Tag: The Bombay Royale

Initially started as a loving homage and tribute band to legendary Japanese guitarist Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi, the Montreal-based collective TEKE: TEKE – Yuki Isami (flute, shinobue and keys), Hidetaka Yoneyama (guitar), Sergio Nakauchi Pelletier (guitar), Mishka Stein (bass), Etienne Lebel (trombone), Ian Lettree (drums, percussion) and Maya Kuroki (vocals, keys and percussion) —  features a collection of accomplished Montreal-based musicians, who have played with the likes of Pawa Up First, Patrick Wilson, Boogat, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra and others. The Montreal-based act quickly came into their own when they started to blend Japanese Eleki surf rock with elements of modern Western music including shoegaze, post-punk, psych rock, ska, Latin music and Balkan music. Adding to a bold, genre-defying sound, the band’s arrangement meshes rock instrumentation with traditional Japanese instrumentation.

Last November, I caught the Montreal-based genre-bending act play at an M for Montreal showcase at the Cafe Cleopatre, one of the oddest venues I’ve ever been in — and while playing one of the most energetic sets I had seen in several months, the act’s sound reminded me a bit of The Bombay Royale; in other words, mischievously anachronistic yet cinematic sound that somehow seems to be part of the soundtrack of a Quentin Tarantino.

Since the release of their debut EP, 2018’S Jikaku, the Canadian genre-bending act have melted faces — including mine — at festivals across Canada. Recorded and mixed by Seth Manchester at Pawtucket, RI-based Machines with Magnets Studio and mixed by Heba Kadry, the band’s self-released latest single “Kala Kala” is the first taste from the band’s highly-anticipated full-length debut. Roughly translating to clattering, “Kala Kala” captures the band’s frenzied energy and difficult to pigeonhole sound: the song features distorted, rock-based guitar power chords, gorgeous fluttering flute, trombone blasts in  a slow-burning and atmospheric intro before quickly turning into a full fledged psychedelic freak out, centered by Maya Kuroki howling and crooning in Japanese.  The end result is a song that feels simultaneously familiar and alien.

 

 

New Audio: Melbourne Australia’s The Putbacks Release a Blazing Western-tinged Bit of Psych Soul

Comprised of founding members Rory McDougall (drums), Tom Martin (guitar) and Mick Meager (bass), Simon Mavin (Hammond organ) with Justin Marshall, funk and soul, instrumental act The Putbacks feature some of Melbourne, Australia’s most accomplished musicians as members of the band have played with Hiatus Kaiyote, The Bombay Royale, D.D. Dumbo, Swooping Duck, The Meltdown and The Black Arm Band.   The band which can trace its formation back to the early 00s has long been the unofficial house band of Australian label  HopeStreet Recordings, taking cues from the legendary house bands of 60s and 70s soul and funk studios — in particular, The MGs, The Meters and The Wrecking Crew, as well as film composers of David Axelrod and Adrian Younge.

With the release of a handful of 7 inches through HopeStreet, the band received attention across their native Australia; however, it was Dawn, their 2014 collaboration with Australian Aboriginal soul singer/songwriter Emma Donovan that found the members of The Putbacks with a growing international profile, as the album received attention outside of their homeland. Since the release of Dawn, the individual members of the acclaimed band have bee busy with a number of projects while managing to find the time to write and record their soon-to-be released Paul Bender-produced self-titled debut, slated for a November 9, 2018 release Now, as you may recall, the album finds the band collaborating with a number of internationally renowned artists including singer/songwriter and neo-soul pioneer Bilal and violins and arrangements from Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. The album’s first single, the cinematic, film-noir-ish “The Ways” was a scorching bit of psych school featuring Bilal that recalled  The Roots and Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes but with an improvised, free-flowing air.
“Oranges,” the self-titled album’s latest single sound as though Ennio Morricone managed to compose an unreleased psychedelic Western Sci Fi soundtrack — thanks in part to the composition being centered around a blistering Western-influenced riff that begins with the organ and a thumping backbeat, with the other instrumentations playing off the riff. Of course, the end result is a hypnotic and propulsive groove that also manages to nod at Tinariwen and others, complete with a larger-than-life vibe and sensibility. 

New Video: The Putbacks Team Up with Bilal on a Trippy and Cinematic Bit of Psych Soul

Comprised of founding members Rory McDougall (drums), Tom Martin (guitar) and Mick Meager (bass), Simon Mavin (Hammond organ) with Justin Marshall, funk and soul, instrumental act The Putbacks feature some of Melbourne, Australia’s most accomplished musicians — as members of the band have played with Hiatus Kaiyote, The Bombay Royale, D.D. Dumbo, Swooping Duck, The Meltdown and The Black Arm Band; in fact, the band, which formed back in the early 00s is the unofficial house band of renowned Australian label HopeStreet Recordings, and they reportedly take their cues from the house bands of 60s and 70s soul studios — in particular, The MGs, The Meters and The Wrecking Crew, as well as film composers of David Axelrod and Adrian Younge.

The release of a number of 7 inches through their now-long-time label home began receiving attention across Australia; but it was their 2014 collaboration with Australian Aboriginal singer/songwriter Emma Donavan, Dawn which resulted in a growing national and international profile. And since then the members of The Putbacks had been extremely busy with a number of individual projects while finding time to write and record, their forthcoming Paul Bender-produced self-titled debut, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release. Interestingly, the album finds the band collaborating with a number of renowned artists including singer/songwriter and neo-soul pioneer Bilal and violins and arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. 

The album’s first single “The Ways” is an incredibly cinematic and film noir-ish bit of psych soul centered around twinkling and arpeggiated keys, scorching guitar lines, played through delay and effect pedal paired with Bilal’s dreamy yet husky vocals singing stream-of-consciousness vocals — all within an expansive song structure. The entire song sounds as though it draws from The Roots and Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes simultaneously but with an improvised, free-flowing air. 

Now known as the Federal Republic of Somalia, most Westerners view the country as being a lawless, dysfunctional and broken country, split and reeling from a brutal and bloody civil war between two or three different factions — and while that has been true over the past 25-30 years, what Westerners and others have sadly forgotten is that because of its location,the Eastern African nation for known for more than a millennium for being a major trading post, with several powerful Somali empires dominating regional trade, including the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. And as one of antiquity’s major trade posts, the cultures and peoples of the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, India, Southeast Asian and China found a way to influence and slowly work their way into the region’s unique musical culture and sound.

In the late 19th century, the British and Italian empires through a series of treaties with Somalia’s historical empires and sultanates gained greater control of parts of the country’s coastline, establishing the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland while Mohammed Abdullah Hassan’s Dervish State fought and defeated the British four times before a crushing defeat by the British in 1920. Italy, then acquired full control of the northeastern, central and southern parts of the country after defeating the Majerteen Sultanate and the Sultanate of Hobyo — and their occupation of the country lasted until 1941 when the British took over with a military administration. British Somaliland would remain a protectorate of the British while Italian Somaliland became a United Nations Trusteeship under Italian administration, the Trust Territory of Somaliland.

Throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, independence movements across Africa helped to redefine the map; in fact, by 1960 Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland united in 1960 to form the Somali Republic under a civilian and democratic based government. Sadly, democratic government didn’t last long; by 1969, the Supreme Revolutionary Council led by authoritarian Mohamed Siad Barre seized power and established the Somali Democratic Republic.

Now that I’ve gone through roughly 1000 years or so of Somali history in a couple of hundred words, things musically for us begin in more contemporary times — 1988. You see, back in 1988 on the eve of a bloody, two-decade civil war, Siad Barre launched a series of punishing air strikes in Somalia’s northern region, known known as Somaliland in an attempt to smash a growing independence movement within that region of the country.

Musically speaking things for us begin in relatively contemporary times — 1988. On the eve of a bloody, two decade plus civil war, Siad Barre launched a series of punishing air strikes in Somalia’s northern section, now known as Somaliland in an attempt to squash a rumbling independence movement within the region. Unsurprisingly, one of the targets Said Barre targeted for airstrikes was the regional radio station Radio Hargeisa, as a way to prevent the organization of further resistance. Knowing that an attack on their radio station and their hometown was imminent, a handful of radio operators, tastemakers and historians recognized that they needed to preserve more than 50 years of modern Somali music as quickly as possible — and it meant finding a way to remove thousands upon thousands of cassette tapes, records and master reels and then dispersing them to neighboring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia — or in many instances, burying the tapes deep underground to protect them from theft, airstrikes, fire and so on.

The Somali Civil War broke out in 1991 and it resulted both the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre’s government and a number of armed factions fighting for influence and control throughout the country’s southern region. With the absence of a central government, Somalia quickly began to known as a failed state with residents returning to customary and religious law in most regions, along with a couple of autonomous regions — namely Somaliland and Puntland. But interestingly, the early part of the millennium saw the creation of several fledgling and sputtering federal administrations, including the Transitional Federal Government, which in 2004 reestablished national institutions such as the military. And with the assistance of Ethiopian troops, the Transitional Federal Government assumed control of the country’s southern conflict zones, beating back the Islamic Courts Union, which eventually splintered into a several radical Islamicist groups, including Al-Shabaab, a group that continued an ongoing battle with the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for control of the region and its territory.

By 2012, insurgent groups had lost most of the territory they had seized, and a political process that provided benchmarks for the establishment of a permanent democracy  — and it included the drafting of a provisional constitution, which reformed Somalia as a federation. At the end of that lengthy process was the creation of the Federal Government of Somalia, the first permanent government in the country in well over 20 years, followed by a period of necessary and hopeful reconstruction in Mogadishu.

Remember those audio recordings that the engineers, programmers, historians and tastemakers dispatched to Djibouti and Ethopia and buried in various locations across the region? Interestingly enough, those recordings were recently excavated from their shelters with some of those recordings being kept in the 10,000 cassette tape archives of the Red Sea Foundation, the largest known collection of Somali music and cassettes, located in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa. (Yes, things do and can come full circle.)

Ostinato Records, best known for the preservation, digitalization, and distribution of obscure world music was able to digitized a significantly large portion of the Red Sea Foundation’s archives, choosing 15 songs as part of their latest compilation of African music Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa. And while revealing the diversity of styles and sounds of Somali musicianship, the compilation also provides a glimpse of life in Mogadishu in the 1970s and 1980s, when the coastal capital was referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” At the time bands like Iftiin, Sharero and Dur Dur played at some of East Africa’s glitziest nightclubs, while Waaberi Band played packed to the rafter sets at the national theater.  Nightlife, music, culture and art were enormous — and interestingly while there were renowned male vocalists like Mahmud “Jerry” Hussen, Somali music of the 70s and 80s were best known for beloved female vocalists Faadumo Qaasim, Hibo Nuura, Sahra Dawo and a collection of truly empowered, prolific women; in fact, half of the compilation features songs sung by and written by women.

This cultural and musical golden age occurred under a socialist, military dictatorship, which effectively nationalized the country’s music industry. The state owned a thriving scene and essentially music was recorded for and by national radio stations, and it was distributed and disseminated through public broadcasts or live performances. Privately owned labels were non-existent and the work of a generation of artists was never made available for mass release in the way it is elsewhere — and until recently, hadn’t been heard outside of Somalia or its immediate neighbors. Most of that period, Somali music was largely influenced by the cultures and people who traveled to the region throughout its history as a major trade port; however, during the height of the Cold War, Somalia had periods of financial and logistical support by both the Soviets and the US in the Ethio-Somali War — and with about a decade of US backing, American soul, funk and hip-hop captured the imaginations of Somali youth, adding to a unique element to the country’s musical culture and sound.

While compiling the tracks on Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa, members of the Ostinato Records team spent the better part of a year traveling back and forth between Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Djibouti and across the Somali Diaspora in parts of Europe, the US and the Middle East to track down the musicians, songwriters, composers, government officials, scenesters, radio personalities and other folks, who had played a role during the 1970s and 1980s and got their stories down in a detailed, 15,000 word liner note booklet.

 

As the folks at Obstinato Records explain in press notes “Along side the story of Somalia’s music before the civil war, the selection is also focused on the pan-Somali sound. Spread over much of the Horn of Africa, Somali language and culture transcend arbitrary borders. Somali singers from Djibouti were at home in Mogadishu.” They add that “this compilation  seeks to revive the rightful image, history, and identity of the Somali people, detached from war, violence, piracy, and the specter of a persistent threat.”

Now, as you may recall, the compilations’ first single Danan Hargeysa’s “Uur Hooyo (Mother’s Womb)” feat. Mohamed “Huro” Abdihashi was recorded and released back in 1987 and the breezy confection nods at the trippy psychedelia of dub and dubstep as the collaborators pair a shuffling, two-step-like rhythm with explosive blasts of horn, shimmering synths, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and a strutting bass line, and while revealing an obvious reggae and calypso influence, the song possesses an undeniably sunny and funky vibe. Recently, the folks at Ostinato Records released two more singles from the compilation, Aamina Camaari’s “Rag waa Nacab iyo Nasteexo (Men are Cruel and Kind)” and Sharaf Band’s “Kadeed Badanaa Naftaydani (My Life is Full of Tribulations)” feat. Xawoo Hirraan in anticipation of its official release on August 25, 2017.

Aamina Camaari’s “Rag waa Nacab iyo Nasteexo (Men are Cruel and Kind)” is an achingly gorgeous and slow-burning lament of a song that pairs Camaari’s ethereal and plaintive vocals with a lush and soaring Middle Eastern and Indian-inspired string arrangement and percussion and Casio synthesizer-like beats that dimly reminds a bit of Omar Souleyman, The Bombay Royale and JOVM mainstays Tinariwen while being absolutely unlike anything I can quite describe; but at its core is an an ancient and timeless ache. Sharaf Band’s “Kadeed Badanaa Naftaydani (My Life is Full of Tribulations)” feat. Xawoo Hirraan is a swaggering and funky track that manages to sound as though it drew influence from Afrobeat and American soul and funk; but much like the preceding single, it features the ethereal and plaintive vocals of Xawaoo Hirraan, which give the song a similar ache.

Certainly, all three tracks from the forthcoming compilation evoke a far simpler time full of laughter, flowing beer and wine, of dancing until the sun came up and walking home in a drunken and elated shuffle, with arms draped over the shoulders of a companion or two, softly singing — and of sad love songs that speak directly to the lonely heart. No matter the language, it’s the sound of fleeting youth and swooning hearts before life’s ambiguities and horrors.

 

New Video: The Bombay Royale Return with Trippy Mortal Kombat-like Visuals for Swooning and Coquettish New Single “I Love You Love You”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its history, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the Australian-based Bollywood outfit, including a glowing review of You Me Bullets Love, an album which was conceived as the soundtrack of an imaginary yet prototypical Bollywood feature film — in this case, an epic production that was one part international, espionage thriller, full of double, triple and even quadruple crosses, a lengthy one take chase scene shot through in Kolkata, Delhi or someplace like that, a comedic sequence, three or four insanely choreographed dance sequences, and lastly a love story to boot; in other words, one of those one-size-fits-all, crowd pleasing sort of movies, which in theory shouldn’t work but somehow sort of does. And even if you couldn’t take the tonal shifts and thought of it all as some of the dumbest stuff on earth, you’d dig the soundtrack; in fact, with You Me Bullets Love, the album’s material manages to effortlessly meshed propulsive, four-on-the-floor-based disco and funk, Ennio Morricone-like film scores and psych rock with traditional, Indian instrumentation and chord structures. 

It’s been a few years since I’ve written about the Australian-based, retro Bollywood collective but as it turns out, they were busy writing and recording the material, which would comprise their forthcoming Tristan Ludowyk-produced, third full-length effort, Run Kitty Run. Much like its predecessors, the band’s third full-length album, which is slated for an August 11, 2017 release through Hope Street Recordings was conceived as the soundtrack to a lost Bollywood film but interestingly enough, the album also finds the band expanding and experimenting with their sound a bit. While further cementing their reputation for crafting a sound, primarily based around retro Bollywood and featuring lyrics sung in Hindi, Bengali and English, Run Kitty Run filters things through 80s electro pop and New Wave, psych rock, surf rock and desert rock/stoner rock to create an imaginary soundtrack for a film based in a dysfunctional, post-Apocalyptic future full of robotic horsemen, killer satellites, grinning sadhus, love, betrayal, seemingly hopeless situations, impossible escapes and unlikely salvation. 

Interestingly, Run Kitty Run’s second and latest single, album title track “Run Kitty Run,” 
focuses on a romantic situation that should feel familiar to most of us — in particular, a rom com-like meet cute that becomes a budding romance of sorts between a jaded woman, who may be wild about this latest suitor but just doesn’t buy him completely and a plaintive man, who practically says “there’s someone out there for you — it’s me.” And as a result, the song which nods at 80s Talking Heads as angular guitar chords are paired with fiery blasts of horns, a sinuous bass line, psych rock and shimmering synths reveals the band’s dedication to crafting dance floor-friendly hooks; however, the song reveals a band restlessly experimenting with their sound and songwriting approach in a way that’s familiar yet alien while wildly crowd pleasing. But perhaps much more important is that while retaining their renowned cinematic bombast, the song may arguably be one of the best examples of the collective actively writing ambitiously crafted yet coquettish songs. 

Directed and produced by Yoav Lester, the recently released video for “I Love You Love You” is a wild, psychedelic romp that features a couple of epic dance-for-you life dance sequence/battle set deep into the cosmos and while being goofy and wild, the video also manages to nod at Mortal Kombat and others.