Strut present a brand new compilation documenting the groundbreaking maloya scene on Réunion Island from the mid-‘70s, as Western instrumentation joined traditional Malagasy, African and Indian acoustic instruments to spark a whole era of new fusions and creativity. Compiled by Réunionese DJ duo La Basse Tropicale, ‘Oté Maloya’ is out now on CD and LP as well as digital formats. The CD and LP versions include an extensive booklet featuring the history of maloya by Nathalie Valentine Legros of 7 Lames Lamer.
‘Oté Maloya’ tells the story of this fertile period in Réunion Island music for the first time and features the full spectrum of maloya styles. From Caméléon’s genius to the teenage Michou’s classic ‘Maloya Ton Tisane’, Daniel Sandié’s breakbeat sleeper ‘Défoule 3e Age’ and more traditional styles from Maxime Lahope and Pierrot Vidot, this is an essential trip through a lost era of Indian Ocean blues and soul. ‘It follows up last year’s acclaimed ‘Soul Sok Séga’ release on Strut.
Our latest compilation project explores the under-acknowledged realm of Italian underground electronic music and new wave, recorded during a time of extreme political turmoil during the 80s. “When people think of Italian music, they often think of Italo disco or prog rock,” explains compiler Alessio Natalizia of the Kompakt outfit WALLS. “For me, this more experimental end of the new wave scene is the most exciting music to emerge from Italy over the last 30 years and, since much of it was originally released in such limited quantities, it has remained relatively undocumented until now.”
In fact, much of the music covered on Mutazione was originally released only on cassette, sometimes in conjunction with fanzines published by political groups whose message was entwined with the music. Stylistically, the music ranges from brooding new wave and post-punk to raw electronic pieces and claustrophobic, whispered vocal cuts. This is some of the most adventurous electronic music we’ve collected so far on Strut, and an amazing overview of a unique time and aesthetic that has yet to be fully canonized.
Mutazione CDs and LPs will include extensive sleeve notes by two of Italy’s leading music and cultural journalists, Andrea Pomini and Alberto Campo, both now of Rumore magazine. The package also features a wealth of original photos alongside artwork from fanzines, cassettes and LP covers. The collection will be release August 6th on 2 x CD, 2 x LP & digital download.
1. DIE FORM – ARE YOU BEFORE
2. NEON – INFORMATIONS OF DEATH
3. GAZNEVADA – GOING UNDERGROUND
4. CARMODY – VULCANI
5. DANIELE CIULLINI & DE REZKE – ANCORA ICONE
6. 0010110000010011 (CANCER) – NAONIAN STYLE
7. VICTROLA – MARITIME TATAMI
8. 2+2=5 – JACHO’S STORY
9. LAXATIVE SOULS – NICCOLAI
10. LA 1919 – SENZA TREGUA
11. WINTER LIGHT – ALWAYS UNIQUE
12. GIOVANOTTI MONDANI MECCANICI – BACK AND FORTH
13. L’ULTIMO ARCANO – 1984-1985
1. A.T.R.O.X. – AGAINST THE ODDS
2. DORIS NORTON – NORTON APPLE SOFTWARE
3. KIRLIAN CAMERA – EDGES (Original version)
4. SPIROCHETA PERGOLI – ROMERO’S LIVING DEAD
5. LA BAMBOLA DEL DR. CALIGARI – DEEP SKANNER
6. PALE – THE LIVID TRIPTYCH
7. RATS – PLEASE
8. PLATH – I AM STRANGE NOW
9. TASADAY – CRISALIDE
10. LA MAISON – CRITICAL SITUATION
11. SUICIDE DADA – WAITING FOR SEPTEMBER
12. THE TAPES – NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
13. MAURIZIO BIANCHI – AUSCHWITZ
There’s something about the act of collaboration that can bring out the best in musicians. That’s the philosophy behind our Inspiration Information series, and after some explosive results with artists like Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics and Tony Allen & Jimi Tenor, we’re thrilled to have another killer pairing for a new entry in the series.
Cornell Campbell is practically an elder statesman in the field of reggae music, having released classic recordings spanning decades and a number of stylistic shifts. Campbell worked with some of the most legendary producers and labels, from “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One to ‘70s and ‘80s classics with Joe Gibbs, Bunny “Striker” Lee, King Tubby and Winston “Niney” Observer. His crooning vocals have been compared to Curtis Mayfield and Sam Cooke, but as he himself would say, his style is all his own.
Brixton’s Soothsayers, lead by saxophonist Idris Rahman and trumpeter Robin Hopcraft, have built a reputation as one of the hottest live bands on London’s competitive scene. The outfit has backed up artists including Mulatu Astatke, Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Arkestra and Hugh Masekela, and formed the nucleus of the band that backed the London leg of the ‘Fela!’ musical during 2011.
Together, Campbell and Soothsayers have created an album steeped in Reggae tradition, while incorporating elements of jazz, dub, and afrobeat. The songs offer a showcase for the talents of both artists, while not sounding completely like either of their individual recordings. In other words, a one of a kind collaboration.
Listen to their first song together, “I’ll Never Leave You,” below.
Record Store Day is almost upon us again, and as we have the previoustwo years, we’ve come up with something really special to add to the festivities.
Following up on our retrospective of the legendary UK music library KPM, we’ve put together a limited, vinyl reissue of one of our favorite Italian library LPs (the originals of which, it should go without saying, are very tough to come by). The 1979 concept gem Desert is composed and arranged by Antonio Vuolo and Elio Grande, originally was released on small Italian label, Cardium.
The instrumentation features early electronics to set a cosmic tone, and the album regularly recalls early Tangerine Dream. Stand-out tracks include the haunting slo-mo breakbeat “Leaving,” mellow electroscape “Transvesuvian” and the solid jazz fusion jam “Take Flight.”
As a Record Store Day exclusive, we’re reissuing the full album, mastered from the original reels for the first time since its original issue, and with artwork restored from the original lithographs.
We hinted earlier this month at what we were working on with the Rodion G.A. project, but the full story of Rodion Ladislau Roșca is deeper than we could cover in a short video, and has yielded some of the most unique and incredible music we’ve ever heard. It’s an honor to be able to be a part of finally sharing this music with the world at large, and to see Rodion’s efforts and innovations see the recognition they deserve.
34 years ago in Romania, Rodion Roșca founded a group that came to deliver an alternative sound that was completely unique in the claustrophobic cultural landscape of those times. With only two tracks ever having received an official release (via a compilation LP on the State-owned Electrecord label), the music of Rodion Roșca’s band – composed and recorded almost entirely by its leader – has been secretly kept on dusty tapes ever since. Unheard for decades, it is finally being made available as Strut, in conjunction with Ambassador’s Reception and Future Nuggets, presents the first ever retrospective of Rodion G.A.
Rodion’s music dug a subterranean niche completely opposed to the polished surface of the mainstream sound during the stifling atmosphere of Romania under the Ceausescu regime. Rodion himself was an enigmatic figure. Half-Hungarian and half-Romanian, he grew up during the brief “open” period of 1965 to 1972 when American and English rock bands, jazz legends and international pop stars were regularly played on the radio. He lived near the border with Hungary, in Cluj, a city with a healthy music culture that spawned important prog rock groups including Cromatic and Experimental Quintet. Here, Rodion managed to find vinyl and, during the ‘70s he became known amongst friends as “King Of Records”. As such, he became steeped in the major Western artists of the era – Hendrix, The Beatles, The Who, Zeppelin – and discovered many of the more progressive and electronic bands from both East and West like East Germany’s Karat, Yes, Jethro Tull, Syrius and Skorpio from Hungary, Kraftwerk, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Matador out of Czechoslovakia and many more.
From the start, Rodion was concerned with his own style of composition and set himself apart from the rock template that dominated Romanian music during the late ‘60s. Technically and in his compositions, he was obsessed with every detail of his sound. His first sessions, as a teenager, were recorded on tape during 1969-1972 – simple, sparse and haunting pieces using reel-to-reel recorders and based around vocals, guitars and improvised drums.
In 1975-6, Roșca formed Rodion G.A., the ‘G.A.’ comprising band members Gicu Fărcaș and Adrian Căpraru. Roșca had amassed equipment and became a DIY tech wizard, improvising his own techniques of composing using reel-to-reels. Surrounded by three or four Tesla tape machines, he would record beats and guitar on one channel of the tape, then stop and add other instruments on the other – a raw means of multi-tracking. He would use the other machines (transforming a Tesla into an echo machine) to add effects and delays on both instruments and vocals. Other tools in his armoury included an East German Vermona drum machine, a toy Casio VL Tone and a little Soviet-made Faemi organ to which he added phaser, flanger and fuzz pedals.
During Rodion G.A.s active period, there was only one label operating in Romania, the State-owned Electrecord, and the band recorded two tracks at the station’s studio, which surfaced on the compilation Formații Rock Vol. 5, in 1981. The band recorded five further songs at another Electrecord session which remained unreleased apart from radio airings. During the recording session at Radio Cluj, Rodion asked the sound engineer to allow him to record all of the instrumentals onto his own Tesla machine, directly from the main mixer. Within his later productions, he would sample drum parts from this session to build new tracks. Other pieces (including some made by Rodion at home on tape machines) were picked up by national radio and Rodion G.A. even hit the top of the Romanian charts for several weeks. Beyond this brief but intense exposure, no other recordings surfaced. Undeterred, the band toured extensively during the early ‘80s.
For the band’s gigs, Rodion made his own rig by hand, complete with ‘Rodion G.A.’-branded speaker boxes and amps. From the start, the band’s sound was incomparable to other contemporaries. Other Romanian musicians like Mircea Florian had moved from a folk-rock background to experiment with more electronic productions but Rodion was different, concocting dense, visceral synth sounds set against raw programmed rhythms, intricate, unusual arrangements, with prog and classical touches.
Despite the much harsher political conditions post-’72 (the “July Thesis” of Ceaușescu), with the grip on culture and society becoming increasingly strict, a live rock scene continued to exist in Romania during the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Gigs mainly happened within a network of festivals around the country and, during the summer, in seaside towns at restaurants and clubs. Bands would push the rules, often playing Western covers and venue owners had to be careful, getting to know when inspectors might drop by. Rodion was no exception and would need to dodge the censorship absurdly often. He remembers one occasion when an inspector came to listen to a band sound check. Despite singing in Romanian, the official pulled them up for singing “yeah yeah yeah” during a chorus.
The band’s only documented performance during their career was a show on Romanian television celebrating New Year’s Eve in 1980. Rodion G.A. eventually split in 1987 after a gig at the Mangalia Festival and Rodion then walked away from music completely following the death of his mother.
Fast forward to 2012. Blogger and film-maker Luca Sorin is intrigued by the mythology around Rodion G.A. and, after months of hunting, tracks down Rodion Rosca, and posts a handful of tracks and video footage of the band’s 1980 New Year’s Eve concert online. The links come to the attention of young Romanian crew, Future Nuggets, a collective of producers and musicians as dedicated to unearthing Romania’s musical past as they are to forging new sounds and fusions for future traditions and the global community of beat diggers. Then, further conversations, a live comeback gig in Bucharest, the first in over 25 years. A partnership with Steve Kotey of Ambassador’s Reception leads to a compilation of Future Nuggets’ own studio work, Sounds Of The Unheard From Romania in 2012 and a release from their acclaimed psych-jazz project, Steaua de Mare, in April 2013.
A strange and very precious artefact, the powerful music of Rodion has a special place in the unofficial museum of sonic oddities made behind the iron curtain. Strut, in association with Future Nuggets and Ambassador’s Reception, are honoured to release his first full LP, delivering the tracks – made in the past but undoubtedly for the future – that will earn him a deserved place in the international electronica pantheon. Rodion G.A.- The Lost Tapes is released on May 28th 2013, remastered from the original tape reels. Rodion G.A. backed by Steaua de Mare will be touring fully across Europe from Summer 2013.
Why do we love library music so much? Take a listen to John Cameron’s “Swamp Fever” for an idea. Air-tight musicianship, out-front back-beat, sparse arrangement, crisp recording, effortlessly funky. It’s as if it were made with the beat lovers of the future in-mind.
“Swamp Fever” is featured on our Music For Dancefloors collection, and originally appears on one of the heaviest and most sought after of all KPM LPs, Afro Rock, recorded at Morgan Studios by John Cameron and Alan Parker in London in 1973. As well as being a library music veteran (with over a dozen different LPs recorded for KPM and Bruton Music since the ’70s), Cameron is a bona fide film composer whose credits include Kes from 1969 and 1973’s A Touch Of Class (starring Glenda Jackson and George Segal) for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
Music For Dancefloors: The KPM Music Library (Deluxe version) is released on April 2nd on 2xCD (original studio recordings and live concert), 2xLP featuring the original studio recordings and 2xCD insert of the full CD content, and digital (original studio recordings and live concert).
Early on in Strut’s existence, we created the Music for Dancefloors series in order to mine the fertile territory of production library music for under appreciated (and often extremely hard to find) gems. Originally recorded as a source of go-to material for use in film, television and radio, library music wasn’t intended to be enjoyed in a home listening context, and often wasn’t available for commercial release at all. However, due to the quality of the musicianship and the stripped-down arrangements, music from the best libraries has become extremely sought-after by DJs and producers.
The UK’s KPM library (especially its green “1000 series” of the 60s and 70s) is easily one of the most legendary sources of library funk. KPM music has been sampled by the likes of Jay-Z, DOOM, Madlib and Guilty Simpson, Dangermouse, Action Bronson, and even turns up in the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s film Kill Bill (via the Grindhouse promo spot which uses Kieth Mansfield’s “Funky Fanfare”).
Out of print for years, our Music For Dancefloors release collects some of the best of KPM’s catalog, with an ear not just for loops and breaks, but quality compositions and performances that stand the test of time. We’ve included key cuts like Alan Parker’s ”That’s What Friends Are For” featuring Blue Mink’s Madeline Bell on vocals, Alan Hawkshaw’s “Senior Thump” (a precursor to his work as The Mohawks), and Keith Mansfield’s “Crash Course,” each one a classic in its own right.
This new edition features an exclusive bonus disc, which makes available for the first time the debut gig by the KPM All-Stars, bringing together many of KPM’s greatest composers for a unique night at London’s Jazz Cafe on 27th April 2000.
Music For Dancefloors: The KPM Music Library (Deluxe version) is released on April 2nd in three formats: 2CD (original studio recordings and live concert), 2LP featuring the original studio recordings and 2CD insert of the full CD content, and digital (original studio recordings and live concert). The album features the original sleeve notes by Charles Waring (Mojo magazine) alongside extra photos and memorabilia.
CD 1 – KPM LIBRARY CLASSICS
1. That’s What Friends Are For – Composed by Alan Parker. Vocals by Madeline Bell
2. Unlimited Love – Composed by Alan Parker
3. Funky Express – Composed by Duncan Lamont
4. Assault Course – Composed by Johnny Pearson
5. Samba Street – Composed by Barry Morgan and Ray Cooper
6. Second Cut – Composed by James Clarke
7. Swamp Fever – Composed by John Cameron
8. Reggae Train – Composed by William Farley and Dennis Bovell
9. Incidental Backcloth No. 9 – Composed by Keith Mansfield
10. Cross Talk – Composed by Francis Coppieters
11. In Advance – Composed by P. Xanten. Performed by Pierre Lavin Pop Band
12. Senior Thump – Composed by Alan Hawkshaw
13. Expo In Tokyo – Composed by Alan Moorhouse
14. Nascimbene – Interlude: Witchdoctor
15. Jungle Baby – Composed by H. Ehrlinger. Performed by Juan Erlando & His Latin Band
16. Morning 1 / Morning 2 – Composed by Klaus Weiss
17. Freeway To Rio – Composed by Les Baxter
18. Brazil Express – Composed by G. Callert. Performed by Juan Erlando & His Latin Band
19. Piano In Transit – Composed by Francis Coppieters
20. Crash Course – Composed by Keith Mansfield
CD 2 – KPM ALL-STARS LIVE AT JAZZ CAFÉ, LONDON. 27th April 2000
1. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Soul Thing
2. Alan Hawkshaw & Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Theme from ‘Dave Allen At Large’
3. Alan Hawkshaw & Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Beat Boutique
4. KPM All Stars – Swamp Fever
5. KPM All Stars – Unlimited Love
6. KPM All Stars feat. Emma Kershaw – That’s What Friends Are For
7. James Clarke with Steve Grey and KPM All Stars – Second Cut
8. Duncan Lamont with KPM All Stars – Funky Express
9. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars – Girl In A Sportscar
10. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars – Senior Thump
11. Alan Hawkshaw with KPM All Stars – Landscape
12. Alan Hawkshaw with Kirsty Hawkshaw and KPM All Stars – The Champ
13. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – Crash Course
14. Keith Mansfield with KPM All Stars – UK Sports Theme Medley: Theme from ‘The Big Match’ / Theme from BBC Wimbledon Tennis / Theme from BBC Athletics / Theme from ‘Grandstand’
We’ve had the good fortune to be able to closely examine some incredible, seminal labels retrospective form, but we’re hard-pressed to think of a label whose output so closely mirrors the full spectrum of what we love than Celluloid records. Touching on everything from breakdance classics and early hip-hop singles to experimental disco and no wave, and even some classic soul and funk and world music fusions, Celluloid’s output is an unparalleled representation of the no-rules musical landscape of the early 80s, in New York City and beyond. CHANGE THE BEAT: THE CELLULOID RECORDS STORY 1980 – 1987 will be released February 19th on Strut.
Celluloid Records was formed in Paris during the late ‘70s by Jean Georgakarakos (often referred to by the shorter name Jean Karakos), who had spent the previous decade co-running French record shops and the spiritual jazz label BYG. The label gathered steam following Karakos’ fateful trips to New York in the early ‘80s. It was there that he met Bill Laswell, who had himself landed fresh in the Big Apple from Michigan, Karakos began releasing the full spectrum of Laswell’s early work, from the avant-rock cacophony of Massacre to his fluid, dance / post-punk production outfit, Material.
Karakos also became involved in the nascent hip-hop scene In New York, releasing Time Zone’s breakdance classic “Wildstyle,” featuring Afrika Bambaataa and French MC B Side. In 1983, both he and Laswell worked with Herbie Hancock on his electro smash, “Rockit.” From the resultant publishing income, Karakos and Laswell continued to explore early hip-hop culture and a slew of classics followed: successful 12’s by Hancock’s scratch DJ, Grandmixer D.ST, Fab 5 Freddy’s groundbreaking French / English slo-mo rap “Change The Beat” and graf artist Futura 2000 on the cult single “Escapades Of Futura 2000” backed by The Clash. Time Zone would also re-surface with Bambaataa and collaborator John Lydon (PiL / Sex Pistols) with the apocalyptic chart smash “World Destruction.”
By 1986, Laswell’s work for Celluloid became increasingly sparse as he was pulled onto major projects for Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, PiL and more. The label, meanwhile, continued its eclectic path with recordings by jazz legend Eric Dolphy, John McLaughlin and the Welcome To Dreamland compilation of out-there Japanese pop overseen by regular Laswell cohort, Fred Frith. African music also continued to feature heavily in the label’s later output through world pop stars like Kassav and Toure Kunda.
Change The Beat is released in conjunction with Jean Karakos and Celluloid Records. Formats include 2CD, 2LP and digital. All physical formats feature rare photos from the Celluloid Records archive and extended interviews with label owner Jean Karakos, Bill Laswell, Afrika Bambaataa, John Lydon, Rusty Egan (Time Zone) and more. The digital version of the album features five extra tracks not featured on the physical formats.
1. SHOCKABILLY – DAY TRIPPER 3.43
2. MASSACRE – KILLING TIME 2.54
3. FERDINAND – TELE, APRES LA METEO 3.36
4. MATHEMATIQUES MODERNES – DISCO ROUGH (Long version) 4.45
5. THOMAS LEER & ROBERT RENTAL – DAY BREAKS, NIGHT HEALS 3.58
6. SNAKEFINGER – LIVING IN VAIN 3.43
7. WINSTON EDWARDS & BLACKBEARD – DOWNING STREET ROCK 4.54
8. LIGHTNIN’ ROD – SPORT 2.35
9. FUTURA 2000 (ft THE CLASH) – THE ESCAPADES OF FUTURA 2000 6.57
10. TIMEZONE – WILDSTYLE (12″ Vocal) 9.14
11. DEADLINE – MAKOSSA ROCK 11.03
12. BOBONGO STARS – KOTEJA 7.39
13. TOURE KUNDA – AMADOU TILO 2.46
1. NINI RAVIOLETTE – SUIS-JE NORMALE 6.34
2. RICHARD HELL & THE VOIDOIDS – DESTINY STREET 4.41
3. SAPHO – CARMEL (12“ mix) 6.34
4. GINGER BAKER – DUST TO DUST 5.32
5. LAST EXIT – BIG BOSS MAN 1.03
6. MANDINGO – HARIMA 6.05
7. MANU DIBANGO – ABELE DANCE (’85 remix) 7.00
8. TIMEZONE – WORLD DESTRUCTION (Original 12″ mix) 5.37
9. MATERIAL, MICHAEL BEINHORN, BERNARD FOWLER, BILL LASWELL & NILE . RODGERS – I’M THE ONE (Dance version) 7.31
10. GRANDMIXER D.ST – HOME OF HIP HOP 7.12
11. B SIDE with BERNARD FOWLER – ODEON (Dance mix) 5.46
12. FAB 5 FREDDY – CHANGE THE BEAT (Male version) 7.37
13. THE LAST POETS – MEAN MACHINE CHANT / MEAN MACHINE 4.02
JIMI HENDRIX, BUDDY MILES & LIGHTNIN’ ROD – DORIELLA DU FONTAINE (Single Edit) 4.46
GRANDMIXER D.ST – CRAZY CUTS
SHANGO – SHANGO MESSAGE
MODERN GUY – ELECTRIQUE SYLVIE 7.38 (Full length version)
B SIDE – SO HOT (feat. Tony Allen) 4.05
The first Nigeria 70 collection, originally released in 2001, will always have a special place in our heats. It remains to us one of the most clear expressions of what we love about Afrobeat, and African music of the 70s. With the launch of our new web store, we thought we’d take the opportunity to put together something special to celebrate this release, and to make the music available once again on vinyl.
This definitive reissue features the original LP remastered and pressed on 180g triple vinyl in a gatefold sleeve. The package comes with the full 2CD edition of the album and a copy of the Nigeria 70 audio documentary, unavailable since the original CD issue (also as download as soon as the package is shipped).
Narrated by Wunmi with commentary by the late Nigerian academic “Elder” Steve Rhodes, this one-hour piece is an essential snapshot of the 1970s Lagos scene and the cultural and political context from many of the key players of the time. It includes interviews with Ginger Baker, Fela Kuti, Ebenezer Obey, Segun Bucknor, Joni Haastrup of Monomono and many more.
Welcome To Nigeria – Introduction: Welcome to Nigeria
Nigeria 70 Documentary – Interlude
Nigeria 70 Documentary – Highlife Time
Fela Kuti, Tony Allen and Ginger Baker – Fela Kuti, Tony Allen and Ginger Baker
Voices of the People – Voices of the people: social commentary, critical statement and satire
Charlie Dark – Charlie Dark: ‘Nigeria 70’ poem
Orlando Julius & The Afro Sounders – Alo Mi Alo (Parts 1 & 2)
Segun Bucknor & His Revolution – La La La
Lijadu Sisters – Orere Elejigbo
Peter King – Shango
Sahara All Stars Band Jos – Enjoy Yourself
Fela Ransome Kuti & The Africa 70 – Jeun Ko Ku (Chop ‘N’ Quench)
Tunji Oyelana & The Benders – Ifa
Ofo The Black Company – Allah Wakbarr
The Funkees – Dancing Time
Monomono – Tire Loma Da Nigbehin
Bala Miller & The Great Music Pirameeds Of Afrika – Ikon Allah
Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestroes – Akuyan Ekassa
Shina Williams & His African Percussionists – Agboju Logun
Gasper Lawal – Kita Kita
Sunny Ade & His African Beats – Ja Fun Mi (Instrumental)
We’ve been collecting, enjoying, and releasing African music of many varieties for more than a decade at Strut, but this Fall will be the first time we’ve had the pleasure of releasing a project that touches on Gnawa, the sacred music of Morocco and North Africa. The album functions both as an introduction to this rich style, as well as an indication of some of the parallels between Gnawa music and West African Highlife and Afrobeat. Whether you’re completely new to Moroccan Gnawa music or not, the Fangnawa Experience project offers a fresh take on African music and cultural exchange. The album will be released November 13th, and we’ll be sharing music here soon.
A term referring both to a North African ethnic group, as well as a ritual musical style and ceremony performed by maâlem (master musicians), traditionally on the qraqab (heavy iron castanets) and the gimbri (three-string lute).
A cross-cultural musical fusion undertaken by French collective Fanga and Moroccan master musician Maâlem Abdallah Guinéa.
Performed primarily in Morocco and South-western Algeria, a traditional Gnawa ceremony re-creates the genesis of the universe, incorporating trance-inducing music, a clairvoyant, incense, and ecstatic dancing in a complicated liturgy. Gnawa music mixes classical Islamic Sufism with pre-Islamic African traditions, and in recent decades has begun to be performed outside of the traditional closed-door ceremonies, to the wider Moroccan public, and to global music audience at large.
In 2011, the forward-thinking Détours du Monde festival in Montpelier curated a collaboration between French Afro collective Fanga and Moroccan maâlem Abdallah Guinéa, creating a fusion of two distinct musical styles each based in tradition, African rhythms, and drawn-out, trance-inducing arrangements. “The project appealed to us, especially the trance aspect of both forms,” says Korbo, the Burkina Fasso-born vocalist of Fanga. “Our objective from the sessions was not so much to create an entirely new flow but more to bring the real Gnawa sound to some of our songs – we wanted to make the songs work so neither group’s sound was compromised”
The two styles prove to be naturally compatible throughout, building on compositions from Fanga’s 15-year catalog. Korbo and Guinéa share lead vocal duties, with Guinéa building his trademark ‘Fusion Trance’ through spiritual evocations, and rolling, hypnotic rhythms on the gimbri (three-stringed lute). Korbo’s lyrics serve up food for reflection, touching on the right to be different and promoting harmony between man and nature whilst denouncing the social injustices that result from an economic system out of control and designed to benefit the few.
Rich, thought provoking, and effortlessly funky, Fangnawa Experience is an ambitious piece of work, and another significant chapter in the open-minded and cross-cultural climate for modern world music.
A meeting of complementary personalities and cross-cultural energy, Fanga began to take shape in 1998, as hip-hop producer Serge Amiano returned to France from a trip to Africa with a selection of West African vinyl from the 60s and 70s. The nascent band, including Burkina Fasso-born rapper Korbo on vocals, worked with Tony Allen on his album Black Voices in 2000, and began releasing its own recordings in 2001. Acclaimed by tastemakers like Gilles Peterson, Wax Poetics, and Rich Medina, the band has built a global following based on a dynamite live show, socially conscious lyrics, and an ever-evolving interpretation of classic Afrobeat and Highlife sounds.
Maâlem Abdallah Guinéa
Descended from a renowned family of artists (his father, Boubker Guinéa, is considered as one of Morocco’s greatest of all maâlems) Abdellah Guinéa began playing the gimbri at age 12, and became a full maâlem and master musician at age 16. Along with his band, Nasse Ejadba, he quickly developed his own musical style, somewhere between traditional and modern Gnawa, which he calls “Fusion Trance.” As well as gimbri, Guinéa plays guitar, banjo and mandolin and has continued the progression of his music by introducing Western sounds into the mix, effortlessly building a cultural bridge between different musical styles.