International Women’s Day special: new music round up

Les Amazones d’Afrique drop their Republique Amazone LP on March 10th and the album is a future classic. This all female collective of West African artists (below) are campaigning for gender equality through their music. Their members are Angélique Kidjo (global superstar and UNICEF ambassador), Kandia Kouyaté (Mali’s greatest living griotte), Mamani Keita (former singer in Salif Keita’s band), Mariam Doumbia (of Amadou and Mariam), Mariam Koné (up and coming singer), Massan Coulibaly (Malian singer), Mouneissa Tandina (one of Mali’s rare female drummers), Nneka (young Nigerian hip hop artist), Pamela Badjogo (jazz singer) and Rokia Koné (up and coming Malian singer).

The LP on Realworld is funky, blues tinged, dubwise and tinged with African rhythms and electronic witchery. Their messages are sung in English, French and Mandingo and cover themes from domestic violence, land rights and FGM. The band also raise money for the Panzi Foundation, which has treated approximately 86,000 girls and women with gynecological injuries in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Emel (above) released her sophomore LP at the end of last month. Don’t let it pass you by. The singer rose to prominence during the Arab Spring when her recording Kelmti Horra (My Word Is Free) became a viral anthem. Emel displays an exceptionally wide vocal range and there are a diverse array of acoustic and electronic influences present – the Tunisian cites influence from James Blake to Egyptian composer Sheikh Imam. The LP on Partisan Records was recorded over seven countries and two continents.

Yasmine Hamdan (right) will release her Al Jamilat LP at the end of the month.

She combines Western pop and folk influences with her unique take on Arabic music and politics and culture in the Middle East. Also involved are UK Producers Luke Smith (Foals, Depeche Mode) and Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Carl Barat).

It’s released on Crammed Discs on March 31st.

Finally, Juana Molina’s Halo LP is not out until May, but it seems a suitable time to mention this incredible forthcoming release. It’s the seventh album by this artist (pictured below) and was recorded in her home studio near Buenos Aires and in Sonic Ranch Studio in Texas.

More coverage of some (hopefully all) all of these artists will appear soon on World Treasures Music.

Listen to some tracks by these artists on this WTM International Women’s Day mix (full tracklist available on mix page, click on the box):

Reissued trio shows musical mastery of Brazil’s Erasmo Carlos on Light In The Attic

Light In The Attic have reissued three classic LPs of Brazilian legend Erasmo Carlos. All of the usual quality research and excellent archive photos have been included, plus the pressings sound joyously good.

His collaborations with singer Roberto Carlos are some of the most commercially successful compositions in Brazil. These LPs display another side to this legendary singer and songwriter.

Erasmo Carlos E Tremendões includes a Caetano Veloso song Saudosismo in the Tropicália style, an Antônio Adolfo art-pop song Teletema and Ary Barroso song Aquarela Do Brasil. It’s a mixed bag that gets better listen after listen.

The volatile and violent political atmosphere and subsequent music that veiled criticism of the oppressive government led to artists being arrested and repressed. Veloso and Gilberto Gil were still in exile at the start of the 1970s, Rita Lee had quit Os Mutantes and Gal Costa was into a new style also. It meant that Erasmo’s 1971 album was the closest thing to Tropicália at the time.

Erasmo signed to Polydor where his sound also inspired by hippie culture, acid rock and soul music found a home. Carlos, ERASMO . . . features arrangements by Rogério Duprat and three players from Mutants: lead guitarist Sergio Dias, drummer Dinho Leme and bassist Liminha, as well as renowned psychedelic guitarist, Alexander Gordin, aka “Lanny”.  It was co-produced by the Tropicália producer, Manoel Barenbein.

Sonhos E Memórias (1941-1972) features keyboardist José Roberto Bertrami, drummer Ivan Conti, aka “Mamão” and bassist Alex Malheiros – this trio became Azimuth. The LP features a wide range of styles such as bossa nova, rock and soul, but the album remains a cohesive whole and is highly autobiographical with emotive ballads.

This is a fantastic collection of previously overlooked work, not by high end collectors though – and with the exception of the Polysom pressing of Carlos, ERASMO in 2003 – you would have to dig deep in Brazil or your pocket to own them on vinyl otherwise.  

Here’s a World Treasures mix of choice cuts from the three albums:

Crown Ruler debut is South African smasher – Focus’ Zulu EP

focus-zulu-crown-rulerNew Australian label Crown Ruler has delivered the goods with Focus’ Zulu EP.

Sello Mmutung and Keith Hutchinson produced this in Johannesburg around 1983 originally as a six track album on cassette. Jeremy Spellacey at Crown Ruler – a renowned collector,  DJ and promoter – provides some great insight with the releases liner notes:

“Keith Hutchinson, who co-produced the skeletons which would develop into Sello’s personal sound vision, explains: “Sello; it would be nice to say I know him well. We met in Universal Studios on the day of recording… I had no idea what I would be playing or co-composing – really in the deep end. I was there for just one day laying track after track… After I left Sello went it alone, adding saxes, percussion and vocals. What else happened – I don’t know.”

Zulu includes the original version of the much coveted Picnic (Moger), later covered by Starlight and Ray Phiri side project, Kumasi.

Pre-orders are being taken at Crown Ruler and the release is also distributed by Rush Hour.

Soon on Left Ear Records: I’m An Arabian Knight

Australia’s Left Ear Records are planning the reissue of this cult record – Shahara Ja’s I’m An Arabian Knight.

This great video of the late 1980s oddity gives us a taster. The label has so far reunited us with the Yoruba Singers, Brother Resistance, Starship Commander Woo Woo, Andre Tanker and Leong Lau.

More at Left Ear Records.