Category: World Music

Last month, I wrote about the Kyoto, Japan-based garage punk act Otoboke Beaver (おとぼけビ~バ~ in Japanese) and as you may recall the act which features Accorinrin (vocals, guitar), Yoyoyoshie (guitar, vocals), Hirochan (bass, vocals) and Kahokiss (drums, vocals) can trace their origins to when they while being members of Kyoto University‘s music club. The quartet quickly built a profile both locally and nationally for pairing incredibly dexterous musicianship with Accorinrin’s confrontational stage presence; but when Damnably Records released the Okoshiyasu!! Otoboke Beaver compilation, the Kyoto-based quartet received airplay internationally from the likes of BBC Radio 6′s Gideon Coe and Tom Ravenscroft, XFM’s John Kennedy, as well as praise from the likes of Pitchfork, NPRi-D and The Fader.

Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, the members of the band made critically applauded and attention-grabbing appearances at SXSW and FujiRock Festival, played a sold out show at London‘s 100 Club — and their Love Is Short 7 inch charted in the UK for 4 weeks. Last year, the band went on a tour of the UK that was bookmarked by slots at Coachella. The quartet’s newest album ITEKOMA HITS is slated for an April 26 2019 release through their longtime label home Damnably Records and the album’s first two singles “Anata Watashi Daita Ato Yome No Meshi” and “Don’t light my fire,” were feral rippers that possessed elements of noise punk, no wave, prog rock and riot grrrl punk. Interestingly, ITEKOMA HITS’ third and latest single “I’m tired of your repeating story” is much more straightforward yet breakneck punk rock track centered around a propulsive bass line, some blistering guitar rock and shouted lyrics that express a mix of fury and frustration. You don’t have to understand what it is they’re actually saying to get that it’s defiantly, boldly feminist — and it fucking rips hard. What else do you need?

 

 

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New Audio: Ibibio Sound Machine Releases a Slow-Burning, Quiet Storm-Inspired New Single

Throughout the first few months of this year, I’ve written a bit about the London-based act Ibibio Sound Machine and as you may recall, the act, which is fronted by Nigerian-born vocalist Eno Williams and features Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), Derrick McIntyre (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth) and Max Grunhard (sax, synth) over the course of their first two albums — 2014’s self-titled debut and 2017’s Uyai — have received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that’s influenced by golden era West African funk and disco and contemporary post-punk and electro pop.

Slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Merge Records, the London-based electro pop act’s third full-length album Doko Mien derives its title from an Ibibio phrase that translates into English as “tell me,” and the album reportedly finds the collective crafting a sonic world of entrancing specificity and comforting universality, essentially blurring the lines separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and the future. The album’s first single, album title track“Doko Mien,” was centered around a glimmering, hook-driven club banger  featuring 80s synth funk meets disco-like beats, arpeggiated synths, African polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and pizzicato guitar and an explosive horn arrangement. Sonically, the song is a wild, genre-bending amalgamation of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, Michael Jackson‘s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘,” Chicago house and Fela Kuti — and adding to the globalist vibes, Williams soulfully sings lyrics in both English and Ibibio, the Nigerian dialect from which the London-based act derives its name. Doko Mien’s second single “Wanna Come Down” is a club-banger centered around a rubbery, Bootsy Collins meets Flea bass line, an explosive horn line, arpeggiated synths and propulsive beats and Williams powerhouse vocals singing lyrics in her native Ibibio and English. Sonically, the song is a wild and seamless synthesis of 80s synth funk, Afrobeat and JOVM mainstays Escort — all while feeling like a sultry come on.

“Guess We Found A Way,” Doko Mien’s third and latest single is a slow-burning ballad featuring shimmering guitars, a simple yet propulsive back beat, a funky bass line and Williams’ sultry vocals that immediately brings Quiet Storm-era soul to mind. “It’s a song about trying to speak to people in words that no-one understands, conveying your feeling with just the music which is what we try to do in many of our songs,” the band’s Eno Williams says in press notes. 

New Video: Introducing the Up-and-Coming Taiwanese Dream Pop Act, The Fur

With the release of their full-length debut Town last September, the Kaohsiung, Taiwan-based dream pop act quartet The Fur exploded into the international indie scene, with some media outlets have compared their sound to the likes of Wild Nothing and Hatchie. Adding to a growing profile, the Taiwanese dream pop act toured across the UK and the European Union with a stop at last year’s Primavera Sound Festival. 

Building upon a growing profile, The Fur will be making their Stateside debut with sets at this year’s SXSW. In the meantime, the breezy album single  “Short Stay” is centered around an arrangement of shimmering guitar chords, atmospheric synths, a motorik-like groove, plaintive yet ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. Interestingly, the song finds the band balancing wide-eyed and mischievous levity with a wistful, melancholy-fueled nostalgia. The song and its narrator seem to suggest that we should have as much fun as we can, because things get complicated and pretty fucking messy. 

The recently released video emphasizes the song’s careful balance of mischief and melancholy, as it features the members of the band looking for their lost monster (perhaps from their childhood) on Happy Monster Day. The band finds their monster friend drunkenly passed out, and they take it home to nurse it back to health — by playing music, dancing and recalling fun times with their friend. It’s a fittingly goofy and sweet treatment. 

Consisting of Accorinrin ( vocal, guitar), Yoyoyoshie (guitar, vocals), Hirochan (bass, vocals) and Kahokiss (drums, vocals), the Kyoto, Japan-based garage punk act Otoboke Beaver (おとぼけビ~バ~ in Japanese) trace their origins to when they met while beiner g members of Kyoto University‘s music club. The Japanese garage punk quartet quickly built a profile both locally and nationally for pairing incredibly dexterous musicianship with Accorinrin’s confrontational stage presence; but when Damnably Records released the Okoshiyasu!! Otoboke Beaver compilation, the Kyoto-based quartet received airplay internationally from the likes of BBC Radio 6′s Gideon Coe and Tom Ravenscroft, XFM’s John Kennedy, as well as praise from the likes of Pitchfork, NPRi-D and The Fader.

Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, the members of the band made critically applauded and attention-grabbing appearances at SXSW and FujiRock Festival, played a sold out show at London‘s 100 Club — and their Love Is Short 7 inch charted in the UK for 4 weeks. Last year, the band went on a tour of the UK that was bookmarked by slots at Coachella. The up-and-coming band’s newest album ITEKOMA HITS is slated for an April 26 2019 release through their longtime label home Damnably Records, and from the album’s first two singles “Anata Watashi Daita Ato Yome No Meshi” and “Don’t light my fire,” you’ll see why they’re so buzzworthy: their feral rippers draw from from noise punk, no wave, prog rock, riot grrrl-era punk in a way that bear a resemblance to Bo Ningen while being defiantly feminist.

 

 

 

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay, Josie Boivin, Quebec-based classically trained pianist and opera vocalist and electronic pop producer, electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, best known as MUNYA. As the story goes Boivin had only written one song when she was asked to perform at 2017’s Pop Montreal Festival. Now, as you may recall, ironically at the time, Boivin had never intended to pursue music full-time; but after playing at the festival, she realized what she was meant to do — be a musician.

So Boivin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio where she wrote every day. These recordings would eventually become part of an EP trilogy named after a significant place in Boivin’s life. Her self-released debut North Hatley derives its name from one of Boivin’s favorite little villages in Quebec and her second EP Delmano, which was released last year through Fat Possum Records derives its name from Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano.

Blue Pine EP, the third EP of Boivin’s trilogy derives its name for the Blue Pine Mountains in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks — and continues the trilogy’s overall theme of EP’s being named for a significant place in Boivin’s life.  “It’s All About You”  Blue Pine‘s first single was a beguiling pop song centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a soaring hook, and Boivin’s ethereal falsetto — but interestingly, the song focuses on the joy and agony of an all-consuming infatuation that borders on obsession. “Benjamin,” Blue Pines‘ second and latest single is centered around a breezy and infectious hook, shimmering synths and guitars, a sinuous bass line, four-on-the-floor beats and Boivin’s ethereal vocals singing lyrics both in English and French. (Interestingly, the song marks the first time Boivin sings in both languages.) And much like its immediate predecessor, the song finds Boivin balancing an infectious pop sensibility with an aching, sepia-tinged wistfulness. Oh how, things were easier/simpler/less cynical back then, the songs seem to say –and yet within “Benjamin,” there’s a bit of hope. As Boivin says of the song in press notes,  “Many times in my life when I thought I had found love it turned into heartbreak. Like most people, it has made it harder for me to be vulnerable with new experiences and people. In this song I take a step back and realize it’s how we all feel. I make fun of my own vulnerabilities, try to just push them to the side and enjoy my new love.”

Blue Pine is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through House Arrest/Fat Possum Records imprint Luminelle Recordings, and along with that the three EPs will be combined for the physical release MUNYA, which will also be released on March 8.

New Video: Acclaimed Antillean-French Singer-Songwriter Gerald Toto Releases a Sensual Video for “You Got Me”

Born in France, the Antillean-French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gerald Toto’s parents were tax officials; however, they were ardent and obsessive music lovers and their vinyl collection, which featured American soul, Afro-Caribbean dance music, Congolese soukous and Cameroonian makossa was essential listening to a young Toto. By the time Toto was ten, he picked up guitar and bass. And by the time, he was in college, he used a student loan to finance the building of a home studio, with which he quickly became an intrinsic part of the French underground music scene, as a pioneering wold music artist and producer. 

Toto has collaborated with a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Algerian rai singer Faudel, Parisian act Nouvelle Vague and Middle Eastern electro futurists Smadi; but it was his breakthrough collaboration with French-Antillean singer/songwriter Gerald Toto, Cameroonian jazz musician Richard Bona Toto Bona Lokua that led to two internationally applauded albums — 2005’s commercially successful, self-titled debut and 2017’s well-received Bondeko — all while each individual member was busy with their own diverse series of projects both solo and with other artists. 

Last year was a very busy year for the Antillean-French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist: Toto Bona Lokua released their third full-length album and he released a solo album, Sway — both which were released through Nø Førmat. Now, as you may recall, album single “Away” was centered around a languid and tropical groove, gently strummed guitar, brief bursts of arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook paired with Toto’s yearning falsetto. Sonically speaking, the song further cemented the acclaimed Antillean-French’s reputation for crafting breezy and mischievously difficult to categorize pop that draws from Tropicalia, Bossa nova, 70s soul, Afro pop, French pop and folk, while encouraging the listener to slow down a bit to pay attention to the gentle sway of life’s natural rhythms.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single “You Got Me” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor —  breezy and infectious pop; but at its core, the song is thematically centered around desire, longing and profound loneliness. 

Created by Cannes-nominated French agency Temple Caché, the recently released video features sensual and humorous depictions of mundane daily gestures — cooking, sunbathing, a cat grooming itself, a young couple in a stolen moment in their car. But within these small moments, each character within the video is actually longing for something that they may not be able to receive. As Toto says in press notes about the video, “The sensualist acidulated video for ‘You Got Me’, through the depiction of seemingly anodyne daily gestures like cooking, sunbathing, a cat grooming himself; reveals the life of the inhabitants of a neighbourhood soaked with desire, pleasure & stolen moments, often in connection with nature. But under the luscious joy of the colours, humour & earthiness, surfaces a sense of longing and loneliness. As in cooking, love and the romantic relationship require generosity, presence and time. We must make ourselves consciously available, consent to the vulnerability of laying bare and let go.”

New Audio: Ibibio Sound Machine Releases a Shimmering and Funky Club Banger

Earlier this year, I wrote about the London-based act Ibibio Sound Machine, and the act, which is fronted by Nigerian-born vocalist Eno Williams and features Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), Derrick McIntyre (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth) and Max Grunhard (sax, synth) over the course of their first two albums — 2014’s self-titled debut and 2017’s Uyai — have received attention both nationally and internationally for a sound that’s influenced by golden era West African funk and disco and contemporary post-punk and electro pop. 

Now, as you may recall, the London-based act’s third, full-length album Doko Mien is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Merge Records, and the album which derives its name from the Ibibio phase that translates into English as “tell me,” reportedly finds the act crafting a sonic world of entrancing specificity and comforting universality, essentially blurring the lines separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and the future. Album title track  and first official single, “Doko Mien,” was centered around a glimmering, hook-driven club banger  featuring 80s synth funk meets disco-like beats, arpeggiated synths, African polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and pizzicato guitar and an explosive horn arrangement. Sonically, the song strikes me as a wild, genre-bending amalgamation of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, Michael Jackson‘s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘,” Chicago house and Fela Kuti — and adding to the globalist vibes, Williams soulfully sings lyrics in both English and Ibibio, the Nigerian dialect from which the London-based act derives its name.

Doko Mien’s second and latest single “Wanna Come Down” continues in a similar, club-banging vein as its predecessor as its centered around a rubbery, Bootsy Collins meets Flea bass line, an explosive horn line, arpeggiated synths and propulsive beats and Williams powerhouse vocals singing lyrics in her native Ibibio and English. Sonically, the song is a wild and seamless synthesis of 80s synth funk, Afrobeat and JOVM mainstays Escort — all while feeling like a sultry come on. In line with the track’s beckoning title, the band’s frontwoman Eno Williams says, “The Ibibio lyrics of the track are about the healing power of the river and the chorus. ‘Wanna come down, get ready ‘coz we’re gonna go’ is inviting people to come, dance and get involved with what’s going on.”

New Video: Flamingods Release Trippy Visuals for Their Motorik Groove-Driven New Single “Marigold”

Growing up in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kamal Rasool, the founding member of acclaimed multi-continental-based psych rock act Flamingods traveled widely and collected rate and unique instruments from Tanzania, the Amazon and elsewhere. When Rasool relocated to London to study music, he recruited a few friends from Bahrain and London to start a band, including the members of the band’s current lineup — Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe and Charles Prest.  Interestingly, their first live show together was an attention-grabbing show at the 2010 ATP Festival, which quickly led to a national profile. 

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Flamingods quickly released two EPs, 2010’s Sun and 2011’s Away and 2013’s full-length debut Sun, a reimagining of the material off the EP of the same name that featured “Quesso,” a collaboration with Ponytail’s Dustin Wong on lead guitar. Around the time of the album’s release, the British government enacted new visa laws which forced Rasool to return to Bahrain after he finished school.  

Rasool moved to Dubai, where he worked for an independent magazine and coffee shop. Although the members of the band were on different continents and unable to play together, they continued to work on new material that eventually wound up becoming their critically applauded Hyperborea, an album that established a globe-spanning take on psychedelia that the band has dubbed “Exotic Psychedelia.” 

During the release of Hyperborea, Prest relocated to Dubai to work closely to Rasool. The band quickly began working on their third full-length album, 2016’s Majesty, an album that was largely inspired by the likes of Les Baxter, Tito Puente, Arthur Lyman and others. Although the album was received mixed reviews, it was championed by BBC Radio 6’s Gilles Peterson and Lauren Laverne, who both invited the band to record live sessions. With Rasool and Prest able to return to the UK, the band was able to extensively across the UK and the European Union to support the album, including sets at Green Man Festival, End of the Road Festival, and Fusion Festival. 

In February 2017, the band signed with Moshi Moshi Records, who released that year’s Kewali EP and the band toured to support the album, making their SXSW debut. The band also released a remix album of Majesty that featured remixes of album material by Ibibio Sound Machine, Meridian Brothers and Oasis’ Andy Bell. Additionally. the band released a Dan Carey-produced live version of “Hyperborea.” 

The acclaimed act’s fourth, full-length album Levitation is slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Moshi Moshi Records, and interestingly, the album is largely inspired by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds out of the Middle East and South Asia in the ’70s but channeled through mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery. Interestingly, the album’s recording sessions found the band living and working in the same continent for the first time in about four years — and as a result, the album’s material has a unified feel. Levitation’s first single “Marigold” is a trippy and sunny bit of psych rock centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and while delivered with a self-assured swagger, the song sonically reminds me of Evil Heat-era Primal Scream. 

Directed by Barbu.TV, the recently released video was shot during a trip the band made to Oman — in particular, the remote city of Nizwa, known for a gang of vintage motorbike riding youths — and the trip involved hazardous border crossing, self-made ornate, denim jackets. Additionally the video features some innovative camerawork and some appropriately hypnotic animation. As the band’s Kamal Rasool says of the video, “We had heard about this gang of motorbike riding youths through our friend [photographer] Ali Al Sharji and knew immediately that we wanted to make a music video with them. They live in a remote city in Oman called Nizwa and have had these vintage bikes passed down from generation to generation. The police aren’t so fond of them but they are some of the nicest guys we’ve ever met.  We joined them riding through the city and had a proper road trip along the way with the Barbu. TV guys, exploring through deserts, mountains, skate parks, palm groves and old monuments. I think the motion of them riding the bikes melded with the motorik groove of the song perfectly and the sun-soaked environment was just what we needed to capture the song’s themes”

New Video: The Gorgeously Cinematic and Symbolic Visuals for Blick Bassy’s “Ngwa”

Blick Bassy is a Cameroonian-born, French-based singer/songwriter, who released a number of award-winning albums with his backing band Macase, which culminated with the release of 2015’s Akö, an album that included “Kiki,” a track that was used to launch the iPhone 6. Bassy’s forthcoming album La Cigale is his first album in over four years, and it will be released through Nø Førmat Records.

La Cigale’s first single is the atmospheric and mournful “Ngwa,” which translates into English as “my friend.” Centered by a gorgeous horn arrangement, glitchy electronics and Bassy’s achingly tender vocals, singing in his ancestral Bassa language, the track sounds as though it were inspired by Peter Gabriel and Rubblebucket; but it evokes both a sense of profound and inconsolable loss and a mournful sense of missed opportunity from that loss that wonders “what could have happened if . . .?” The song is Bassy’s tribute to the heroes who fought and died for the independence of Bassy’s native Cameroon — in particular, Ruben Um Nyobe, the anti-colonialist leader of the Popular Union of Cameroon (UPC), who was murdered by French troops on September 13, 1958, just two years before the country became independent. Speaking of what drove him to write the song, Bassy says “Ngwa, I wanted to pay tribute to your fight, our fight, but also to your philosophy, where the values of equality, antiracism, anti xenophobia, serve emancipation and fulfilment for every human being.”

The UPC had been campaigning for independence for fifteen years, during which many people died — facts that had been subtly erased from the country’s history books by the French and Cameroon until recently.  Bassy wants to shed light on Um Nyobe’s story, saying in press notes,  “In school we studied the French version of what happened. The way I learned it in the books was that they were agitators, troublemakers. Which is wrong. Um Nyobé was in this movement hidden in the mountains, organising the Cameroonian People’s Union, and the truth about what happened has never been out.” 

Directed by up-and-coming South African director Tebogo Malope, the incredibly cinematic visuals for “Ngwa” was shot in Lesotho, and is a slow-burning meditation on the relationship between present-day Cameroon and its former French colonizers with Bassy embodying the spirit of Um Nyobe and the Cameroonian people. 
Speaking about the video – across which Bassy’s character is hunted down by French soldiers Malope says, “The narrative of Ruben Um Nyobé is one that resonates throughout the continent, one that is still grappling with the legacy of colonialism and attempts to redress the consequences thereof. This is echoed in the video’s initial scenes which reference renowned Kenyan renowned Author Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s book Matigari, where a freedom fighter lays down his arms for a supposed prosperous future where bloodshed shall be no more. Will he regret the decision? Another representation at the video’s end spawns from the images of a lifeless freedom fighter turning into a tree, reminiscent of South African political icon Solomon Mahlangu, who was killed by the Apartheid government. His last words before his death were ‘My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom.'” 

Over the last few months of 2018, I wrote quite a bit about Josie Boivin, a Quebec-based classically trained pianist and opera vocalist, and electronic pop producer, electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, best known in the indie world as MUNYA. Now, as you may recall Boivin had only written one song when’s he was asked to perform at 2017’s Pop Montreal. Ironically, at the time, Bolvin had never intended to pursue music full-time but after playing at the festival, she quickly realized that what she was meant to do — be a musician. So Boivin quit her day job, moved in with her sister and turned their kitchen into a home recording studio where she wrote every day. These recordings would eventually become part of an EP trilogy — with each EP comprised of three songs — named after a significant place in Boivin’s life. Her self-released debut North Hatley derives its name from one of Boivin’s favorite little villages in Quebec and her second EP Delmano, which was released last year through Fat Possum Records derives its name from Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Hotel Delmano.

Blue Pine EP, the third EP of Boivin’s trilogy derives its name for the Blue Pine Mountains in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks — and continues the trilogy’s overall theme of EP’s being named for a significant place in Boivin’s life. The EP’s first single “It’s All About You”  is a beguiling pop song centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a soaring hook, and Boivin’s ethereal falsetto — but interestingly, the song is at best, superficially playful as it focuses on the joy and agony of an all-consuming infatuation that borders on obsession. “It’s about obsession, that feeling when everything you do is about trying to reach a singular goal, an object, or, in my case, love,” Boivin explains. “This song is about my dream – this fantasy and obsession of wanting someone so bad that it hurts and everything I do is for the dream of being together.”

Blue Pine is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through House Arrest/Fat Possum Records imprint Luminelle Recordings, and along with that the three EPs will be combined for the physical release MUNYA, which will also be released on March 8.