M.I.A. cover detail

Feature Review:  M . I . A .



Tickling My Fancy Music Revue:  Angola  Soundtrack  2, The Fontanelles.

M . I . A .   ‘Matangi’   (N.E.E.T. Recordings/ Interscope Records)  –  Available Now

Not so much a klaxon sounding clarion call as a reaffirmation of the voracious M.I.A. manifesto, the latest ‘hyperbolic’ riot of polygenesis colour and sound, Matangi, is quite a measured, translucent, and sparkly in places, personal affair. Mellowed somewhat by the delay in its release by more than a year (at one point M.I.A. threatened to leak the record online, frustrated at the label’s negative response – apparently it wasn’t dark enough for them!).

But fear not as that same explosive ennui driven mix of earth-shaking bhangra, boombox subversion and Arabian chic – as evidenced on the last three records – still permeates and threatens to piss on the apathetic parade: Indecorous to a fault, yet dangerously alive and exciting.

Following in the family name tradition of the last three albums, Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam explores the etymological source of her own namesake, the Hindu goddess Matangi. Found amongst the ‘untouchables’ – the poor and destitute – in the slums, Matangi chose to live away from the temples of the gods, to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of the lower castes: the salt of the earth so to speak. The goddess of inner thought as well as music, her mythical presence and attitude are used as a reference and guide throughout, channeled in the more meditative escapist passages.

A perfect figurehead and encapsulated spirit of the times, a cross-pollinated artist-musician-polymath character seemingly congruous with the Internet, M.I.A. is both an advocate and fierce foil of the digital world. The burgeoning promise of a carefree, interconnected, community, richly educated and informative, has rather disappointingly been hijacked by a camarilla of ‘facilitators’, corporations and an over-zealous state. Intent it seems on eroding free speech and free movement, imposing instead a military style control and surveillance on our lives. In short…. we’ve been sold down the river.

None of this is new to M.I.A. of course, already a well publicized supporter of Wikileaks and its defacto – exiled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London – leader Julian Assange (who recently opened for a M.I.A. performance in New York, via a skype link, and is said to have contributed to the schizoid dubstep Matangi LP track, ‘atTENTion’). But with the ongoing revelations of Edward Snowdon and the increasing torrid of abusive vitriol from her detractors (mostly it must be said from America), there’s more than enough material to transduce into anger, even if M.I.A. and her augury warning, ‘THE MESSAGE’ (the opening gambit from the 2010 MAYA LP), pretty much summed it all up: “iPhone connected to the internet/ Connected to the Goggle/ Connected to the government.”

Using a similar template then, M.I.A. begins with a mantra of intent, delivered over a stuttering electric current: “Ain’t Dalai Lama, Ain’t Sai Baba/ My words are my armour, and you’re about to meet your kharma.” From then on in she amorphously twists and turns, from protestation to romantic stomp, cutting up and reworking R&B, pop and Hip Hop into ringside swagger (‘Only 1 U!’), bombastic gangsta strut (‘Warriors’) and bubblegum dancehall (‘Come Walk With Us’).

Hardly light on rhetoric – whether collecting all the data of hate and criticism, leveled against her (including the ‘one-finger’ Super Bowl debacle, N.Y. Times spread and accusations of provocation), or banging heads on the lack of originality in culture and railing against our failure to fight the systems that seek to turn everything into a humongous pile of shit: “If you only live once, why keep doing the same shit?”

‘Bad Girls’, ‘Bring The Noize’ and ‘Y.A.L.A.’ have all previously been made public in the long run-up to this fourth LP – the original Bad Girls in incubated form was first aired on the 2010 mixtape, Vicki Leeks, later to be accompanied by a car-crazy, Sheiks-do-Hip Hop wild video in 2012. This triumvirate of revved-up ‘nasty’ tracks more or less gives the album its most hardened, prowling highlights. But as the smoke from those riotous, sophisticated joints clear, M.I.A. choses a more indolent swaying direction (well less threatening anyway), her rhyming couplets smoothed and laid back on the neon lit, Siam charmed, ‘Come Walk With Me’, and lamentably swinging on the bookended pairing of ‘Exodus/Sexodus’.

In case you never got the admonitory memo or understood the ‘Lady of Rage’ the first, second and third time around, she once again rattles off another dictate and denunciation for you, whilst raising the game for those who seek to follow in the vapour trail. M.I.A. proves to be the most exhilarating, provocative artist to crossover into the general psyche, without losing their soul; able to roll with the punches and at least stand for something in a mixed-up world of contrary stifled debate and fucked-up moral objection to all the wrong things.

Tickling My Fancy Music Revue –

Angola 2

‘Angola Soundtrack 2 – Hypnosis, Distortions & Other Sonic Innovations 1969 – 1978’  (Analog Africa)  –  2nd December 2013

Following the releases of both the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Contonou sampler and second volume of Ghanaian Afro-Beat, Afro-Beat Airways, earlier in the year, Samy Ben Redjeb’s Analog Africa label journeys south of the African equator once more to Angola: or to be more specific the capital port, and thriving center of the country’s nightlife, Luanda.

The former Portuguese colony had to wait until 1975 before gaining its independence, a year that not only sparked autonomy but a flourishing of the local music culture, which had been previously suppressed. However despite this suppression and the over-zealous banning in 1961 of carnival performances by the local street musicians (known as Turmans), Angola did have a fruitful recording industry: if sporadic one. With three companies producing 800 records, mostly singles, in a relatively short period between 1969-1978.

This 20-track (plus bonus track) compilation is a dedicated perusal through some of the most rare, hypnotic and addictive records to have been recorded during that golden era. Less funky and dynamic than their West African counterparts, yet perhaps more slinky and sauntering, the Angola music scene’s own familiar Kazukuta, Semba, Rebita styles were blended with influences from the Congo, Cape Verde and Dominican Republic, to create a Latin-flavoured percussive carnival groove.

Building on the award-winning inaugural compilation (which won the German Record Critics prize for best ‘black music’ album in 2010), volume 2 features another cast of stripped down reedy wah-wah bluesmen and gentle horn blowing, cowbell tapping dancehall bands, serenading the shoe-shuffling congregation. Sedately enchanting, though still able to cause even the most reserved of listeners to shake it, the album shuffles along, evoking moments of samba, Cuba, Colombia and even the Shadows twang (especially in evidence on the spring-y Africa Ritmo instrumental, ‘Agarrem’).


1. “Avante Juventude” – Os Angos 3:32

2. “Senhor Doutor” – Quim Manuel 3:35

3. “N`Hoca” – Tony Von 2:56

4. “Kia Lomingo” – Urbano De Castro 3:31

5. “Bina” – Jovens Do Prenda 4:20

6. “Mabelé” – Oscar Neves 2:26

7. “Agarrem” – Africa Ritmos 3:06

8. “Saudades de Luanda” – Os Kiezos 2:45

9. “Bongololo” – Kito 3:23

10. “N`Ga Kunu M`Butu” – Muhongo 2:34

11. “Lemba” – Negoleiros Do Ritmo 3:25

12. “Snipes” – Dicanzas Do Prenda 4:08

13. “Bazooka” – Carlo Lamartine 3:26

14. “Divua Diami” – Cisco 3:19

15. “Meca” – Levis Vercky’s 5:06

16. “Chamavo” – Elias Diá Kimuezo 3:33

17. “Olha O Pica” – Africa Ritmos 3:26

18. “Fatimita” – Urbano De Castro 4:00

19. “Inspiraçáo De Nito” – Africa Show 3:30

20. “Despedida” – Dimba Diangola 5:21

21. “Fuguei Na Escola (Para Jogar A Bola)” – Teta Lando 4:01

Rebita 74

As a precursor to the album, Analog Africa are also releasing a celebratory limited edition run (on its recently set-up Limited Dance Editions imprint) of the first ever LP to be recorded and manufactured in the country, Rebita 74. A compilation itself, featuring four tracks each from Urbano de Castro, Os Kiezos and Jovens do Prenda (all of which have tracks featured on soundtracks 2), the esteemed ‘holy grail’ of Angolan music will be launched on the 18th of November. Only a 1000 copies will be pressed so don’t hang around!


Side 1:   

1. “Farra Na Madrugada” – Jovens do Prenda

2. “Merengue Joaquina” – Urbano de Castro

3. “Mau Pango” – Os Kiezos

4. “Merengue Parte O Pé” – Jovens do Prenda

5. “Dilangue” – Urbano de Castro

6. “N´Zo Iami” – Os Kiezos

Side 2:   

7. “Rumba Macieo” – Jovens do Prenda

8. “Memorias de Lamartine” – Os Kiezos

9. “Merengue Rebita” – Urbano de Castro

10. “Za Boba” – Os Kiezos

11. “Gaby” – Jovens do Prenda

12. “Semba Avo” – Urbano de Castro

The Fontanelles  ‘Horns Of Freedom’  (First Word)  –  18th November 2013

Making much use of the recent ‘feverish’ Fela Kuti celebrations and anniversaries, a band who originally formed onstage for the London run of the late and great afrobeat progenitors life story, Fela! The Musical, have decided to ‘keep keeping on’, moving from the stage and into the recording studio. Rallied by a ‘natural chemistry’ and wish to keep the party going, The Fontanelles have created an original album of eclectic influences, merging elements of reggae, ethio-jazz and ska to a Ghanaian/Nigerian melting pot of hot funk and heralded horns.

An album of two parts, the opening half a bustling, sweltering shimmy of downtown Lagos afrofunk and imbued Fela dance (‘Gaia’s Revenge’, ‘Afrocat’ and ‘Criminality’), the second half more indolently laidback, with a touch of Caribbean breeze and beachcomber swaying melodic bliss (‘Project 51’ and ‘The Wave’): Our featured track however, ‘Pinprick’, sounds like a strange afrojazz version of The Specials!

The Horns Of Freedom debut is tight. I mean super tight, the musicianship able to slumber and soar on a nod and a wink, as they bring there own earthy but lively rendition of the Kuti spirit to life.


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