E10 | 23 March 2018

Nailah Blackman | Hot Snakes | Jeremy Dutcher | Oumou Sangaré (pictured) | Theodore

There’s no getting away from it; there’s a lot of world influences on this one and not deliberately so – I’ve just been really, really impressed by tracks that just happen to have roots in Jamaica, Mali and Greece. Even one of my American entries just happens to be in a language only spoken by 650 people worldwide.

Here are your five choices for this week:

1. The ‘Charm Offensive’ – Nailah Blackman: ‘O’Lawd Oye’

About the Artist:
The daughter of Soca music pioneer, Lord Shorty, Nailah is looking to follow in her father’s footsteps in all sorts of ways… not least of all by pushing the envelope and broadening the audience for ‘Soul of Calypso’ music.

About the Track:
It’s just bloody infectious innit? It sounds like a mad thing to say but, in particular, I like the back-up vocals. Dunno why. But it’s also the wandering bass and guitar lines that sound like the lads playing them didn’t bother even learning the song properly but just riffed over the top of the drum beat before Nailah started asking for people to ‘bring her Chewbacca’ over the top.

Side note – this is almost definitely the whitest thing I’ve ever said but this track also finally revealed to me that the word ‘dutty’ (as in the seminal pop-reggae cross-over Sean Paul album, ‘Dutty Rock’) is the Caribbean pronunciation of ‘dirty’. Using that as your guide, you probably don’t want to delve too much deeper into the lyrics here.

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2. The ‘Military Coup’ – Hot Snakes: ‘Death Camp Fantasy’

About the Artist:
Post-punk heroes with Rocket from the Crypt-creds return after 14 years, but – according to band mainstay, John ‘Slasher’ Reis – whereas previous ‘Snakes albums had tension and release, “this one’s mainly tension”.

About the Track:
Death Camp Fantasy – indeed, the whole Jerico Sirens record from which this comes – spits its piss-and-vitriol attitude at every available opportunity. But it’s also important to say that it’s so much more than that. Sure, there are some The Hives leanings in the lo-fi guitars and an obvious Johnny Rotten (or even Mick Jagger)-esque sneers to boot. But it’s also clever, spinning off at odd angles every 10 seconds, sort of like At The Drive In with less hair.

And just when you think you’ve got it pinned as this ugly rock chugger, with around a minute to go, the whole aesthetic changes and we have a melodic, dare I say it, almost anthemic chorus to see us out. Like the SAS, it’s in and out inside 3 mins and equally as effective.

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3. The ‘Peaceful Protest’ – Jeremy Dutcher: ‘Pomok Naka Poktoinskwes’

About the Artist:
It’s at times like these that I’m glad I no longer do the podcast and have to pronounce stuff! When I saw the title of the track, I thought the song might be in Polish or something similar, but Dutcher is actually of Wolastoq origin, which is basically a kind of indigenous people from North America and Canada. His forthcoming album, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa is all performed in his mother tongue and he combines his own classical instrumentation and tenor vocals with these really lo-fi wax recordings of his ancestors.

About the Track:
You’ll have to be patient here. The opening couple of minutes are pretty dark and atmospheric but, after a pause for breath, the creeping, almost funereal piano line comes in and Dutcher’s voice really comes to the fore. It’s a voice that seems to draw from everywhere – I hear elements of Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares in some of the harmonies and melodies but then, when he soars, I hear the power and soul of Dhafer Youssef. To be honest, I barely notice the classical elements, really. Add to that the beating drums that come in towards the end and you’ve got a track that is, frankly, jaw-dropping.

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4. ‘Guerilla Warfare’ – Oumou Sangaré: ‘Minata Waraba (Sampha remix)’

About the Artist:
Oumou Sangaré’s kind of a big deal in world music circles. Not only has she won Grammy Awards and been a goodwill ambassador to the UN but, in her native Mali, she’s a particularly vocal advocate for women’s rights, owns a hotel in the capital Bamako and even has a car named after her. The circles she moves in read like a who’s who of world music from Femi Kuti to Bela Fleck to Baaba Maal and Ali Farka Toure. Here, she teams up with Mercury Award-winning Sampha – and indeed many others – on a remix album covering songs from last year’s Mogoya record.

About the Track:
Now, although I’ve been very open about the world-music leanings of this week’s selection, make no mistake, this track is in here for its electronic chops. Trust me, I’m a fan of Sangaré – her track Kounkoun made it on my 2017 Top 100 – but the original Minata Waraba is a random tuneless nonsense, to be frank. This is where Sampha comes in. It’s HIS vocal manipulations, HIS dance-inflected beats, those arpeggiated beeps that make this track for me. Of course, he’s hinted at his ability to combine these two genres before, most notably on ‘Kora Sings’ on last year’s, Process. But, here, he rightly lets the essence of the original – mainly the vocals – take the lead, while the western instrumentation lends vitality and pulse. Several times this week, I’ve been caught dancing to this while working in the office and I’m in no way ashamed.

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5. The ‘Quiet Riot’ – Theodore: “Are We There Yet”

About the Artist:
Not a lot cos, let’s face it, it’s bloody difficult to Google a lad when all you know is his first name and that he makes music! What I have found is that he’s Greek and has an excellent beard. This is actually a slightly older track, but one that I was introduced to because he has new music out now. I’ve elected to go with this cos I think it’s the better piece, but check out the track, ‘Towards (For What is to Come)’ on the Reconnaissance mix if you want to hear more.

About the Track:
The shimmering piano at the beginning of this track had my attention from the first second and, by the time the strings and bass had been joined by the drums and guitar a minute in, it was always likely to be a contender. We must be honest and say that there’s a very clear ‘Us and Them’-era Pink Floyd spaciousness to the music, but – over the course of the song, that builds into something – in fact many things – entirely different, but all of equally epic proportions. First, there’s the Elbow-style breakdown and slow build before the Sigur Rós climax (indeed, the mixing here is done by none other than Ken Thomas of ‘Rós fame). And throughout, there are hints of M83’s ‘Wait’ or Loney Dear’s ‘Sum’. There’s a lot of bit-hitting names in there and, obviously, our mate Theo has a little way to go before he can earn a place amongst them but this is certainly a good start.

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The Outro:
And so we reach a cease-fire for this week. Click here to listen to the 45 RPM Spotify Playlist in full.

If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), feel free to engage in dialogue with me @45rpmPodcasts on Twitter.

The silence is broken again next week when I’ll return with five more selections for your consideration. Until then, thank you and go in peace.

 

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