I like my music obsessed friends. I love sharing new tracks, artists and musical styles with others because I always learn something new. When I met MissRuckus in late 2007, I was just skimming the surface of afrobeat, high life and other forms of African music- mostly Ghanian and Nigerian. After talking with her and exchanging music knowledge, my fondness for African music really began to grow. She introduced me to the amazing music of Orchestra Baobab and Mulatu Asatake (see Ruckus’ earlier post on this site), who we saw down at the Harbourfront in Toronto.
Inspired by it all, I started to branch out and became enthralled by the distorted, unique sounds of the Congotronics series of albums featuring Konono no.1, Kasai Allstars and others.
These bands are from the suburbs of Kinshasa, the capital of Congo. Their sounds centre mostly around the likembe, or electrified thumb piano. They also use homemade microphones, amps, megaphones, distorted guitars and “buzzing” drums to create a wonderfully peculiar sound. If all this sounds like one big ?, then take a listen to this Konono no. 1 excerpt: 02701.mp3
This video by Sobanza Mimanisa shows off some of their homemade instruments.
My chance encounters with interesting African music also lead me to the amazing the psychedlic sounds of Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family.
I was drinking in a bar on the Danforth called the Only Cafe when i noticed the bartender was playing the awesome Nigeria Special album. We struck up a conversation and she ended up giving me a CD by this Zambian Psych rock band (Chrissy Zebby was the drummer/singer/songwriter and Paul Ngozi was the guitarist). I was amazed by their entire album-”My Ancestors” (1974). They use fuzzy guitars over catchy rock riffs. Sounds like a Cream meets Velvet Underground, but with a lyrically African perspective. My favourite track is #4, Coffin Maker. I can’t find a good clip, so you’ll have to take my word for it, or take on the hunt yourself!
Anyways, the point of this entry was to listen to your friends, exchange musical knowledge and open your mind to other forms of music, even if at first you think it may not be your thing. Way too much interesting music out there to live in a vacuum!