Album Reviews: Analog Players Society’s CKY-JFK and Umberto’s Confrontations


Analog Players Society


Studio Brooklyn Records

Release Date: May 16, 2013


Track Listing

1.     Coule’Ba feat. Missia Saran Diabate

2.     Korosi feat. Petite Konde and Mamady Kouyate

3.     Moula feat. Missia Saran Diabate and Famoro Dioubate

4.     Coule’Ba (Version)



The origin of Brooklyn-based act, Analog Players Society can be traced to around 2009, when founding member, composer, arranger and percussionist Amon had been involved with the then-newly founded Hook Studio in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn as a new partner. At the time, he had just finished a 4 year stint as a resident percussionist for Afrokinetic, and was working on some electronica-based material that wasn’t satisfying him creativity – in fact, he had become increasingly interested in writing, working, creating and recording real music with like-minded musicians. As it turns out, the music scene, whether you’re in New York, Tel Aviv, Moscow, Hartford or anyplace else, is kind of small, and Amon encountered a ton of musicians who were into dance music, the traditional folk music of Western Africa and using both modern digital recording techniques and analog recording techniques, including Peter Fand (who like Anon was a student of M’bemba Bangoura); Missia Saran Diabate, a vocalist who’s been described as the Guinean Tina Turner; Mamady Kouyate, one of the forefathers of the Afro-Jazz movement that started in Guinea back in the 60s and 70s; and Famoro Dioubate, the grandson of of El Hadj Djelli Sory Kouyate, the beloved legend of the Mandeng balafon – Dioubate is known in the States for leading several groups and as a producer of several West African acts.

  The acts’ debut effort, Hurricane Season in Brooklyn was well-received as it adeptly and charmingly ran the gamut of soul, funk and disco with live instrumentation and interesting arrangements, in a similar fashion to Jazzanova’s The Funkhaus Sessions – in other words dance music that manages to be timeless and romantic without being cheesy or faking sincerity. Their follow-up CKY –JFK isn’t so much of a change of sonic direction, as it is paying homage to the music that inspired Amon and his collaborators. And much like their debut, it has the warm fuzziness of analog recording – in fact, if you weren’t able to pick up some of the modern recording techniques used throughout the album, you’d probably think you were hearing a recording that would have been played on the streets of Conakry.

  Album opener “Coule’Ba” starts off with a stomping four on the floor beat, sinuous guitar and Diabate’s powerful voice, which sounds much like how I would imagine a deity calling you down to the dance floor with tremendous joy. The track is punctuated with explosive blasts of live percussion that creates an irresistibly lively feel. “Korosi” is a track with elements of funk, jazz and Afrobeat – the track is punctuated with airy bursts of flute and an impressive horn line straight out of Fela’s Afrika 70. “Moula” is a shimmering track, propelled by percussion – namely the Mandeng balafon, an instrument that’s clearly related to xylophone and vibraphone. The track builds to an irresistible climax before gently fading out.

   The album is slickly produced but it wears its sincerity and heart on its proverbial sleeve. We’re talking about a living, breathing and very vibrant music that comes from a community that’s equally as vibrant and passionate.  Certainly, the album will be a continuing education and introduction to the sounds of Western Africa and of the proud people of Guinea – a people, whose culture and art had been hidden from us, thanks in part to colonialism and to a series brutally oppressive dictators. But let it also serve as an introduction to the incredible Missia Saran Diabate. She makes her presence known and felt with a proudly booming voice.

Photo Credit: Tim Goodwillie  




Not Not Fun Records

Release Date: February 5, 2013


Track Listing

1.     Night Fantasy

2.     Initial Revelation

3.     Confrontation

4.     Dead Silent Morning

5.     The Summoning

6.     Final Revelation

7.     The Invasion


The classically trained, Kansas City, MO-based musician and producer Matt Hill, who writes and records under the moniker Umberto has claimed that his sound is equally inspired by the throbbing synthesizers of John Carpenter film scores of the early 80s and the scores of Italian giallo films. Interestingly, after the release of his sophomore effort Prophecy of the Black Widow, Hill had received tons of offers to perform live scores for new prints of overlooked horror classics for various experimental cineaste societies across both the UK and Europe and the songs of Hill’s latest effort Confrontations seems to deeply reflect that as each of the album’s seven tracks feel as though they’re part of the score of an eerie, fucked up sci-fi dystopia. As an organic whole, each deeply layered track, full of swooning and swelling synths and echoing voices that conveys an ominous and anxious sense of dread that will burrow its way into the deepest recesses of your psyche. Play it and you’ll feel certain that there’s been an alien invasion of body snatchers, and that your very humanity is at stake.