@@@ Chrisman: Makila (Hakuna Kulala, 2022) We’re taking a brief detour into some African electronic music to start the year. The record opens up with the track Alarmed for Passion, notable for its layered drum machine patterns done in a manner I really dig. It’s got a steady pulse with the kick drum but then has all manner of hectic rhythm layered on top. It’s pleasantly aggro and the bulk of the melodic component is baked into hammered percussion type sounds. I am enjoying the medium darkness of this record and there’s some really interesting stuff going on here. I’m a huge fan of cultural mashing when it goes the way I want it to go. This musician is taking familiar elements and ideas from hip hop, trap feels but not beats, and dark industrial stuff and throwing in some polyrhythm and different vibes to it. These sounds are all pretty synthetic sounding but the way it’s all put together ends up producing a very organic and alive musical vibe. I don’t know about other folks but I just get lost in this shit I find it very engaging. Check it out!
@@@ La Roche: Liye Liye ( , 2022) I got to this polyrhythmic and insistent African electro music via a search as African electronic is one of my favorite subgenres of music. I love what they (as a group of music makers) do with drum machines and other musical components. I’m skipping all over this album and finding all manner of frantic rhytms, crazy video game melodies and just bags and bags of musical energy. I have a slight preference for the songs with vocals but it’s slight, the preference that is. I have to check this out a bit more as I just found this record yesterday searching for more shit but this to my ears is as saitsfying as Konono No. 1 and other African electronic music outfits. You can listen to this record a whole bunch, it’s got a total punk rock not giving a fuck flavor to it. Check this out if you like funk, electro funk, polyrhythmic music or African music.
@@@ Satellites: Satellites (Batov Records, 2022) The #3 record on WRIR’s best of 2022 list and it’s a banger. Comes out rocking, slinky, melodic, rhythmically strong on the opener Big Baglama. I don’t know if we have a singer on this record, I’m hoping yes. Oh yeah, after a long intro we get a sultry female singer, noice, on track 2. Oh man, these guys can play, I’m feeling this. Lemme peep a coupla more tracks but this one is headed onto my best of 2022 list. This is a really good record with really great playing, clear production and flavorful arrangements.
@@@ Noori & His Dorpa Band: Al Amal (Ostinato Records, 2022) A different type of African record out of Sudan. Plenty of guitar playing (as usual) but a more loping tempo on this opener instead of your classic desert blues burner. There are six tracks on this record and while the first one is just shy of 4 minutes most of these are long bangers, mostly 6-7 minutes with the finale weighing in at 11+, that’s a big rooster. There are plenty of spots where the tenor sax and the guitar play melodies in unison and that I find a tad cliche and pretty hypnotic at the same time. The guitar player here is big nuts, he’s got the tone and the melodic prowess to back it up. They’re not gonna rip yer face off but they’re gonna keep at it until you’re a tad dizzy and up in the middle of all the swirling melodies. They had a little bit of a spaghetti western twang and I dig that. Even though this has a bit of a background music feel without a singer and a mellow tempo I’m not sure I would recommend it as the circular repetition will get in your head.
@@@ Macula Dog: Neosporin (Wharfcat, 2022) My last listen off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums of the week. I think this is trying to be really weird electronic music and it mostly succeeds at it. It’s a bit light and could be weirder if it had some rough sounds. When it does have rough sounds like a blasting bass it’s much better. It reminds of some stoned out Devo flavors rammed through a blenderizer, I like parts of it but overall it’s missing something for me. Some meaning and/or reason for all these sounds. It’s interesting to listen to it pass through but if it had some message or meaning to it besides the sounds it could be really powerful.
@@@ Orchestra Gold: African Psychedelic Rock (Self-released, 2022) Music publicist email. I’m not sure what’s going on with this record as I got an email about it yesterday but Apple Music has it with a 2017 release date so weird. I like aspects fo this guitar heavy first track most notably the sax player going against the grain and the rhythm section. The second tune is a burner at a much higher tempo and sounds less claggy than the opener. The singer is pumped on this track. I like the production here it’s very crunchy and aggressive and the third tune is the best of what I heard. I kinda wish the guitar player was wilder and didn’t stay in the pocket so much. The drummer and the bass player are tight tight tight so he could just roll out and shred but he only goes halfway. Oh no, he’s getting out there in his third track solo c’mon go crazy bruv! I am finishing this post and see that their new single is up on Apple Music and I reviewed their older record so that clarifies that.
@@@ Momi Maiga: Denana (Microscopi, 2022) This is super chill sitch adult alternative African music out of Senegal that I got to via WRIR’s weekly playlist email. He plays the 22 string kora (I’m guessing it’s kora as there’s a lot of these stringed instruments floating around) and he sings. The arrangements are full on pimped out with lots of instruments added to further deepen the tracks, Maiga can sing for sure, and the production is smooth beyond reproach. I wrote a whole review about how it was too chill for my taste but then track 6 came and it’s still chill but he puts in a Spanish guitar (I think) and the rhythm kicks up a notch and I knew this dude could blaze if he wants and while he’s not fully on fire on this track he’s got it going on. So start at track 6 and go from there. It’s a bit too chill for me but I dig this track while others might super like it.
@@@ Dogo du Togo: Soke Wo (Massama Dogo, 2022) This is a pre-release track I got to via this week’s WRIR playlist email. It is unfortunately another African recording driven by nylon string guitar which is a drag for me personally. Somebody is tearing it up on the shaker and there is a nice background vocal section accompanying the male singer. The tempo is brisk but not crazy. The shaker here is the king, followed by the singing and since there’s not a lot going on I have to take points off for the nylon guitar. I would listen to more tracks of this and hope they switch over to electric.
@@@ The Mauskovic Dance Band: Shadance Hall (Dekmantel, 2020) This is a funk record, an EP with some dubs from 2020 though they have a new record but I liked this one better. I find the smashing of straight Devo flavors with funky beats to be a really interesting smashing together of sounds. There’s some reggae up in the bass to go with the krauty snare sound and the other elements. It’s probably one of the finest nerd funk records I’ve ever heard, you know the funk pose is one of the hipster and cool guys and gals. Pimp outfits vs. pencil protectors. Any EP that contains mirror dubs of their tracks is all right with me. The leader here is from Amsterdam and he’s reaching out to the Caribbean and other places for his sounds. I like it.
@@@ Okaidja Afroso: Wole Worhe (Chechekule Records, 2022) Some pretty chill African music I will have to GooglePimp to find its origins — this is from Ghana but the singer and the musicians have heard a fair amount of jazz fusion I’m guessing. The mellowness is driven by the nylon string player and the singing. I don’t dislike it, I just am not jumping up and down. It actually has Brazilian feels to it in the guitar playing, which I find interesting. I’m on the fourth track and the Afro-Brazilian vibes are still strong outside of the call and response singing. I like it but I prefer the more rocking African stuff. Not always but usually.
@@@ Sessa: Cancao a Cura (Mexican Summer, 2022) Coincidentally here we have some Brazilian American music. It sports the same guitar-bass approach to the Okaidja Afroso record above but the singing is presented very differently. It’s a chill sitch to be sure with a little indie music garnish here and there. I’m on the fourth track Seira Sentimental and it’s a super chill sitch, a step down in tempo and close to purple drank territory. Purple drank is codeine laced cough syrup with candy and shit mixed in. I’ve checked out a fair chunk of this record and I like it all right. I don’t think I’m the intended demographic as I like the more fiery business.
@@@ BKO | Djine Bora (Bongo Joe, 2022) A coupla tasty listens off this week’s WRIR playlist email. I tend to like the rocking African records more than the epic, soaring styles presented by major labels. What’s most interesting here the amplified string instrument here — I don’t think it’s a guitar and by the time they’re done distorting it I’m super into it. Add to that the hand drumming and the singing and boom, you got a rocking fucking piece of music that is gonna end up on my year end list. The string playing here is off the fucking hook. Interesting, fresh, creative, etc. It feels ironic to tell folks that enjoy rock to head on over to an African record, but you gotta go where the music leads you. This is some high end rocking shit with great performances, check it out.
@@@ DEATH BY DUB | Abundance (Color Red, 2022) These guys, whoever they be, are an homage to the golden era of dub. These guys are crazy prolific and after clicking around to a bunch of their releases they are all above average in quality with firm rhythms and sweet hornline action. Their latest record is an EP called (it’s a bit confusing because ITunes/Apple Music is such a dysfunctional piece of shit) and the track below has a vocalist if that’s how you roll. There’s not a lot to say here except that the guitar playing is up to the quality of the rhythm section and the horns and I give my seal of approval to this roots record.
@@@ Afrodelic: Weleli (Afrodelic, 2022) I got to this African recording via this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email. I assume that the band Funkadelic partially inspired this music as there’s some shreddy rock guitar and the name, you know Afrodelic Funkadelic, Funkadelic Afrodelic. I’ve checked out this musician’s bio and it’s a blend of influences – African father, European mother, lived in both of those continents so it’s a mash which I dig. I don’t hear a ton of Funkadelic but there is a fair amount of more modern electronic sounds that make this more than a traditional African recording with a blend of electric guitars and African percussion. It’s got a jump around feel that I’m agnostic on but there are places where I be like this is awesome. I will circle back on this record later when I have more time as there’s a lot up in here.
@@@ Cumbiamuffin: Ritmo De Sinaloa (Peace and Rhythm, 2022) Another listen off this week’s WRIR playlist email, that station kicks ass. A kickass cumbia record is a special kind of pleasure and this record has it all — thick and tight rhythms, a female singer working it both melodically and vibe wise and great playing. It would be annoying to get into why this record is slamming but that’s annoying as it’s the complete package. If you can’t recognize music that’s heartfelt, energetic, and pretty much perfectly played I don’t know what to tell you. Year end list for sure. I don’t know how they got to the band name cumbiamuffin, it’s quite unusual but hey get yer freak on!
@@@ Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (The Vital Record, 2022) This is a father son effort out of Zimbabwe that I got to via a WRIR weekly playlist email from a few months ago. The guitar playing is sick and the drumming (when it’s there) is quite fine with the overall level of musicianship quite high. I will not lie, I would love to hear a full band here, especially a bass to anchor the guitar playing and the soaring vocals. Oh Lord, my dream comes true on the fourth track, there’s a great melodic bass player and some female background vocalists that elevate the whole thing. How I wish the whole record flowed like this as it’s beautiful when a full band gets behind this music.
@@@ Richie Spice: Distance (Not Nice, 2022) Some super creamy loverboy reggae I got to via a WRIR playlist email from 4-5 months ago. It’s cheesy, it’s a love song about a man trying to get over his wounds to love again and his appreciation to the woman who is helping him. That’s the dilly and the vocal melodies are quite epic. Maybe a little less reverb but that’s a small ongoing peeve of mine. Impassioned vocals/melodies work much better for me when presented in a thick, rhythmic reggae environment than in an electro pop arrangement for example.