Category: World Music

New Video: JOVM Mainstays La Femme Releases a Motorik Groove Driven Freak Out

Parisian psych pop act La Femme — currently, founding members Sacha Got and Marlon Magnée, along with Sam Lefévre, Noé Delmas, Cleémence Quélennec, Clara Luiciani, Jane Peynot, Marilou Chollet and Lucas Nunez Ritter — was founded back in 2010, and the then-unknown band had managed to hoodwink the French music industry by lining up a DIY Stateside tour with only $3,000 euros and their debut, that year’s Le Podium #1.

After playing 20 gigs across the States, the members of La Femme returned to their native France with immense interest from the Parisian music scene. “The industry was like, ‘What the fuck? They have an EP out and they are touring in the US and we don’t know them?” Marlon Magnée told The Guardian. “So the buzz began to start. When we came back to France, it was red carpet. Fucking DIY.”

2013’s full-length debut Psycho Tropical Berlin was a critical and and commercial success that found the act completely reinventing the sound that initially won them internationally attention while winning a Victoires de la Musique Award. Building upon a rapidly growing internationally recognized profile, the Parisian psych pop act released 2016’s Mystére to praise by Sound Opinions, The Line of Best Fit, The Guardian, AllMusic, BrooklynVegan and a lengthy list of others.

Last year, the acclaimed French act released their first bit of new material in four years with the critically applauded single “Paradigme.” They promptly followed up with two more singles, which I covered on this site:

“Cool Colorado,” a cool yet bombastic single that seemed indebted to Scott Walker and Ennio Morricone soundtracks while being an “ode to the San Francisco of the 70s — and to Colorado, the first American state to legalize cannabis.
Disconnexion,” a surreal what-the-fuck fever dream centered around pulsating Giorgio Moroder-like motorik groove, a fiery banjo solo, atmospheric elecvtroincns, twinkling synth arpeggios, a philosophic soliloquy delivered in a dry, academic French and operatic caterwauling.

Interestingly, the Parisian JOVM mainstays announced that their highly-anticipated third album Paradigmes is slated for an April 2, 2021 release through the band’s Disque Pointu/IDOL. And along with the album’s announcement, the members of La Femme released Paradigmes’ latest single Foutre le Bordel,” a breakneck, nihilistic, motorik-groove driven, freak out that sonically seems like a slick synthesis of Freedom of Choice-era DEVO and Giorgio Moroder with a ’77 punk rock nihilism. The approximate English translation of the words chanted in the song’s chorus is: “It’s the return of terror, all the kids sing in unison, I wanna fuck it up!” And as a result, the song is a decided dance floor meets mosh pit ripper specifically designed to turn a crowd upside down.

The recently released video for the song was animated and directed by the members of the band — and the visual is a neon colored, lysergic freakout that includes a surfing guitar player, musicians, who’s innards are revealed and other weird imagery. It’s La Femme at their best — being a wild head fuck that you can bop to.

The Republic of Djibouti is a small country located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Somaliland to the south, Ethiopia to the southwest, Eritrea to the north and the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to the east. Interestingly, on the eve of the small East African country’s independence, a densely packed archive was pieced together in a quiet corner of the national radio. And over the years, it became an outstanding yet largely unknown archive that housed thousands of master reels and cassettes of some of the region’s finest sounds.

The archive has survived and endured fires and even theft of invaluable recordings. Those scars linger on the delicate films of quarter-inch reels and cassette tapes. And yet, it remains one for he most expansive, well-maintained archives in Africa — but it’s simultaneously been one of the most restrictive: for decades, the archives remained off-limits to foreign entities of any kind until 2019.

As Ostinato Records explains in press notes, they operate on the guiding principle that no physical historic recordings should leave a country and agreements with archives should be a win-win trade, not aid. Part of the deal for archival across and licensing rights included a finely refurbished Technics reel-to-real player from the ’70s with upgraded software to replace a worn-out model for RTD to continue their digital preservation of the entire archive in high quality.

Although it took several years of negotiations Ostinato Records became the first label granted access stop the archives of Radiodiffusion-Télevision de Djibouti (RTD), a vault of secrets and stories from East Africa, including Somalia, Ethiopia, and of course Djibouti.

Somali supergroup 4 Mars, the act behind one of the most popular songs on their Grammy-nominated Sweet As Broken Dates compilation is the first chapter of their “Djibouti Archives” because of their incredibly rich, globalized sound reveals a new history of the world — and of music. For centuries, all roads lead to Horn of Africa. As a a major port and transit point connecting African, Asia and the Mediterranean, goods, ideas, foods, people and culture were briskly exchanged: Musically, Egyptian, Turkish, Arab, Persian, Indian and Chinese traders and tastemakers dropped anchor in Djibouti’s Gulf of Tadjoura, with each arrival influencing the region’s sound and aesthetic.

Today, a third of all world trade passes through Djibouti’s straits and a similar mix of diverse and eclectic characters roam the streets and docks. Reportedly, a South African diplomat pointed to Djibouti and told the folks at Ostinato “This is the future.” But for the sake of this post, let’s talk about 4 Mars. 4 Mars offers a bright window into Djibouti’s past, when the country was starting from scratch. Their name — Quatre Mars in French — refers to March 4, 1977, the founding date of The People’s Rally for Progress, the political party in charge of the small East African country since its independence. And interestingly enough, 4 Mars was the party’s band.

New countries are in desperate need of unity — and of unifying ideals. The country’s leaders saw music, and 4 Mars especially, as the ideal soundtrack to an independent era. Almost all music was brought under the state’s wing. But interestingly enough, it wasn’t propaganda music — not in the sense as we would understand it. Music was seen as a way of quickly building a national identity and to instill values. And acts like 4 Mars were seen as having a key role in nurturing and teaching a new nation.

4 Mars is largely unknown outside of Horn of Africa region because it was a massive 40 member entourage featuring actors, singers, dancers, musicians and percussionists. Only super wealthy leaders like Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi could invite them to tour. But in Djibouti, they played at the once-lavish national theater, developing a reputation for amazing live shows, some of which were recorded by RTD.

Slated for a February 19, 2021 release globally and a February 26, 2021 release in the States, (Djibouti Archives Vol. 1) Super Somali Sounds from the Gulf of Tadjoura: 4 Mars was authorized by booth RTD and The Palace of the People, which founded and overseas 4 Mars. Compiled from master tapes and reels recorded at RTD Studios and from live performances at the national theater between 1977 and 1994, this collection is a seminal anthology that offers a perspective shifting journey through East Africa.

So, to build up buzz for the compilation Ostinato Records released three singles off the compilation — “Hoblaayeey Nabadu! (Hello Peace!),” “Dhulka Hooyo (Motherland)” and “Aabo Usha Noohaay (Father Hold the Stick for Us).” These three tracks are a wonderful example of 4 Mars’ sound — a sound in which disparate and eclectic sound and ideas mesh into something familiar yet completely new. The songs are a heady and mind-bending mesh of Afrobeat and Bollywood-inspired vocals, shuffling off-beat reggae licks, which some will argue came from Jamaican reggae while others will say come from Somali Dhaanto rhythm, Egyptian and Yemeni rhythms, Sudanese song structures, American jazz and funk-inspired horn lines, Turkish-inspired synth melodies, Egyptian and Yemeni rhythms and so on delivered with a feverish intensity and urgency.

While the material has an old and dusty analog sound, it’s a bright vision of a genre-less, border-less future ruled by the exchange of ideas and sounds and drive by funky groove — 40 years before anyone here dreamt of it. Djibouti past and is the world’s future, indeed.




Formed in 2013, the Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia-based post-punk trio Ploho have firmly established themselves as one of the most prominent purveyors of a new wave of Russian music. Inspired by the aesthetic and sounds of late Soviet era of the 80s like Kino, as well as Joy Division, the band’s sound and approach also manages to reflect the icy chill of their homeland.

Since their formation, the Siberian band has been busy: they’ve released four albums, several EPs and over 10 singles, which they’ve supported with multiple tours across Europe with stops at over 40 cities. Building upon a growing profile, the band has made appearances at several prominent festivals including Боль in Russia, Kalabalik in Sweden, and Platforma in Lithuania. And as a result, the members of Ploho have slowly built up a fanbase in Europe and elsewhere. Building upon a growing profile, the band teamed up with Belarusian band Molchat Doma to collaborate on “Along the Edge of the Island” in 2019.

The rising Siberian act’s fifth album Фантомные Чувства (Phantom Feelings) is slated for February 5, 2021 release through Artoffact Records, the label home of acts like Bootblacks, ACTORS, and Kælan Mikla. The album’s latest single “Танцы в темноте (“Dancing in the Dark”)  is a perfect example of the band’s sound: shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, shimmering synth arpeggios, an angular and propulsive bass line, stuttering four-on-the-floor and rousingly anthemic hooks paired with ironically detached vocals sung in Russian. And while being a dance floor friendly bop, the song is imbued with the sort of nostalgia and melancholy that makes it sound as though it could have been released during 4AD Records‘ heyday.

New Video: L’Impératice Releases a Campy and Defiantly Feminist Visual for Strutting Disco Anthem “Peur des filles”

L’Impératice — founder Charles de Boisseguin (keys), Hagni Gown (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), Tom Daveau (drums) and Flore Benguigui (vocals) — is a Paris-based electro pop sextet that formed back in 2012. And since their formation the Parisian electro pop act has been extraordinarily busy: they released their self-titled, full-length debut in 2012. their sophomore EP Sonate Pacifique in 2014 and their third EP Odyssée in 2015.

In 2016, the French electro pop act released a re-edited, remixed and slowed down version of Odyssée, L’Empreruer, which was inspired by a fan mistakenly playing a vinyl copy of Odyssée at the wrong speed. L’Impératice followed that up with a version of Odysseé featuring arrangements centered around violin, cello and acoustic guitar.

During the summer of 2017, the members of L’Impératice signed to microqlima Records, who released that year’s Séquences EP. They followed that up with their full-length debut Matahari, which featured “Erreur 404,” a song they performed on French TV show Quotidien. Now, if you were frequenting this site last year, you may recall that I wrote about “Voodoo?,” a slinky disco strut featuring a propulsive groove, layers of arpeggiated synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and Benguigui’s sultry, come-hither vocals.

Directed by Aube Perrie, the recently released video stars L’Impératice’s Flore Benguigui and is set in an alternate universe in which she kills every man in her path during a potential extraterrestrial event. She later figures out a way to have her headless victims dance and play instruments — all while she collects more victims. Visually the new video makes playful references to Mars Attacks!, horror movies and Warren G among other things.

The French act’s highly anticipated sophomore album, the L’Impératrice and Renaud Letang co-produced Taku Tsubo is slated for a March 26, 2021 release through their longtime label home. Interestingly, the album derives its name from the medical term for broken heart syndrome takutsubo syndrome (蛸 壺, from Japanese “octopus trap”). The condition usually manifests itself as deformation of the heart’s left ventricle caused by severe emotional or physical stress — i.e., the death of a loved one, an intense argument with someone you care about, a breakup, a sudden illness or the like. And while the condition can occur in men and women of any age, it primarily affects older women.

“Peur des Filles,” Tako Tsubo’s latest single is a shimmering disco floor strut, centered around a sinuous bass line, atmospheric synth arpeggios, squiggling funk guitar, an infectious hook and Benguigui’s sultry come-hither vocals. But underneath the slickly produced dance floor friendly vibes, the song is a scathingly sarcastic ode to femininity and the differences between men and women. “Vive le difference! But be careful of those men folk, they’re afraid of strong and confident women,” the song’s narrator seems to say to its listeners.

Le Lac Long 814 — poet and lyricist Bengt Söderhäll and vocalist/musician and composer Daniel Österjö with a cast of collaborators — is a rising Swedish folk act that creates French chansons out of Swedish poetry. As a result of their internationally acclaimed full-length debut Treize chansons and a string of singles, the Swedish duo toured across Europe to support the album with stops in France, Belgium, Denmark, Czechia and their native Sweden.

The duo close out 2020 with the three song EP La bôite. Centered around an unfussy and unhurried production that allows the material’s gorgeous arrangements and Österjö’s achingly plaintive vocals to shine, the EP for me evokes a complex and confusing array of emotions, thoughts and images: I can’t help but think of late fall and early Winter walks with no apparent direction or motive; of the weariness and exhaustion of a long and difficult year full of profound loss and isolation; of the hope of a new year with new beginnings and possibilities; the fear of things somehow getting worse; the unending cycles of life and death.

Much like the music box from which the EP derives its title, the EP’s material possesses an infinitely looping structure in which songs hint at and refer to each other. “L’ombre d’un bourdon” is a delicate song centered around twinkling keys, strummed guitar, Österjö’s achingly plaintive vocals, soaring organs and a sepia-toned nostalgia that ends with an old-timey round before gently fading out. “Ils ailment,” is a shimmering and bittersweet waltz with an opening verse that prophetically hints at life during the pandemic — although it was written long before. And much like its predecessor, the song features a gorgeous yet simple arrangement of twinkling piano, strummed guitar and vocal. The EP’s last track, EP title track “La bôite” refers back to the coda of the opening track, evoking the music box concept — and the unending cycles of our existence.

With a this year coming to a close, why not be reminded that while life is painful and difficult, it can be beautiful as well?

Jean-Pierre “Jupiter” Bokondji is a Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-born and-based bandleader, songwriter and percussionist. Bokondji’s grandmother was a traditional healer, who got introduced him to music by having him attend religious ceremonies and funerals, which he later would play percussion. His father was a Congolese diplomat, who received a post at the Congolese embassy in East Berlin — and as a result, the family relocated to Germany.

While in Germany Bokondji started his first band Der Neger, an act that meshed the Mongo music of his native Congo with the European rock of his German-born bandmates. When his father’s post ended, the family returned to Kinshasa in the 1980s. Upon his family’s return, Bokondji traveled around the country listening to the music of the country’s different tribes, eventually developing and honing his own style and sound. In 1984, he formed a band called Bongofolk — and in 1990, he formed his best known and longest running band Okwess International, which currently features Staff Benda Bilili’s Montana (drums), Yendé (bass), Eric (guitar), Richard (guitar) and Blaise (vocals).

In the years immediately after their formation, the members of Jupiter & Okwess toured across Africa, playing a crowd-pleasing mix of Afropop, traditional Congolese rhythms, funk and rock paired with strong sociopolitical messages that Bokondji has dubbed “bofenia rock.” But unfortunately, as they saw increased popularity, a bloody civil war broke out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some of the band’s members fled to Europe as a result of the war; however, Bokondji remained in Kinshasa. And as the war died down, the Congolese songwriter, bandleader and percussionist saw a resurgence of his popularity.

Bokondji was featured in the 2006 documentary film Jupiter’s Dance. The film brought him to the attention of British producers and musicians — and it lead to him joining the Africa Express tour and to major stops across the global festival circuit, including Glastonbury Festival and Way Out West. Adding to a rapidly growing international profile, the act released their long-awaited full-length debut, 2013’s Hotel Univers.

The Kinshasa-based act’s sophomore effort, 2018’s Kin Sonic finds the members of the band further expanding their sound outside of their homeland, incorporating elements of modern, contemporary music. As a result of the album’s popularity, Bokondji and company played 180 dates across the globe, including performing in the Paris production of Abderrahmane Sissako and Damon Albarn’s opera Le Vol du Boli.

Jupiter & Okwess’s latest EP Bolingo serves as follow-up to Kin Sonic while providing listeners a taste of what to expect for their forthcoming, third full-length album, slated for an April 2021 release. In the meantime, the Mario Caldato, Jr-recorded effort finds the Congolese act meshing a unique array of sounds across the African Diaspora from traditional African music, disco, jazz, New Orleans brass, samba and even soul while still remaining committed to sociopolitically conscious lyrics and a strong sense of purpose.

The EP’s latest single, EP title track “Bolingo” is a sonic departure from the bonefia rock they’ve established, with the band playing a shuffling and breezy samba featuring shimmering acoustic guitar, shuffling rhythms, soaring call and response vocals featuring Brazilian vocalist Rogê, and a gorgeous flute solo coda. Complete with infectious hooks, the song is centered around a simple yet very powerful message — love is our purpose. Material things don’t teach you anything about life; love does. And although, the Trump Administration’s miserable term is ending in a month, we all still feel like we’re in the end days — and we need to be reminded of the hope and power of love right now.