After five years spent in West Africa, French producer and DJ Jérôme Fouqueray, better known as Praktika, has released his debut album Benkadi. It is a record shaped by encounters with musicians, human relationships and “this life that is completely different from ours.“
Praktika’s new release marks an obviously human and intimate piece of work with a tracklist evoking backpacking trip vibes. We travel to Bobo-Dioulasso for a beer (the famous “Tchapalo”), then hear the ironworkers in the Bamako market banging on metal before catching a bus destined for Segou.
Shapes of the Fall
In each of Piers Faccini’s albums there is an environmental concern which draws on Anglo-American heritage and the Mediterranean, Maghreb and West African traditions as well as on ancient or baroque music. On Shapes of the Fall, his ninth album, the artist reflects on our collapsing world, observing it in his fiftieth year on the planet.
“Dunya” is reminiscent of Sufi chants, while “All Aboard,” in collaboration with Ben Harper and Abdelkebir Merchane, carves out an ecological and modern rereading of Noah’s Ark. Piers Faccini states: “We would rather let our home, our planet, our own paradise burn before us than embrace a new green narrative and embark together on a path that avoids an apocalyptic scenario.”
For his second album, the artist constructs a symbiosis between disco, jazz and funk, while remaining faithful to a Brazilian spirit, cadenced by the irresistible rhythms of the forró, kompa, funaná or even the funa. The work also has a relationship to “saudade,” that melancholic feeling of dreaming and desire for a bitter-sweet happiness. Songs like “Tudo vai dar pé” or “Camará” form odes to better days while denouncing the tyranny of the current president. He also collaborates with Flavia Coehlo and Patchworks. A tribute to the Black Atlantic.
An Insight To All Minds
Following his 2018 album It’s A World Before You, the British artist dedicates An Insight To All Minds to empathy: “Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts … We all go through it. We can all feel what our fellow man feels, believe it or not. It’s a matter of learning to use it.” The man who is nicknamed the “Herbie Hancock of the United Kingdom” by Benji B, producer and host of BBC Radio 1, has concocted a very rich project at the intersection of breakbeat, jazz-funk, percussion, samba and deep Afro house. He continues his varied collaborations, having worked with Amy Winehouse several years ago, as well as with Uhmeer and Stro Elliot. A breath of fresh air for the British music scene.
The Brazilian producer offers his seventh release in less than a year in homage to Coco rhythms, a dance and musical genre that has always been present in the popular parties of the Brazilian North. “My approach on this release was to show that folk music is still rooted in the sound we make today.“His inspiration comes from Quilombola communities, colonies founded by escaped slaves, an often overlooked phenomenon of Afro-Brazilian culture that the beatmaker wanted to highlight by marrying the essence of these sounds with his own electronic music. While he is known for his fresh and modern interpretation of baile funk, Vhoor is also comfortable with hip-hop and trap, considering himself a “Brazilian and Afro-Latino beatmaker above all” who absorbs all the styles of music his huge country has to offer, appropriating “the ancestral influences that each genre has in common.”
Jazz Is Dead 006
Gary Bartz, Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Gary Bartz, a hugely important figure in the lineage of Great Black Music, continues his adventure as a saxophonist on the Jazz Is Dead label, produced by his admirers and future torchbearers, Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. This 80-year-old artist represents a massive tangle of influences that he has been weaving since the 60’s: bepop, hard bop, free jazz, spiritual jazz, soul jazz, jazz funk, fusion and acid jazz. Adrian Younge describes the collaboration as follows: “Collaborating with Gary Bartz has literally, for us, illustrated the whole aesthetic behind Jazz Is Dead. He’s been a beacon for us, contributing enormously to our musical culture for decades. His musical ability continues to grow as he ages, and we’re honored to be a part of his world now.”
Straight from the decks 2
Following the success of the Beach Diggin’ series as well as the Straight From The Decks Vol. 1, Guts returns with a second volume, continuing his “quest for a forgotten novelty or rarity.” He also battles the “digital steamroller that crushes the rhythm to set the tempo, leaving behind a dying drummer whose only crime is to have been carried away by his energy“. Celebrating imperfections within DJ sets, Guts is thrilled to present sixteen tracks (available on vinyl) including rarities acquired during “grueling bidding battles.” It marks an Afro-tropical project that comes at the right time, with the arrival of spring, featuring The Dutch Benglos, the French Voilaaa, the Ghanaian Pat Thomas or the Franco-Cameroonian Pat Kalla.
For her third album, the Burkinabe artist advocates a kind of universalism of difference, affirming her humanism while celebrating her plural and West African roots. Here, Kady Diarra succeeds in integrating a thousand-year-old tradition within a globalized modern society. She sings in five different languages: Bambara, Bwaba, Dioulaba, Moré and French, reflecting the plurality of the “spirit of Burkina,” as the name of the album indicates, from the pan-Africanism of Thomas Sankara to an homage dedicated to her distant griot ancestry Lastly, and above all, the project engages with her spiritual family, Niamakara, a caste of weaving artists. Her nephews Moussa Koita, Samba Diarra and Mabouro Diarra play several instruments, while her daughter Assetou Koita accompanies her on the chorus. The spirit of trance pervades the track “Sou” (Night), while “Mousso” celebrates femininity by drawing on the Bambara tradition.