World & Country


The city of Belém, in the Northern state of Pará in Brazil, has long been a hotbed of culture and musical innovation. Enveloped by the mystical wonder of the Amazonian forest and overlooking the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, Belém consists of a diverse culture as vibrant and broad as the Amazon itself. Amerindians, Europeans, Africans - and the myriad combinations between these people - would mingle, and ingeniously pioneer musical genres such as Carimbó, Samba-De-Cacete, Siriá, Bois-Bumbás and bambiá. Although left in the margins of history, these exotic and mysteriously different sounds would thrive in a parallel universe of their own. I didn’t even know of the existence of that universe until an Australian DJ and producer by the name of Carlo Xavier dragged me deep into this whole new musical world. Ant it all began in Belém do Pará. Perched on a peninsula between the Bay of Guajará and the Guamá river, sculpted by water into ports, small deltas and peripheral areas, Belém had connected city dwellers with those deeper within the forest providing fertile ground for the development of a popular culture mirroring the mighty waters surrounding it. Through the continuous flow of culture, language and tradition, various rhythms were gathered here and transformed into new musical forms that were simultaneously traditional and modern. Historically marginalized African religions like Umbanda, Candomblé and the Tambor de Mina, which had reached this side of the Atlantic through slaves from West Africa – especially from the Kingdom of Dahomey, currently the Republic of Benin – left an indelible stamp on the identity of Pará´s music. They would give birth to Lundun, Banguê and Carimbó, styles later modernised by Verequete, Orlando Pereira, Mestre Cupijó and Pinduca to great effect. The success of these pioneers would create a solid foundation for a myriad of modern bands in urban areas. Known as the “Caribbean Port,” Belem had been receiving signal from radio stations from Colombia, Surinam, Guyana and the Caribbean islands - notably Cuba and the Dominican republic - since the 1940s. By the early 1960s, Disc jockeys breathlessly exchanged Caribbean records to add these frenetic, island sounds to liven up revelers. The competition was fierce as to who would be the first to bring unheard hits from these countries. The craze eventually reached local bands’ repertoires, and Belém’s suburbs got overtaken by merengue, leading to the creation of modern sounds such as Lambada and Guitarrada. To reach a larger audience, the music needed to be broadcast. Radios began targeting the taste of mainstream audiences and played music known as “music for masses.” As the demand for this music grew, it led to the establishment of recording companies. Belém’s infant recording industry began when Rauland Belém Som Ltd was founded in the 1970s. It boosted a radio station, a recording studio, a music label and had a deep roster of popular artists across the carimbó, siriá, bolero and Brega genres. Another important aspect in understanding how the musical tradition spread in Belém, are the aparelhagem sonora: the sound system culture of Pará. Beginning as simple gramophones connected to loudspeakers tied to light posts or trees, these sound systems livened up neighbourhood parties and family gatherings. The equipment evolved from amateur models into sophisticated versions, perfected over time through the wisdom of handymen. Today’s aparelhagens draw immense crowds, packing clubs with thousands of revelers in Belém’s peripheral neighbourhoods or inland towns in Pará. The history of "Jambú e Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia" is the history of an entire city in its full glory. With bustling night clubs providing the best sound systems and erotic live shows, gossip about the whereabouts of legendary bands, singers turned into movie stars, supreme craftiness, and the creativity of a class of musicians that didn’t hesitate to take a gamble, Jambú is an exhilarating, cinematic ride into the beauty and heart of what makes Pará’s little corner of the Amazon tick. The hip swaying, frantic percussion and big band brass of the mixture of carimbó with siriá, the mystical melodies of Amazonian drums, the hypnotizing cadence of the choirs, and the deep, musical reverence to Afro-Brazilian religions, provided the soundtrack for sweltering nights in the city’s club district. The music and tales found in Jambú are stories of resilience, triumph against all odds, and, most importantly, of a city in the borders of the Amazon who has always known how to throw a damn good party. “Jambú is a plant widely used in Amazonian and Paraense cuisine. Known for having an appetitestimulating effect, it is added to various dishes and salads but is most famously one of the main ingredients in Tucupi and Tacacá, two delicacies that have been immortalized in countless Carimbó songs. Chewing the leaves of the Jambú plant will leave a strong sensation of tingling on the tongue and lips. Indigenous communities have relied upon its anaesthetic qualities for centuries as an effective remedy against toothaches and as a cure for mouth and throat infections. A decade ago, a distillery from Belém discovered the euphoric effects of the Jambú plant when combined with distilled sugarcane based spirit - known as cachaça - and created the now legendary “Cachaça de Jambú“.

The Kenyan music scene is one of the most diverse and vibrant in Africa. However, ask any Kenyan which pop music style truly represents Kenya as a nation and there is only one possible answer: benga. Benga is a pop style with its roots in traditional rhythms, instruments, and melodies. Luo musicians from western Kenya brought the style to prominence in the late 60s but other cultural/linguistic groups in other parts of Kenya quickly developed their own localized variants. With its pulsing beat, interlocking guitars, extended solos, and rapid-fire bass, benga music has dominated the Kenyan music scene over most of the post-colonial period. Kakai Kilonzo is one of only a handful of benga artists to attract a broad following across Kenya. He opened up his music to others outside his Kamba language and background by singing in Swahili, which is widely understood throughout Kenya. At the same time, with catchy melodies and engaging lyrics, Kakai sang about subjects that all Kenyans can relate to: songs on all aspects of love and marriage, on social responsibility, societal ills (like drinking and witchcraft), moral guidelines, national unity, economic development, and more. The songs on this compilation are taken from across Kakai's recording career, spanning from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, shortly before his illness and untimely death in early 1987, aged only 33. No Wahala Sounds are proud to present this selection of hard-to-find 45s from Les Kilimambogo Brothers, which are being released on vinyl here, for the first time outside Kenya.

Repress! With this release, Comb & Razor Sound launches its exploration of the colorful world of popular music from Nigeria, starting with the post-disco era of the late 1970s and early 80s. The years between 1979 and 1983 were Nigeria's Second Republic, when democracy finally returned after twenty-three years of uninterrupted military dictatorship. They were also the crest of Nigeria’s oil boom, when surging oil prices made the petroleum-producing country a land of plenty, prosperity and profligacy. The influx of petrodollars meant an expansion in industry and the music industry in particular. Record companies upgraded their technology and cranked out a staggering volume of output to an audience hungry for music to celebrate the country’s prospective rise as global power of the future. While it was a boom time for a wide variety of popular music styles, the predominant commercial sound was a post-afrobeat, slickly modern dance groove that retrofitted the relentless four-on-thefloor bass beat of disco to a more laidback, upbeat-and-downbeat soul shuffle, mixing in jazz-funk, synthesizer pop and afro feeling. At the time, it was still mostly locally referred to as “disco,” but has since been recognized as its own unique genre retrospectively dubbed “Nigerian boogie.” A Brand New Wayo: Funk, Fast Times and Nigerian Boogie Badness collects 15 pulsing Nigerian boogie tracks in a lovingly compiled package chronicling one of the most progressive and creative eras in the history of African popular music.

Metronomy, the effective alias of the talented Joseph Mount, have thus far released three albums, starting with the jagged electro manoeuvres of their debut ‘Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe)’, through to their two albums on Because, ‘Nights Out’, where Mount first sang, and last year’s brilliant Mercury-nominated ‘The English Riviera’. As a pop group, Metronomy that are more Four Tet than Fab Four, though with a sense of adventure that would’ve made the Fabs proud. Their outing under the Late Night Tales banner journeys through the inspirations of the bands’ ever moving sound – along with a few surprises. Mount’s old favourite Autechre is present and correct, but then so are Kate and Anna McGarrigle and the Sun Ra of hip hop Sa-Ra Creative Partners. Joining Sa-Ra on the hip hop front, we’ve got Tweet’s ace ‘Drunk’ from her Hummingbird album alongside OutKast ‘Prototype’, spiced with some Doctor Octagon. For pure pop, they don’t come more refined than Alan Parson’s ‘Eye In The Sky’, who is buffeted by outbreaks of unsettling weirdness, among them the sadly departed Mick Karn’s supple bass figurines on ‘Weather The Windmill’ or Tonto’s Expanding Head Band – the guys that brought the funk to synthesizers with Stevie Wonder – and ‘Cybernaut’. And just when you think you’ve got it figured, Pete Drake arrives with his 1964 pedal steel novelty hit ‘Forever’. This is a maze rather than a journey. Naturally enough, there is the Late Night Tales special with a sparkling Metronomy rendition of Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Hypnose’. We’ve always had a soft spot for Devon and her cobbled street delights, but seen through the prism of Joseph Mount, it takes on a new hue that makes Brigitte Bardot and that other, lesser, Riviera seem somehow pallid. To paraphrase Buzzcocks: another music in a different riviera.