Author Archives: Nate Rabe

About Nate Rabe

Reinvention is life.

Death of the Atomic Bomb: William Onyeabor

william_onyeabor

All pop stars are, to a certain degree, enigmas. As fans we think we know them. We digest their lyrics and read interviews but mostly we create an image of them in our minds. We become convinced they are like us. And hopefully, even like us.

 

For their part, pop stars spend time and money trying to avoid being known too much. Bob Dylan is famous for spreading tall tales about his musical antecedents and early years. He’s on record claiming to be in places at times when it is patently clear he was not. So frustrating were his contradictory and mysterious statements about himself that a short-lived sub-discipline of sociology sprang up in the early 1970s: Dylanology. Led by an obsessed fan named A.J. Weberman, who today would be arrested for stalking, Dylanologists’ main method was to pick through the discarded rubbish of the singer’s household in search of clues of his life.

 

Yesterday, William Onyeabor, a Nigerian keyboardist and electronic music pioneer, passed away, leaving a whole slew of question marks for his fans to contemplate. There has been no musician more mysterious in recent years than the cowboy hat white suit wearing Chieftain from West Africa. The Guardian’s survey of his discovery (by Western fans) and the unanswered questions that he carried with him to his grave is an excellent read.

 

The 2013 Luaka Bop album, referenced by the Guardian is shared here today. This is 73 minutes of some of the most improbable African music you’re ever likely to hear. Electronic swirls and squelches interspersed with the dense beat of simulated drums. This is music that sounds more at home in England during the New Wave/No Wave era of the early 1980s than in the land that gave the world High Life and Afrobeat. There is none of the urgency, playfulness or raw sexuality of Fela or E.T Mensah or Geraldo Pino in Onyeabor.

 

And perhaps that is willful. One of the few things we seem to know about him is that he nurtured a strong personal faith in Jesus. And lived a life of moral rectitude and purity.   Natural then, that his music would mirror the same emotions.

 

This is not to say this is fluff or mere exotica. Atomic Bomb is the standout track in this collection. It builds and pulses with real energy and creative thinking. Love as A Bomb! Love is Blind and Body and Soul are also carnally focused. Both tunes develop a strong groove that keeps the ears and mind engaged.

 

There is one other West African electronic album from this era, African Electronic Music 1975-1982, by the Cameroonian poly-artist Francis Bebey that acts as a sort of cultural counterpart to this album. Bebey’s life story is fairly well known and his album (one of more than 20 released in his lifetime) has a more deliberate, experimental quality to it.

 

Onyeabor’s work, by contrast, seems to be more organic and heartfelt. The grooves are long, elaborate and hang together as individual tracks nicely. Bebey’s album on the other hand is a collection of diverse sounding songs that seem strung together like individual gaudy beads.

 

In any case, this is very interesting music, made by a mysterian of the first order. Rest in Peace dear William. Whoever you are.

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Track Listing:

01 Body and Soul

02 Atomic Bomb

03 Good Name

04 Something You’ll Never Forget

05 Why Go to War?

06 Love is Blind

07 Heaven and Hell

08 Let’s Fall in Love

09 Fantastic Man

William

Farewell Brother: Leonard Cohen Mixtape

c90lounge

rip-leonardA true mahatma has blessed us for many years.  Rest in real peace, Leonard.

Track Listing:

01 Undertow

02 Suzanne

03 By the Rivers Dark

04 Lullaby

05 Democracy

06 Sisters Of Mercy

07 The Future

08 I’m Your Man

09 Boogie Street

10 You Know Who I Am

11 Nightingale

12 Dance Me to the End of Love

13 Lover Lover Lover

14 Be For Real

15 Banjo

16 Bird On The Wire

17 Anthem

18 Why Don’t You Try

19 Tower of Song

20 Darkness

21 The Captain

22 To A Teacher

23 You Want It Darker

24 Whither Thou Goest

RIP

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Foolkiller: Farewelling Mose Allison

Farewell (yet again) to a giant of popular music.

njrabe

moseallison

Mose Allison has passed away, the latest music icon in what is turning into a bumper year for the Grim Reaper.

I came late to his fan club. I was well into my 40s when I first heard Mojo Woman, which stopped me dead in my tracks. The notes moved through the room like meandering molten lava. Every inch of space was conquered by the pristine melody and syncopation.

For the next several years Mose was the man I turned to most frequently when I wanted something no other musician could give: bluesy jazz or jazzy blues. Neither and both.

For years, as I trudged through the snow banks at the University of Minnesota, I would see handbills with Mose’s picture stapled to lampposts all over the campus. Sadly, poverty and limited curiosity kept me ignorant of this genius for 25 more years.

When my wife and I were…

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Redemption Song: Farewell to Leonard Cohen

njrabe

selfportrait

There is a certain cosmic but bitter timing to what happened in the week gone by.

On Tuesday, we watched a rank caricature of a man capture all the keys to the kingdom. On Thursday, we witnessed the passing of one of the true great souls of popular music. It is as if the arrival of the former demanded the departure of the other, like darkness snuffing out the light.

In this week in which some hailed the revival of democracy, but more feared its demise, Leonard Cohen’s song Democracy (The Future/1992) remains the best lyrical exploration of conflicted America yet.

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin’
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of…

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Braziliero Mixtape

Brazilian wax

c90lounge

vamos brasil

A little playlist of Brazilian sounds. Enjoy as you watch the synchronized swimming.

Or wrestling.

Or badminton

Or discus.

Track Listing:

01 Bahia (Aka: Baia) [Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd]

02 Sangria [Ceu]

03 Reza [Flora Purim]

04 Brazil [Frank Sinatra]

05 Brazilica [Ramsey Lewis]

06 Roda [Sergio Mendes and Brasilia 66]

07 Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) [feat. Seu Jorge]

08 Desifinado [Joao Gilberto]

09 A Novidade [Gilberto Gil]

10 Tristeza E Solidão [Baden Powell and Vincius De Moraes]

11 Ou Bola Ou Bolica [Tamba Trio]

12 River Song [Bebel Gilberto]

13 Agua de Beber [Jovem Brasa]

14 Samba Dobrado [Djavan]

15 Tamanco Na Samba [O Trio 3D]

16 Chica-Chica-Boom-Chic [Les Etoiles]

17 The Look Of Love [Sergio Mendes and Brasilia 66]

18 Na Rua da Sao Paulo [Kaboko Meu]

19 Brazilian Stomp [George Benson and Earl Klugh]

20 The Girl From Ipanema (Garota De Ipanema)…

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Global Gambol

c90lounge

global gambol

Tajikistan, Iraq, Congo, Haiti, Niger, Cuba, Syria, USA, Greece and Azerbaijan are just some countries represented herein!

Enjoy!

Track Listing:

01 Dilkash [Habil Aliev]

02 Ishtâr (Assyrian-Babylonian Goddess of Fertility) [Munir and Omar Bashir]

03 Raghuvamsasuta [Chitti Babu]

04 Modar

05 Youyou Aleli Veka [Wendo Kolosoy]

06 Seme lecon [Rodrigue Milien et Combite Creole]

07 Semsam (Assyrian) [Ibrahim Keivo]

08 Criminal Mother-In-Law [Antonis Diamantidis]

09 Ya Ra’ab [Zafa]

10 Marina [Ilham al Madfai]

11 El Microphono ]Mexican Institute of Sound]

12 Bahor omad [Mubaraksho]

13 Imidiwan Win Sahara [Tinariwen]

14 Alma Impura [Orquesta Aragon]

15 Kunglim Guli [Yulduz Usmanova]

16 Ишки пок

17 White Horse In Dark Valley [Riley Lee]

GG

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Early Winter Mixtape

Get a fresh mixtape

c90lounge

She Moves On

An early winter mixtape of warm comforting sounds. Featuring jazzy organ from South Africa (AM Stragglers), covers aplenty, (The Mirettes, Rueben Wilson, Georgia Soul Council) and a touch of jazz, roots, pop and fused qawwali!

She may be gone but you can still smile with this.

Track Listing

01 This Is The Army Of Forgotten Souls [Transglobal Underground]

02 Lady Day [Georgia Soul Council]

03 Mi Confesion [Gotan Project]

04 Go Ahead [Lightning Hopkins]

05 Almost Fed Up With the Blues [John Hiatt]

06 Police [Wajha]

07 The Fisherman Leo Kottke]

08 Jungle Strut [Gene Ammons]

09 Stand by Your Man [The Mirettes]

10 Lady Marmalade [Mongo Santamaria]

11 The Cisco Kid [Rueben Wilson]

12 This Place I Call Home [George Duke]

13 She Moves On [Paul Simon]

14 For Once In My Life [Live] {The Temptations]

15 I’m a Manchild [Uptown Funk Empire]

16 The Long Road [Eddie Vedder…

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