After a bleak and blank 2020, ’21 was the year we returned to party and started dancing (collectively) again. It took what seemed like forever to get there, but when we did, what a spectacular release that was! A truly “special” moment which seemed to make the traversée du désert that preceded it almost worthwhile.
Indeed the year had started pretty (very) slow, with possibly the most depressing winter in living memory (for my generation at least). We soldiered on, initially surviving on a trusted diet of spiritual jazz and cosmic ambient which had worked so well the previous year, until spring came, hope followed and we started dreaming of summer festivals (!). Some happened and others didn’t (Houghton, for the third year in a row), but as far as Beauty & the Beat was concerned, we’d put all our eggs and amps in the Jaminaround basket.
Our very first party was scheduled for the end of July, in our favourite Earth house deep in the Dorset countryside. ‘Opening’ dates kept on being postponed and it was uncertain until the very last minute, but when the doors finally opened we were as ready as can be.
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It would be easy to overstate how important that party was, but it really felt like a once in a lifetime experience, a one off moment in time where everything clicked and all the ingredients blended together in harmony. About two hundreds of our mates had made the pilgrimage and gathered, on the hottest weekend of the year, surrounded by the most beautiful pastoral landscape, inside the most spectacular venue one can think of to throw a party, an acoustic wonderland, to dance together for the first time in 18 months. No one really knew what to expect but spirits were certainly at their highest.
From sunset to sunrise, the night was truly magical, on a deep and spiritual level, and the whole weekend will no doubt long live in collective memory.
The parties became regular again shortly afterwards, and of course the need for fresh dancing grooves came with it. I hadn’t bought that many singles up to point, but all of a sudden the game was back on. I’ll start here my yearly music review with the singles that rock my world in 2021, before moving on to the albums and reissues in a part 2 blog post which I should be able to publish in a few weeks or so (the amount of amazing albums which came out last year is quite insane, and I need a bit more time!).
So, without further ado, let the good times roll!
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Here are thirteen of my favourite singles to have been released 2021, on a format I’m really fond of, with Arp Frique’s as the undisputed winner and the others following in some kind of (not so important) order of preference.
- Arp Frique – Nyame Ye / Oi Quem Q’ue Nos (featuring Americo Brito) (Rush Hour)
Much respect to Arp Frique for such a spectacular release, from which both sides would have squatted the first two spots on the podium, but which instead I will reward with a joint gold medal. Pretty much everything I love about music and dancing seems to be embodied within these two tracks.
‘Nyame Ye’ is an irresistible slice of modern cosmic funana featuring haunting vocals from newcomer Mariseya: peak time material which was played to full effect at BATB’s NYE party, while on the flip ‘Oi Quem Q’ue Nos’ is a late night cosmic floater UFO featuring the legendary Cape Verdean singer Américo Brito. A mesmerising and haunting piece of music which reminds me somewhat of the twisted genius of Francis Bebey. Truly deep dance music of the highest order.
- Florence Adooni – ‘Mam Pe’ela Su’ure’ (Philophon)
‘Mam Pe’ela Su’ure’ is a sublime piece of modern Afro psychedelia, a fresh take on the frafra-gospel genre from northern Ghana. Equally deep, percussive, floaty and soulful, this treasure of a track has instantly become an end-of-the-night BATB staple. Such an irresistible groove which will have you smiling with your eyes closed in the middle of the dance-floor.
Florence Adooni has been revered as the queen of frafra gospel for some time now, but she’s also been one of the movers and shakers within the Philophon family. This fantastic label, from Berlin but based in Ghana (where it runs its own Joy Sound Studios), has been releasing an incredible run of modern Afro 7s” since 2014, fusing genres and giving fresh takes to roots music(s). Collectors beware, these are really (almost) all essential! Her label mates include Guy One and Jimi Tenor for whom she sang on two of the label’s hits (‘Estre‘ and ‘Vocalize My Luv‘).
On the flip the slightly rawer ‘Naba Aferda’ is almost as good, an Afro psychedelic funk cut which was made as an homage to the chief of Adooni’s home village which, incidentally, was also the home village of the legendary Christy Azuma, who became the first international frafra star in the 70s.
(review slightly edited from the original one to be found on the Idle Moments website)
- Reggae Disco Rockers – ‘The Whistle Song’ (Flower Records)
A reggae cover of an overplayed house classic as one of the highlights of the year? Who would have thought – and yet here we are. A timeless beauty which manages to totally reinvent Frankie Knuckles‘ original and give it a new lease of life. Peak time material at BATB. The ambient version is perhaps even better. More balearic than that you can’t. What a coup.
Reminded me of The Cat Boys’ genius cover of Gypsy Woman from 2020. Only in Japan.
- Nyati Mayi & The Astral Synth Transmitters – Jubilee / Spiribert (Bongo Joe)
This collab between the Belgo-Congolese multi-instrumentalist Nyati Mayi and soFa elsewhere (a Bongo Joe regular who also recorded a mini LP with Okay Temiz for Second Circle this year) hits all the right buttons while sounding like nothing else. Totally up my alley and a winner in the cosmic reggae UFO category. Look out for the LP next year we’re told. Yes please.
This intriguing piece of wax makes for the perfect companion to the above 7”, also to be filed as a trailblazer in the (rapidly growing) cosmic reggae UFO category. With a nice tripped out folky cumbia feel to it, and a seriously spaced out dub version on the flip. Reminds me of some of the playful and tripped out material coming out of the Voodoohop camp. As cool as.
- Tapes – Sauna Research / Aquarium Trousers (Research Records)
Jackson “Tapes” Bailey has long been a favourite producer of mine, his forays into (all shades of) dub and heavy percussive workouts like this banger (which I played in my BR set back when) often hitting the spot for me. His latest 7” is no exception, what with both cuts on a surprisingly contemplative Balearic dub / new age ambient house tip, though with a deep bass and tempo slowed right down to below Rhythm & Sound levels. Pure magic.
- Congos – ‘Don’t Blame It On I‘ (Black Art)
Timely reissue of an elusive Black Ark era Lee Perry production of the almighty Congos. Together they created arguably the best reggae album of all time (‘Heart of Congos’), which also sits well inside my top 10 albums of all time. ‘Don’t Blame It On I’ was recorded during one of those sessions and is as good as anything on that LP. RIP Mr the Upsetter, one of the truest musical geniuses who blessed this planet and must now be jamming in space with his cosmic brethren Sun Ra (see bottom of this article for more Lee Perry goodness).
- Debbie Gaskin and Eternal Love Combo – What’s That (version) (Turning Point Records)
Super special 7” this one, the new single from the Bajan veteran Debbie Gaskin, which was recorded and pressed as a lathe cut by the great Toronto label Turning Point Records. The original vocal version on the A side is already super nice, but the dub mix on the flip is pure magic, in a cosmic soca soul UFO kind of vibe (!). Tip!
- Lloyd Hemmings – Work to do (Jamwax)
Top reissue of this killer and previously impossible to find 1985 digi bouncer tune by the Bullwackies/Lee Perry collaborator.
- Nu Genea & Célia Kameni – Marechià (NG Records)
Unpretentious feel good Mediterranean disco vibes (or rather Neopolitan funk to be more accurate) on this cool new 7” from everyone’s favourite Nu Genea. Complete with a bonkers video to boot which takes you straight to some endless summer shenanigans in Marechià. Che bellezza!
- David Durrah – ‘Venus Fly Trap / Kai’ (Clap City Records)
The Clapton based Clap City Records did a fantastic reissue of a cult 7” originally released in 1975 on the legendary Tribe Records label from Detroit. As we learn in the 44 page fanzine (just wow!) detailing David Durrah’s musical upbringing which comes with the 7”, the psychedelic jazz dance monster ‘Venus Fly Trap’ was recorded during the same sessions as the classic Reflections In The Sea of Nurnen LP but wasn’t included, the track ‘Reflections’ being chosen instead. The cosmic jazz funk cut ‘Kai’ was recorded later and that’s how the 7’” came about.
Big up Clap City Records for going above and beyond with such a well crafted reissue of this previously impossible to find little gem. David Durrah, who sadly passed away in 2021, must have been real proud.
- Kolida Babo – Spirits Of Mauronoros / Kolida Hymn (Jazzman)
This fantastic 7” released on Jazz45, the offshoot of the revered Jazzman label, is the new single by Greek duo Koliba Babo who reimagine the ancient music of Armenia and the folk traditions of northern Greece’s Epirus and Thrace regions by fusing it with abstract electronics and free jazz. Stunning outernational sounds!
The entrancing and freeform electro acoustic experiments of Roland P Young’s “isophonic comprovisations” are evoked in these cosmic updates of the modal folk drone that has bewitched musicians and listeners alike for centuries.
‘Spirits of Mauronoros’ is a kind of modern spiritual meditation to the sounds of a soprano sax improvising over bubbling electronics: deep, atmospheric and hypnotic mood à la ‘In A Silent Way’.
On the flip, ‘Kolida Hymn’ is equally spacey and hypnotic, as it takes us on an interplanetary flight into a world made of modular electronics and spiritual jazz. As cosmic and cinematic as it gets. To quote our favourite cosmonaut (Sun Ra), “There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)”!
(you can read the full review on Idle Moment’s website)
Such a sweet and soft little 7” on a nostalgic chamber pop vibe, where woozy electronics and sunny guitar licks conjure up starry-eyed memories of (dog) days gone by. Released on Lexi Disques, Brussels 7” only bijou label, which had come to my attention a few years back with the superb miniature synth-pop of Aymeric de Tapol’s ‘J’ai Dansé Avec Elle‘, and also released this year the floating dub beauty of Sagat’s ‘Walking Dub’
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12”s (New and Reissues)
Some of my favourite 12”s of 2021, listed in an order that should make sense when played back to back.
- Chari Chari – ‘Luna De Lobos (Prophet’s Harmonic Drone Mix)‘ (Seeds and Grounds)
Chari Chari aka Kaoru Inoue is a veteran Japanese producer who has been forging his path for almost two decades, regularly delivering exquisite deep house/electronic missives of the organic and cosmic kind, often on his own label Seeds and Ground. His track from 2007 ‘The Secret Field’ for instance is a classic in my book. The above cut is Chari Chari reinterpreting his own ‘Luna de Lobos’ on a cosmic ambient tip, a genre he had already explored and mastered previously (‘Wave Introduction’). Absolutely gorgeous, what sunsets should be like.
PS: there is also a Kuniyuki remix on the package, but I found it a bit too intense for me (though I might need more listens on this)
PPS: Chari Chari released another 12” in 2021, the gamelan heavy ‘Suburban Ethnology vol.1, on which he explores his love for ancient sounds, rituals and the power of healing music, which I fully recommend too!
- 33.10.3402 – Iz Usta (Puu)
Two different slices of super deep and cosmic vibes on PUU, the Jimi Tenor ran Sähkö’s sub label which I’ve been following since 1997 and their release of the super dope Latin deep house joint Freestyle Man – Que Domingo Inqueto.
33.10.3402 is of course the alias of the great Nenad Markovic, who released a nice EP on Second Circle a few years ago, but who most importantly is the genius producer behind ‘Weather’, the masterpiece feminist (and BATB) anthem from 2015.
‘Iz Usta’ is a slow mo disco cut for the cosmic sunset aficionados (and who isn’t you might ask), complete with rolling conga, lysergic electronics, bird calls and all. With a sunset like that, the night will be quite a trip! Mind you this could also be the perfect track to play at sunrise he he.
On the B side ‘Danasananas’ the mood is somewhat darker but equally deep, with a bubbly subaquatic feel to it, like Drexciya pitched down -8. Would no doubt have sounded heavy in Plastic People’s much missed basement. Fantastic release!
- Leonidas & Hobbes – Aranath E.P. (Hobbes Music)
Our good friends Leo and Andrew have been producing some fantastic house music over the years, with cuts like ‘Driftin’’ and ‘Web of Intrigue’ having both achieved the official (!) ’BATB classic’ status. Despite these past credentials, this new EP might well be their best effort yet, with gold to be found in all four cuts.
‘Into It’ is a majestic 3am deep house jam, top production, proper journey, nicely psychedelic, and was the only house track I played at the legendary aforementioned Jaminaround party we did in Dorset in July – its impact must have been well felt on the floor as dancers rushed to the booth for id immediately afterwards. I could imagine this track well at ease on the Loft dance-floor.
‘Aranath’ on the B side, is a sublime piece of classic house mixed with Eastern flavour which features the virtuoso cellist and tanpura raga player Riad Abji, whose lament shines even more on the ambient techno version (‘Aranatha’).
The classy EP closes in style with a really cool ambient mix of ‘Web of Intrigue’, and the cosmic dance goes even further with two more tracks available digi only bandcamp digi. Full points boys!
- Glenn Davis – Special (original mix) (F*CLR Music)
One of my most played tunes of the year, a classic sounding vocal house track from Ireland which sounds like vintage Chicago circa 1989. Huge collective, feel good record.
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- Mr Fingers – Vault Sessions 1 (Alleviated)
Alleviated has unearthed four tracks from the vaults of Larry Heard spanning four (!) decades – yes please! ‘Chains’ was meant to be part of the seminal Fingers Inc. album, Another Side… and sounds like it should have! Classic 1988 Fingers sound right there, complete with Ron Wilson’s freestyling and life affirming vocals. An anthem which never was but sounds as relevant for today’s dance floors as it could have been nearly 35 years ago. The other three tracks all sound like classic Larry Heard from different periods, with the 3am deep house bliss of ‘Saspence’ being a personal favourite.
- Kurtiss – Club Odysseus (Mutual Intentions)
New to me, Kurtiss is an American producer who, at least on this ‘Curtis Vodka’ EP, pays tribute to the classic sound of US house music from the 80s and 90s, as defined by the likes of Moodymann (‘Soul Musique’), early Strictly Rhythm, MAW or Kerri Chandler. Nothing exactly groundbreaking, but this is extremely well produced (“hi-def house music” says the label) and if you like that sound there is lots to be loved on this EP, with particular favourites being ‘Emax Jazz’ and especially the ‘Mystery of Love’ reminiscing ‘Club Odysseus’.
- Tim Jackiw – ‘Wisteria’ (Seventh Sign Recordings)
My favourite techno track of the year, a deep and expansive intergalactic beauty, which reminds me of a cross between (again!) the subaquatic explorations of Drexciya and the dreamy sci-fi escapes of Aybee. Late night groove perfection from an Australian producer whose ‘Science Of Sound Volume One’ debut release from 1997 (!) is still an absolute favourite to this day (check out ‘No Destination’ and ‘Waves’).
- Khruangbin – Time (You And I) (Put A Smile On DJ’s Face Mix) (Dead Oceans)
While Khruangbin’s massive feel good hit from 2016 (‘People Everywhere – Maribou State remix’) still hasn’t quite left my bag and gets regular plays, last year saw the release of a mammoth double LP worth of remixes from their latest album Mordechai (which I admit I haven’t listened).
There’s much to love on this, like Natasha Diggs’ Soul in the Horn Remix of First Class and Ron Trent’s remix of ‘Shida (Bella Suite)’, but the true gem is to be found in our good friend Felix Dickinson’s mighty remix of ‘Time (You and I)’, a cosmic disco banger made with the help of Faze Action’s Robin Lee. Already already a bit of a favourite at BATB thanks to Belle Bête rinsing it in due fashion.
- Lex – The Jamail Pass (Leng)
On the ‘Punta Allen’ EP which came out on Paul Murphy and Simon Purnell’s ever reliable Leng label, the Greek producer and Athens based Lex delivers three great tracks of a modern cosmic funk mould, with my favourite being the mid tempo cut ‘The Jamail Pass’, featuring Alex Searle from Paqua on funky guitar plus feverish organ solos and tumbling synth sounds aplenty. Taylor made for la danse cosmique.
- Parquet Court – Plant Life (Yu Su’s Transient Version) (Rough Trade)
According to the promo blurb, the track was inspired by a mid 80s trip to Ibiza as well as by the Beauty and the Beat parties (he he). The NYC band even requested their distro to send us a promo copy, which they did (too bad the label – Rough Trade!- unbelievably blocked the YT video – how backwards…). ‘Plant Life’ as remixed by the mighty Yu Su, here on a vintage Norman Cook remix tip, is indeed pure BATB material, in a modern psychedelic funk-rock kind of vibe. Go dig it!
- Hoshina Anniversary – Michinoku (ESP Institute)
While I can easily imagine the banging jazzy techno cut ‘Karakuri’ on the A side doing some proper damage on a big room system, the real gem of this 12’’ lies in Michinoku, a deep and dark slo-mo 808 groove with lots of breathing space and spacey synth and jazzy Fender Rhodes aplenty. Big one from the Tokyo producer, best enjoyed on the floor with the fellow 3am cosmonauts.
- Gratien Midonet – Osana (Kuniyuki remix) (Time Capsule)
Little did I know a couple of years back how far this Midonet project would take us, what with the man like Kuniyuki, easily one of my favourite producers in the world who still is at the very top of his game, now providing a remix of ‘Osana’, complete with his own guitar licks! A classic on BATB’s dance floor already and no doubt a future classic in years to come.
Taken from the ‘A Cosmic Poet Revisited’ remix package on Time Capsule, which also features two of the best remixes of the year imo, with TC boss Kay Suzuki’ going deep on his remix of ‘Roulo’ and Khidja’s full on cosmic on their reinterpretation of ‘La Reine’.
- Jackie McLean & Michael Carvin – ‘De I Comahlee Ah’ / Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood Of Breath – ‘MRA’ (Melodies International)
McLean’s tremendous Afro jazz cut ‘De I Comahlee Ah’ from the classic 1975 Antiquity LP has long been a dance floor favourite, having experienced its relentless power on the beloved dance-floors of Mancuso’s Loft, Abdul Forsyth’s Plastic People and… the deep church (I have clear visions of my dear friend Joe Cool literally in trance to this track during the morning hours of an extended after party).
The track has enjoyed a rather unexpected but most welcomed 12” release as it was chosen by Four Tet to kick off the “Melodies Record club” series.
On the B side, the big band cut ‘MRA’, a collab between British and South African musicians in 1970s London was new to me and also a real treat.
Also well worth noting, Ben UFO curated his own killer 12” (which features Laurie Spiegel’s legendary ‘Drums’ from 1975) for the 2nd instalment of a series which looks extremely promising.
– Mary Love Comer – Come Out Of The Sandbox (East Coast Love Affair Mix)
Subtle update by the AOTN crew of Mary Love’s 1988 gospel disco cut. Such a spiritual and uplifting late night groover, which was played a few times during the magic hour at BATB.
- Saphileaum – Arif (Good Morning Tapes)
Mystical late night Balearic ambient bliss (!), the highlight of a great comp on the super cool French label Good Morning Tapes.
On a similar cosmic ambient tip and well worth checking out on the same label is ‘Allez’ by Seoul’s female duo Salamanda as well as Saphileaum’s incredible mini LP Transpersonal Experience (find review in the best-of-albums post).
- Anatolian Weapons – An Afterthought (dispari)
Eight minutes of cinematic ambient bliss from rising Greek producer Anatolian Weapons, which somehow makes me think of Labradford soundtracking “Lost Highway”. Now that’s an idea!
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Random memories of tracks that have been revived last year, in no particular order.
- Miriam Makeba – Amampondo
One of my most played tunes of the year, which I pulled out after watching William Klein’s fantastic ‘Festival panafricain d’Alger 1969’ documentary. Just under two minutes of burnin’ fire and fierce Black power explosion on a song which Mama Africa referred to as the “breathing song.” Devastating on the dance-floor.
- Duke Ellington – Afrique (Fantasy)
One of my all time favourite Afro-jazz tunes, from the father of the so called ‘jungle sound’ himself, taken from the formidable suite Afro Eurasian Eclipse (1975). That combination of a relentless drum roll seemingly beating the memory of the ancestors’ spirits with a hammering piano proclaiming the return to a long fantasised Motherland sounded huge at Jaminaround inside the Earth house of the Ancient Technology’s Centre. Mystical experience!
- Ahmed Ben Ali – Subhan (Habbibi Funk)
Libyan reggae banger reissued by the great Habibi Funk label in 2020 and which I still can’t get enough of (and probably never will). Such an infectious groove, this tune will rock and rescue a dance-floor absolutely everywhere.
- Space Dimension Controller – Journey To The Core Of The Unknown Sphere
Been reviving this killer galactic funk tune from 2010 on a bunch of occasions last year, for no other reason than its sheer dopeness. A prime cut for the cosmic dance aficionados, which has now grown into a cult classic status.
- Lee Perry – all of it
The passing Lee Scratch Perry, the cosmic shepherd, the disco devil, the original Upsetter, one of the most influential producers of all time and certainly the one who had the most impact on a younger me, led to an obligatory dig into a discography filled with classics and lesser known gems… tunes for days… One truly cannot overestimate the genius of this man.
Here’s a small selection of tunes that were revived in due fashion:
– Lee Perry’s ‘Dreadlocks in Moonlight’, an all time favourite which is always in the bag and which I actually played at BATB the very same night Lee Perry passed away.
– Leroy Sibble’s extended 12” version of ‘Garden Of Life’, complete with a cheeky bonkers dub – as Perry as you can get.
– The Congos’ ‘Fisherman Row’, simply one of the best songs ever recorded taken from the best roots reggae album ever. Been a fan for 25 + years and the track still has the same visceral effect on me. I could listen to this on a loop for ever. Just pure genius. Was so nice to have the whole room singing an impromptu cappella when I dropped this at Brilliant Corners the day after Perry left us.
– Lee Perry’s ‘Lion A De Winner’, once again, just pure genius.
“Di lion a di winner, di lion a di winner, When the wicked are ripe down, mi say, Jah Jah a wipe out”
– Lee Perry’s ‘People Funny Boy’, one of his earlier hits and the song that kickstarted the reggae genre.
– Susan Cadogan’s ‘Do It Baby (Nice and Easy)’, a super hot and sexy cover of The Miracles, recorded in 1975 and featuring some of the bonkers Black Ark production trademarks. The house heads will also recognise it as sampled by Pepe Bradock on ‘100% Cotton‘.
The list goes on and the music lives on… RIP master!
“I’m gonna put on a iron shirt, and chase Satan out of earth (disco devil)”
Must watch: ‘The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee Scratch Perry’ (streaming on YT).
- Jacob Desvarieux / Georges Decimus / P.E. Decimus / Kassav
2021 also saw the untimely passing of the iconic Jacob Desvarieux, Kassav’s legendary guitarist and (occasional) singer, which, as with Lee Perry, got me to dig deep into his extraordinary discography, one I’ve been exploring for a couple of decades and which keeps on giving. Be it with Kassav of course but also on his solo projects and multiple featuring with various artists across genres, he’s done it all. He was a true giant, a monument of Caribbean music and Pan African music in general. One of the most respected and influential musicians in the West Indies and throughout Africa. On top of his solo adventures and numerous collaborations, Jacob and his main band, Kassav, were true pioneers, the prime exponents of cultural Creolisation, at the crossroads between Africa, West Indies and western music. Dynamic, unpredictable, open.
“We can do one note, on the beat, without any syncope, without anything”
The resulting 1984 tune ‘Zouk La Se Sel Medikaman Nou Ni‘ (“zouk is our only medicine”), still a monster today on any dance-floor, was the benchmark for what became known as zouk, the music style which has become so influential all over the world (especially Africa), and still has countless treasures to be unearthed.
‘Kassav’, ‘Lague Moin’, “Soleil”, ‘Sweet Florence‘, ‘Lajan An Moin An Vouèy An Pa Vouéy’, ‘Karambole’, ‘Refyx’, ‘Doudou’, Pasteur Lappe ’s ‘Na Real Sekele Fo’ Ya’, Admiral T’s (‘Fos a Peyi La’),
… all these songs (and many more) are regularly played at Beauty & the Beat, some are HUGE (with ‘Lague Moin’ arguably being the #1 classic of the party ever) and accompany me everywhere. My discogs collection lists no less than 41 Desvarieux records. And still growing.
And that instantly recognisable, irresistible gravely voice! Those dungarees! That smile! That effortless, natural coolness! Truly one of a kind.
I am so grateful to have been able to witness Kassav live on a couple of occasions. Bangers only, full on party every time.
Paix à ton âme – the music will live on forever.
– Lonnie Smith – ‘Move Your Hand‘ & ‘Mama Wailer‘
The king of the Hammond B3 organ, also sadly departed last year, was celebrated in due form with these two timeless funk cuts. I do admit a real sweet spot for the dirty, sticky, relentless groove of ‘Move Your Hands’.
- Kafé – Jili / Max et Henri – Mizik A Ka Kafé (Debs)
2021 was yet another year I spent digging a lot of Caribbean music, from all places and genres, from beguine and kadans to soca (not soca) to Haiti’s nouvel jenerasyon, and, of course, a lot of gwoka.
The trumpetist and band leader Kafé is one of the most influential figures of gwoka moderne, since the days of the seminal Ka Levé group he founded with a young Christian Laviso in the early 1980s. Both ‘Jili’ (1990) and ‘Mizik A Ka Kafé’ (1983) are part of Guadeloupe’s patrimoine and bona fide masterpieces of Caribbean music, with the latter being Henri Debs’ tribute to Kafé (who had started as an assistant in Debs’ studio). I play these a lot, often together, and have caught Silvia humming the melodies on a number of occasions – that’s how we roll.
(I wrote more words on gwoka and on the upcoming Lèspri Ka compilation on Time Capsule/Séance Centre here.)
- Pie I – Tèt Colé (Mini records)
On the back of reading A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey , the fascinating book by famed ethnomusicologist Gage Averill, I immersed myself in Haitian music and culture during the summer 2021, digging through my crates and coming up with four mixes as a way to to raise funds towards the country’s road to recovery (read more about it here).
‘Tèt Colé’ (which means solidarity in Haitian creole) was an anthem during the anti Duvalier protest movement which led to the overthrow of the President (7th of Feb 1986), and still has the same infectious appeal on the dance-floors of today. There’s something about the groove, the slow build-up and the chorus in this song which does naturally bring people together, even without understanding the lyrics. Such a powerful track.
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Thanks for putting this together and reminding us of many magical moments (and if I had to single out one it would be Jammin Around-a spiritual reset in an awesome location) and some of the greatest BATB and AOF (and nights at BC)….Great compilation of the tunes that sustained us. My only addition would be a track I first heard via the Television but only really appreciated when it came through the speakers in the deep Earth House. The Revolutionaries Kunta Kinte Dub (those of a certain age will appreciate the cultural reference in the title)…BATB continue to be (musical) revolutionaries…in all senses. Forward to even more in 2022.
That Kunta Kinte Dub at the Earth house was quite a moment indeed! I had already included the track and that extraordinary blues dance scene in my 2020 review so didn’t mention it again, but it’s true that it took us that long to be able to play it out for the first time. And Silvia and I watched the whole (original) ‘Roots’ series during the lockdown as well. Fantastic!