Summer Selection: Kamal Keila, new afro 7″ releases, the Saxophones, Kalima, Onyx Collective, Angelo de Augustine, Pumice

Here are some great new releases to survive the musical summer void.

First is another superb habibi funk release, called “moslems & christians” by Kamal Keila from Sudan. It´s a incredible spiritual and political timeless gem, never released before except on cassette.

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Habibi Funk:

Kamal Keila was a name that came up here and there, coined the James Brown or Fela Kuti of Sudan. When I asked Yassir about him he said that he has extended family ties with him and that he could set up a meeting. We spent an afternoon in Kamal’s living room somewhere in the dusty outskirts of Khartoum. His small house, where he lives with his sons and their families, is located on a little side street. In the tiny garden area he has a number of empty pigeon cages, a testament of one of his hobbies he actively followed until some years ago. Kamal doesn’t know his exact age but was born sometime in the early 1940s and as much as his age shows when he’s moving around in his house he still lights up full of energy when reminiscing about his music.

In our conversation it turned out that even though his career seriously started in the 1960s, he had never released a record on vinyl and that, apart from one album which still remains to be found, he can’t remember about a cassette tape release either. He did however record sessions for Sudanese radio. In Sudan the radio stations were not allowed to play the recordings produced by music labels on air, therefore they had their own studios and invited musicians to record music for their program. In most cases the musicians would not receive a copy of the recordings out of fear that they would release the music themselves. But luckily Kamal Keila had gotten his hands on two sessions and had kept those two studio reels all these years. Both tapes were in the most horrible condition with mold everywhere and obvious signs that they had gotten very wet at some point. Much to our surprise they played very well. Each tape included five tracks. One with English lyrics and another with Arabic ones. Musically you can hear the influence of neighboring Ethiopia much more than on other Sudanese recordings of the time, as well as references to Fela and American funk and soul. His lyrics, at least when he sings in English which indicates more freedom from censorship, are very political. A brave statement in the political climate of Sudan of the last decades, preaching for the unity of Sudan, peace between Muslims and Christians and singing the blues about the fate of war orphans called „Smash“.

When we asked Kamal about the year the recordings were made he didn’t remember and the tapes itself didn’t give a clue either. Sonically we assumed they must be from the mid 1970s but we were in for a surprise when we found a little sheet in one of the cases of the reels. The note specified the track titles, durations and the fact that the sessions were recorded on the 12th of august 1992. Both sessions stand as a hearable testament how Kamal Keila stuck to a sound aesthetic from decades ago, while incorporating current events into his lyrics.

Some of the songs were already written in the 1970s and have been part of Kamal’s sets ever since, with only small changes for some contemporary references in the lyrics and musically sometimes adopting to „new“ sounds here and there.

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New Afro 7  45″ releases 

Lets stay a bit with the east – african music scene.  Afro 7 is a quite new label based in finland concentrating on the east african music scene. They are releasing mostly 7″ from the 70ies but as well the london based exile –  sudanese band “the scorpios”  amazing record last year.

So here are some new great 45″ from the scorpios, Etuk Ubong from Nigeria, the Mombasa Vikings and David Waciuma from Kenya. Especially the track “devil go” and the Mombasa Vikings´ b-side called “kibe kibe” are hypnotic.

Listen:

the scorpios : Mashena/Samha’ 

The Saxophones

Now to something completely different. After two amazing 7″, the Saxophones from Oakland release their first LP called simply “Songs of the Saxophones ” via full time hobby.

Songs like “time is like a river”, “mysteries revealed” or especially “singing desperately” are stripped down, crystal clear songs in a tradition of leonard cohen, low, timber timbre or bill callahan, even though sometimes at the edge of drifting away into great kitch. Give it a try.

This is our debut record on Full Time Hobby. It was all written and recorded over the past two years. It’s largely a meditation and reflection on relationship and the unlearning of socialized behaviors. We hope this record brings meaning and comfort to your life in these uncertain times. Thank you for listening.

Alexi Erenkov – Guitar, Saxophone, Flute, Synthesizer and Voice
Alison Alderdice – Drums and Voice
Richard Laws – Bass Guitar, Vibraphone and Voice

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Kalima – Where is the Sunshine 7″ (Chuwanga)

“All black music in America is a response to racism and slavery”

A Quote by Derrick Amin, whose band Kalima released this amazing spiritual jazz track in 1981, that is now fortunately re-released by the french label Chuwanaga

The 7″ has the song Where is the Sunshine” as part one an side a and part two on the b side but nicely for dj´s there is the 7 minutes mixed full track as a download as well available when buying the 7″. (listen here).

Essential.

Back in the mid seventies Derrick Amin brought together young and talented musicians from his African-American Muslim community in Baltimore. He tells us: “all black music in America is a response to racism and slavery” and “(Where Is The) Sunshine” was their own answer, “a plaintiff query of one immerse in darkness. The darkness of lies, lies that deny the humanity, justice, and equality of people. It’s the impetus of this song”. He adds: “Kalima means « Word » or « Langage » in Arabic. The name was inspired by a quote from Imam W.D. Mohammad (the late Muslim American leader and erstwhile successor to Nation of Islam founder, Elijah Muhammad) who once said: “Words make people””.

With its splendid vocal parts – thanks to lead vocalist Sabreen Shareef, a unique major-to-minor chord progression, subtil synthetiser melodies in the chorus and amazing electric piano and sax solos, it really is a very special release. It’s been discovered in a Motor City Drum Ensemble jazz set with Gilles Peterson at the J.A.W. Family Reunion in Berlin back in 2016 where he played it as the closing track of a wonderful musical journey through black music – which was the right occasion for a classic Gilles rewind and the occasion of a shared epiphany. Still, one must not forget its yet poetic still political message now shared once again with the world. The question asked by Kalima sadly still remains as relevant in 2018: Where is the sunshine

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Some amazing introvertive indie 7″comes from Angelo de Augustine out on asthmatic kitty records. The Carcassonne 7″ contains two amazing heartbreaking little tunes.

The Carcassonne 7” was written and self-produced at home at the tail end of summer, soon after De Augustine released his second LP, Swim Inside the Moon, and played to his biggest audience to date supporting Sufjan Stevens at LA’s Hollywood Forever Cemetery (his tour with Moses Sumney was then about to start). “Carcassonne” is one of De Augustine’s most romantic tracks that starts by asking a simple question: “Would you be the only one / In my life with my love?” and ends with the tender epiphany: “There ain’t much time in life before the lights go down / So I want to know you now,” reminding us to love while we can.

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Pumice

Quite unusual ambient accordion sounds are to hear on side a of the Haemochromatosis Bring a Plate 7″by Pumice (soft abuse) while the two short tracks on side b are more postpunk / lo – fi sounds.

Innovative, rough and majestic.

Onyx Collective

Last but not least, here´s the amazing onyx collective from new york who released after some 7″ and two digital ep´s the first official release called Lower East Suite Part Three.

When I first listened to the track 2AM at Veselka, it´s the unique sound of the two saxophones,playing together, that was fascinating me. In Rumble In Chatham Square you´ll hear amazing stripped down rhythm patterns. In the 7″ fruit stand / snake chamber its more a chilled sound of a sunday afternoon (fruit stand) or an orientalic spiritual jazz excursion (snake chamber). Artwork of the LP and 7″ covers by the way by painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel.

Eclectic and post-modern contemporary jazz.

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