Miles Cleret and DJ Okapi have handpicked a killer selection of bubblegum soul and synth boogie and have further built on the South African canon. All tracks have never been reissued or available digitally before on Gumba Fire: Bubblegum Soul & Synth-Boogie in 1980s South Africa.
This Soundway compilation covers music that evolves from the disco-boom in South Africa and was mutating and morphing into a synth-orientated sound that was often stripped down and overlaid with deeply soulful vocals and harmonies. The 18 tracks here highlight a period where American-influenced jazz, funk and soul merged with local mbaqanga music. It then bridged into the 1990s when kwaito, pantsula and eventually house-music ruled the dance floors, shebeens and sent collectors into a frenzy (especially in recent times).
Miles Cleret is the label boss at Soundway and DJ Okapi is a world renowned collector and journalist thanks to his recent compilation work with Rush Hour and his fantastic Afrosynth blog and recently established record label. The pair explain: “The compilation takes its name from the band Ashiko’s track of the same name Gumba Fire that features on the compilation. It is derived from ‘gumba gumba’, the term given to the booming speakers of the old spacegram radios that broadcast music into South Africa’s townships and villages. The phrase later evolved into ‘gumba fire’ to refer to a hot party.
“Whilst the title may be based on a specific song it is of course ultimately emblematic of the whole album, 18 tracks that radiate a glowing warmth in both tone and in the hot intensity of some of the rhythms that spark throughout, whilst also offering an important and intoxicating insight into the history of South African music – [the] sound dazzlingly contemporary in the process.”
To preorder, click: http://bit.ly/2FOQNol
Matsuli Music has added the debut album of this Cape Town ‘supergroup’ to their growing catalogue of South African Afro-jazz reissues.
New liner notes from acclaimed jazz historian Gwen Ansel explains how this album successfully fused multiple styles in 1976 forging a new sound from what was ‘Cape Town Jazz’, Latin, R&B, soul, pop and fusion.
Black Fire presents the core repertoire that made Pacific Express the resident band sensation they became at the Sherwood Lounge in Manenberg, Cape Town in the mid-seventies. The ‘coloured’ township of Manenberg – about 20km away from Cape Town’s city centre, and cut off from the black settlements of Gugulethu and Nyanga by a railway track – had been officially established in 1966. The apartheid regime had defined different “racial groups” and forcibly moved people from various suburbs and allocated them to ‘white’ people. The Sherwood Lounge was located close to the highway and people flocked to the venue for music.
World Treasures Music will present a Matsuli label feature on Thursday, July 20th, at 2pm (GMT), on Kmah Radio (click to listen).
New 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.
Boston-based label Cultures of Soul is releasing a South African compilation selected by DJ Okapi – Boogie Breakdown: South African Synth-Disco 1980-1984. Famous for his Afrosynth blog – which has highlighted numerous treasures from the country – this selection of his homeland’s music is out in September.
Forthcoming on Cultures of Soul
Many of the country’s best young musicians were guided by funk and the new synthesizers arriving there. A UN-sanctioned cultural boycott related to Apartheid meant much of the music remained domestic at the time. Together with Cultures Of Soul head honcho Deano Sounds this release will shine a light on six seminal acts from the era – Harari, The Cannibals, Neville Nash, Benjamin Ball, Don Laka
and Al Etto.
The music shows a period of innovation, exploration, as well as the context of isolation and political instability. Genres such as bubblegum and kwaito are the result, as well as reggae, disco and boogie fusions.
For more visit the Afro-Synth blog and the Cultures of Soul label website.
Boogie Breakdown tracklist:
A1. Cannibals – Hey Tonight
A2. Cannibals – We Keep On Keeping On
A3. Harari – Party
B1. Harari – Good Vibes
B2. Don Laka – I Wanna Be Myself
B3. Don Laka – Let’s Move the Night
C1. Neville Nash – Breakdown
C2. Neville Nash – Perfect Love
C3. Benjamin Ball – Flash A Flashlight
D1. Benjamin Ball – I Just Keep Dancing
D2. Al Etto – You’ve Got the Love
D3. Al Etto – Hold On to Love
DJ Okapi of Johannesburg
“Jeff Swallom from CoS first approached me in November 2014 about putting together, and we’ve been working on it since then. The first year was about listening and choosing tracks, the second about getting the paperwork together.” There will be more in the future on WTM from DJ Okapi.
For now check out this WTM mix of kwaito, disco, boogie and more:
World Treasures Music spoke to Matt Temple from Matsuli Music – a specialist label reissuing priceless vinyl from South Africa.
Chris Albertyn, Sathima Bea Benjamin, Matt Temple
Their releases include Batsumi’s seminal spiritual jazz albums, Sathima Bea Benjamin’s African Songbird LP (with Dollar Brand), Dick Choza’s Chapita LP and most recently Ndikho Xaba’s holy grail, Ndikho Xaba and the Natives.
To read the interview and see more about the music of South Africa (Shangaan, kwaito, jive, etc) and its neighbouring countries click here.