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The best new reissues of 2022 so far
Africa Negra

The best new reissues of 2022 so far

Inventive labels are revealing to the world forgotten musical gems, full of history and lost to the archives. Here’s a selection of some of the best African reissues of 2022.

Lèspri Ka : New Directions in Gwoka Music from Guadeloupe 1981​-​2010

Time Capsule / Séance Centre — 28/01/2022

The Time Capsule labels and Séance Centre bring together the sonic soul of Guadeloupe by condensing 30 years of gwoka music into 10 tracks finely selected by Brandon Hocura and Cédric Lassonde aka Cédric Woo, a recent PAM Club guest. The compilation, to which PAM dedicated an article, not only centers its story on this big drum called the gwoka, a symbolic instrument of the resistance against slavery, but it also tells the story of how musicians have innovated around this ancestral genre. Initially made of songs and percussions, this music anchored in ritual and social practices of African slaves and their descendants has mutated to welcome jazzy, funky and electronic atmospheres. These songs are linked by a desire to experiment; the singers convey powerful messages of independence in psychedelic and danceable arrangements rarely heard outside the island. Pioneering artists such as Gaoulé Mizik, Gui Konket and Kalindi Ka combine Creole culture and innovation in this indispensable double LP, embellished by an essay by vocalist and composer Marie-Line Dahomay, for whom gwoka is more than a style of music, but also a “way of living and thinking.

Available here.

Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo

Planetário da Gávea

Far Out Recordings — 04/02/2022

On a beautiful night in February 1981, a crowd gathered in front of the planetarium in Rio de Janeiro, getting ready to experience an unforgettable concert. On stage, the “wizard” Hermeto Pascoal appeared for the first time with his new group, a configuration that would remain solidly in place for 11 years. This group of musicians, soberly called “O Grupo”, bent that night to Hermeto’s almost metaphysical musical vision to deliver to the audience a sonic experience made of unexpected improvisations, absurd mouth games and psychedelic jams. Most of the compositions being at that time unpublished or even unique, since they are found exclusively on this album. Four decades later, Far Out Recordings exhumes this event carried by a composer with a sensitivity guided by the laws of nature and the universe. A man with a unique sense of melody, considered by Miles Davis as “one of the most important musicians the planet has ever borne”. Find here the chronicle that PAM had dedicated to this incredible live show.

Available here.

Marcos

Saudade

Groovie records / Comets Coming — 15/02/2022

For a long time, the “monopoly” of funaná re-releases belonged to Ostinato Records or Analog Africa, which compiled this frenetic music from Cape Verde on indispensable collections such as Synthesize the Soul or Space Echo. Since then, a handful of albums of the unavoidable Pedrinho, Américo Brito or more recently Tchiss Lopes have been re-released by teams of connoisseurs, on small labels to follow such as Mar & Sol or Arabusta records. This time, it is the Lisbon-based Groovie Records and their subdivision Comets Coming who bring their stone to the edifice by taking Saudade out of the oblivion of the mysterious Marcos. Specialized in rare records and Afro and Latin nuggets, the label reissues this album for the first time, as generous as it is untraceable. Self-produced and recorded in a Portuguese studio in 1984 with mythical musicians such as Paulino Vieira or Chibanga, Saudade is a record of pure funaná which goes straight to the point, without synthesizers, only keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. On funky, jazzy arrangements, and sometimes with reggae influences, Marcos walks us with his reassuring voice throughout his six tracks to discover urgently. 

Available here.

Hamid El Shaeri

The SLAM! Years (1983 – 1988)

Habibi Funk — 25/02/2022

Impossible to miss the only Habibi Funk reissue of the semester. The label has gone back in time to the early 80’s to dig into Hamid El Shaeri’s first albums before he reached the superstar status he enjoys today. According to the Habibi team, the synthetic gem “Ayonha” instantly made the list of the label’s signature tracks upon first listen, and found itself compiled on their first Arabic music collection released in 2017. Five years later, the label went through with the idea by meeting the artist in Cairo, a humble man who immediately embraced the idea of re-releasing some of his early, then underrated, work. At that time, Hamid Al Shaeri had just left Libya to continue his career in Egypt, with a detour to London where he recorded his first album. Habibi funk has therefore extracted the groove and essence of Hamid El Shaeri from the years 1983-1988, a period during which the prince of synthesizers recorded five albums for the label SLAM! This release is dedicated to the founder of the label Hany Sabet, as well as his wife Rosemary Jane Sabet (who provided the photos for the cover and the booklet), both deceased during the reissue work.

Available here.

Viviano Torres Ane Swing

El Rey del Caribe

Palenque Records — 07/03/2022

Born in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, Viviano Torres is considered one of the pioneers of the champeta, a hybrid style characteristic of the Colombian Caribbean coast and made for the power of sound systems. In a country dominated by salsa or vallenato, Viviano is a musician who has always defended the genre, starting in the emblematic group Son Palenque led by Justo Valdés. While the champeta style was consolidating in Cartagena, the artist differentiated himself by creating his group Ane Swing, imbuing his music with a wide range of influences such as Congolese soukous, South African mbaqanga, Cameroonian makossa, Ghanaian highlife and even Afrobeat or reggae. Expert in the field, Lucas Silva of Palenque records compiles here the best hits of Viviano Torres and Ane Swing released in the 80s and 90s, telling a part of the history and evolution of the champeta through the sound of one of its icons.  

Available here.

Orchestre les volcans du Bénin

Vol. 1

Acid Jazz/Albarika Stores — 23/03/2022

The eclectic British label Acid Jazz Records is reissuing a must-have from the Albarika Store catalog, a Beninese label born in the late 1960s and specializing in Afro-Latin, Afro-Funk and Afro-psychedelic sounds – all very popular at the time. If the Cotonou Poly-rythmo Orchestra occupies a good part of the original discography, Albarika nevertheless had its share of hidden gems, like this first album of the Orchestra Les Volcans du Bénin released in 1980. With its four tracks of infectious melodies spread over 36 minutes, the record has become almost sacred for Afro-Cuban music lovers. An opportunity to own a must-have of Afro-Latin music of the time without paying the few hundred euros that the original version asks on second hand websites!

Available here.

África Negra

Antologia Vol​.​ 1

Les Disques Bongo Joe — 01/04/2022

Accompanied by their expert curator DJ Tom B and Bongo Joe continue their research work around the sounds of São Tomé & Principe, a tiny island country in Africa with a musical richness inversely proportional to its size. After Pedro Lima and the compilation LÉVE LÉVE focused on the 70’s and 80’s, the Swiss label offers a first anthology of the emblematic supergroup África Negra, 12 tracks picked among releases spread between 1981 and 1990 on cassette, vinyl or cd on several labels. Formed in 1970 by the butcher of formation Horacio and his friend guitarist Emidio Pontes, África Negra (Black Africa) will become one of the absolute symbols of the revolution of the carnations which will lead the archipelago to independence on July 12, 1975. Under the pressure of the Portuguese colonial power, África Negra was even forced to change its name, but its music, a unique blend of puxa and rumba rhythms, did not break. The euphoria of “Vence Vitória“, the melancholic “Saozinha” or the communicative joy of “Ple Can”, are songs synonymous with hope that were recorded, due to the lack of studio space, in the courtyard of the national radio, facing the sea and in front of their fans. Note that a compilation containing only unpublished works recovered from their tour manager will constitute the second volume of this luxury anthology. 

Available here.

Steve Monite

Only you

Soundway Records — 22/04/2022

Steve Monite (pronounced mo-na-tè) is a Nigerian artist born in 1961 in Benin City, the capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria. It is in a context of great political upheaval and strong economic growth in Nigeria that the musician signed a contract with EMI records where he worked closely with the producer Nkono Teles. After years of military dictatorship, the country’s return to democracy brought about a boom of ultra-productive young artists inspired by funk and disco. Originally released in 1984, the album features the hit “Only You,” recently covered by Frank Ocean, and then Theophilus London & Tame Impala, a song already featured on the compilation Doing it in Lagos also released by Soundway in 2016. The EP also contains the hit “Things Fall Apart”, a characteristic synthetic disco gem of the era.

Available here.

Los Kenya

Siempre Afro Latino

Música Infinita/Olindo records — 27/05/2022

Last January, the Olindo records label inaugurated the Música Infinita subdivision with an album by Venezuelan jazzman Gerry Weil. The British label, which is responsible for the latest releases of Isaac Sasson, Waaju and Raúl Monsalve y los Forajidos, is now working on a second Afro-Latin gem by announcing a limited edition of Siempre Afro-Latino, an album by Ray Perez and Los Kenya originally released in 1968 on Velvet. Pianist and bandleader Ray Perez released numerous albums in the late 60s, a fertile period for the salsa genre, with iconic groups such as Los Calvos and Los Dementes. After a stint in New York, he returned to Venezuela and formed Los Kenya with two trumpeters and a drummer, a minimalist formation in an era when big bands were king. Adding a pair of vocalists to the team, Ray Perez recorded the raw, groovy, jovial sound that characterizes this reissue!

Available here.

Lucho Bermudez y su Orquesta

The Coastal Invasion

Radio Martiko — 27/05/2022

An iconic figure in cumbia, Lucho Bermudez is the man who both modernized the genre and developed the culture of the Caribbean coast in Colombia and throughout Latin America. Underestimated and marginalized at the beginning of the 20th century, cumbia became exciting again thanks to musicians like Bermudez, who injected the modern sound of jazzy big bands. Accompanied by an 11-piece Afro-American orchestra, Bermudez first took over the clubs of Bogotá and Medellín, where this coastal “tropical” music was not widely available at the time, as the population preferred to listen to music from Europe or the Andes. These cumbia, porro, gaita and mapalé rhythms from the Afro-Colombian musical heritage, often considered by the good society as noisy and vulgar, literally became viral, to the point of representing the sound of a nation, joyful and popular. On this cover, in reference to a 1949 cover of Semana weekly, the Colombian equivalent of the Times, we see the colorful portrait of Lucho playing the clarinet, surrounded by dancers and wriggling palm trees. For many Colombians, this face and that of his wife Matilde Diaz will remain forever synonymous with the golden age of cumbia, and this compilation pays tribute to him with 22 tracks selected from the period 1946-1961.

Available here.

Borga Revolution! Ghanaian Dance Music in the Digital Age Vol. 1

Kalita Records — 17/06/2022

A mixture of jazz, calypso and traditional rhythms, highlife has been evolving ever since its birth at the turn of the 1920s, taking inspiration from swing, funk, soul and disco. In the late 1970s, successive coups, years of military dictatorship, economic crisis and increasing poverty pushed many Ghanaians, including many musicians, to seek a better life in Europe and the United States. Influenced by Western music and machines, these immigrant artists developed burger-highlife and invaded the Ghanaian airwaves for over two decades. Kalita dedicates a compilation to this phenomenon by selecting emblematic artists of the genre such as Thomas Frempong and George Darko, but also forgotten groups such as Aban and Uncle Joe’s Afri-Beat, all protagonists of this historical passage to the digital era. We discover the optimism of artists who have defied the odds at home and abroad. A deluxe edition with documentary archives also contains a 16-page booklet with interviews, biographies and archival photos.

Available here.

Saturno 2000

La Rebajada de Los Sonideros

Analog Africa — 15/04/2022

The label Analog Africa likes to tell stories. For this release, the protagonist is called rebajada, a slowed down festive music played by traveling sound systems in Mexico. Label owner and experienced digger, Samy Ben Redjeb discovered this little-known style in 2010 while listening to a mixtape by DJ Lengua, which featured a selection of slowed-down and psychedelic Latin American tracks. The rebajada was invented by the sonideros, DJs who carry DIY sound systems in the Mexican streets and organize parties playing mainly cumbia, salsa, or guaracha. In Mexico City, some of them had the idea of slowing down the traditional Colombian rhythms to adapt them to Mexican dance steps, while in the north in Monterrey, another version was born by accident. According to legend, sonidero Gabriel Dueñez’s equipment short-circuited and began to run in slow motion for the rest of the evening. With the dancers enthralled, the DJ developed the idea and recorded a series of pirated tapes of slowed down Colombian cumbia and porro, entitled “Rebajada”. Selected by DJ Lengua, these 15 tracks, most of them never released, tell the story of a style emblematic of a generation of young Mexicans with a trendy look, who came to dance as an escape from their harsh living conditions.  

Available here.

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