Metropolitan Music

Two continents, ten cities, 50 musicians and 20 authors: the Ten Cities is an initiative funded by the Goethe Institute that explores and juxtaposes the club scene of global metropolises from Africa and Europe. At the heart of this music project is the question, what would happen if these scenes, their sounds and the artists behind them were to meet head on?

The project began by twinning cities from the two continents: Naples with Luanda, Bristol with Lagos, Kiev with Johannesburg, Lisbon with Nairobi and Berlin with Cairo. Some of the leading producers and DJs behind the thriving electronic music scenes of these cities, names like Batida, Pinch, Dirty Paraffin, Okmalumkoolkat, Afrologic, Just A Band and more (full tracklist below), came together and collaborated on a series of tracks, live shows and special events.

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Alongside mixtapes, free-downloads and visual content, the core piece of content will be a 17 track album showcasing the outcomes of this collaborative process released on Soundway Records this month.

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Autonomous Africa III

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Autonomous Africa return for the third edition of the afro-grooving, beat crunching, border crossing music project curated by Glasgow’s legendary DJ and producer, JD Twitch. This series of small run, independently released 12″s and the accompanying fundraising nights are raising money for the Mtandika Mission, a charity working to offer education and improve conditions in the village of Mtandika, Tanzania.

Musically, the EPs are distinctly dancefloor orientated, the producers taking the kick vs snare 4/4 structure and splicing it with grooving African infused samples and rhythms. Volume III features tracks from Midland (who grew up in Tanzania), Glasgow stalwarts Auntie Flo and General Ludd, alongside a tack by rather special track from JD Twitch himself.

The project also has a sharp political edge and a message to get across, best explained by Twitch himself

“An autonomous Africa run by the people for the people, where African land is predominantly used to feed African people and Africa’s vast wealth of resources is used to benefit the people of Africa seems the only logical way forward. Autonomous Africa’s goal is to highlight this message and here presents to you 4 tracks of African inspired grooves….Individually we have little power but collectively, the power is ours”

Volume III will be released in July / August. There are also plans afoot to release a full Autonomous Africa compilation featuring music made in Africa itself.

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Afro-House Explorations

After a welcome winter hibernation, Rhythm & Roots is back and what better way to start 2013 than with the soulful, fresh, warm sound of Afro-House. Over the past month or so my playlists have been dominated by mixtapes, bootlegs and soundcloud sessions pouring over the offshoots of house music that are flourishing in Angola and South Africa. After a lot of digital crate digging I have put together a mix that celebrates some of my favourite Afro-House tunes, whilst also incorporating some influences from further afield akin to the sound and rhythm. So, a bit of context…

South African House

Unlike other parts of the world, in South Africa, house music is not confined to the dancefloor but has become one of the country’s dominant sounds, leading sales and making stars of its biggest names. Resident Advisor recently celebrated the SA House (centring on Johannesburg) as part of the “Real Scenes” mini-documentary series – a great introduction to the scene.

South Africa has not only become a global mecca of house music but has also managed to formulate its own diverse scene with its own diversity of sound. There is the upbeat, snare driven house sound epitomised by DJ Mujava‘s international breakthrough Township Funk, the deeper, soulful style from producers like Black Coffee, Black Motion and Culoe de Song and then the smash hit, lyrical, Kwaito-hereditary sounds of big name producers Professor, Oskido & DJ Clock.

Angolan House

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Meanwhile, the past few years have also seen a house music explosion in Angola, drawing inspiration from the South African scene and offering stiff competition to the Kuduro sound that has, historically, dominated the country’s electronic music scene. As Benjamin Lebrave, who offers a fascinating insight into the rise of Angolan house via This Is Africa, noted in July after a visit to Angola:

“A genre that was practically absent just three years ago during my last visit can now be heard virtually anytime, anywhere.”

Many Angolan producers such as DJeff and DJ Silyvi lean towards the deeper side whilst also emphasising rhythmic richness and incorporating traditional vocals samples. New producers are constantly appearing on Soundcloud with fresh sounds in a genre that continues to spread and diversify. It will be interesting to see two how these scenes now evolve and how they will feed back into electronic music globally.

Sunday Songs

Here in Amsterdam the sun is shining and summer is finally here (at least for a weekend). To celebrate here is a little playlist of some sunny, Sunday songs: