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Posts Tagged ‘Reggae

For the last ten years or so, the collective Fanga has been on the up, blending Afrobeat, Jazz and Funk. An alliance of complementary personalities and cosmopolitan energies, Fanga first took form in 1998. Returning from Africa, Serge Amiano brings back a few vinyls of the likes of Fela, CS Crew and CK Mann that he plays to the Burkinabese rapper Korbo. Amiano being a hip-hop producer naturally takes on the role of the group’s artistic director right from the start.

The discovery of this urban African music of the 1970s quickly forms the basis of a shared passion. Fanga brings out its first six tracks in 2001, the group records “Afrokalyptik” in 2003, its first album. The following album “Natural Juice” comes out in 2007, warmly received and with much acclaim. Fanga is not only highly praised by Gilles Peterson but also the New York magazine Wax Poetics.

Despite being firmly rooted in certain Nigerian and Ghanean musical traditions (those of the 1970s’ afro-beat and high-life) Fanga is equally at home to musical concoction, as demonstrated by the samples and other hip-hop and electronic ingredients, not to mention the vocals in Dioula, English and French. The gritty horns and earthy analogue keyboards shape the group’s sound whilst Korbo has no hesitation in embracing his Mandingue roots.

Brought up on the raw energy of hip-hop, the group reposes equally on certain values that even today can only be found in Africa, a sort of candour and instinctive sense of rhythm which lends such freshness to Fanga. This urge to respond when faced with a base emotion, however fleeting, has governed their musical progression since the beginning of the 2000s.

These guys have a bit more grit in their grooves than most,  still very much in the best 70s-inspired Afro Funk styles you’d expect, but with a nice edge in some of the rhythmic undercurrents, almost as if their new recordings were actually some lost indie label sets from years back!

Empassioned and passionate.

hese guys have a bit more grit in their grooves than most — still very much in the best 70s-inspired Afro Funk styles you’d expect, but with a nice edge in some of the rhythmic undercurrents — almost as if their new recordings were actually some lost indie label sets from years back!

Killer gem from Brazil!!

This is a widely unknown, but excellent and charming conglomerate of Hip Hop, electronic music, Funk, Soul and Jazz with the finest Brazilian music traditions like Samba. Eduardo Bidlovski (Bid) is the composer and producer of this 2005 album and he not only has created a bunch of smooth, but never dull songs. Bid also assembled extraordinary guests for “Bambas & Biratas”.  Black Rio Soul legend Carlos Daffé opens the record with his warm voice on the catchy tune “não pára”, while Samba Queen Elza Soares later proves she also fits perfectly on relaxed tunes. But this is not a record that tries to gather attentions with Brazilian singer legends, the majority are contemporary artists and Brazil has a rich scene which fuses modern influences with traditional aspects. Rapper Black Alien, whizz kid Chico Science or everybody’s darling Seu Jorge are a few of them and also do participate. All in all 56 musicians were involved in this highly recommend work. Vol. 2 is announced for end of the year.

Tua Beleza.

Way too long no sweet rocksteady at urbanology, here is a killer compilation, a must have.  Bunny Lee, one of the greatest Jamaican producers aka “Striker”, who had one Rock Steady hit after another in the hot Jamaican summers in the late 60s, when rocksteady was the big new thing on the isle. Out of this most productive era the well made compilation presents 25 killer tracks produced by Bunny Lee. You get all the big names: Slim Smith, Alton Ellis, Sensations, Errol Dunkley, Uniques – but also artists like Webber Sisters with their terrific female rocksteady groover “What I´m gonna do”. I bet only rocksteady fanatics knew them before. CD and vinyl are added by good liner notes, one reason more to get this germ.

Right on time.

Not many information available about this Jam Band from Tel Aviv, which kindly gives us a hint with their group name. If you like modern Afrobeat-based bands like Antibalas, you can hop on the train, the waggons beside Afrobeat are Funk, Soul, Jazz, diverse Latin styles, Hip Hop and some Mideast influences.  Sounds promising? It is!

Anikuku consists of DJ Sabbo, member of the fantastic Soulico crew, who plays a prominet role in the band and which results in a different sound compared to bands like Antibalas; the several times at urbanology featured Kutiman; Yaya Cohen Aharonov (bass) and Shlomi Alon (sax) from the highly recommend hebrew Hip Hop/Funk group Hadag Nahash, as well as Ilan Arad (sax) and Idan K (percussions, dijeridoo).

Just having Funk!


Bernd Friedman a.k.a. Burnt Friedman (and other uncountable pseudonyms) invited 20 musicians from Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Cape Town, Santiago de Chile and Cologne to participate in making “Can’t Cool”, a fascinating blend of styles and sounds that always keeps you on the edge of your seat. This record provides another zest clue in introducing the means of Dub-music, but stop, not only in the classical dub way or in the modern meaning of dub productions with the mixer as the central method. “Can´t cool” introduces the means of Dub-music production to various genres: blues, soul, klezmer and afrofunk without spending time wasting sound-effects. The tracks are relatively short and compact although they contain a large amount of live instruments. The record is an exotic afro-dub hybrid with more than a blend of soulful songs with the featured vocalists Abi, Patrice, Lovetta Pippin and Theo Altenberg. Burnt Friedman appears to have put aside his penchant for shapeshifting games and jazz, but perhaps it’s still lurking there deep down under the mellifluous tones and guest vocals. Can’t Cool is a heavier, more richly melodic sound than his previous music.

Just listen to the opening track “fuck back” and take a comfortable seat in your virtuel coffee shop, awesome and there are eleven more tracks to come. “Can´t cool” from 2003 is a masterpiece and what seemed initially to be straightahead and smooth is revealed to be complex, detailed and a real work of art.

Fly your kite.


Let´s count the reggae releases in your collection which are not from Jamaica or at least from an jamaican artist. Not that much, right? Well, there are a lot of fantastic non-jamaican reggae artists and in a lot of countries all over the world a good reggae scene developed and more and more bands are growing from these roots. Ponto de Equilíbrio are an outcome from the brasilian reggae scene and with no doubt play at the international top level, with a lot of other non-jamaican bands, home-grown reggae acts have sprung up across the globe. Ponto de Equilíbrio were formed 1999 in Rio de Janeiro and blend traditional aspects of roots reggae with musical flavours from across Brazil into an utterly distinctive and highly refreshing individual sound. This band is not just an copy of jamaican roots reggae, it´s the brasilian version and a further development inside the brasilian music landscape.

Compared to other parts of the world reggae music came very early to Brasil and soon wasn´t only listened by the people, but also involved in the brasilian music. Just listen to the artists from the Tropicalia movement from the late 60s and early 70s, especially Gilberto Gil and you will hear a lot of reggae influences. Today reggae is in some parts of Brasil, the Northeast and also in some parts of the Amazon, a widely popular music with a lively local scenes. Ironically Rio de Janeiro isn´t really a hotspot of reggae music, but Ponto de Equilíbrio are for sure such a hotspot.

The group’s second album, “abre a janela”, conveys a diverse selection of moods and emotions, from deep, mellow grooves such as “janela da favela”, to summery upbeat songs like “verdaderio valor” or “tão bela”. The song “quem Sabe” even feeds Jamaican music back into the Latin Quarter of its roots, when it  interplays between local styles and reggae mixes up a tasty cocktail of sounds. On “abre a janela” (open the window) afro-brasilian dance rhythms as well as dub and ska, are all underpinned by the constant spirit and feel of roots reggae.

Singer Helio Bentes plays the principal role with his richly animated and passionate perfect reggae voice, which is often accompanied by sweet female backing vocals. However, this does not deprive other band members of opportunities to express themselves.

A very talented band, benefitting from some fine production by Chico Neves and some of the few bands which lyrics are worth reading. “‘O Inimigo” (The Enemy), for example, is an attack on the brasilian state of society with its well-documented social segregation and racial discrimination which ravages the country. Spiky horn stabs punctuate the opening verses, and a later passage of rapped lyrics over minimal dub backdrop provides an interesting contrast.

Você vai ver a beleza que tem por dentro dela


As a reader of urbanology you might know Kutiman already and his funky afro-beat clash from Tel Aviv. Kutiman now lifts sampling to a new level. He gone through hundreds of YouTube vids in which people from all over the world played instruments, from the kid who plays bass in front of his unit wall, the drummer in his garage or the old lady playing organ in church. Kutiman samples them all, throws them in the mixer and spits out funky outer space songs, ranging from dubby reaggae influenced tunes to straight funk smashers, hell yeah! And the best, you also can see all the samples he took from the vids and looped. Read much more about this project at wired.com and of course visit Kutiman´s webpage to listen to the music and see the vids. If you want to download the songs and don´t want to rip them to mp3 from youtube by yourself, have a look here.

Kutiman created Sampling 2.0 for the internet age and follows the tracksof all the pioneers from the early 80s to the video scratching pioneers from the early 90s. And it is raising questions about copyright issues once again, is it another nail in the coffin of copyright as we know it? I recommend you also to visit the webpage of an interesting project of Johannes Kreidler on the copyright issues and how these don´t fit anymore in the digital age.

All the other songs: here. WYSIWYG.

always open minded! feel free to leave a comment if you like or dislike the music, the review or just this blog in general. make the monologue a dialogue! (and receiving some responses keeps me motivated)

normally I try to post new stuff once a week, quality not quantity, so the front page shows you the posts of the last month, but there is a lot more to discover, just click your way thru the older entries.

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