[Music] Rick’s Reissue Roundup: Attack of the Spring Box Sets!

Shed a tear for the hardcore prog collector — actually, don’t. This week has been absolutely crammed with articulate announcements looking to part fans from their hard-earned cash or pull them deeper into debt. And no, I’m not talking about the upcoming Derek Smalls solo album. Check out what’s coming our way as winter (hopefully) […]

via Rick’s Reissue Roundup: Attack of the Spring Box Sets! — Progarchy

Thanks to Rick for posting this. What a good year this is going to be for prog-heads!

[Music] Tanbou Toujou Lou: Meringue, Kompa Kreyol, Vodou Jazz, & Electric Folklore from Haiti 1960 – 1981

It’s not often that I get to post on a release from Haiti, as I’ve never really had reliable contacts who could guide me to what treasures lie underneath that island which suffers so much.  This release from Ostinato Records, a small label out of New York who are doing some incredible reissues from various parts of Africa (think Somalia and Cape Verde for starters), put together this remarkable collection of tracks recorded not only in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, but among the expatriate community residing in Brooklyn, New York.

[Music] Various Artists – Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa

No need to gush over this, as Ostinato Records’ Bandcamp site tells the story beautifully:

In 1988, on the eve of a two decade civil war, Somalia’s authoritarian ruler Siad Barre launched punishing air strikes on the north of the country, known today as Somaliland, in response to agitations for independence. The bombing leveled the entire city. Barre targeted Radio Hargeisa to prevent any kind of central communication system that could organize a resistance.

With the attack imminent, a few brave radio operators and dedicated vanguards of Somali culture knew the archives, containing over half a century of Somali music had to be preserved. Thousands upon thousands of cassette tapes and master reels were quickly removed from the soon-to-be targeted buildings. They were dispersed to neighboring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia, and buried deep under the ground to withstand even the most powerful airstrikes.

“We buried them in the ground so the bomb’s won’t hit,” one former leading journalist with Radio Hargeisa told us.

These audio artifacts were excavated and recalled from their foreign shelters only very recently. Some of those recordings are now kept safe in the 10,000-strong cassette tape archive of the Red Sea Foundation, the largest collection of Somali cassettes in the world, in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa. The Ostinato Records team digitized a large portion of the archive, distilling 15 songs that reveal the panoramic diversity of styles and sophistication of Somali musicianship.

Over a millennia of trade in the Indian Ocean invited the cultures of the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, India, Southeast Asia, and even China to slowly work their melodies, scales, and sounds into Somalia’s rich musical repertoire. Each track is a keen illustration of a carefully refined, rarely revealed cultural crossroads of the world.

The archive offered a living window to the Mogadishu of the 1970s and 1980s, when the coastal capital glistened as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” when wine flowed freely. With its iconic ivory-colored architecture and crescent beaches overlooking the Indian Ocean, Mogadishu was home to the lavish Al Uruba and Jazira sea side hotels, where youthful bands like Iftiin, Sharero, and Dur Dur serenaded cosmopolitan crowds at some of the most elegant nightclubs in East Africa. These damaged cassettes evoked memories of the revered national theater, where Waaberi Band provided unforgettable soundtracks.

Mogadishu’s nightlife culture was rich and booming. Raucous rhythms, rugged horns, celestial synthesizers, and stalking baselines came alive alongside majestic voices like Mahmud “Jerry” Hussen and powerful and adored female singers like Faadumo Qaasim, Hibo Nuura, and Sahra Dawo. Somali music of this era is set apart by its empowerment of women. Female singers, often more prolific than their male counterparts, are inseparable from its evolution. Half the compilation is sung by women, their voices often compared in Somali poetry to the sweetness of broken dates. Poetry, intrinsic to the cultural fabric, forms the foundation of Somali songwriting.

Somali music’s golden age, curiously, occurred under a socialist military dictatorship, which effectively nationalized the music industry. A thriving scene was owned entirely by the state. Music was recorded for and by national radio stations and only disseminated through public broadcasts or live performances. Private labels were virtually non-existent. This music was never made available for mass release. Almost all recorded material came from original masters or homemade recordings of radio broadcasts. As a result, most of it has never been heard outside Somalia and the immediate region.

During the Cold War, Somalia drifted between Soviet and American support — and a decade of U.S. backing allowed soul and funk to capture the imagination of Somali youth, adding the final touch on this masterpiece era.

This project took our team to Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Djibouti, and across the Somali diaspora in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East. For the last year, from Minnesota to Mogadishu to Malaysia, we have tracked down the musicians, songwriters, composers, former government officials, and quirky personalities that colored Somali music life. Their words and stories are revealed in a 15,000-word liner note booklet — the only document of its kind to cover this era of Somali music in depth.

Alongside the story of Somalia’s music before the civil war, the selection is also focused on the pan-Somali sound. Spread over much of the Horn of Africa, Somali language and culture transcend arbitrary borders. Somali singers from Djibouti were at home in Mogadishu.

This compilation seeks to revive the rightful image, history, and identity of the Somali people, detached from war, violence, piracy, and the specter of a persistent threat. These 15 tracks should serve as a necessary starting point.

This will be available by mid-August.

[Music/Interview] Destruktionsanstalt – Ex Bello Volaptus (plus interview with Per Najbjerg Odderskov)

Destruktionsanstalt is one of several monikers used by Danish composer Per Najbjerg Odderskov. Per is no stranger to this blog, as we had the pleasure of reviewing his previous release, Swedenborg, a master work of bleak ambient music. His latest release, Ex Bello Volaptus, builds on that foundation, at once creating something akin to SPK and the early Sheffield sound which produced the grimy sound of early Cabaret Voltaire and Hula.

We had the pleasure of having a chat about his music:

AMOTM: I just started listening to the new release. What inspired you, because it sounds even more powerful that the last one we reviewed?

Per Najbjerg Odderskov: It was more or less a unconsciously choice .. It felt natural to build on something which this project was build upon. A see the one as a bigger, brutal brother to Vivens Monumentis. (Craneal Fracture 2015)

Inspirations… came out of boredom. I was living in a town where I didn’t know a soul, and nothing was happening. I think this album was a reaction to that.

AMOTM: Boredom seems to be the spark of so many great musicians.

PNO: Yup… I think Trent Reznor said the same thing, same as those musicians from Sheffield who pioneered British electronic music. When you’re bored, you’re isolated in your mind. It’s easier to have more focus on things without being disturbed, although I am doing music which some find disturbing.

AMOTM: It’s almost as if you have time to meditate on a crumbling world. Would that be a fair idea to hold? Considering how messy the world is, it seems like now is a ripe time for musicians like yourself to give full expression to a vision of a rather gruesome political, religious, and cultural situation.

PNO: I think that… I don’t know. So much is happening as we speak that it’s hard to mentally digest. We’re being mentally bombarded with terrorism, politics, religion, hate crimes, almost to the point where nothing matters. Nothing can shock anymore –
we’re getting more and more numb to these tragedies. Tuning into that sound of numbness, would probably describe the theme of Ex Bello Volaptus I think..

AMOTM: I’d say so. The album is definitely shares much in common with its predecessors like Throbbing Gristle, that mighty Sheffield scene which produced Cabaret Voltaire, and of course, SPK. In general, were there any projects outside of the early Industrial Records movement which inspired your work?

PNO: Well, I guess NON have had a huge impact. Also the rhythmic brutalism of Esplendor Geometrico. Nocturnal Emmissions is also another project I have a huge love for. Konstruktivists as well. But still, witnessing Throbbing Gristle live on original VHS-tapes back in 1998… Jeez… My life changed when I saw those 4 tapes in one night!
I had most of their albums on CD, but live .. That was powerful!

AMOTM: Heh, I can imagine. I stumbled into this music in my teenage years during the 1980s, and I’d have to say I’ve never been quite the same since! Are there any other influences which motivate the work of Destruktionsanstalt or any of your other projects? Film or literature, for example?

PNO: Literature from Lovecraft, Poe, Robert E. Howard, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell. Love that kind of pulp horror, from Gothic to splatter-punk. If we´re talking about art as in paintings then I’ll have to mention Giger and Richard Corben. And regarding movies… The classics of horror cinema: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Henry, Nosferatu (K.Kinski), Alien, and also arthouse flicks like The Begotten and Possession, and of course watching old and classic Dr. Who episodes (black and white) with William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton. The classic vintage synth soundtrack on them are amazing, by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

AMOTM: You’ve done a splendid job synthesizing these influences into something focused and cohesive. Are there any plans for touring, or performing in festivals or art installations any time this year?

PNO: Hmmm… I’m doing an art installation in July in Aarhus. This town even got a prize as being the Cultural Capitol of Europe of 2017. So I guess I’m going into the art world. I’m presenting a HNW video on a screen with cars crashing in Russia. I´m surprised that I got approved!

AMOTM: Now is as good a time as any to send Destruktionsanstalt into the art world. It may well be a breath of fresh air, considering most installations these days are rather lifeless. Should be expect any new projects this year under Destruktionsanstalt or any other aliases?

PNO: God Cancer I’m keeping my focus on. Having some ideas for this project. Big-city vintage-synth-soundtrack is a way to describe it; lots of improvisation and weird glitch sounds.

AMOTM: We look forward to hearing this, and wish you continued success with this remarkable new release by Destruktionsanstalt.

Thanks, and blessed be.