I’ve mentioned this before and in a previous post but as a blogger, the proliferation of independent record labels of all sizes across the world. And as I’ve mentioned this proliferation has meant that there are labels out there willing to take risks that the larger, conglomerate labels would never take – including reintroducing the listening public to sadly forgotten yet hugely influential artists; artists whose work was so far ahead of its time that many audiences at the time of its release wouldn’t have known what to make of it; regional and cult favored artists, whose work should have been bigger than what it was; and for releasing work by artists, who play with genre boundaries or work in genres that wouldn’t normally be popular – or unfamiliar to Western (in this case) audiences.
Founded by enthusiasts, Philophon is a Berlin, Germany-based label and since its founding back in 2011, the label and its staff have claimed that their mission is to be the home of 21st century soul. With the assistance of Rappcats Records, the German label is releasing a series of 45s featuring funk and soul straight out of Africa. The fifth 45 in the series, features multi-instrumentalist and frontman idris Ackamoor and his backing band, The Pyramids. After studying with free-jazz great Cecil Taylor, the Pyramids left to travel through Africa in 1972, where they connected with their cultural roots and developed their own unique musical vision. Shortly thereafter, the band released three privately pressed yet beloved albums based around their love of music and much like Fela Kuti, who had begun to formulate his Afrobeat sound, there was a belief that music could and should have a social impact. “Rhapsody in Berlin” consists of African percussion, a sinuous bass line, warm, looping horn melody paired with pygmy flute and a propulsive guitar line build up a tight, African-version of a motorik groove; in some way, it sounds to me like it could easily have been the primordial precursor to the go-go sound that the great Chuck Brown created in Washington, DC but with elements of Sun Ra, Fela Kuti and others.