23/10/2020: “Corre Riba, Corre Baxo” by Abel Lima

For some reason, Cape Verde hits well above its weight musically. It could be due to the diverse history and population of the islands, but it has more than one distinctive genre.

I’ve actually covered a song from this compilation before. But there’s so just many amazing tracks!

This is not part of that tradition – but it nevertheless retains a strong Cape Verdean flavour.

This particular brand of Cape Verdean funk is allegedly a result of a shipment of synthesizers washing up on a beach – seriously!

There’s a strong parallel to Cuban music, with a blend of African polyrhythms and Latin instrumentation. Although the influences are different, of course, there is more than a passing family resemblance…

The song is bass driven, with a prominent walking bass jamming along throughout. There’s some excellent guitar work too, accentuating the Latin vibe.

Vocally, the song is rowdy. Not only from his singing, which is great, but from the cacophony of backing vocalist.

The percussion is exquisitely engaging. The bongo rolls glance off the fluid rhythms of the drum kit, in a brilliant showcase of frenetic Cape Verdean style.

The song was released in 1977 on Nos Bida, but re-released by Analog Africa on Space Echo – The Mystery Behind the Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed! in 2016.


12/10/2019: “Night Stroll” by Dam-Funk

Dam-Funk, usually stylised with an accent on the ‘a’, makes some exquisitely modern funk. It’s basically computer music, produced on a PC rather than played by a band.

That gives him an incredible versatility when it comes to sounds. The song glitters with whirling synthesizers, from the rich string synths to the reverb drenched hook.

The bassline is crunchy west coast goodness – and one of the key reasons that this song is instantly recognisable as a product of California

There’s a fair bit of grooving undertaken during the song, which keeps the song feeling fresh.

In many ways, “Night Stroll” feels like it could have been made by Flying Lotus. However, its a lot more accessible than a great deal of FlyLo stuff…

The track was released in 2010, on an E.P. called Los Angeles 7/10. The E.P. features two songs by Dam Funk and three by Computer Jay, making for pretty captivating listening.

11/10/2019: “Lihue” by Nohelani Cypriano

Having never been to Hawaii, I suspect I have a rather idealised version of what it is actually like.

Social problems aside, I do imagine Hawaii is an embodiment of this song, which is relaxed, tropical and full of soul.

Aside from the slightly squeezed “Hawaaian paradise of love” line, this song is just amazing.

Nohelani Cypriano has a great voice, which is well served by the concoction of synth instruments on this funky masterpiece. There’s even some exotic sounding birdsong!

The squealing keys are perfect for sun-drenched funk, and although this song is laid back, it’s still eminently dance-able.

The bassline is particularly brilliant as well, which stands the song in good stead as a boogie classic. It was pretty obscure, but has been dug out and given a new lease of life in recent years.

The song was originally released on Nohelani, in 1979, but has been re-released as a single in 2014.

08/10/2019: “Bamako” by Songhoy Blues

The story behind Songhoy Blues isn’t particularly heartwarming. They were formed because they are exiles from the north of Mali, where a jihadist group took over in 2012 and banned music.

The name is from “Songhoy” – their ethnic group, and “desert blues”, the type of music they play.

“Bamako” is a full on funk song. The band were inspired by 60s Western guitar music themselves, owing a large debt to psychedelic rock. Nonetheless, layered funky guitars and horns have a particularly African rhythm to them.

The track does feel very modern, it’s true. This isn’t 70s afrobeat; this is new funk from Mali. The drums have some pace to them, cementing the song’s energy at a high level, but it’s the guitars which really get things moving.

The track was released in 2017, and is from the album Resistance.

11/09/2019: “Ta Lassa” by International Soleil Band

As far as I can tell, the only difference between this and the “Hide & Smile” edit is that the latter is a bit more punchy, and perhaps better arranged.

But I do like the charm of the original. It loses very little dancefloor zestiness. The same key elements are there: the fidgety bassline, slick drum pattern – with cacophonous bongos – and of course, the wonderfully harmonious guitar licks.

The vocals are joyous and calm, yet still glide out in a way almost reminscent of Jamaican dancehall toasting.

The song combines traditional elements with modern synths. Not only that, but it does it very well, so that there is not even the slightest trace of cheesiness!

The song originally came out in 1983, on an E.P. called International Soleil Band. It seems to be the only release the band did. But as with all cool African records, Soundway Records re-issued it in 2016…