B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘African’ tag

Fela Kuti Vinyl Box Set Curated By Brian Eno

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Fela Anikulapo Kuti - complete works
Fela Anikulapo Kuti – complete works

Since I own these albums already on CD, this box set, while enticing, seems too expensive for me: $30 per LP.  If you are new to the delicious and infectious polyrhythms of Fela Kuti, Tony Allen, et al,  these are excellent albums to start with.

Via Pitchfork’s Evan Minsker

Knitting Factory have released two vinyl box sets reissuing Fela Kuti’s albums—the first was curated by ?uestlove, the second by Ginger Baker. On September 29, they’ll release a third, this one put together by Brian Eno. For Eno’s installment, he picked the albums London Scene (1971), Shakara (1972), Gentleman (1973), Afrodisiac (1973), Zombie (1976), Upside Down (1976), and I.T.T. (1980). It comes with a 12-page booklet with a foreword by Eno, song lyrics, and in-depth commentaries by Afrobeat historian Chris May.

(click here to continue reading Fela Kuti Box Set of Vinyl Reissues, Curated by Brian Eno, Announced | News | Pitchfork.)

Fela Kuti Box Set 3 - Brian Eno

For the same money however, you can purchase 27 Fela Kuti discs instead: The Complete Works Of Fela Anikulapo Kuti on CD

Also here’s Brian Eno discussing how he discovered Fela1 in a record store in London

This is the first in a series of videos presenting the salutations of celebrities on the occasion of what would have been Fela’s 75th birthday. Also on this day, 15th October, Knitting Factory Records are releasing Red Hot + Fela, a compilation album featuring interpretations of Fela songs by a raft of top drawer artists. All profits from this album go towards combatting AIDS.

Brian Eno, producer, thinker, conceptual artist and lifelong Fela fan has contributed this salutory message, talking about how encountering Fela’s music changed his life.

(click here to continue reading ▶ Brian Eno – Thoughts On Fela – YouTube.)

Footnotes:
  1. his music, that is []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 12th, 2014 at 7:53 am

Desert Blues, Recorded On-Site

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tumblr_lqt2u26dnJ1qz4m9to1_400.jpg

I just got my copy of Tinariwen’s Tassili today, as a matter of fact. I’ve listened to the CD once, so far, but like it a lot1. If you have a chance, pick up a copy. There is no “Auto-Tune” in use on this desert blues…

In the language of the Tuareg nomads, who for centuries have roamed the most remote reaches of the southern Sahara, “tinariwen” means “deserts.” But ever since the musical group of that name released its first CD in 2001, its members have recorded not on their home turf but in much the same way that American and European bands do: in the artificial environment of a recording studio, in cities like Paris and Bamako, Mali.

With “Tassili,” released on Tuesday, Tinariwen, whose music is a hard-rocking hybrid of Berber, Arab, Western and black African styles, has sought to return to its beginnings. Named for a spectacular area of canyons and sandstone arches near Algeria’s border with Libya, the CD was rehearsed and recorded out of doors there, in tents and around campfires much like those where the group’s founding members, political exiles then living in refugee settlements, first came together to play.

“We wanted to go back to our origins, to the experience of ishumar,” a word in the Tamashek language referring to exile or being adrift, explained Eyadou ag Leche, the band’s bass player, speaking in French during an interview in New York in July. “Those were times when we would sit around a campfire, singing songs and passing around a guitar. Tinariwen was born in that movement, in that atmosphere, so what you hear on ‘Tassili’ is the feeling of ishumar.”

“Theirs is music that at the same time seems very familiar, starting with the guitars and the call and response element in the vocals, but also sounds exotic to the ear,” said the guitarist Nels Cline of Wilco, who supplies an eerily swirling guitar background on “Imidiwan Ma Tennam,” the new CD’s opening track. “You’re listening to stuff that really rocks, but is also very stripped down. There is an air of mystery and longing, and that creates a mood that is palpable, very compelling and attractive for all kinds of people. It’s wonderful music, and not just for guitarists.”
Tinariwen’s music has sometimes been called “desert blues,” and the group’s penchant for writing songs in minor key modes certainly creates a sound that has a blue feeling. But the band’s members prefer to talk about “asuf,” a sentiment from their own culture that describes both a sense of spiritual pain, yearning or nostalgia and the emptiness of the desert itself. That, they acknowledge, creates a certain kinship with the bluesmen of Mississippi and Chicago.

“We didn’t know about these people at first because we were in our own universe,” Mr. ag Leche explained. “But when we first started hearing Hendrix, just to name someone, we felt something immediately. It was almost as if I had known that music from the day I was born. I’m told that a lot of the Africans who went to North America came from West Africa, from our part of the world. So it’s all the same connection. I think that any people who have lived through something that is very hard, feel this asuf, this pain, this longing. That is what will make their music sound similar to each other.”

(click here to continue reading Tinariwen’s ‘Tassili’ – Desert Blues, Recorded On-Site – NYTimes.com.)

 

Footnotes:
  1. as I suspected I would []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 31st, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

Tagged with ,

Soul Power Sounds Spectacular

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I can’t wait to see this film, sounds spectacular.

Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, the director of the new documentary “Soul Power,” was a film editor in 1995 for “When We Were Kings,” the Oscar-winning documentary directed by Leon Gast about the Rumble in the Jungle, the 1974 heavyweight world championship bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (now Congo).


“When We Were Kings” (Leon Gast)

That fight had a huge sideshow: Zaire ’74, a three-day music festival of American soul alongside African music, headlined by James Brown and filmed by the same crew that was in Zaire for the fight. “Soul Power” presents that festival from its precarious beginnings to the finale of a shirtless, sweating James Brown singing to an African audience, “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

The festival was a striking sociocultural moment. African-American and Latin musicians were being introduced to Africa and African musicians amid Mr. Ali’s black-power politics and a hodgepodge of visiting music, sports and literary figures. “There was a lot of deeper meaning about why people went there and what it evoked for them,” Mr. Levy-Hinte said.

Brown and other headliners, including B. B. King, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars, the Spinners and Bill Withers, performed at their peak, flaunting bright-colored, sharp-collared, bell-bottomed 1970s outfits that are a fashion show themselves. Americans shared the lineup with African musicians, like the South African singer Miriam Makeba and the top Zairean groups T.P.O.K. Jazz (featuring the guitarist Franco) and Tabu Ley Rochereau.

[From ‘Soul Power,’ Documentary on the Zaire ’74 Music Festival – NYTimes.com]

but who knows when the film will ever be released:

His plan was to put out concert DVDs of the festival’s performances, a fairly straightforward process. Then “I committed the original sin of filmmaking,” he said. “I fell in love with the material instead of following this rational business path.

It cost about half a million dollars, including licensing the music, to make “Soul Power.” So far there’s no deal for a soundtrack album. The DVDs will be assembled “as soon as humanly possible,” Mr. Levy-Hinte said, though that may well be next year.

“The vast majority of the material has still not been used,” he added. “There may be a whole other movie in there.”


“20th Anniversaire, Vol. 2” (Franco & T.P.O.K. Jazz)


“1972/1973/1974” (Franco & T.P.O.K. Jazz)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 5th, 2009 at 11:03 am

Ethiopiques 19

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Another Quickie review


“Ethiopiques 19” (Ethiopiques (Buda Series), Mahmoud Ahmed)

I don’t have every album in this series1 , but every CD except one has been a great addition to my African music library. My favorite song on this album, called Tezeta, has a simply stunning bass line, along with a moody vocal, sort of like a Hazzan2, though in Ethiopian. Great sax too.

Tezeta means nostalgia, a bittersweet longing for the past, btw, and is a frequent song subject. In fact, there is an entire Ethiopiques album devoted to it.

Footnotes:
  1. estimate without counting that I’ve picked up slightly more than half of the 23 titles, mostly from my pals at Aquarius Records in San Francisco []
  2. cantor []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 17th, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

Tagged with , ,

Bootylicious

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Some ass news from the UK

African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus
“African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus” (Rachel Holmes)

The more things change….

Flesh made fantasy
Rachel Holmes on the Hottentot Venus – a South African showgirl with an irresistible ass.

The body of Saartjie Baartman, better known as the Hottentot Venus, has had greater influence on the iconography of the female body in European art and visual culture than any other African woman of the colonial era. Saartjie, a South African showgirl in the early 19th century, was a small, beautiful woman, with an irresistible bottom. Of a build unremarkable in an African context, to some western European eyes she was extraordinary. Today, she is celebrated as bootylicious.


Billed as the Hottentot Venus, Saartjie first performed in Piccadilly on September 24 1810. Dressed in a figure-hugging body stocking, beadwork, feathers and face-paint, she danced, sang and played African and European folk songs on her ramkie, forerunner to the tin-can guitar. Slung over her costume was a voluminous fur cloak (kaross). Enveloping her from neck to feet, it was an African version of the corn-gold tresses of Botticelli’s Venus – and every inch of its luxuriant, curled hair was equally suggestive.

To London audiences, she was a fantasy made flesh, uniting the imaginary force of two powerful myths: Hottentot and Venus. The latter invoked a cultural tradition of lust and love; the former signified all that was strange, disturbing and – possibly – sexually deviant. Almost overnight, London was overtaken by Saartjie mania. Within a week, she went from being an anonymous immigrant to one of the city’s most talked-about celebrities. Her image became ubiquitous: it was reproduced on bright posters and penny prints, and she became the favoured subject of caricaturists and cartoonists.

and here is a factoid not discussed much in history books of Georgian England:

Bottoms were big in late-Georgian England. From low to high culture, Britain was a nation obsessed by buttocks, bums, arses, posteriors, rumps – and with every metaphor, joke or pun that could be squeezed from this fundamental distraction. Georgian England both celebrated and deplored excess, grossness, bawdiness and the uncontainable. In Rowlandson’s cartoon, amply proportioned white Englishwomen are depicted trying to plump up their already big bottoms in imitation of Saartjie, who loftily presides over them all.

Saartjie’s instant celebrity owed much to a coincidence between the Georgian fascination with bottoms, the size of the derrière of Lord Grenville, and the British tradition of visual satire. The aristocratic Grenville family were famed for their huge bums. The nation was rife with speculation that Grenville would become prime minister and his Whig coalition – known as the broad-bottoms or the bottomites – take over parliament. An engraving by William Heath depicts Grenville dressed as the Hottentot Venus. In another, by George Cruikshank from 1816, Saartjie’s profile is compared with that of the Prince Regent.


I wonder if Ms. Baartman makes an appearance in Pynchon’s Gravities Rainbow?

Written by Seth Anderson

April 4th, 2007 at 12:07 am

Posted in Suggestions

Tagged with , , , ,