Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Analog Africa are pleased to announce the launch of a new series called "Analog Africa - Limited Dance Edition". The objective of the series is to release African and tropical records (in strictly limited editions) which concentrate on single artists that have had an impact on the label in a way or another.
The first two releases in the series, released simultaneously on 7th June, are the first LP of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, one of the best Beninese Afrobeat recordings from 1973, and The first LP of the cosmic Ghanaian funk legend, ROB.
Artist: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo
Title: The 1st Album (1973)
Catalogue number: AACD - DE01/AALP - DE01
1. Ou C´est Lui Ou C´est Moi 8:45
2. Yeye We Nou Mi 6:18
3. La La La La 12:06
4. Egni Miton? Nin Mi Na Wa Gbin 6:13
Nestled in between Nigeria and Ghana, the traditional heavyweights of the golden West African musical axis, Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, has birthed some of the most raw and psychedelic Afro sounds to emerge from a continent blessed with artistic talent. From Lome to Luanda, Africa's coastal cities have constantly served as creative hubs and Benin's economic capital, Cotonou, is no exception. The former French trading post has spawned several bands and performers, the most indefatigable and prolific of which undoubtedly remains Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo. Extensively featured on Analog Africa's previous releases, Poly-Rythmo and its legendary members constitute arguably Africa's most innovative band. By building upon and modernizing the traditional rhythms of Vodoun, conforming to the Afrobeat sound of the time, incorporating Western styles and injecting a healthy Latin dose, Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo fostered a diverse groove that remained unique to Benin and resonated with the region's urban centres. Despite consisting of 16 members at its peak, the band was originally founded as Orchestre Poly-Disco in 1968 with original members Melome Clement, Bentho Gustave, Amenoudji Vicky Joseph and Bernard "Papillon" Zoundegnon. Seeking to expand and in search of a soul singer, Bentho and Papillon persuasively lured a certain Vincent Ahehehinnou from Daho Jazz, a band with little prospect of major success that often performed in seedy venues. Due to changes in producers and financiers, Orchestre Poly-Disco switched its name to Orchestre El Ritmo before finally establishing themselves as Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou after signing with Adissa Seidou, the owner of the Albarika Store label, in 1969. Influenced heavily by Fela Kuti, Vincent, who by this time had transformed himself into an Afrobeat and funk specialist, perhaps Benin's best, soon became a supremely influential member of Poly-Rhythmo and was approached by Albarika to record a 7-inch single. Realizing the band's preeminence on the African music stage, Vincent believed the time was ripe to follow in the footsteps of African music greats and record a full album instead. A deal was subsequently struck with the label for a production fee of 320.000 CFA - about 500 Euros given today's exchange rates.
The band took advantage of their producer's cross-border contacts and traveled from Cotonou to Lagos, which possessed better-equipped studio facilities, to record their first LP consisting of four heavy Afrobeat tracks, wholly composed by Vincent Ahehehinnou himself, in 1973. In fact, the four track-LP was recorded twice. Albarika rejected the first recording because of far too much background noise - the possible culprit being an obnoxious organ amplifier - forcing another recording to be done. The second recorded session met expectations and made it as the official vinyl release. That recording remains not only one of Benin's rarest LPs but one of its best works of music, setting the standard for all future Poly-Rythmo releases and firmly cementing the band and Vincent's reputation.
The test-pressing of the rejected first recording was found and Analog Africa founder, Samy Ben Redjeb, chose two tracks from each recording. The two remastered tracks from the rejected recording are being exclusively released for the very first time on the recording you are holding.
Vincent has acknowledged that his entire life, including that of his family's, revolved around and is owed to Orchestre Poly-Rythmo. The Afrobeat mastermind left his beloved band on May 28, 1978. He chose not to reveal the reasons for his departure.
Title: Funky Rob Way (1977)
Catalogue number: AACD-DE02/AALP-DE02
1. Funky Rob Way 6:15
2. Forgive Us All
3. Boogie On 4:13
4. Just One More Time 7:45
5. Your Kiss Stole Me Away 5:24
6. More 5:15
Rob "Roy" Raindorf is one of the most enigmatic artists to come out of Ghana. Born in Accra in 1949, he appeared from nowhere with a unique and twisted sound. An admirer of American artists Otis Reading, James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles, Rob began his trade by learning the piano at a music school in Cotonou, Benin. When his education ended, he ventured out to make what money he could by getting gigs with the movers and shakers of the Beninese music scene, namely Orchestre Poly-Rythmo as well as the Black Santiagos. Absorbing and learning the intricacies of music composition, Rob returned to Ghana where he began to write his own songs and eventually sought the backing of a band, specifically one which possessed horns. In 1977, a young Rob travelled to the city of Takoradi in western Ghana to approach an army band named Mag-2 whom he had seen perform in Accra. Mag-2 had an entire section of its ensemble dedicated to horns and some of the most sophisticated music equipment available in Ghana at the time - Hofner guitars, Yamaha keyboards and the like. Belonging to the "magnificient" second battalion of the Takoradi-based army unit, original founder Amponsah Rockson decided to aptly name the band "Mag-2." Joining the army during the 1970s was often an easy decision, particularly for musicians, since the army provided not only good music equipment but basic services such as food and medical care.
Mag-2 was essentially filled with the best elements of "The Parrots," a highlife band in which Amponsah was the lead guitarist. Their primary task was to entertain soldiers and with the army tour bus, perform from town to town as well as in reputable venues in the captial. Enticed by the style of music Rob had proposed, Mag-2 backed the Ghanaian sensation on two of his most astonishing records - his first and second albums - "Funky Rob Way" and "Make it Fast, Make it Slow," both of which were recorded at Essiebons studios in Accra.
Despite Rob's training and musical education, Amponsah was responsible for the vast majority of the compositions, such as building the chord progression and arranging the horns that Rob craved. Rob would even wait for the Mag-2 maestro's cue to begin singing.
There were early successes but a once-unflinching interest in Afrobeat began to wane by the early 1980s and Disco Boogie rapidly became the vogue style around which label owners and music producers sought to capitalize upon. The style Rob had shaped his career around was in decline and an adequate income consequently became a major concern, forcing him to travel to Hamburg, Germany in search of a financial backer.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
November 22, 2010
On its ninth release Analog Africa unearths musical gems from Angola, the former Portuguese colony in south central Africa. The compilation 'Angola Soundtrack' includes tracks from 1968 – 1976, arguably the golden era of Angolan music.
Angolan music is truly unique and stands on its own as a sound that can only be found in that part of the world. Rhythms such as Rebita, Kazukuta, Semba and Merengue, all of which are presented on 'Angola Soundtrack', might be unfamiliar to most listeners, but they are superbly melodic, highly danceable, hypnotic, raw, quintessentially beautiful - and totally addictive.
A powerful confluence of traditional rhythms from Luanda’s islands, psychedelic guitar sounds imported from neighbouring Congo, Latin grooves, old school Caribbean merengue and the hard beat of the Angolan carnival bands conspired to create the modern music of Angola. These sounds were immortalized by two excellent recording companies - Fadiang (Fábrica de Discos Angolano) and Valentim de Carvalho.
The nascent Angolan music scene was set on fire by a small group of courageous singers, backed by an array of super tight bands and led by extraordinary guitarists who revolutionized the musical and the political panorama of the 60s and 70s. These great electric bands of Angola were a well-kept secret until the late 90s when France-based music label Buda Musique released a short-lived series of Angolan music compiled by Ariel de Bigault. Inspired and taken aback, these releases proved to be crucially influential to Analog Africa’s founder Samy Ben Redjeb:
“Listening to Angolan music suddenly became part of my daily life and when my label was founded a few years later, the idea of releasing an Angolan compilation was never too far away from my mind.
From the nine Analog Africa releases thus far, 'Angola Soundtrack' has been the most difficult to create. The travel visa was in itself a struggle and logistically and financially Luanda is a nightmare. After two unsuccessful years, I eventually found shelter at a home in Prenda, a musseque (township) outside of the capital. I had come to this former Portuguese colony to meet my favourite Angolan musicians, to convey my love and admiration for what they have created, as well as license some of my favourite tunes for my label while documenting their story.
I had no idea what to expect from the trip - more than once was I told to expect complicated situations, and that if I thought I knew Africa, I should wait until I experience Luanda. I was prepared for the worst. To my surprise I encountered an amazingly positive vibe and, except for heavy traffic jams and high costs, I am entirely grateful of my Angolan experience.
With the support of Zé Keno (Photo above), the legendary guitarist of Jovens Do Prenda, I managed to meet most of the composers of the songs featured here. The numerous anecdotes they provided are presented in the 44-page booklet that comes with this compilation.”
Mamukueno - “Rei do Palhetinho” 3:10 LISTEN HERE
Os Kiezos - “Comboio” 3:35 LISTEN HERE
Jovens Do Prenda - “Ilha Virgem” 3:45 LISTEN HERE
Zé Da Lua - “Ulungu Wami” 2:50 LISTEN HERE
Os Bongos - “Pachanga Maria” 3:20 LISTEN HERE
Dimba Diangola - “Tira Sapato” 2:55 LISTEN HERE
Santos Júnior - “N´Gui Banza Mama” 4:25 LISTEN HERE
N´Goma Jazz - “Mi Cantando Para Ti” 3:35 LISTEN HERE
Ferreira Do Nascimento - “Macongo Me Chiquita” 3:50 LISTEN HERE
David Zé - “Uma Amiga” 2:40 LISTEN HERE
Jovens Do Prenda - “Farra Na Madrugada” 4:45 LISTEN HERE
Os Korimbas - “Sémba Braguez” 4:20 LISTEN HERE
Dimba Diangola - “Fuma” 4:08 LISTEN HERE
Alliace Makiadi - “Passeio por Luanda” 3:50 LISTEN HERE
Os Bongos - “Kazucuta” 3:20 LISTEN HERE
Quim Manuel O Espirito Santo - “Eme Lelu” 5:02 LISTEN HERE
Africa Ritmos - “Pica O Dedo” 4:00 LISTEN HERE
Africa Show - “Massanga Mama” 5:35 LISTEN HERE
WARNING: Listening to these tracks may cause addiction and provoke heavy rotation.
Monday, July 19, 2010
To document these 14 irresistible tracks and the music scene from the’70s, Samy crisscrossed the lengths of Ghana and Togo in search of the producers and artists – or their relatives. In the process he recorded a dozen interviews, scanned 90 pictures and transferred 120 master tapes.
All the evidence can be seen in the 44-page full colour booklet (see pictures below) accompanying these 73 minutes of heavy West African sounds. Afro-Beat Airways showcases an amazing diversity of local rhythms spiced with Afro-American funk, soul and jazz.
Samy Ben Redjeb, in his own words:
"Somehow this project started at Frankfurt airport when I accidently checked in the bag which contained my passport. The flight to Angola (via Addis Ababa) was delayed and the plane´s belly emptied in an attempt to find my luggage. Unfortunately, this was never found. As a consequence, I had to cancel my trip. I was at the Ethiopian Airlines offices the next morning (where this episode had become legend) trying to rebook my flight to Luanda, but everything was fully booked for weeks. I was told that if I wished I could selected another destination. The choices? Kinshasa, Yaoundé, Lagos and Accra. I selected the last, because my connections in Ghana had found some serious stocks of vinyl records, and I thought it might be the occasion to check them out.
"A few days later I´m in Ghana, and as on all my previous trips to Accra the first person I paid a visit to was producer Dick Essilfie-Bonzie, who I simply call Mr Essiebons, after his legendary label, Essiebons Records. Everything happens for a reason because the disappointment of missing my flight to Angola was soon replaced by excitement. Mr Essiebons explained that after more than a decade of being out of business he had decided "to give it another shot" and thus digitised all his master tapes for future releases. He then showed me the result – a box containing approximately 80 CDs, each with a track listing,– a total of 800 songs. I was allowed to take the "surprise" box to my hotel room and started listening. I had no idea what to expect, but I was in for a treat. Previously unreleased material by Apagya Show Band and Orchestre Abass were the first few amazing tracks that I discovered and that’s when I decided to start working on this compilation."
The whole selection of songs was completed about a year later and now that I knew which tracks were going to be included, I decided to dedicate some time to find the artists for interviews and research. December 2008 and May of 2010 were solely dedicated to that process, as I flew to West Africa to meet Rob, Ebo Taylor, Nana Ampedu (founder of the mighty African Brothers Band), Issac Yeboah (lead singer of Vis-a-Vis, one of Ghana´s most impressive bands), Gyedu-Blay Ambolley (the personification of Ghanaian Afro-funk), saxophonist Ray Allen, Chester Adams (lead singer of the Uppers International) and few others. I did extensive interviews with all of them and managed to collect amazing pictures to document the liner notes that accompany the music."
"While some light has been cast on the Ghanaian music scene of the 1970´s, Togolese music is relatively obscure and badly documented. However, we are working on this! In fact, we’ve already made a start, with our previous Analog Africa compilation "African Scream Contest" which showcased 3 Togolese artists. Afro-Beat Airways presents two more – Orchestre Abass and Cos-Ber-Zam. While the first band developed into one of the country´s best, to such an extent that none other than Fela Kuti once offered them a contract to play at his Afro-Spot night club (which later became The Shrine), the second artist was a one-hit wonder. “Né Noya” was a monster hit in Togo but it is to date the only release by this obscure artist. The reason why I decided to include these Togolese tracks on this compilation is that they were all recorded in Ghana and thus they worked well in the mix."
Afro-Beat Airways is a time capsule, and promises to take you on a fascinating musical journey through West Africa´s vintage Afro Sounds.
AFRO-BEAT AIRWAYS - West African Shock Waves
Release date: 03.08.2010
1. Dankasa - Uppers International 3:36
2. Ma Nserew Me - Apagya Show Band 4:03
3. Me Yee Owu Den - K.Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas 8:52
4. Break Through - Marijata 5:06
5. Odofo Nyi Akyiri Biara - Ebo Taylor & The Sweet Beans 9:54
6. Awula Bo Fee Ene - Orchestre Abass 3:45
7. Live in Other World - Itadi 5:05
8. Mumunde - Apagya Show Band 3:02
9. More - Rob 5:13
10. Né Noya - Cos-Ber-Zam 4:10
11. Afe Ato Yen Bio - De Frank Professionals 4:41
12. Ngyegye No So - African Brothers Band 6:17
13. Neriba Lanchina - Uppers International 4:04
14. Come Along - Ebo Taylor & The Pelicans 5:59
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Spread the word and forward the clip to your friends.
Thanks for the support
PS: Anibal and his band, Los Loco del Swing will be doing their first european tour in June 2010. In case you would like to invite the group for a crazy gig send us an mail: email@example.com
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
In time For the African Soul Rebel Tour Analog Africa is proud to present a new Video Clip of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou.
"Se Ba Ho" is the opening track from the new compilation "Echos Hypnotiques" and it is without doubt one of the most powerful "Sato" (a vodoun rhythm played during burial ceremonies) tracks ever recorded. This Video was realised by Petra Schroder and Dirk Von Manteufel from the company Sosumi - the same guys responsable for all the amazing graphics included in the Analog Africa Booklets.....We hope you like!
Monday, December 7, 2009
2. Los Vecinos
4. Mi Cumbia
5. Que Paso
6. Vestido Buevo
7. Mambo Loco
8. Cumbia Bogotana
9. El Pecheche
10. Santo Amor
11. Mi Sombreron
Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Rio Magdalena, lies the city of Barranquilla. Hailed by its locals as Colombia’s “Puerto de Oro” or Golden Gate Barranquilla has served as a gateway for “Caribbean Tropical Sounds” for almost a century. Home to the countries biggest cultural celebration, El Carnaval, and the birthplace of the radio and recording industry in Colombia, Barranquilla has always been a city deeply rooted in musical traditions. Its port-city status, has allowed its citizens to remain up-to-date with the latest grooves coming out of the Caribbean basin; with scores of LPs arriving from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States; the city soon became a bastion for musicians and vinyl enthusiasts from all over the world.
Nobody embodies more Barranquilla’s rich musical heritage than the master accordionist Anibal Velasquez. Known affectionately by his fans as “El Mago” (the Magician), Anibal has been one of the most prolific musicians of Colombia’s Musica Tropical movement.
Anibal Velasquez Hurtado was born on June 3rd 1936 in Barranquilla into a musical family. His father was an accomplished musician but Anibal´s biggest influence was his older brother Juan who first introduced him to the secrets of the accordion:
"I knew already how to handle the clarinet, the Guacharaca and other instruments, thats a talent I must have received from my father. Barranquilla has always been a musical city, but when I started to play the accordion, the instrument was not very popular, It had not become part of Costeno culture as it was considered a second-class instrument. A bit foreign and awkward, used primarily by campesinos in rural towns off the banks of the Rio Magdalena - but we´ve changed that. One of the turning points was an encounter with Robertico Roman a musician from Cartagena who I´ve met in a record store on a rainy day. We both had a deep love for Cuban Music and he often came to my place where we jammed. Its with Robertico Roman that I founded my first band called "Vallenatos de Magdalena". I made my first recording with that band in 1952. Four songs were recorded including a track called La Gallina, which became a huge hit. It really spread the costal sound toward the center of the country".
With the death of band-mate Robertico in 1955, los Vallenatos de Magdalena had to disband. Without a band, Anibal was forced to take a job as a session musician for disco Eva working for a group called “El Conjunto Colomboy.” He remain with disco Eva through out the end of 1950s working closely with the great Costeno Master Lucho Campilo. By 1960, together with his elder brother Juan and younger brother Jose, Anibal decides to form a new group. This new formation would prove to be his best decision. His brother Jose –a gifted musician in his own right- would soon become his right hand, enabling Anibal to add a new dimension to his playing style. Jose began experimenting, incorporating new instruments, and re-inventing old rhythms. He would break the rules; replace traditional bongos used Cuban Guaracha and Rumba, with a traditional Colombian drum called “La Caja.” This uncanny drum –made from x-ray film (radiografias medicas) - combined with Anibal’s powerful accordion was to become a sensation, generating a much harder and dryer sound than the traditional leather skin drums.
“It was a new style… we could not play traditional Cuban rhythms because some combinations simply did not work with the accordion…it was then then my trademark stlye emerge…the Guaracha de Anibal Velazquez."
Anibal’s new guaracha style was infectious; it was fast and furious, often leading his crowd into a state of frenzy.. The interest for Anibal´s new innovative sound started growing, and recording offers started to pour in. Anibal would enter his most product period.
“that is when I met with Antonio Fuentes, who had just started his broadcasting company called Emisora Fuentes in Cartagena. I really enjoyed working with Fuentes because he understood the mind of the musician and gave us lot of creative freedom. Encouraged by his attitude I began by playing different styles adapting regional elements to the accordion. I would play cumbia, merecumbe, Mapalé, Pompo, and corrido and later also began to incorporate Cuban and Puerto Rican elements into my music." Anibal was on fire. His time at Fuentes studios would be short lived, and he soon began recording on every label that existed in the coast. As he himself would go on to say “I started recording for various record labels, I didn't like to stick to one only, so they dubbed me "Anibal Todo Sello" (Anibal all labels)”
The music industry in the coast was experiencing a “boom” and recording studios were popping throughout the coast. It was in many ways the golden decade of the Musica Tropical movement. Lucho Bermudez and Estersita Forrero had taken the genre into new heights spreading the warm tropical sound of the coast to Bogota and reaching as far Cuba and the United States.
“I recall playing in a small venue called "Mi Kioskito" here in Barranquilla. I was playing there every week and all the great musicians of this country would appear one after the other; Pacho Galan, Rufo Garrido, Pedro Laza , Michi Sarmiento…Costeno music was taking over the country and we were pioneering a new movement, a new identity for Colombia - Those were amazing times. ”
Anibal began to have an impressive amount of follower, drawing huge crowds wherever he went. Anibals guaracha sound was spreading like wild fire. Alarmed by Anibals great success and ability to sell records, Antonio Fuentes, began to devise a new super group called Los Corraleros de Majagual. This new group would be made up by many of his devoted followers such as Alfredo Gutierrez, Lisandro Meza, Ernesto Estrada (aka Fruko) and Calixo Ochoa to name a few.
The rivalry between the two bands came to an abrupt end with the arrival of the drug-cartels. By the mid-1960s, music in La Costa began to change drastically. With the onset of the hippie movement in the United States and America’s new found craving for marijuana, Colombia’s Caribbean Coast had become a main trafficking hub. A new economy of drugs had emerged in the coast and with it a style called Vallenato rose to prominence. It’s distinct accordion sound and bleusy appeal made it a favorite among drug lords and Mafiosos alike, eventually becoming the soundtrack for their feverish life-styles. According to Anibal:
“for a short period, people found happiness in the new economy of drugs and Vallenato had became the manifestation this new found happiness.” This new brand of prosperity was soon followed by a dramatic upsurge in drug-related violence.Drug Cartels ruled the streets and people did not feel safe. Life changed and so did the music. The Drug-lords delighted in the accordion and the instrument soon become a trademark in local festivals and public gatherings. Vallenato was everywhere. I quickly began to redefine my playing style because I became bored with Vallenato mostly because its lyrical content had become decadent and too closely associated with violence. So while everybody became slower to impress the drug lords I began to play faster.”
By the 1970s the level violence in the coast had grown to unprecedented heights, and Vallenato had become king. Fed up with the current state of affairs Anibal decided to pack his bag and move to Caracas, Venezuela where he remained for 18 years until finally returning back to his beloved Barranquilla in the late 80s.
“Caracas was extremely good for me. I was able to focus on music and forget the madness of the coast. I made a lot of music in Venezuela, recording over 150 LPs."
It is said that Anibal Velasquez recorded 300 LPs throughout his remarkable career.
Anibal’s contribution to Colombia’s Musica Tropical Movement cannot be forgotten. His ability to play music that was joyful and percussive, with lyrics right out of everyday life, while at the same time championing new sound, has made him into one of the few living legends of Colombia’s glorious musical past.
Many of the tracks presented here have set fire to more then one dance-floor and have become essential during Analog Africa Dj Sets. We are now very proud for the opportunity to bring this sound to you.