Punk, Algerian chaabi music, Rai, rock and techno: Rachid Taha had it all going on. He drew inspiration from the music of North Africa, New Orleans jazz, delta blues, The Clash and Elvis Presley. He cut his teeth spinning albums as a DJ and playing in a number of bands as he came of age in France. He worked with famed producers like Don Was and Steve Hillage and traveled in the same circles as David Bowie. In his later years, he was slowed down by muscular dystrophy, but he continued to rock, nonetheless. You've very likely enjoyed his music used in films and video games without ever knowing it. It's beautiful, fire-filled stuff.
On September 12th, Rachid Taha passed away at the age of 59. Read the rest
It's hard to sort Hazmat Modine into a neat musical category. They play the blues, but it's not like anything you've likely heard anywhere else. A lot of folks consider the tunes that the New York City musical collective churn out to be "world music." I think that's just a lazy way of saying that they do a little bit of everything. If you've heard the band's music in person or on any their albums, you'll know that they handle their kitchen sink of influences amazingly well: their work incorporates the best elements of African, Eastern European, Caribbean and American musical traditions: blues, reggae, jazz and Mongolian throat singing, they do it all. The result is a wash of emotional, often joyous sound that's hard not to like.
The band's finished work on their fourth album, Box of Breathe. Well, it's mostly finished. The tracks have been recorded (I've heard them and they're fabulous!) but they still need to be mixed. Musicians and production personnel need to be paid. The album, in its physical form, still needs to be pressed. All this is expensive and, as good as Hazmat Modine is, their music isn't the sort of thing that you're likely to hear on top 10 radio these days. As such, the band has turned to crowdfunding in an effort to offset some of the expenses of getting their latest work out to where folks can hear it.
Of course, there are fabulous prizes to be had. You know the game: depending on how much you're willing to throw at the project, you'll be able to enjoy perks like historic post cards picturing old New York City, a copy of their new album, the band's complete catalog, or even a private house concert. Read the rest
William Onyeabor, the Nigerian musician who pioneered African electro-funk in the 1970s, has died. He was 70-years-old. Onyeabor's music experienced a resurgence in recent years thanks to the Luaka Bop label's reissues of his deeply groovy albums. From Luaka Bop:
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It is with incredibly heavy hearts that we have to announce that the great Nigerian business leader and mythic music pioneer William Onyeabor has passed away at the age of 70. He died peacefully in his sleep following a brief illness, at his home in Enugu, Nigeria. An extraordinary artist, businessman and visionary, Mr. Onyeabor composed and self-released 9 brilliant albums of groundbreaking electronic-funk from 1977-1985, which he recorded, pressed and printed at Wilfilms Limited—his personal pressing plant in southeast Nigeria.
For people in his hometown of Enugu, Nigeria, Mr. Onyeabor was simply referred to as "The Chief”. He was known for having created many opportunities for the people in his community. In his early 30s, he traveled the world to study record manufacturing, so that he could build, "the greatest record manufacturing business in all of West Africa." After those successful years as an artist and record label President in the 1980's, he opened a flour mill and food processing business. In 1987 these new business ventures saw him awarded West African Industrialist of the Year—just two years after the release of his most successful song "When The Going is Smooth and Good", and what should have been the height of his musical career. He was given the honorary title "Justice of the Peace"—a local judicial position elected by the community to provide independent legal ruling.
Karl Jenkins' "Adiemus" is apparently the most-performed piece of music in the world. A sweeping classical epic with vocals written in a mysterious imaginary language, it was composed for Delta Airlines, which wanted to copy British Airways' classic "Aria on Air" ad (itself by the spookily brilliant pairing of Malcolm McLaren and Yanni.) Read the rest