Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cosmic Afro-Disco Traveler

The new episode of our Six Degrees Traveler weekly radio broadcast is now up on Apple i-Tunes (under the "Eclectic" an "Electronica" sections of their Radio page or at

Cosmic Afro-Disco Traveler:

On this week's show, we feature two hours of African influenced "Cosmic Disco". If you're having trouble imagining just what the heck that might sound like, it's probably best if you surrender any preconceived notions, crank up the volume and just shake your booty.

The "Cosmic Disco" genre tag began to be used quite a lot when those two Scandinavian, retro groove kings, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas first started making noise on the scene with a series of irresistible tracks and remixes (both individually and as a duo) that combined the "old school" spirits of disco, Giorgio Moroder, and electronic space music with a nice modern electronica spin. It is a well known, slightly dirty secret, that despite the tremendous backlash that disco received towards the end of it's first glory days, it's spirit has never died and has in fact flourished in many hybrid forms all of these years. From the bygone days of Blondie to the more recent sounds of LCD Soundsystem to just about every release on the DFA and Rong labels, to the seemingly endless bootleg Disco Re-edits that come out every year, one could argue that disco has won the day and emerged as a perfectly viable and ultimately "hip" art form. This is not at all surprising to club goers around the world but might be shocking to all of those folks who sported "Disco Sucks" buttons and Tee shirts during the 70's and early 80's.

Even from the beginning, there was no denying the influence that African music has had on disco. Afro percussion and chanting figures prominently on many disco classics and the music of the mother land continues to merge perfectly with today's "nu disco". Add a healthy dose of trippy electronica, a dash of new wave sensibility and today's more muscular dance grooves and you get a pretty irresistible concoction that goes by the catchy tag of "Cosmic Afro-Disco".

Like I said, don't worry about intellectualizing it, just give in and shake what your momma gave you.

Listen/Buy Prins Thomas Dub Remix of Bebel Gilberto's Bring Back the Love

Check out the full playlist at:

Note: Image above taken from the excellent compilation D'Afro Disco from Codek Records

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Afro Noize Part 4: Issa Bagayogo- Poye (Tal M. Klein Remix- Radio Edit)

Free Download - Issa Bagayogo - Poye (Tal M. Klein remix Radio Edit)

Commissioning remixes is one of the favorite parts of my job. Bringing together two creative voices into that musical partnership known as the remix is a tremendous leap of faith on many levels. I approach the process of brokering these "arranged marriages" in much the same way that I imagine a casting director does. The essential question on my mind is always "what unique and special element will this person bring to this work?"

There are lots of different approaches a remixer can take with a track, ranging from simply adding some beefed up grooves to completely re-imagining the original- to all points in between. Some of my favorite mixes have kept very little of the original song, while some others remain very faithful to the original. Like so many art forms, there is no single, "correct" blueprint for creating the perfect mix.

In hiring remixers, I also try very hard to bring newer and less established names into the process. It's great getting a well known producer like a Joe Claussell or an Ananda Project to work on a project (as we recently did with our group Pacifika) and quite frankly those artists bring along the interest of their own fans, which is always nice, particularly for a newer band. However, it's also exciting to hear what someone who is young (career wise), hungry and has something to prove, brings to the remix party. It's also always nice to catch someone "on the way up" in their career.

Tal M. Klein
is not exactly a newcomer on the scene but he's probably new to many of your ears. We met at the San Francisco airport, waiting for our flight to last year's Winter Music Conference in Miami. I liked him immediately and was happy to find that I also very much liked his CD that he gave me, Plastic Starfish. Tal does groovy, breaks based music just the way I like it, with lots of funk, creative production and plenty of melody. When I started soliciting remixers for the new Issa Bagayogo release, I knew Tal would bring something fun, fresh and funky to the song, as he consistently does with all of his own work.

Today we give you a "sneak peak" taster of Tal's mix in the form of this radio edit. The full remix stretches out for over 10 minutes and will be available later this year. Issa Bagayogo may seem like an unlikely candidate for international dancefloor success. His home country of Mali is one of the ten poorest nations in the world, and one in which economic and professional opportunities tend to be shaped by one's caste and ethnic origins – and Issa's heritage pointed him less in the direction of music than in those of blacksmithing and fishing. But at a young age he demonstrated a talent for playing the ngoni, a three-stringed lute that is popular throughout western Africa (under a variety of names) and may be the direct ancestor of the banjo. In Mali the ngoni is normally reserved for sacred contexts related to hunting, so youngsters who wanted to avoid controversy invented a six-string version for everyday use. This remains Issa's primary instrument – another unlikely element in the story of his rapid ascent to worldwide fame.

In the mid-1990s, musical success looked even more remote. After making several recordings and failing to have a regional hit with any of them, Issa was making his living driving a bus while also descending into drug addiction. Eventually he lost his job and his wife, and moved back to the country to stay with his mother. But in the latter half of the decade he made the decision that would change his life and alter the face of the world music scene: he quit taking drugs, moved to Bamako (Mali's capital city) and hit the studio again, this time working with a locally famous production team to create a highly personal sound that combined the acoustic traditions of his region with elements of rock, funk, dub and electronica.

Ten years and four albums later, Issa Bagayogo is a regular star attraction on stages around the continent, playing for huge and wildly enthusiastic audiences. His reception outside of Africa has been warm as well. Reviewing one of his pneumatic live shows, England's Folk Roots magazine marveled at his energy, saying that he "may radically reshape West Africa's groove… when Issa plays, only the dead stay still." His second album, Timbuktu, hit the top of the CMJ New World chart, and Utne Reader called it "fine as Sahara sand," while Billboard said it was time to "add this man's name to the growing list of Mali's emerging world-music luminaries.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Afro-Noize Part 3- Chief Boima

Free Download - Techno Rumba - Chief Boima

Bay Area based dj and producer Chief Boima is working many fronts in his assault on future global sounds, specifically the African diasporic ones. His dj sets connect the dots of classic and contemporary African urban music from highlife and rumba to hip-hop, dubstep and house. His monthly residency at Little Baobab in San Francisco packs dancers from all over the world into a dancefloor the size of your living room to hear his beats.

Boima writes and posts regularly at Ghettbassquake and on his personal web-site where he muses about the differences between Afro-House and Afrocan House and new rhythmic discoveries. His own expierience and beliefs in music making, playing and listening in a world with ever changing and dissolving boandaries socially, economically and sonically also are covered in detail rich posts with many mixes to download and critically amusing references to check.

In all his output the consistent factor with Chief Boima is his quality taste which is soulful and real. Chief Boima was kind enough to share his track Techno-Rumba, which he describes as "Franco in Detroit". Enjoy and be sure to look out for more original Boima tracks as well as his remix for Issa Bagayogo on Six Degrees soon.

Chief Boima Website
Chief Boima Myspace

Guest post by Señor Oz

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tom Middleton: Excursions EP

FREE DOWNLOAD - Tom Middleton - Shinkansen - Buy Excursions

Tom Middleton is not only one of the most talented and unique artists working within the electronica genre, he is one of the nicest as well. I first met Tom many years ago when I was putting together a project called the Deseo Remixes in which various producers remixed a Brazilian themed solo record by Yes vocalist,Jon Anderson. I had already secured commitments for mixes from Future Sound of London, Deep Forrest and Trans Global Underground and was looking to round out the record with an "up and comer" on the scene. When I asked for recommendations from various people whose taste I trusted, I kept hearing about a young duo called Global Communication who were starting to make lots of noise on the scene with their own tracks and a series of gorgeous remixes for other artists.

If you are an electronica fan and you are not familiar with Global Communication's record, 76"14 stop reading this and immediately do whatever is necessary to secure a copy... I'll wait. After you get that record, proceed on to tracking down the group's remix compilation, Remotion and find out what a true art form the electronic remix can really be in the right hands.

To make a very long story as short as possible, Tom and his partner in Global Communication, Mark Pritchard turned in two of the most beautiful mixes I have ever heard for the Deseo Remixes and I became a fan for life. I subsequently got to meet the guys when they came over for one of their first tours of the States and I have watched with great interest as both producers' careers have flourished in various guises (Jedi Knights,The Modwheel, Harmonic 313 etc.).

It was a great pleasure to re-connect with Tom to release his first solo record under his own name, Lifetracks and I am equally happy that we have now just released his beautiful Excursions EP.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Afro-Noize Part 2- Sila and the AfroFunk Experience

FREE DOWNLOAD - Sila and the Afrofunk Experience - Black President

Since the death of Afro-Beats founder Fela Kuti over a decade ago the genre Fela helped create and form has gained more and more exposure in the United States every year. When Antibalas released their first record in 1998 there were a handful of Afro-Beat bands in existence Stateside. Everyday more and more ears are picking up on the infectious grooves, so much so that nearly every city and college town in the country has their own ambassadors of Afro-Beat or Afro-Funk. Very few however find a way to sonically elevate their music beyond mere homage to the originator.

Sila and the Afrofunk Experience have been making a reputation for themselves in the Bay Area and beyond for several years by playing remarkable live shows that have a unique combination of Afro-Beat and American funk with just the right amount of pop music sensibility to make a case that they might be the band that takes Afro-Beat to the American masses. It is easy to see why when you look at the remarkable components of the group; led by Victor Sila, who was born in Kenya and early in his life heard James Brown and decided he wanted to sing. The Afro-Funk Experience is a 9-piece band of Bay Area funk all-stars. Sila himself is a distinct frontman, singing in Swahili and English, swaggering with confidence without braggadaccio, he uplifts the audience to a higher plane during his live shows while the band takes off into a world that sounds like Parliment-Funkadelic landed the Mothership in Lagos!
Look out for the new Sila and the Afro-Funk Experience album to drop in May.

Sila and The Afrofunk Experience Homepage
Sila and The Afrofunk Experience Myspace

Guest blog post from Señor Oz

As a child growing up in a small village in Kenya, Sila remembers tuning in to a shortwave radio for the latest pop offerings from the West. By way of a faint, crackling radio signal, Sila first became acquainted with the guttural howls and shrieks of the Minister of Funk.

“One of the first James Brown songs I remember hearing on shortwave radio was ‘I Feel Good.’ Growing up very poor in my village and having a song like that play on the radio was very inspiring,” Sila, 32, says.

His exposure to James Brown, along with such artists as the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, inspired Sila to pursue music, which he says was far from a well-respected profession in Africa.

Despite his career choice, his parents supported his decision and sold cows and goats to raise money for his send-off to the U.S.
Sila’s pursuit of musical stardom was met with the heartbreak of rejection and he eventually found himself lost, an imposter of sorts, singing pedestrian pop tunes while trying to mask a heavy Kenyan accent.

It wasn’t until he stumbled upon a sold-out show by African artist Baaba Maal at the Fillmore that he realized he needed to change course.

“This was the first African artist I saw in concert singing in his own language. He was so full of life. This was the most touching experience for me and I was almost in tears. I had really forgotten who I was,” he says.

Embracing his African roots and his love of funk, Sila channeled James Brown for inspiration and six years later, with the help of his renowned cast of bandmates, he’s achieved success without having to compromise his heritage (he sings in both Swahili and English) or his musical tastes.

“James Brown has always been someone who’s influenced me quite a bit. From his perseverance to his political life and his very poor background, it’s all been an inspiration to me. … His determination and the fact that he never gave up — I see that in me,” Sila says.

“When I came here I never imagined I would sell out venues and entertain people in a way that James Brown entertained me. Believe me, I’m not saying I’m the next James Brown, but I do feel he’s in the soul of music.”

Sila sings of the African experience: the problems he and many others face every day, in a language understood throughout the world. His lyrics and beats reflect the music, the language, the energy, and the spirit of growing up in Africa.

Sila is backed by Mike Pitre on trumpet, Andre Webb on trombone, David Boyce on saxophone, bassist Wendell Rand, Bennie Murray on drums, guitarists Ken House and David James, djembe player Karamba, and talking drum player Samba Guisse.
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Traveler's Alternate Motown Universe

Traveler's Alternate Motown Universe:
The newest episode of our Six Degrees Traveler radio broadcast is now up on Apple i-tunes (under the "Eclectic" and "Electronica" sections of their Radio page) or at

This week, in honor of the fact that Motown Records is (astoundingly) celebrating their 50th Anniversary (!), we imagine an alternate musical universe where Motown artists incorporated elements of dub reggae, minimal techno, electronica and breaks into their "sound of young america". We do this by featuring a bevy of bootleg remixes and mash ups by modern producers who have used the raw material of the original Motown tracks as jumping off points for their own creations. The songs of Motown are so firmly imbedded into our musical DNA that we have almost come to take them for granted. It would however be foolish to under estimate the seismic impact that this incredible body of work has had, not only on our musical heritage but on the course of youth culture and race relations in this country.

Sometimes hearing overly familiar songs in a completely new context helps us to recall the power and freshness the originals once had- before they became staples for wedding DJs around the world. For instance, hearing Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On" mashed up with Brian Eno's "Deep Blue Day" on the track that the Flying White Dots cleverly title "Let's Get Deep", casts Gaye's famously pleading vocals into new levels of atmospheric yearning. In addition, the Temptations more than stand up to their new backing band, the Rolling Stones on Voicedude's rocking mash "Papa Was in the Rolling Stones".

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Afro-Noize Part 1 - ObaFunke

Free Download - ObaFunke - "Obachant" Buy Album

Somewhere around the year 2000, one of our favorite producer/DJ's, King Britt released a beautiful slice of Afro-funk-house under the guise of the mysterious Obafunke. For some reason this sweet record "slipped through the cracks" and never got the full recognition I think it deserved. All that has changed now as King has re-released the album CosmoAfrique (including a killer new bonus remix) on his ambitious new FiveSixMedia on-line store. The Afro-house thing can get a bit "cheesy" in the wrong hands but rest assured that this project hits all of the right notes. As far as I'm concerned, King is the best kind of DJ/Producer- one who has impeccable and incredibly diverse taste coupled with production chops that have as much respect for our ears as they do for the needs of the dance-floor. If you missed this project the first time, here's your chance to make good.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


FREE DOWNLOAD - RH+ - Sambatriste (Nacional Records) - Buy Album Here

Today we are happy to be featuring a lovely slice of atmospheric Latin, electro-pop courtesy of our friends at the fine label Nacional Records. Their new signing, Chile's RH+ once again explodes stereotypes of what we commonly consider "Latin" music by presenting a dreamy form of electronica that is as cool as it is hot. Enjoy.


Nacional Records is proud to announce the February 3rd release of RH+’s U.S. debut album ‘Quintana Roo’. With a dreamy electronic pop sound that recalls groups like Broken Social Scene, Stereolab or Air, one may easily guess RH+ is a band from Toronto, London or Paris, rather than Santiago, Chile, deep in the heart of South America. Fusing indie rock with electronica, RH+’s music is characterized by their dueling male and female English vocals and atmospheric keyboard textures.

While RH+ attributes much of their primary musical influences to bands in North America and Europe, drummer/programmer Pedro Comparini connects their music’s dreamy vibe to their Chilean hometown. “In Santiago, we are lucky to have a very close relationship with both nature and the city at the same time and that inspires our songwriting a lot,” he says. “Our imaginations, our dreams and mixing contrasting ideas are essential elements to our musical muse.”

Formed in 2002, RH+ was originally known as “Rock Hudson” to fans. The band quickly established themselves as a leading act in the Santiago alt rock scene with explosive performances at clubs and festivals across the city. They released their Chilean debut album ‘La Elela’ in 2004 and soon after, Comparini and lead singer Ximena “Nera” Muñoz moved to Europe for two years of studies in Milan, Italy. Europe proved to be both a source for songwriting inspiration and a receptive audience for the band’s sound.

“In Milan, I had a lot of time to dedicate myself to music,” Nera explains. “Pedro and I wrote many songs, some in Italian that would later be translated to English, and then a couple bossanova tracks as well.”
In 2005, RH+ performed at the popular Diesel U Music Festival in Milan and were awarded the “Best Electronic Band”. The group decided to take that momentum on the road, performing in Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona and across much of Western Europe.

“While our English vocals may sometimes limit us back home in Chile (even though we can see this changing), we get the opposite response in Europe,” Comparini says. “Every time that we play in Europe, the venues are full and the response is tremendous. Living over there, we were six hours from any European capital and we played that to our advantage.”

Moving back home to Chile, RH+ completed their second album ‘Quintana Roo’ with production assistance from local beatmaster and Nacional labelmate DJ Bitman. The album was very well received in their native country and Rolling Stone Chile named it one of the best albums of the year.

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