Song of The Day: Question Mark – Love (1974)

In honor of the people of Kenya.


Song Of The Day: Songhoy Blues – Al Hassidi Terei

“We electrify traditional music a bit more to bring it to the modern level,” says guitarist Garba Toure, speaking through a translator in a phone interview. “It’s more beats, [faster] tempo — a younger way to show a new generation there’s no need to give [the music] a label: rock or blues.” -Billboard interview

Classification of Songhoy Blues is a tricky proposition. Clearly the African indicators are there: the tribal polyrhythms, the serpentine, almost surf-like electric guitar from a post-Ali Farka TourĂ©, Mali, the chanted chorus… but as Toure stated on a “modern level”. I would throw this in a set between John Lurie’s, Marvin Pontiac project, and Swedish Psychedelic Afrophiles, Goat. Apparently their sound has struck a note with western ears, as Atlantic Records just signed them up, making them the first African act in their catalog since Manu Dibango electrified the airwaves with his funky, Soul Makossa, forty three years ago!

Here’s one from the recently released, Music In Exile, produced by Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist, Nick Zinner. Check out the amazing textile patterns and style

Awesome Tapes From Africa to (Re)Issue Ata Kak’s, Obaa Sima!

Thee appropriately named blog turned label, Awesome Tapes From Africa, is readying the first reissue of Ata Kak’s sole release, Obaa Sima. Actually, to call it a reissue is somewhat misleading. The recording was released at an unknown date (assumed to be late 80’s-early 90’s) in a cassette only edition of 50, in Ghana. Not much of a chance for the outside world to stumble upon it; enter, Awesome Tapes From Africa. As the name suggests, label head, Brian Shimkovitz, has made it his mission to expose just these sorts of otherwise unheralded rhythms, to the world at large. The Ata Kak release is the result of a finally achieved decade plus quest to track down the artist, and it represents ATFA’s biggest release to date, with cassette, cd, digital file and vinyl all being produced.
Maybe if I had a broader knowledge of that era of African music, I could bring up some comparisons and references, but as it stands, Ata Kak’s style is truly something unique. He sings/raps at a tongue twisting pace and often in a manner in which he sounds as though a DJ is cutting up his vocals. The female backing vocals are like Venusian transmissions from an old radio broadcast of the Andrews Sisters: truly out of this world and lovely. The music is essentially Hip-House with Ghanian influences, which just makes the precedings all the more bizarre. Of all the interesting oddities that ATFA have disseminated, Ata Kak, has received the most “WTF is this?” response and rightly so. If you’re into exploring the rare and original sounds from across the globe, I highly recommend checking it out. Release date is March 3rd, but give it a listen here and now.