Category: Afrofuturism

Interview: A Q&A with The Orielles

I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising and acclaimed Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles over the past couple of years. Founded by siblings Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (vocals, bass) and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals), the JOVM mainstays built up a great deal of buzz, when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016.

2017’s critically applauded, full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment found the band establishing a genre-defying sound that meshed elements of psych rock, pop and disco centered around surrealistic observations of everyday life. After the release of Silver Dollar Moment, the band’s founding trio recruited Alex Stephens (keys) as a full-time member of the band, expanding the band into a quartet. And with their newest member, they went into the studio to record material that included “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” Those two singles saw the band’s sound increasingly (and playfully) leaning towards Speaking in Tongues-era Talking HeadsESG and the like, while featuring rock-based instrumentation.

Released earlier this year, The Orielles’ sophomore album Disco Volador continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with producer Marta Salogni – and the album’s material finds the newly constituted quartet pushing their sound towards its outer limits. The end result is that the rapidly rising Halifax-based JOVM mainstays have sonically become astral travelers of sorts, creating mind-bending, trippy and progressive material that features elements of samba, ‘70s disco, boogie funk, 80s New Wave, dance floor grooves and ‘90s acid house. The material also draws from the work of Italian film score composers Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliami, as well as contemporary acts like Khruangbin and Altin Gun. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” the band’s Sidonie B. Hand-Halford says in press notes.

Deriving its name from a literal interpretation from Spanish that means flying disc, the band’s Esme Dee Halford says, “ . . . everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens when to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party. But it’s an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”

The album also manages to capture the British indie quartet riding high off the success of their critically applauded debut, which included a lengthy and successful summer tour with festival stops Green Man and bluedot. Two official singles have been released off the album so far: the expansive, hook-driven and genre-defying “Come Down On Jupiter,” which features a slow-burning and brooding intro, before quickly morphing into a bit of breakneck guitar pop before ending with a psychedelic freakout – and “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme),” a shimmering dance floor friendly boogie woogie with an lysergic air. And interestingly enough, the album’s first two singles are perfect examples of how versatile and dexterous the JOVM mainstays are – they’re pulling from a wild and eclectic array of sources, like a bunch of mad, crate-digging audiophiles and meshing them into something familiar yet completely novel.

The members of The Orielles are about to embark on their first North American tour. And as you may recall, the tour will include a handful of sets at the second annual  New Colossus Festival. Unfortunately, SXSW has been cancelled because of COVID 19 – but as of this writing, the band’s West Coast dates are still happening. You can check out those tour dates below.

For JOVM’s latest Q&A, I contacted the members of the British JOVM mainstay act. We discuss Halifax’s local sites of note, their impressive and expansive sophomore album, their cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane),” the gorgeous and cinematic video for “Come Down on Jupiter,” their upcoming Stateside debut and New Festival Colossus Festival sets and more.  Check it out, below.

TOUR DATES:

3/11/2020-3/15/2020 – New York, NY – New Colossus Festival

3/24/2020 – Los Angeles CA – Moroccan Lounge

3/25/2020 – San Francisco CA – Popscene at Rickshaw Stop

3/27/2020– Boise ID – Treefort Music Festival

3/28/2020 – Portland OR – Bunk Bar

3/29/2020 – Seattle WA – Vera Project

TheOrielles_CreditHollyFernando
Photo Credit: Holly Fernando

cover The Orielles - Disco Volador 

 

TNC20-SchedulePoster-R18-WebMockup-4x5

_________

WRH: If I’m traveling to Halifax and Northern England in general, what should I see and do that would give me a taste of local life? Why? 

The Orielles: In Halifax, we really recommend checking out Revo Records to stock up on some quality vinyl. Then head over to the Meandering Bear for a beer before finishing on a cocktail and The Lantern! Also, The Piece Hall is definitely worth a scoop!

WRH: Are there any bands from Halifax or from Northern England that should be getting love in the States that hasn’t yet – and should be? 

The Orielles: There are a few really sick bands coming out of Halifax and West Yorkshire right now. Most noteably The Lounge Society and Short Causeway. We have also just done a few shows with a great young band from the South of England called Drug Store Romeos. Well worth a listen, they’re gonna be biiiggg!

WRH: How did you get into music? 

 The Orielles:  We have all grown up listening to music and trawling through our parents record collections definitely helped influence our love and passion for music. We started playing music pretty much by chance. When we met each other, only Henry could actually play an instrument, but we decided to meet up and jam together the following day regardless. After that we realised our passion for playing music together was huge and we didn’t want to do anything else.

 WRH: Who are your influences? 

The Orielles: Our main influences include Stereolab, Air, ESG, The Pastels and YMO amongst others!

WRH: Who are you listening to right now? 

The Orielles: Right now, [we’ve] been listening to the new Jessica Pratt record a lot! Also, Big Thief and our faves, Altin Gün.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar to you? 

The Orielles: We like to describe our sound as post-punk funk.

 WRH: Before you went into the studio to your latest album Disco Volador, the band added keyboardist Alex Stephens. Has the addition of Stephens changed your creative process at all? And if so, how? 

The Orielles: He helped to develop our sound and his expanded knowledge on chords and harmony really worked well with our vision of what we wanted this record to be. The creative process stayed the same, we all still write together, and the recording process has always been very collective and shared. We never like it to be rigid in terms of what we play.

WRH: Sadly, it doesn’t appear on the new album, but I love your cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” How did that come about? 

The Orielles:  Thanks! We wanted to cover a song for a B-side and thought it’d be fun to rework something that wasn’t the genre of music that we make already.

We also love that song and listen to a lot of dance and electronic music so had the idea to try add our own personality to the cover.

WRH: Two of my favorite songs on the album are album opener “Come Down on Jupiter” and album closer “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme).” Can you tell me a bit about what they’re about and what influenced them? 

The Orielles: “Jupiter” is about the idea of fate and being controlled by a potential higher force from outer space. “Space Samba” is a similar idea but more about boogie and having a disco in space!

We were influenced by bands such as Stereolab, Talking Heads, Arthur Russell, and John Coltrane.

WRH: I love Rose Hendry’s cinematic and hallucinogenic video treatment for “Come Down on Jupiter.” How did that collaboration come about? Can you talk a bit about how the treatment came about? 

The Orielles: We met Rose through a recommendation and as soon as we read her treatment we were in love with her creativity and her ability to be able to understand the lyrics and the ideas of the song on a deeper level.

We think she’s done a really great job of it and are very proud.

WRH: With the release of your debut, 2017’s Silver Dollar Moment, the band went from being one of the most exciting, emerging bands in Northern England to becoming an international blogosphere sensation, playing some of the biggest festivals of the UK touring circuit. How does it feel to be in the middle of that whirlwind of attention and activity?  

The Orielles: It’s really surreal! We definitely didn’t expect for our music to be so well received and for that we’re eternally grateful.

WRH: From what I understand, as you were touring to support Silver Dollar Moment, the members of the band wound up absorbing a wider and more eclectic array of music and sounds – in particular the film scores of Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umilani, as well as the work of Khruangbin and Altin Gun (who I really dig, by the way). And sonically, the album does manage to reflect getting into a wider variety of things, throwing them into a big old pot and mixing them into something that’s sort of recognizable and sort of alien. So as a result, the material on Disco Volador seems like a bold and self-assured expansion of your sound. Was this intentional? And how much did Altin Gun influence the overall sound and aesthetic? 

The Orielles: I guess it was sorta intentional. We don’t really listen to a lot of western music and prefer exploring other styles and eras.  I think just expanding our musical palette meant that this progression came naturally.

We have been listening to Altin Gun for a while now after first seeing them play in Utrecht. We love the way that they can make traditional Turkish folk songs very danceable and fun and wanted to replicate that idea with guitar music.

WRH: There are brief hints at 80s New Wave – there’s a brief 30 second or so sequence on “Rapid I” that reminds me of Stop Making Sense-era Talking Heads before closing out with a house music-influenced freakout coda. How much did house music and New Wave influence the material? 

 The Orielles: Those genres inspire us a lot. We feel that they are often a lot more interesting than straight up guitar indie etc. We also really wanted to have a go at creating guitar music that people can have a boogie to.

WRH: Disco Volador finds the band returning to the same studio you recorded Silver Dollar Moment and continuing an ongoing collaboration with Marta Salogni. How has it been to work with her? 

The Orielles: Working with Marta is incredible! She’s such a great energy and has a really special and inspiring knowledge of musical production. She’s also a great storyteller and really hilarious!

WRH: You’re about to embark on a handful of sets at this year’s New Colossus Festival here in NYC, before heading down to Austin for SXSW. If I’m not mistaken, these sets will be your first Stateside shows. Are you excited? Nervous? What should Stateside audiences expect from your live show? 

The Orielles:  That’s right! It’ll be our first time playing there. We’re very excited! We are hugely inspired by the NYC late 70s/80s art and music scene and so playing out there will feel special to us.

WRH: Is there anything you’re looking forward to on your first Stateside tour? 

The Orielles:  We’re looking forward to living up to our collective nickname and being proper ‘thrift shop cowboys’. Also excited for hopefully a bit of Vitamin D in California lol.

WRH: Provided that you’ll have the chance to do so: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to catching at New Colossus? 

The Orielles: Looking forward to catching label mates, Stealing Sheep as well as a band from Bilbao, Belako.

WRH: After you play New Colossus and SXSW what’s next for you? Will there be more Stateside tour dates? 

The Orielles: Yes! After the festivals we do a short headline tour of the West Coast. Doing LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Treefort Festival in Boise.

 

Advertisements

New Video: JOVM Mainstays KOKOKO! Release a Cinematically Shot and Feverish Visual for Brooding Album Single “Zala Mayele”

Led by Makara Biano and prolific French producer débruit, the pioneering Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective KOKOKO! is inspired by a growing spirit of protest and unrest among their hometown’s young people. Much like young people everywhere, Kinshasa’s young people have begun to openly question centuries-old norms and taboos, and have openly begun to denounce a society they perceive as being paralyzed by fear — namely, the fear of inclusiveness and much-needed change. The collective and their counterparts have done this with a fearless, in-your-face, punk-rock sort of attitude and ethos. That shouldn’t be surprising as the rapidly rising collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! — with the collective viewing themselves as the sound and voice of a bold, new generation defiantly and urgently banging on the doors and walls, and yelling “OUR TIME IS NOW!” 

Speaking of DIY, the collective’s members operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instruments from recycled flotsam and jetsam and recovered junk. They even built a recording studio out of old mattresses, reclaimed wood and an old ping-pong table. Unsurprisingly, the act’s creative processes is centered round the notion that poverty and the desperately urgent need to survive often fuels creativity. Now,  as you may recall the Congolese collective exploded into the national scene with their debut EP 2017’s Tokoliana, a forward-thinking, urgent effort featuring a difficult to pigeonhole sound with elements of disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and the region’s traditional music that seemed to come from an alien yet familiar near dystopian future in which the ghetto and the club are intertwined. 

Tokoliana’s follow-up TONGOS’A EP further explored themes of survival within the desperate and uneasy sociopolitical climate of their homeland, in which the average person may be forced on absolute certainties — the small, deeply human pleasures we, in the First World sometimes take for granted. 

Last year’s full-length debut Fongola was released to critical acclaim from the likes of NPR, The Guardian, Mixmag, Mojo, Dazed and i-D Magazine. The Congolese collective made their live, Stateside debut with a tour stop here in NYC, as well as an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which helped them gain a following here in the States.  

Building upon their rapidly growing profile, the Kinshasa-based collective start off their 2020 with the latest single off their critically applauded full-length debut, the percussive “Zala Mayele.” Centered around layers of thumping polyrhythm, a propulsive bass line, a looping sample of a gorgeous string section and distorted vocals, the track may arguably be the most brooding and atmospheric tracks on the entire album — while still being remarkably dance floor friendly. 

“‘Zala Mayele’s lyrics are about the dangers in Kinshasa’s streets (thieves, sorcerers, gangs, and more) and the importance of distinguishing what is what, what is hidden under what shape, in disguise and around the corner, in the shadows.” The cinematically shot video for “Zala Mayele” follows a young boy — Issa — as he wanders the streets of his hometown on his own. During his journey, he encounters and is threatened by a variety of dangers booth real and imagined that blind, titillate and confuse him. These dangers “little by little, he will be able to notice and take control with a trip on the other side of the mirror,” the band says in press notes. 

New Video: Rapidly Rising Afro Pop Act ONIPA Releases a Vibrant Visual for Club Banging Single “Makoma”

Deriving their name from the Akan word for “human,” the London-based Afro pop/dance pop act ONIPA features an All-Star cast of collaborators that includes the act’s core duo, longtime friends, Kweku of Ghana’s and KOG and the Zongo Brigade’s KOG (vocals. balafon and percussion) and Nubiyan Twist’s Tom Excell (guitar, production, electronics) with Wonky Logic’s Dwayne Kilvington synths and MPC) and Nubiyan Twist’s Finn Booth (drums) joining the band for live shows. The act views its work as a message of connection through high energy and deep, dance floor friendly grooves. 

Following an attention-grabbing set at this year’s Felabration at Amsterdam’s Paradiso alongside Pat Thomas and Dele Sosimi, the rapidly rising London-based Afro pop act is gearing up for what may arguably be a momentous 2020: their full-length debut is slated for release next year through Strut Records and they’ll be supporting the album with an extensive tour across the UK and European Union during the Spring and Summer. 

“Makoma,” the full-length album’s first single is a buoyant and vibrant club banger centered around looping and shimmering guitars, stuttering polyrhythm, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, call and response vocals and a raucous, crowd pleasing hook. Mischievously nodding at soca, the Pan African song features lyrics sung in Twi and Sisaala while sonically being indebted to the sounds of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Ghana — primarily soukous, but with a slick, modern production. 

The recently released video for “Makoma” features a collection of beautiful African people within a vibrant color palette riding bicycles across the African countryside for a bit, before stopping to sing and dance along to the song, The video captures the simple and profound joy of being with your friends and enjoying your favorite song, 

New Video: Speed Through the Streets of Kinshasa in Visuals for TSHEGUE’s Thumping “The Wheel”

Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Faty Sy Savanet and her family emigrated to Paris when she was eight. In her early twenties, a mutual friend connected Savanet with Robert Wyatt collaborator Bertrand Burgalat, whose label, Tricatel has been referenced as a major influence of the likes of Air and Daft Punk.

Burgalat encouraged and enabled many of Savanet’s formative musical experiments, including a short-lived voodoo ‘n’ roll band. Interestingly, Savanet’s latest project TSHEGUE, which derives its name from her childhood nickname, a Congolese slang term for the boys who gather on Kinshasa’s streets, can trace its origins to when she met her bandmate, French-Cuban producer Nicolas ‘Dakou’ Dacunha.

Their debut EP, 2017’s Survivor thematically explored the challenges faced by the African Diaspora paired with Dacunha’s forward-hthinking, hypnotic, club-banging productions which features elements of Afropunk, garage rock and electro-clash. Survivor EP was championed by the likes of Mura Masa and Noisey, which led to a growing international profile. And adding to a growing profile, the video for “Munapoto,” which was shot on the Ivory Coast received a UK Music Video Award nomination alongside videos for tUnE-YaRdS and Chaka Khan.

“The Wheel,” the first bit of new material from the duo since the release of Survivor EP, and I’m certain that it’ll further cement TSHEGUE’s growing reputation for crafting swaggering, forward-thinking, genre and style-blurring bangers. Centered around a wildly exuberant, hypnotic and percussive production featuring ricocheting industrial clang and clatter, stuttering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, explosive blasts of bass synth paired with Savanet’s commanding flow, the song bears a resemblance to JOVM mainstays Kokoko! as it sounds as though it comes from a sweaty, post-apocalyptic future where the club and the ghetto are one and the same — but delivered with a decidedly punk aggressiveness.

Directed by Renaud Barret, who was also behind the Africa Express documentary featured Damon Albarn, Peter Hook and Tony Allen, the recently released video for “The Wheel” was filmed in a gorgeously cinematic black and white amidst the chaotic traffic of Savanet’s hometown, follows members of the local, mixed-gender, teenaged skating club, Club Etoile Rollers hitching rides on the backs of speeding busses, cars, motorbikes through the heaving megalopolis’ crowded streets. Speaking about the video Barret says ““An ordinary day in Kinshasa. I’m in a taxi on Lumumba Boulevard, when suddenly I’m in the middle of this gang of kids slaloming between cars. We exchange thumbs up, signs of complicity, rolling side by side for a moment. One of them spots my camera, and comes closer to shout ‘Hey sir! Do you wanna shoot something crazy?’ I couldn’t refuse. This is the magic of a limitless city where each and every day brings incredible spontaneous possibilities. Now as I watch the beaming faces of these kids, thrown at full speed on their crumbling rollers, almost out of control, intoxicated by danger and only protected by their faith in good luck; I can only see a metaphor for the Congo’s situation. But also a middle finger to a society trying to maintain an illusion that everything should be controlled, supervised. These free riders remind us that life must be lived in the present.”

The duo has begun to make a name for themselves with commanding live performances, including sets at Lowlands and The Great Escape Festivals and from what I understand the act will be announcing a series of headlining UK live shows to coincide with the release of more new material.

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the up-and-coming indie electro pop/neo-soul act Seba Kaapstad, and as you may recall, the act which is comprised of founding members Sebastian “Seba” Schuster, Zoe Modiga and Ndumiso Manana along with their newest member, Philip “Pheel” Scheibel is split between Cape Town, South Africa and Stuttgart, Germany, and can trace its origins to when Schuster landed in Cape Town back in 2013. While studying at the University of Cape Town, Schuster met Modiga and Manana and began working together in an informal setting, in which they jammed playing standards and rearranged songs of their choice. And as they continued working together, the trio recognized a deeper chemistry within their work.

As the story goes, before Schuster returned to Germany, he asked his future bandmates if they’d be interested in recording back in his homeland — and over the next few months, he spent time writing and organizing sessions with the focus on what would eventually become Seba Kaapstad. After a series of phone calls, emails and trips back and forth to Cape Town, the act’s founding trio had written the material that would eventually comprise their full-length debut, 2016’s Tagore.

Thina, Seba Kaapstad’s highly-anticipated full-length sophomore album is slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Mello Music Group, and the album finds the act further expanding on a genre-mashing, globalist sound that draws from neo-soul, hip-hop, jazz, electro pop and Afro pop — while adding a new member Philip “Pheel” Scheibel. Album single “Africa” was centered around a slick and mind-melting production that features elements of smoky jazz, swaggering hip hop, soul and Pan African vibes that brings Soul II Soul, Erykah Badu, theeSatisfaction, The Roots and Flying Lotus to mind.

The album’s latest single “Bye” is centered around an atmospheric and  cosmically shimmering production featuring a sinuous bass line, fluttering synths, thumping beats while Manana and Modiga’s ethereal boy-girl melodies and harmonies describe the self-doubt, anxiety and uncertainty filled moments of attraction at first blush. Splitting between the male and female perspective, the song’s central story should feel familiar: it’s the internal monologue many of us have had when we’ve encountered a new potential love interest.

 

New Video: Introducing the Futuristic Genre Blurring Sounds of Seba Kaapstad

Comprised of founding members Sebastian “Seba” Schuster, Zoe Modiga and Ndumiso Manana with their newest member, Philip “Pheel” Scheibel, the members of indie electro pop/neo-soul act Seba Kaapstad are split between Cape Town, South Africa and Stuttgart, Germany — and interestingly, the act can trace its origins to when Schuster landed in Cape Town, South Africa in 2013. While studying at the University of Cape Town, Schuster began working with Modiga and Manana in an informal setting, in which they jammed standards and rearranged songs of their choice. As they continued to work together, the more it seemed as though the trio were experience a much deeper chemistry within their work and music. 

Before Schuster returned to Germany, he asked Modiga and Manana if they’d be interested in recording in his home country — and over the next few months, Schuster spent his time writing and organizing sessions, focusing on what would eventually become Seba Kaapstad. After a series of phone calls, emails and trips down to Cape Town, the members of the project had written the material that would eventually comprised their debut, 2016’s Tagore. 

Slated for a May 15, 2019 release through Mello Music Group, Seba Kaapstad’s highly anticipated sophomore full-length album Thina finds the act adding a new member, Philip “Pheel” Scheibel while further expanding on a genre-mashing, globalist sound that draws from neo-soul, hip-hop, jazz, electro pop and Afro pop that’s intended to demonstrate humanity’s shared commonalities. Interestingly, the album’s latest single,  “Africa,” a is track centered around a slick yet mind-melting production that features elements of moody jazz, thumping and swaggering hip hop and sultry soul and Pan African vibes that at points recalls Soul II Soul, Erykah Badu, theeSatisfaction, The Roots and Flying Lotus simultaneously — but with a futuristic leaning. Shot in a smoky purples and reds, in a mirrored room, the recently released video for “Africa” evokes the moody atmospherics of the song, while being equally futuristic. 

New Audio: Combo Chimbita’s Propulsive and Psychedelic New Single

Throughout JOVM’s eight-plus year history, I’ve covered Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)’s annual conference in some fashion or another. As a national service, advocacy and membership organization for those within the performing arts — particularly within dance and theater, APAP over the years has developed a reputation for their role in assisting musicians and groups, who specialize in “world music.” Along with the annual conference, which features discussion panels, lectures, networking sessions and the like for artists producing, recording and creating artwork in our extremely complicated and confusing political landscape, there are a number of carefully curated showcases hosted and/or sponsored by this city’s best known “world music” venues.  Now, as you may recall, the Lower East Side world music venue DROM hosts Barbes’ and Electric Cowbell’s annual Secret Planet APAP showcase — and earlier this year, their wildly eclectic showcase featured the New York-based Colombian folk collective Bulla en el Barrio; the Brooklyn-based act Drunken Foreigner, which specializes in a sprawling, psych rock-like iteration of the Akha and Lam Lao musics of Thailand and Laos; the Cleveland, OH-based Afro-futuristic soul act Mourning [A] BLKSTAR; the New York-based Afro-futuristic-inspired, psychedelic cumbia act Combo Chimbita; the New York-based Ethiopian funk and jazz-inspired septet Anabessa Orchestra; and the New York-based act Hearing Things which specializes in a sound that draws from Middle Eastern music, surf rock, and 60s soul and R&B.

Featuring Bulla en el Barrio’s Carolina Oliveros (vocals) along with Prince of Queens (synths and bass), Niño Lento (guitar) and Dilemastronauta (drums), Combo Chimbita began experimenting with different traditional music styles during their late night residencies at Barbes — much of this experimentation included explorations between visual identity and improvisational long-form trips that eventually lead to their thunderous 2016 self-recorded debut, El Corridor del Jaguar. Interestingly, much like Mourning [A] BLKSTR, the New York-based act is deeply inspired by Sun Ra’s Afro-futurism — while championing their own take on it, which they’ve dubbed Tropical Futurism. As the band says “the idea that the future doesn’t necessarily have to be this super white Western high-tech Star Wars stuff; that the indigenous ideas and culture of people of color, people of Latin America, can also represent a magical and substantial future. It’s a vision that maybe a lot of people don’t necessarily think about often. The old and deep knowledge that indigenous people have of the land has been neglected for many years as part of capitalism and colonization.”

Their Lily Wen-produced sophomore full-length album Abya Yala was released through Figure & Ground Records was released back in 2016, and the album further established the band’s unique futuristic take on cumbia. And along with an incredible live show, led by Oliveros powerhouse vocals and commanding stage presence, the New York-based act has begun to receive quite a bit of buzz. In fact, renowned Los Angeles-based label ANTI- Records, a label known for having a roster of wildly eclectic array of artists that includes the legendary Mavis Staples, recently signed the band. As the band’s Prince of Queens says in press notes, “ANTI- is a special label. It is crazy to be part of such a diverse pool of artists, feels extra special being an immigrant band singing in Spanish. I grew up in Bogota listening to a lot of bands on Epitaph and not understanding a word they were singing but it made me want to be in a band and learn music. It feels like full circle working with [Epitaph’s sister label] ANTI-.”

The members of Combo Chimbita will be closing out a big year with a series of live shows the include sets at Lincoln Center and Philadelphia’s PhilaMOCA before joining Parquet Courts for the Midwestern leg of the indie rock’s current tour. You can check out the tour dates below. But before that, the band has released a trippy new single “Testigo,” a track centered by a looping Afro pop-like guitar line, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, rolling and propulsive percussion, a sinuous bass line and Oliveros’ powerhouse vocals. Sonically speaking, their sound serves as a power reminder of how much contemporary music — particularly Latin American music — draws from Africa, as much as it does from their own native traditions, and they do so in a wildly anachronistic yet dance floor friendly fashion. 

 

Led by Makara Bianco and featuring production from prolific French producer débruit, KOKOKO! is a pioneering Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective inspired by a growing spirit of protest and unrest among Kinshasa’s young people. Unsurprisingly, these young people, much like young people everywhere have begun to openly question centuries-old norms and taboos, and have openly begun to denounce a society that they’ve perceived as being paralyzed by fear — namely, the fear of inclusiveness and change. And they’ve begun to do so with an fearless, in-your-face, almost punk rock-like attitude. In fact, the collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! with the collective viewing themselves as the sound of a new generation boldly, loudly and defiantly banging on the doors and walls, yelling “OUR TIME IS NOW!”

I’ve written quite a bit about the collective, and as you may know, the collective’s members operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instruments from recycled junk, flotsam and jetsam and claptrap. They even built a recording studio out of old mattresses, found wound and a ping pong table. Fueled by the underlying notion that desperate survival fuels creativity, the collective exploded into the international scene with their debut EP Tokoliana an urgent, forward-thinking, avant-grade-like effort centered around a sound that nods at disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and traditional regional music — from a sweaty and grimy, post-apocalyptic future in which the ghetto and club are one and the same. It was arguably one of the most unique and exciting debuts I’ve come across in some time and unsurprisingly as a result, EP single and title track “Tokoliana” was one of my favorite singles last year.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Congolese collective’s TONGOS’A EP was released last year, and the EP found the members of the collective further exploring themes of survival within the desperate and uneasy sociopolitical climate of their homeland — sometimes being forced to focused on small, deeply human pleasures and concerns. TONGOS’A‘s first single, EP title track “Tongos’a” (which translates roughly into “’til the morning light” in English)” was a sweaty, sultry and raunchy banger, centered around skittering drum programming and African percussion which helped to further cement the song’s overall theme — the necessity of getting good sex.

“Azo Toke,” the Congolese collective’s first single of 2018 features a production consisting of explosive blasts of static and feedback, tribal percussion, thumping and stuttering, tweeter and woofer beats, glitchy bursts of synth, throbbing low end, call and response vocals and subtly shifting moods and tempos — and while seemingly post apocalyptic, the track will further cement the act’s inventive approach to dance music, in which they seamlessly mesh African traditions with forward-thinking, hyper modern production.

 

New Video: The Cinematic and Psychedelic Visuals for Golden Dawn Arkestra’s Anthemic “Wings of Ra”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Austin, TX psychedelic collective The Golden Dawn Arkestra, and as you may recall, collective’s founder, the Washington, DC-born, Austin,TX-based musician Zapot Mgwana, was told by his mother, who worked for the Ethiopian Embassy that his father was Herman Poole Blount, more famously known to musicians, fans and critics as Sun Ra.  When Mgwana was nine, he and his mother moved to Nigeria, where he spent most of his formative years. As an adult, Mgwana returned to the States and founded The Golden Dawn Arkestra, and much like Sun Ra’s work, Mgwana’s collective focuses on intergalactic travel, transcendence, and time travel but while sonically pairing deep grooves and cinematic quality with a world spanning expansiveness.

Children of the Sun, The Golden Dawn Arkestra’s finds the band further cementing their growing reputation for an expansive, globe spanning sound with album’s material inspired by the sounds of Berlin, Brazil, psych rock, disco, soul and world music. Album single “Lovely Day,” found the band sonically drawing from Bossa Nova, Afrobeat and the work of Ennio Morricone to create a wildly expansive, globalist and forward-thinking take on the large band format that managed to be both mischievously retro-futuristic and kaleidoscopic. “Wings of Ra,’ Children of the Sun’s latest single finds the band drawing from anthemic, power chord-based psych rock and prog rock in a way that brings to mind JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Jethro Tull and others but with a cosmic glow. 

Directed by Ben Blanchard and Vanessa Pla, the recently released video for “Wings of Ra” is an incredibly cinematic and wildly psychedelic (and symbolic)_ romp that references  the work of Dario Argento, biblical scenery and biblical-inspired paintings (Last Supper anyone?) with its cast dressed in costumes that nod at the traditions of India, Africa and China to further emphasize the band’s globalist leanings. But perhaps more important, the video is pretty fucking trippy.