RIP 'Fantastic Man' William Onyeabor

Nigerian electronic afro-funk pioneer William Onyeabor has sadly passed away, aged 70. The elusive artist found popularity in 1970s/80s Nigeria where his iconic blend of afro rhythms and synthesisers gave him a totally unique sound. Though always elusive (and consistently bootlegged around the world), Onyeabor rose to mythic status with the help of Luaka Bop‘s release of the seminal Who is William Onyeabor in 2013.  A businessman, producer, record label president, innovator, and many more titles, Onyeabor carved out a niche rooted in idiosyncrasy. Tributes to William Onyeabor have flooded in from across the world, including David Byrne who participated in Atomic Bomb, a series of live renditions of Onyeabor’s work.

Read tributes from The Guardian, and NPR, and find out more about the man behind the music, in Noisey’s ‘Fantastic Man’ documentary:

Salif Keita at Barbican, February 10th!

Malian singer and living legend Salif Keita performs at London’s Barbican Centre on February 10th. The world renowned artist brings his blend of griot sensibility, rock, jazz and funk to London for one night only. He will be supported by Kora virtuouso Sona Jobarteh. She will be performing material from her debut album Fayisa. 

Tickets for the show are available here. You also have a chance to catch Salif in Cambridge on 11th Feb. Don’t miss out, and watch the videos below for a taste of what’s in store!

Africa Express Presents...The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests Album Out Now!

We’re delighted to announce the release of a live album entitled Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests, which is out now on Transgressive Records!  Click here to stream and download the album exclusively on Google Play Music.

                                             ★★★★ – The Independent       7/10 Uncut Magazine        ★★★★ – MOJO

We recorded the album live in June when The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians came together for the first time since the conflict in their country flared up five years ago. They were joined by artists from Britain, Syria, Algeria, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Turkey, Tunisia and the United States including Bassekou KouyatéBu KolthoumDamon AlbarnEslam JawaadFaia YounanJulia HolterMalikahMounir TroudiNoura Mint SeymaliPaul WellerRachid Taha and Seckou Keita.

Raghad Haddad, orchestra member (viola) from Damascus said: “The album is very important to us. It was a very unique project, artists from all over the world performing with the most brilliant musicians from Syria. It was an honour for me. And this new album will give people another opportunity to get to know The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians for what we are – passionate, professional musicians.”

The joyous and uplifting album showcases Syrian and Arabic music, alongside unique interpretations of some well-known Western songs. It features tracks recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall –  a show described in a 5 star review by the Evening Standard as “an epic paean to their lost homeland”- as well as songs from the storming opening slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage and the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Istanbul Jazz Festival and Roskilde Festival in Denmark.

This album was made possible with the support of Google Play Music.

Co commissioned by 14-18 Now & Holland Festival

Full track listing:

# Track Title – Artist

Track listing:

  1. Intro – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  2. 3azely – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  3. Wild Wood – Paul Weller & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  4. Yah Mahla El Fus’ha – Faia Younan & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  5. Out of Time – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  6. Rakeb 3al Hamra – Mounir Troudi & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  7. Feel You – Julia Holter & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  8. Al Ajaleh – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Bassekou Kouyaté & Seckou Keita
  9. Blackbird – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Damon Albarn & Paul Weller
  10. Old Damascus – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  11. Richa – Noura Mint Seymali & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  12. White Flag – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Eslam Jawaad, Malikah, Ceza & Bu Kolthoum
  13. Ya Rayeh – Rachid Taha & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians
  14. Oghneyat Men Baladi – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

Ghana Soundz Repressed by Soundway Records

2002 saw the first release of ‘Ghana Soundz: Afro-Beat, Funk & Fusion in 70’s Ghana’, a record which brought the genesis of a specifically Ghanaian genre, to a wider global audience. Renowned for its collation of loud horns, pounding beats and bold vocals, the record documents an era which saw highlife blend with the influences of James Brown, Fela, Santana and more. The first ever compilation from Soundway, ‘Ghana Soundz’ gained worldwide acclaim thanks to the use of one of the tracks, ‘Bukom Mashie’ in Hollywood Blockbuster The Last King of Scotland.

Some 15 years after initial release, the seminal compilation is being repressed by Soundway Records, out on 2xLP January 27th. You can pre-order your copy of the exclusive vinyl here, with tracks from the legendary Ebo Taylor, Oscar Sulley and The Uhuru Dance Band and more.


Tunisian Band Bargou 08 release debut album on Glitterbeat Records

Bargou08 are a Tunisian band creating traditional highland music with electro and rock sensibilities. Formed in 2013 following a three week residency, the band have toured Europe and Tunisia, with a clear emphasis on playing in marginalised areas. The album was recorded in the village of Bargou, a valley between the mountains of northwest Tunisia and the border with Algeria. Band leader Nidhal Yahyaoui grew up there and was inspired by the regional songs he heard his mother and father singing. The debut album ‘Targ’ features local musicians as well as European instrumentalists, and was entirely recorded in Yahyaoui’s family home. Expect to hear Moog merge with the haunting power of ancient songs: the sound of past fusing with present. Targ’ is out on Glitterbeat Records Feb 17th. Preorder it here:

Watch the album trailer below for an insight into Bargou08’s creative process.