Music for 3/14/23!!! Nyokabi Kariuki

@@@ Nyokabi Kariuki: Feeling Body ( , 2023) I got to this high minded electronic record via Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. The first tune, Sabira, features a lot of vocal tracks, some processed, some stacked, and some taking the lead melody. In addition there’s a fair amount of swirling glitch that darkens the vocals a bit. I like that. I can’t have it all be fluffy and happy, and dreamy, that’s no good for me. The second tune, Feeling Body, opens with a repeating drop of water and we have not seen any beats yet, will there be beats that’s a big demarcating line for a record in my world. I like how the pieces are very here and now, there’s a lot to listen to, it is a bit precious and I have trouble dealing with that aspect of it, it could use a little grit and roughness to pull it from dream world. The title track, clipped below, is 15+ minutes long so I skipped to the third track which features a synthesized voice. The arrangements here are pretty adventurous and I’m super into that. Kariuki was born in Kenya and studied music at NYU, and I hear a bit more of the NYU than the Kenya and as regular readers know I love African music. All the tracks are interesting but this third one is especially interesting. I can listen to the arrangements here and be happy but I would love to hear more sounds that would deepen the record.

Music for 3/8/23!!! Shangah, King Ayisoba

@@@ Emmanuel Jal: Shangah (Gatwitch, 2023) Super popped out African reggae inflected music I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email. I like the second tune Ebul more, it’s got a dark sweeping bassline to balance out the guitars the production. Jal is from Sudan and I like his vocal work but it’s too poppy for me. I would love some more driving rhythms, some more contrasting sounds, etc. This always happens when I’m about to exit a record something cool happens, Jal just went off on a lyrical run where he denounces remote controlled and AI controlled tech weapons, that’s pretty cool.

@@@ King Ayisoba: People Talk Too Much (Glitterbeat Records, 2023) I like the Glitterbeat imprint and try to check out their releases as they release cool music. This first tune is driven by some nice hammered marimba type instruments, some group singing and plenty of hand drumming. Let’s peep a bit more. The second tune, Bossi Labome, has some soaring vocal work, some four on the floor drumming, I think it’s a drum machine he’s got going here (it sounds cool) and some stringed instrument playing. He does some energetic spoken word/quasi singing over the top, not in English a lot and sometimes in English and it’s pretty engaging and powerful. When he starts on the vocal hook ‘People Talk Too Much’ in thickly accented English I’m hooked, this is interesting shit for sure. Musically, lyrically both sides of the equation — a variety of singers, a gruff dude up in there, multiple languages all supported by interesting playing. If you like African music (this gent is from Ghana) I suggest you check this out. About 35 seconds from the end somebody leans on what I think is a guitar solo and starts working against the grain big time, oh it’s delicious.

Music for 3/5/23!!! Arif Mirbaghi

@@@ Arif Mirbaghi: Gestures of Light (Qemaq Feraq, 2023) I got to this jazz record out of the area of Iran. There are four tracks on the record and it’s slotted on Apple Music as prog rock/art rock and I would put in that it has pretty strong indie flavors. Just a sort of pleasant jankyness I’m into, they sound like people playing instruments and not sounds lined up on grids. The instrumentation is acoustic/electric guitar, drum kit, soprano sax/flute (?), synth/electronic bits. It’s got some funk but it’s not sticking out and advertising itself as a funk record, at least to my ears. I’m on the second track Smoke Follows Beauty and it does pump the synth and its prominence in the mix that it does smell very proggy but not really with the super clean and nerdy production you would find in a prog record. You get upright bass switched to electric, and flute and horn switched up, and more or less of the non-Western scales depending on how they’re feeling. I’m on the third track Begging the Moon and it’s pretty frickin’ stylish. Not cliche, fresh, funky and there might even be a bit of humor up in there. Imma check this out, it’s really good.

Music for 3/2/23!!!! La Boa

@@@ La Boa: La Bestia EP (Mambo Negro, 2023) A mash of a lot of musical styles that I really like — cumbia, son, mambo, dub. I got to this via this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email. The second track is reggae flavored with electro bits and Cuban style vocalizing. It’s a mostly upbeat affair and I like it. Many layers of percussion, I dig that, lots of call and response vocals, that’s cool, big dancefloor energy, a fresh mix of sounds, check. I like the churning dub echo guitars in track 4, Se Va. All of this works within their self described Colombian Afrobeat aspirations, something most folks don’t consider — the connections between African music and Latin music. It’s quietly been there for decades, the connection that is, for a lot of hardcore music listeners and folks who listen outside of strict genre lines. I applaud any musicians for breaking down these arbitrary lines that keep listeners and musicians in silos, big ups for taking it on as a mission. Plus you get fat grooves and flavors.

Music for 2/28/23!!! Mi’gmaAfrica, Don Letts

@@@ MI’GMAFRICA: Run Buffalo Run (Nikamo Musik, 2023) A couple of listens off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email. When I checked their bio these guys mix West African music with indigenous Canadian music and they’re from Montreal. Female singer and violin/fiddle over multiple drum tracks, hand drums, and kora! Oy, that’s a mouthful. It’s a groove track with a vocal hook revolving around running like a buffalo. I’m agnostic on it, I like parts of it and I’m not super moved by it at the same time.

@@@ Don Letts: Outta Sync (Cooking Vinyl, 2023) This is a pre-release single off a release coming out on Cooking Vinyl. It’s an interesting blend of reggae with a drum machine beat and a wee bit of spoken word and pop/r&b flavors in there. The UK area has a long tradition of easily mashing different styles and this is an example. I believe the hornline from ‘Low Rider’ is most definitely repackaged here. I like the verses more than the chorus but that’s just me. I’m not sure I would peep a ton more of this. I’m checking out the second pre-release track, Wrong, and I like it a bunch more as it’s stickier with some of the same sounds and I think the hornline from the other track bummed me out.

Music for 2/8/23!!! Son Rompe Pera

@@@ Son Rempa Pera: Chucha (N/A, 2023) I got to this shambolic Mexico City outfit via a music publicist email. It is a pre-release track for an album coming out in a month. It sounds as like the back of a pickup truck loaded up with a marimba player and a bunch of other musicians were given a shit ton of Red Bull and smashed into a dive bar at full speed. Part party, part chaos, part traditional Mexican music. I will definitely be on the lookout for when this record comes out in early March. You don’t have to love marimba to dig this but it sure as fuck helps.

Music for 1/27/23!!! Bassidi Kone, Young Fathers

@@@ Bassidi Kone: Kaira (Self-released, 2023) Oh man, if you’re up for some insane hand drumming to start or continue your day, check this guy. The music itself is very very layered with multiple string players, a strong female singer, electric bass, and a lot of rhythm tracks. I skipped to the next track, An Ka Ben, which throws an African marimba and a horn section into the mix. Oh Lord, it’s an incredible stew with the hand drumming slicing through like crazy. That’s right like crazy is an acceptable music review term. The playing here is at a very very high level and it is a unique listening experience. The large ensemble sound of all musicians playing organically is beautiful.

@@@ Young Fathers: Heavy Heavy (Ninja Tune, 2023) Off this week’s All Music notable release email. These guys are black (Afro-British and they bring a little swing and black music tradition to their mash of rock and mainstream music. I correct myself, this is not rock, it’s pop rock music with big melodies. I like the energy and I like the vocal melodies but I need more. I can see this going somewhat big here in the America with the epic pop music fans.

Music for 1/26/23!!!! Juanita Euka, Mass Konpa

@@@ Juanita Euka: Mboka Moko (Strut, 2022) A coupla listens off WRIR’s weekly playlist email. A female singer from the Congo, the second song (clipped below) opens with lush production, French vocals and a nice quasi-chicken scratch guitar before it slips into English vocals and a smooth, fusion-y groove. All right-y I’m guessing a lot of folks dig this style and the part of it close to Earth Wind and Fire I do dig. Let’s peep more. Ooh, the third track comes out as an African salsa jam and I dig that. Big swaggering horns, lots of rhythms, and again with the vocals in English. I would prefer non-English vocals but that’s just me. I respect the band here, especially the guitarist who is constantly catching my ear but the songs aren’t landing with me. Of course, they might for you. Track 4, Suenos de Libertad, is the most heartfelt track of the three I checked out. I would start with that track and go from there.

@@@ Mass Konpa: Sans Regret (Self-released, 2023) This is some Haitain band music though it is classified as hip hop on Apple Music. Oy. The tempo is semi-laidback, the rhythms are thick and the singer is smooth. I don’t love the soprano sax but that’s a pet peeve of mine. Let’s check a coupla other tracks. The third track, Gad on F anm, is even sweeter — I imagine it’s some sort of ballad and I like it less than the previous one. I really like Haitian music but I think this is just a bit too smooth and poppy for my taste.

Music for 1/11/23!!! Lila Tarando a Violeta

@@@ Lila Tirando a Violeta: Desire Path (NAAFI Tapes, 2022) I’m scraping through all manner of end of 2022 lists as not much new music is released in January and I found this record towards the bottom of Pitchfork’s best electronic music of the year. I like the opening track, it’s got funk in the beat and weirdness in the rest of the mix so you can just kick back and groove on that weirdness as she pumps the beat. Let’s peep a bit more. I don’t like the second track as much as the beat is a bit more klunky and takes over the track a bit much but hey, you might dig it. The third track Tungsten Tears is a starred track on Apple Music and features a vaguely Latin beat that spins around a metallic drop followed by a sound very similar to a thumb piano. Very rhythmic and the melody falls in and synchs with the beat before breaking out into another section. She gets into some wood stick skittering that could be emulating hi hat but it’s stylish and hot and I’m feeling this track. Both dancefloor qualified as well as abstractly interesting to listen to. I wouldn’t say this hits the spot bingo but I respect the arrangements as well as a lot of the feels that the formula produces.

Music for 1/9/23!!! Systema Solar, Amaru Tribe

@@@ Systema Solar: Comer de Verdad (Self-released, 2022) This is the #1 single for ’22 at WRIR in Virginia and there’s no disputing it’s a hellacious track for accordion lovers, fans of a big stew of rhythm and all music lovers actually. Fat drummer, banging accordion and a call and response vocal section that just breaks your shit down. Even has turntable scratching. You gotta peep this shit and if you don’t like it well yer not very bright.

@@@ Amaru Tribe: Candela Viva (Vibrating Planet, 2022) Another rhythmic banger off WRIR’s best singles of 2022 list. An accordion on this one too, but a bit more an electro feel with big diva vocals instead of the mature gents in the video above. It has some stylish disco aspirations and they take those and smash them into a world music framework. I like the first single a bit more but this one will get you high steppin’ for sure.