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Swahili Disco Funk Freakout.

There’s nothing worse than stopping by your favorite blog and seeing that it’s been snatched up off of the net. No goodbye, no nothing – perhaps one lonely post made months ago [maybe even last year! the agony!]. I won’t do that to you anymore. Yes, great music still exists. Great, undiscovered, rare, forgotten-about, barely-listened-to, played-too-often music is still around – I just haven’t had the time to share the treasure chest until now. Better late than never, yes?

Today I went over to look at one my favorite places to get enlightened, only to discover that Captain’s Crate is no more! This is more disappointing that the complete disappearance of Post-Punk Junk [which actually got turned into a cable access-style show which you can WATCH instead of read]! Not to be totally discouraged, I scrolled down to revel in the last remnants of jam and found some gems.

Manzara – Makonde

Soseme Makonde – Makonde

The Makonde people are a Bantu-speaking culture of master carvers and sculptors throughout East Africa usually from Tanzania and Mozambique.   and I’d recommend looking for some images of their art [like this one or this one], but today I am talking about the band Makonde.

I have to begin by admitting how jealous I am of Captain Planet over at C.C. for being able to handle the BLUE vinyl in his own bare hands. Sure, I’m months and months late with my envy but so are you, probably, so we’re even.

These two tracks were surprisingly refreshing for me. I love afro-funk/afro-soul/afro-rock/afro-beat, etc.  as much as the next guy. Finding cool albums at the record store is always exciting no matter how many times I see phrases like  “15 previously unreleased tracks” or the most pretentious [and best, mind you] one I’ve heard yet “quarried from across the continent.”  But, admittedly, most of the time on those albums there are only two or three standout tracks. The rest are muddled imitations of shuffled around reruns. In short: boring.

The first song starts with a warbling bass and few quick taps on the drum before revealing its brassy, untampered-with horns. A fuzzier taming-the-viper horn snakes in and then the loose vocals come floating in over the crisp music. The contrast in layering the different tracks creates  such an open space around their voices that reminds of some post-punk vocal choices/trends. If the difference is too subtle to place concentrated emphasis on, then the next track displays the deliberate choice more clearly.

It sounds like Soseme Makonde begins with crusty-eyed, doughy-mouthed trolls grumbling after being woken up before moseying into a mid-paced groove. The vocals on this track are especially distinct with paper-thin echoes that don’t make it to the edge of the sound, but still register in the brain like a frame slipped into a film for subliminal effect.

On this track only, my mind goes to Joy Division – almost like this is the other-worldly intepretation of that haunting voice enchanting you from some unknown distance.



About Etta Strange

Writer, obsessive audiophile, secret bedroom DJ, local daydreamer with more books than shelf space. I'm stockpiling for the inevitable drought. Let's collaborate.

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