Thursday, November 30, 2006

Abstract Index playlist - November 29/06

image courtesy Riverboat Records
I've played this disc many times since first getting it in October. Despite one or two duff tracks, it's sure to go on my end of year list (lists?).
There have been a few good to great reviews of this disc but I have yet to see one which comments on the studio tricknology on display - not a lot, but a noticeable amount. If anything, most reviews so far have focused on repeating the bio and retelling the story behind the disc rather than commenting much on the music.
The following is the review I wrote for Exclaim's November issue:
Studio Cameroon is an absorbing listen, with the casual feel of an audio diary but with a consistent and often surreal flow. Sally Nyolo was a member of Zap Mama during the nineties, and moved back to Cameroon from Europe in the late 90s. This is the fifth of her increasingly diverse solo projects prior to this, and she is mostly in evidence as the organizer and guest vocalist. The “Studio Cameroon” in question was apparently set up in a tin roofed building, which makes it likely that it was portable and digital. The sound is very diverse, rooted in Cameroon’s bikutsi rhythms with plenty of spiky guitar and off kilter rhythms, but highlife, funk, reggae and plenty of dissonance are on hand. Between the um, distinctive (read: wickedly sharp or flat) vocals and off-center tunings, there is more than a little edge to what might have been more easy rolling rhythms. “Salaire” by Americain is a happy highlife groove but the nasal flatness of the vocals and ultrajangly guitars push into into alt-country twang, albeit with a fat bottom end. Guitars are another highlight of this album, falling somewhere between no wave and bluegrass. As such, these often sketch-like songs are given intriguingly immodest reverb and delay, with the occasional editing trick like the fade in and out of traffic sounds in the Bidjoi Sisters’ “Chantal”. Sally’s use of rapid, Zap Mama-esque vocalese within many artists songs brings another postmodern touch to the record. There is an almost perfect balance between concept and execution here. One wonders how Camerounian hip hop would have played out in such a scenario, but what’s here captures an easygoing but experimental sprit of a wide group of musicians around Yaounde and Cameroon.

red light - cross border trio (accretions)
mr. spleen - drumheller (rat drifting)
once held a lighter high in the sky - mike hansen (etude)
93 - maju (extreme)
sunrise - david shea (sub rosa)
nebula - james beaudreau (workbench)
tupinquim e o samba - ache brasil (indie)
constelacao - tutty moreno (far out)
andande vengo - la cumbiambe eneye (chonta)
to le bepe - mama andela/sally nyolo (riverboat)
tadha mang - toumani diabate's symmetric orchestra (nonesuch)
phase 1 - eddie senay (vampisoul)
el jabilo - bernardo padron (independent)
taqsim makam hijaz - rahim alhaj/souhail kaspar (smithsonian folkways)
baba hanou - altaf gnawa group (arc)
nature - michael rose (m)
grandma - khari kill (independent)
tonton d'america - tiken jah (out here)
exit music for a dub - easy star all stars (easy star)
kaba kaba - djosos krost (quango)
breathe - vx meets andrea rmx by dubmatix (vx)
free - moody boys (xl)


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