November 13, 2012

Volume 5

Awesome Tapes from Africa continues its march toward near celestial excellence with an album named Volume 5, following hot on the heels of their release with Ghanaian musician Bola, Volume 7, which itself followed a reissue of Malian singer Na Hawa Doumbia's album, La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 3. Being a history buff I love the trappings of the web-archive-become-imprint's orientation toward the past, its various "volumes" each an oblique reference to a more or less well understood artist's history and some absent series. In spite of that obstacle, the label's curator Brian Shimkovitz still manages to make these works communicate to a western audience. In this latest instance, though the implied series is still hard to flesh out because of language and logistical barriers, Voume 5 refers to the output of Somalia's Dur-Dur Band. According to Shimkovitz, Volume 5 represents a "snapshot" of Somali culture prior to the country's political and social destabilization in 1991 during the country's civil war. The handful of other recordings I can find are bright and idiosyncratic psych-pop and funk - though I can't compare them with whatever Awesome Tapes is handling, I've included one of the better recordings I can find and I'll leave you with label's description:
On the recording, the four vocalists—including famed singer Sahra Dawo—trumpet, saxophones, guitars, keyboard, bass, drums, congas and backing vocalists combine to pack a big sound. The rhythm section’s soulful backbeat supports distinctive, addictive melodies that hint at the Somali folk musical memory bubbling beneath the surface. Dur-Dur Band’s singular approach to Somali contemporary music circa 1987 on Volume 5 embodies a sound that is difficult to compare with the music scenes of neighboring nations at the time."
Check back at the label's website for updates on the upcoming release, but I'll say now that they've set February 5 for Volume 5's arrival.

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