‘See Lamu, see Paradise’ describes the archipelago of Indian Ocean Islands off Kenya’s northern shores. Each Island has its share of Arabian Nights’ history, often only preserved in song and folk-tale, and this collection contains recordings of music which has all but disappeared into the mist of Time. Under the palm trees beside the white sand beaches, on sea-going dhows and in time of traditional celebrations, singers and instrumentalist give you songs of long ago with authenticity and lilting loveliness. A1) Song Of The Coconut Climers: ‘Life is a gift from God’, is the message from this gay melody. A2) Flute Among The Sand Dunes: On the eve of a celebration, soft music of the flute floats hauntingly in the Lamu air. A3) Lamu Love Song: A poem of dreams – treasure and a wedding bed made of Ivory tusks, sung here in a narrow backstreet by Hadija Hamisi. A4) The Siwa Horns Of Lamu: As sailing dhows return from their long sea-journeys, captains order the traditional Siwa horns to be Blown. A5) Ocean Song: In a beautiful melody, accompanied on the bow-harp Uta, Athman bin Khamis tells the love of the sea. B1) Uta Dance: The abundance of the coconut crop brings this happy celebration from the pickers, with their UTA bow-harp. B2) Zumari Music: A wedding celebration by the high-pitch traditional wind instrument of the islands. B3) Love Poem of Mwana Kupona: Lessons of the happy life and successful marriage. B4) Matondoni Celebration: The women of this little village gather, with drums and horns, to dance the age-old Vugo. B5) Coconut Climbers Dance: Warm nights are gladdened by the enchanting music of this dance by the coconut gatherers.
And now for something completely different! The Black Savage group, famous for the rare mid-70s EMI LP. The band line-up featured one prominent member; Job Seda, better known as Ayub Ogada (later released an album on Peter Gabriels Real World label) In a Pink Floyd-esque landscape these two tracks are oddball and unique enough to go unnoticed. Completely without any noticeable local rootings, except the lyrics. There is an uncanny quality over them and both songs complete with anti-hunting lyrics “Save the Savage, don’t shoot ‘em down, they are trying to survive, they have feelings too…You know people, I think it’s very strange. How would you feel if someone was wearing your skin, or wrapping it around their feet, have you ever stopped to think, that all these animals all over the world, you know they have feelings too, bet you never thought of that, there you go shooting them down hanging them up on your wall to hide the cracks!”. Thanks to Jumanne Thomas for finding the tunes!
A) Black Savage ‘Do You Really Care’|
B) Black Savage ‘Save The Savage’
“One of the best Kikuyu disco tracks I’ve ever heard…!” Rickard Masip said having found few copies of ‘Family Planning’ on his last trip to Kenya in 2013. Often the continuing search for something fresh and original can be a striving fare, especially when you have to look through thousand and thousands of dirty old singles. Even though there are many Kikuyu Benga singles, few have the magnitude of By Law’s KIRU1 and KIRU6. Over a hypnotizing groove with a heavy backbeat, Family planning tells us the story of a family dispute between husband and wife, set in a traditional Kikuyu rural setting. The bone of contention in the marriage is that the wife has had enough with giving birth to more kids. They have 8 kids so far but the arrogant and rude husband is still not satisfied and wants more. Though grim it may seem the outfall is the man accept the humble argument of the wife. Notice the slight shift to a more Soukouss driven beat towards the end of the track. The bass heavy ‘Mumbi’ is in more positive fashion a classic love song about the authors passion for a woman he named the song after. He goes on tour to Nyeri where she is from and tells all the other guys to lay off his true love. Massive thanks to Moses Mungai for the translation! Both these tracks are now officially licensed and available as 12-inch through our own in-house label Afro7 records, limited to 350 copies in a heavy custom silk pressed sleeve. Both tracks extended and reworked by Finnish supreme Didier Selin. Buy it now!
A) Kiru Stars ‘Family Planning’|
B) Kiru Stars ‘Mumbi’
Glad to announce that the first compilation on our own in-house label now is available for purchase through the Shop. Light & Sound of Mogadishu comes as first of it’s kind, a unique compilation of tracks from the seventies Somali scene. Light and Sound was a was a small label and shop that operated in the ‘Cinema Hamar’ complex downtown Mogadishu. Vinyl singles was shifting hands among electronic equipment and lighting products. From the funky fused organ led rhythms of The Sharero band to the mesmerizing voice of Magool. Light & Sound had the sounds of the times! The vinyl has 7 tracks, the digipack CD has 8. Compilation comes fully remastered with liners and pictures. Read the press release through this link. In shops from the 29th of august. The bonus track on the CD is the excellent guitar percussion driven ‘Jacil Dheeg Malago Qury’ Hear part 1 and 2 in the mp3 link below. Translated to “Is Love Written in Blood?” thanks to Risto Nevanlinna for letting us borrow the original for the master and Lidwien Kapteijns for the translation of the song title.
|A) & B) Magool ‘Jacil Dheeg Malago Qury’|
Le Nzoi aka The Bees originated sometimes in the early seventies assembled by the famous vocalist Edo Gang, who’s been in bands like Les Bantous De La Capitale and T.P.O.K. Jazz. The Edition Populaire was a label owned by Franco, and this gem of a tune ‘Declaration’ was recorded on a mobile recording studio Franco used for all his sub-labels. Never discard a Congolese track after the first minute, it starts cooking mid-way. The Bees start to sting real hard here at 1:45! Departing from a call and response duet a killer guitar riff kics in and meets the sax solo half-way. This track can be looped throughout the day and night, it has everything you need!
|A) Orchestre Le Nzoi ‘Decleration’
B) Orchestre Le Nzoi ‘Ou Est Le Probleme’
Love songs, irrespective of lyrical inspiration or language used – are endearing and captivating. They always have a way that connects to audiences with consummate ease. The song Amalia is no exception, despite its seemingly economical use of verses, astutely weaved around four simple lines that ooze with passion. Undeniably, the song-writer must have been deeply smitten and enamored by his feelings for Amalia. She is lyrically described as being “..ua langu la maisha ya dunia…” [the flower in his life on earth]. His heart yearns intensely for her charm, and love to shine through the darkness of a lifetime without her presence. The song’s laid-back and mellow refrain did likely serenade countless couples on the dance-floor, drawing lovebirds closer in tight embrace, each enveloped in the idyllic moment. Witty words like bolero [means slow-tempo] engraved on the 45rpm sleeve, were used to categorize specific tracks. Anyone with a keen ear for good music is bound to appreciate song’s adeptly structured guitar-work and rhythmic interplay, crafted during what was a possibly riveting recording session. On the flip side, Lakusema Mimi Sina – loosely translates in English as having nothing to say, steps up the tempo a notch higher but lyrics maintain the quest-for-love theme. Notably, either track bears less or minimal foreign influences – a tactful departure from the commonplace feature for most bands of the era. There is hardly any pronounced James Brown overtones on the trend-setting Loi Toki Tok band’s songs – grounded in an indigenous feel flowing through the instrumental arrangements.
|A) Loi Toki Tok ‘Amalia’
B) Loi Toki Tok ‘Lakusema Mimi Sina’