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VV.AA. AFRO-BEAT AIRWAYS ''WEST AFRICAN SHOCK WAVES'' (Ghana & Togo 1972-78) [2010] @ [320k]

21/12/2010 23:02 0 Comentarios Lectura: ( palabras)

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VV.AA.

AFRO-BEAT AIRWAYS

''WEST AFRICAN SHOCK WAVES'' (Ghana & Togo 1972-78)

[2010] @

  El Afrobeat es un sonido surgido en el continente negro en la década del '70, que mezcla sonidos tradicionales del folk africano con el jazz y el funk. Este sonido llega a nosotros a través de un sello discográfico que posee una gran cantidad de masters de los artistas de Ghana, Benin, Togo y zonas aledañas, y que se dedica a publicar regularmente álbumes que recopilan el legado musical del continente.

Este Afro-Beat Airways: West African Shock Waves – Ghana & Togo 1972-1978 es obra del fundador del sello Analog Africa, Samy Ben Redjeb, quien para d?cumentar estos 15 temas irresistibles y la escena musical de los '70 recorrió las longitudes de Ghana y Togo en busca de los productores y artistas (o bien, de sus familiares). En el proceso, grabó una docena de entrevistas, y transfirió material de unas 120 cintas maestras, con grabaciones de ese periodo de 6 años entre 1972 y 1978.

Por el álbum desfilan nombres conocidos para quienes tengan una noción de la escena africana de la época, como K. Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas, que aporta un funky espectacular en "Me Yee Owu Den"; Ebo Taylor con su sonido cercano al jazz y a la big band en "Odofo Nyi Akyiri Biara" y "Come Along", o la African Brothers Band. También están los celebres The Apagya Show Band, quienes se anotan con un par de temas de funk pesado, cargado de organos y percusiones africanas, en una combinación irresistible: " Ma Nserew Me", que muestra largos pasajes de experimentación, cercanos a una jam session y "Mumunde", que comienza con una sección de vientos, sigue con unos ritmos cuasi caribeños y empalma con un puente que parece caído de un tema de The Doors...

imageVarios de los artistas aquí presentados ya han aparecido en distintos compilados, pero el objetivo de este álbum parece ser el de dar a conocer a músicos y bandas que nunca antes habiamos oido. Por ejemplo, tenemos a Marijata con "Break Through", una compleja y cargada de instrumentos mixtura de jazz, funk y un riff rockero. "More", de Rob, es una pieza cargada de sintetizadores y con un vocalista que le roba, aunque sea un poco, al gran James Brown. "Afe Ato Yen Bio" de De Frank Proffesionals, es disco music al estilo africano, tan pegadizo que lo utilizaron como corte de difusión del disco. Uppers International tiene dos aportes en este álbum, la canción que abre el mismo, "Dankasa", y "Neriba Lanchina", ambas con un sonido más enfocado a las raíces africanas que otras canciones del disco.

A lo largo de sus 75 minutos, Afro-beat Airways exhibe la asombrosa diversidad de los ritmos de África occidental, aderezados estos con funk, soul y jazz. Estos temas han permanecido ocultos durante más 30 años y, como podrán escuchar, su sonido es increiblemente actual. Afro-Beat Airways es como una cápsula del tiempo, que mantuvo el sonido de una época (y de un continente) olvidado, y que llega ahora a nosotros en pequeñas cuotas, como pistas para recorrer el mapa sonoro de la región. Es un disco que, a pesar de las notorias influencias de la música occidental, ofrece piezas cargadas de originalidad.

Tres canciones destacadas: "Break Through", "Me Yee Owu Den", "Mumunde"

Reseña: V.A - Afro-Beat Airways: West African Shock Waves – Ghana & Togo 1972-1978

Por Facundo Trotta el 13 de Septiembre de 2010

Más sobre

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Various Artists

Afro-Beat Airways: West African Shock Waves, Ghana & Togo 1972-1978

[Analog Africa; 2010]

In 2008, Analog Africa owner Samy Ben Redjeb accidentally checked a bag with his passport in it before attempting to get on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Luanda, Angola. The plane was delayed while they looked for his bag without any luck. The flight left without him, and once he got his passport back they weren't able to get him to Luanda for another few weeks. They did, however offer him some alternatives: would he like to go to Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, or Ghana? He chose a flight to Accra, Ghana-- he had friends there who'd told him of a big stash of records he might be interested in. And that's how this compilation came about.

imageAnalog Africa was already in the process of digging heavily into the music scenes of Ghana's smaller neighbors, Benin and Togo, for a series of great comps. A meeting with Dick Essilfie-Bonzie, the owner of the long-defunct Essiebons Records, led Redjeb to a trove of old master tapes from the 1970s. The music on those tapes, most of which was originally recorded for PolyGram, comprises the bulk of this set, the latest in Redjeb's incredible run of Afro-funk retrospectives. Anyone who enjoyed Soundway's Ghana Soundz compilations from several years ago will love this as well, as it's filled with the distinctive funk sound of Ghana-- heavy on the bright Vox organ, colored by highlife guitars, and anchored by grooves that are heavier than just about anything else. The few tracks by Togolese artists included here fit right into the sound (the artists all absorbed the Ghana sound during stints there).

There are a lot of ways to organize archival compilations. You can go the Numero route and try to tell the story of a label or a tight-knit group of friends through music; you can focus on a particular style, year, or scene; you can cherry-pick and make what amounts to a mixtape; or try to provide an overview for beginners. Analog Africa is really the only label I can think of that uses the travelogue as an organizing principle for these kinds of sets. Redjeb's adventure isn't just the catalyst for the compilation-- it's the backbone as well. Listening to it and checking the extensive book of notes that comes with it, you follow an arc of discovery that parallels Redjeb's own listening experience in Ghana. There's excitement in the way it's put together, and everyone he interviews for the booklet is happy to be talking about this music again.

imageIf you're already collecting Afro-funk comps, you'll probably know names like K. Frimpong, Ebo Taylor, and African Brothers Band. They and others here have all featured on other compilations, but this disc digs deep to bring us stuff we've never heard before. And if you're just getting into this music, pretty much everything will be revelatory. Taylor's two tracks under his own name here both have his signature big sound, underpinned by the knocking Afrobeat rhythm that he built into a trademark. It wasn't easy to have a massive sound like Taylor's in 70s Ghana. Successive military governments in the 60s had imposed curfews that made life difficult for musicians, breaking up a lot of bands and sending their members abroad-- the large horn sections of the big old-style highlife bands were the hardest-hit, and as a result highlife in Ghana became more focused on the guitar. Taylor's big, pummeling horn fanfares are a thread tying his funked-up 70s output back to the society bands he got his start in.

The ultimate Ghanaian guitar highlife band was undoubtedly the African Brothers, led by guitarist Nana Ampadu. Their "Ngyegye No So" borrows an Afrobeat backbeat (it's the insistent syncopated tick-tock-a-tick pattern played on the non-trap percussion) and tugs on it with a fractured bass line. After the psychedelic organ solo, Ampadu delivers an English monologue that goes like this: "It is me they call Nana Ampadu, the music king. I be composer, I be singer, I be arranger, I be master guitarist"-- the joke being that the song's title means "Don't Brag". Orchestre Abass, a Togolese band that relocated to Accra and later had a residency at Fela Kuti's Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria, picked up the choppy rhythms and immense organ sound of their adopted country, and they flash it brilliantly on "Awula Bo Fee Ene".

imageOne of the reasons these songs all sound so unified is that Ghana's music scene was small enough that many musicians knew each other, played with each other, and developed alongside one another or in competition. If there are more than a couple degrees of separation between any two musicians, I'd be shocked. They also shared a constant scramble for scarce resources, and it seems to have forged a rock-solid professionalism in the players that you can hear in the recordings. Dick Essilfie-Bonzie had established a few labels and the country's first vinyl pressing plant, and he brought in an engineer called E.B. Brown to run his studio-- Brown's depth of knowledge and skill gives these recordings an amazing presence and clarity that modern mastering has only made bolder. Here's hoping Samy Ben-Redjeb winds up on a few more flights he didn't intend to take.

— Joe Tangari, September 8, 2010

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