

Kanaku Y El Tigre’s new single “Si Te Mueres Mañana” is a life-affirming anthem with the message “If you die tomorrow, make sure you you’ve done everything you ever wanted.” After watching the song’s gorgeously-shot video (which premiered today on The Wall Street Journal), we might have to add skateboarding through the hills of Lima, Peru to the list of things to do before we die.

“Si Te Mueres Mañana” appears on Kanaku Y El Tigre’s forthcoming album Quema Quema Quema, which is the first internationally-released project from the Peruvian duo of Nico Saba and Bruno Bellatin. With a relaxed sound that bridges folk, indie rock, psychedelic music and electronics, the album is a perfect soundtrack to the spring. If you missed it, you can download the advance teaser track “Bubucelas” for free.

Quema Quema Quema is out June 15th on Strut / Tiger’s Milk. Pre-orders are available now on iTunes and the Strut Store.

Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band

Pat Thomas final lo res“I’m an afrobeat drummer but Pat Thomas is highlife. That is what he does so well.” -Tony Allen

Coming in June, we are proud to announce the brand new studio album by one of Ghana’s all-time great vocalists, “The Golden Voice Of Africa”, Pat Thomas, in conjunction with the Kwashibu Area Band led by multi-instumentalist Kwame Yeboah (Cat Stevens, Patrice) and saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff (Ebo Taylor, Poets of Rhythm).

A regular collaborator with Ebo Taylor, Thomas was mainstay of the ‘70s and ‘80s Ghanaian highlife, afrobeat and afro-pop scenes, hitting big with the Ghana Cocoa Board-sponsored Sweet Beans band. Thomas’ new album marks over 50 years making music and reunites him with old friends: Ebo Taylor provides horn arrangements, Tony Allen contributes drums to several tracks, Osei Tutu (Hedzolleh Sounds) plays a memorable trumpet solo and prolific 1970s bassist Ralph Karikari (The Noble Kings) also features. Younger generation stars appearing include bassist Emmanuel Ofori, percussionist “Sunday” Owusu and Pat Thomas’ daughter Nanaaya, an acclaimed vocalist in her own right.

Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band is released June 16th 2015 on CD, LP and digital formats featuring hand-drawn artwork by Lewis Heriz and full sleeve notes. The campaign will feature remixes released in conjunction with Absolut Vodka. Pre-order now on iTunes, and watch a video on the studio sessions below.

 

Get To Know Peruvian Psychedelic Folk Collective Kanaku Y El Tigre

kanaku3 Strut in association with Tiger’s Milk proudly present the latest artist signing to the label: Lima, Peru’s Kanaku Y El Tigre.

The band’s forthcoming album Quema Quema Quema (meaning ‘Burn Burn Burn’ in Spanish) is the product of two years honing the Kanaku sound at the band’s Lima studio HQ and the result is a record which is feverish in intensity and which screams with joy and cries for help in the same breath. The album is a testament to their new found approach with its euphoric, unapologetically feel-good hooks littered with electronic jitters, ghostly delays, serene Hawaiian slide guitars and a chorus of other-wordly vocal harmonies.

Take a look at a video for the track “Bubucelas,” featuring the album’s incredible hand-painted cover art, below. You can also download “Bubucelas” for free.

Quema Quema Quema is out June 15th on Strut / Tiger’s Milk. Pre-orders are available now on iTunes.

Video: Orlando Julius Performs “Aseni” Live With The Heliocentrics

As they make their way across Europe, it’s a full-on party when Orlando Julius hits the stage with The Heliocentrics. Recorded live in Brussels, this performance of “Aseni” shows the stage ablaze with synchronized dance moves and razor sharp musicianship. Make sure to catch this show when they come through your city!

European Tour Dates

11th: Ljubjana SLO / Kino Siska
12th: Rome IT / Teatro Quirinetta
13th: Bologna IT / Locomotiv Club
14th: Turin IT / Scuola Holden (General Store)
15th: Milan IT / Biko Club
19th: Arhus DEN / Atlas
20th: Copenhagen DEN / Global
21st: Stockholm SWE / Fasching

Orlando Julius’ collaborative album with The Heliocentrics, Jaiyede Afro is out now:
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An Interview With ‘Ghetto Madness’ Cover Illustrator James Wilson

Dance Mania Cover Illustrator James Wilson_cropOur second foray into the incredible catalog of Chicago’s Dance Mania Records focuses specifically on the hyper-sexualized “Ghetto House” strain of dance music pioneered by the label. The ‘Ghetto Madness’ collection features striking cover art from artist James Wilson, meshing perfectly with the raw quality of the music. We sat down recently with James to talk about his initial exposure to house music, his artistic influences, and the ways in which he creates such incredible artwork.

Strut: You illustrated a piece on DJ Funk for Crack Magazine earlier this year. Before that, and being approached to work on art for Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness, was Chicago House or Ghetto House music that you were already listening to? Do you have a history of listening to dance music?

James Wilson: Before the DJ Funk piece and this Dance Mania project I had no idea what Ghetto House music was. I started listening to dance music as an adolescent, stuff like the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy. It was pretty much all down to Wipeout 2097 on the Playstation that informed me of that style of music, other stuff like Orbital and Underworld. I started playing guitar and listening to heavy music after and lost touch with dance music for a few years but I listen to house music quite regularly now.

Dance Mania insert medBoth the cover and insert poster for Ghetto Madness are explicitly sexual, which is consistent with the lyrics of many of the records. Were there other ways in which the musical content influenced the way in you approached the artwork?

Ghetto House to me is very raw and stripped back so I wanted the artwork to reflect that. I was happy with how my DJ Funk piece had turned out previously and wanted to keep a similar feel. The Dance Mania artwork had to look even bolder which was why I decided to keep it black and white with strong thick outlines and hand scrawled text.

What are your tools for the cover illustration and poster? Are you working primarily with pen and paper?

I sketched out the artwork in pencil and then completed the ink work with my trusty tablet. I tend to work this way for most projects now as sketching by hand gives me a little more expression and the digital element allows more room to edit.

Dance Mania insert 2 medComic books, musicians, and action movies seem to be common themes and subject matter in your work, and all tend to feature larger than life personalities and portrayals. Do you find art most interesting when it is an exaggeration?

I see so much amazing artwork every day, mainly through Instagram and Behance and it’s all in varying styles and media. I think the work I appreciate and find most interesting  is art that has been produced with passion. I like artists that have a recognisable style and that also translates something about the artist, it adds that element of intrigue.

 The poster insert for Ghetto Madness features several of the artists’ faces as tattoos. Do you have tattoos, and if so, do you design / illustrate them yourself?

I don’t have any tattoos although I’d like to have a go at designing some. I follow a few tattoo artists through social media so that was probably an influence. Mainly I wanted the girl to look like a badass and thought it could be an interesting way of involving the DJ’s on the poster.

Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness is out  on CD, 2LP, digital download, and streaming services.

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Strut Wins “Label Of The Year” At Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards!!

Strut Worldwide Awards photo squareBBC 6Music DJ Gilles Peterson celebrated the global music underground with a feast of great music on Saturday at his annual Worldwide Awards in London. Strut picked up the coveted ‘Label Of The Year’ award and our artists weighed in too with Sun Ra Arkestra bandleader Marshall Allen given a Lifetime Achievement Award and The Heliocentrics’ ace drummer Malcolm Catto winning the John Peel Award.

A massive thanks to Gilles and the team at Brownswood from us, to the many great artists and compilers we’ve been lucky enough to work with and to all of you for buying the albums and supporting the label. Bit of pressure now to keep up the quality in 2015!

Marshall Allen

South African Disco, Rock & More On Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4

Next Stop Soweto 4 final coverThis March, we return to the rich archives of South African music to spotlight the fertile era of the late ’70s and early ’80s with a new volume in the Next Stop Soweto series. Tightly controlled by oppressive Apartheid laws, South Africa’s music scene in the 70s and 80s nevertheless progressed into myriad new directions, embracing funk, soul, rock and disco.

Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4 is compiled by Duncan Brooker. It will be released March 23 2015 on CD, 2LP and digital formats with physical formats featuring sleeve notes by author Francis Gooding along with rare photos and sleeve artwork.

Stream the energetic Afro rock track “Unga Pfula A Chi Pfalo” from Kabasa, which kicks off the new volume, below.

 

Stream A DJ Deeon Classic from Dance Mania: Ghetto Madness

Dance Mania cover for webChicago’s Dance Mania Records set the standard for the lightning fast, hyper funky, sexualized strain of dance music known as Ghetto House in the 1990s. See DJ Deeon’s 1996 track “The Freaks” for an example of just how effective this combination can be for making a timeless dance floor weapon. If this one doesn’t get you out of your seat, you might need your pulse checked.

Our return to the Dance Mania vaults, Ghetto Madness is out January 26th on CD, 2LP, digital download, and streaming services.

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