African musicians have been adopting and adapting Western popular music for decades and there's endless pleasure to be had exploring the back pages of Nigerian funk-rock and Ghanaian disco. If you're going to WOMAD this year, you'll be hearing the fruits of the work that St.Germain, aka French producer Ludovic Navarre, did with Malian musicians on his current self-titled album, his first in, incredibly, 15 years.
St. Germain is is a lovely album for the summer, but it does fit almost too comfortably into a loungey, cafe-ethnic space that we can consume without having to think about it too much:
So it's worth being reminded that there are African producers, DJs and musicians making new and disruptive music. And that's what you'll hear on the new compilation Gqom! The Sound of Durban Vol.1, which lifts the lid on a scene that's a million miles from camping at WOMAD. It's not easy listening, but it's street tough.
The notes from a Soundcloud playlist for the album explain:
Derived from an onomatopoeic Zulu word signifying a drum, “gqom” - in the local slang - “iz da sound u get wen u drop a rock on tiles”. This extraordinary, apocalyptic bass music encompasses many influences. Each polyrhythmic track draws on the darker side of electronic music, hip hop, soundsystem culture, kwaito, UK funky and deep tribal African vibrations. As Kolè puts it: “You can feel the troubled history of South Africa. It’s riot music." Tied to a specific dance called bhenga, gqom happens in a DIY-oriented universe, grafting organic and homemade samples on sourced software to create this wholly unique sound. The label’s greater aim is to invest in much needed technology to help build a local creative infrastructure.
I like this track a lot:
The album is available in various formats on Bleep.com.
I'm delighted by Auckland City Limits' announcement that the festival has handed over the lakeside stage on its Western Springs site to the good people of Golden Dawn, who will curate an eclectic lineup ranging from Delaney Davidson to Carnivorous Plant Society and regular PA commenter and 7" single fiend Alan Perrott.
There's been a bit of commentary to the effect that Auckland City Limits needs an extra international act or two to justify the ticket price, but it's becoming clear that promoter CRS isn't trying to make another Big Day Out and that ACL's selling point is the chance to take in a variety of musical and cultural experiences in a pleasant, family-friendly (kids under 10 are free and there's a dedicated kid zone with its own lineup) setting.
Meanwhile, I was this week able to announce my Listening Lounge talk lineup for next weekend's Splore: the first part is about drugs and the second is about dance music. Fingers crossed that Cyclone Winston gets through quickly – or gives us a miss altogether.
It's a bit of a bugger that the collapse of an Australian festival on their itinerary means it's no longer possible for the Brand New Heavies, Luke Vibert and Rone to come to Splore. On the upside, there'll now be a Leftfield DJ set on the Saturday night to go with the full show on on the Friday. The full schedule is here.
Paquin, the personal band project of producer-to-everyone Tom Healey, have released Paquin III, which, as the title suggests, is the third EP in a set of three. It's another artful blend of shoegaze and electronic pop, available on Spotify or to buy via Bandcamp. This is the single:
And staying with local indietronica, Doprah have popped out their first track for 2016. It's a taster for their album Wasting, which is out next week, and was premiered this week on the Cool Runnings blog.
Some rockin' business. Both new, in the form of this heavy, heav thing from the cheerily-titled new Beastwars album, The Death of All Things:
Note that Beastwars play Galatos on February 27. Tickets here at Under the Radar.
And some old vibes, in more than one way: my amigo Glenn "The Professor" Prosser last week reminded the world of the album he made with The Defendants, who describe themselves as "unashamedly proud of their links to the golden era of 70s Rock, where British bands like Black Sabbath, Budgie & Deep Purple mutated American blues into heavier, grittier, Rock n' Roll with a HEAVY GROOVE." It's got some swing – and Glenn's a hell of a sinner, er, singer:
That's available on Bandcamp at a price of your choosing. And if you see these men, do not hesitate to alert the authorities:
We're down at the disco this week – well, even more than usual, we are. A Label Called Success has popped out another tune from its house "band", and it's another free download. Smooth groove ...
Furthermore, John Morales has posted several of his unreleased M+M remixes for your downloading pleasure. There's Harold Melvin's 'Bad Luck' as a 12-minute monster:
And a disco dub version on Sandy Barber's 'Steppin'':
And another unreleased mix, originally put down as the guide mix for the mix that was released:
And an entirely different kind of remix from Hober Mallow – hypnotic afro styles. Still all good for the download.
Cup & String have made their brilliant 'Say My Name' remix available as a download again. It's the linked DL from this instrumental dub of same. I'd quite like the dub to keep too!
I was researching Auckland>London>Bali beats queen Lady Flic for our Listening Lounge chat at Splore when I came across this track she recorded as her vocalist alter-ego City hayes. It's cool! Very British-sounding indie electronica:
And also this track Flic produced in 2005. Can you call it nu disco if it's 10 years old?
And some serious old-school Loft groove, crafted by combining two different Larry Levan mixes of the same tune. That's a follow-to-download job on HearThis ...
And finally, a new one of an old one from the DJ known as Gigamesh. He manages to embiggen and modernise familiar tunes without falling into the EDM hole or losing touch with the spirit of the original. I do like this. Click through for the download link to three different edits of the tune:
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