Alternate African Reality: reorient your listening with this terrific electronic compilation
Don’t miss out on music – speaking of getting Africa back on your listening list, here’s an extraordinary, wide-reaching compilation of some of the most adventurous sounds from Africa and the diaspora.
Africa, it goes without saying, is a big place – uh, really big, 30.3 million km² or so, even before you get into artists moving elsewhere. (To misquote Douglas Adams, “you just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to Africa.”) But maybe thinking of music on the scale of continents and hemispheres is well suited to today’s interconnected age, as networks of artists and interchange span even bigger areas.
In any event, don’t expect this is some tokenized, surface-deep look at music duct-taped together from a massive land area. Alternate African Reality is but the latest in a series of superb compilations from Cedrik Fermont, aka C-drík (Belgium/DR Congo). There are few people as voracious and refined in their musical diet than Cedrik – even though he makes music as a solo artist, he’s constantly deep into discovery. To me, he’s emblematic of the best of how we can redefine what it means to be an artist in the Internet age – where creativity isn’t shut off from the outside, but partly about what you support and connect.
And that also means that Cedrik has had some chance to iterate on how to make a compilation on this scale, and where to find music.
The whole beauty of this sort of project is that the work is never done, there’s always too much music, the cup overflows with sound, and all of that is brilliant. But that means you should not only grab this comp, but also check out Cedrik’s platform Syrphe, “mostly but not exclusively focused onto experimental, electronic, noise music from Asia and Africa.”
The regional focus can shift all over the place in those categories, including the Middle East – Lebanon I see on the top of the list – but it’s all just generally great music, and stuff that often gets missed. Press in London focuses on musicians around London, and so on. I don’t even know that that’s a bad thing in and of itself, in that it is meaningful for some writers to talk about the scene around them. But it is equally essential that someone like Cedrik can balance out your inputs and give you fresh perspective, for anyone who loves musical discovery.
Here’s where to go for that – there’s a blog (time to dust off the RSS readers, folks):
The blog is the best, but since we are on Facebook, it’s also nice to let electronic music take over what the Algorithm gives you, so see the Facebook group and page, too:
There’s so much stuff on Syrphe that it deserves another post, but meanwhile, have at the compilation. Just going to paste the full text, as it’s all worth reading. It’s been great to work with someone like Joseph aka KMRU a few times now, and equally nice to get some new names in here.
Alternate African Reality is a follow-up to several compilations I have published on Syrphe since 2007 (the first one, Beyond Ignorance and Borders included various artists from Africa and Asia), and even earlier on my defunct tape label in the 1990s (the last tape, Archives Humaines vol.1, was published in 1996 and included 25 artists from 25 countries, including non-Western ones : South Africa, Japan, Chile, Brazil).
Alternate African Reality could be seen as a drastic improvement of 30.2, a compilation released in 2012. The CD included nine artists from Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Angola, Mauritius, South Africa, Réunion and Madagascar/France. But even if I was very happy with the result, I always thought I should do a deeper research, and another issue I faced was the fact that I didn’t manage to include any women in the project.
Travelling and touring throughout parts of Africa allowed me to meet many more artists than what I ever expected and pushed me to work on this new release.
This time, the end result reveals a more global compilation that could be compared to Uchronia, a compilation that includes 49 artists and bands from 32 Asian countries and the diaspora in the field of so called experimental music.
Alternate African Reality is nonetheless musically more diverse, including abstract but also beat-oriented music such as ambient, electronica, electroacoustic, noise, singeli, bass music, industrial hip hop, etc.
It includes 32 artists and bands from 24 African countries and the diaspora, and last but not least, 14 women are among those vibrant musicians and composers.
Of course the artists included on the compilation only represent a fraction of the African electronic music world, and the listeners should not believe that nothing exists outside of those countries.
Electronic, and, at a lower extend depending on where you look for, experimental music do exist in many other African countries.
I wish that this project will open some eyes and ears and also create more connections and networks.
You will find more information, contacts, biographies and a short essay in a PDF available with the whole compilation if you purchase the CDs or digital files.
Biographies, contacts and websites are also available on this page when you click on “info” next to each track.
You can also have a look at this database that contains more than 3000 references about African and Asian composers, musicians, labels, magazines and so on. syrphe.com/african&asian_database.htm
If for some valid reasons you cannot afford to buy this release, you can send a message and explain why and I might send you a download code.
I deeply thank all the artists involved and also those who for one reason or another could not participate this time as well as all the people who supported me and provided help and advises to make this project happen, those who hosted and invited me during all the travels I made throughout Africa : the Nyege Nyege team in Kampala, Mass Alexandria/Berit Schuck in Alexandria, East African Records Studios/David Cecil and his family in Kampala, Esaete (Naomi) in Kampala, Houdini in Kampala, Lukas Ligeti, Ignacio Priego, Rhéa Dally, Yebo! Contemporary Art Gallery in Ezulwini, the Rock House in Mbabane, Ground Zero – Marley Coffee in Cape Town, Chiharu Mizukami, Chihiro Sato, Paweł Kuźma, Lynda Kansas, Tengal Drilon, Jamir Adiong and his family, Vilho Nuumbala, Kamila Metwali, Sharon Tan, Olivier Moreau, Christopher Kirkley/Sahel Sounds, Nenad Vujić, David Kerr/Sign Records, Memory Biwa, Essia Mestiri, PJ/slowfidelity and many more, you know who you are !
The track order on the physical release differs from the one of the digital release.
[MONRHEA] + Ejuku (Kenya/Uganda)
Jako Maron (Réunion)
Robert Machiri (Zimbabwe)
Ibukun Sunday (Nigeria)
Cobi van Tonder (South Africa)
Redha M (Algeria)
Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman (Belgium/Rwanda)
Shadwa Ali (Egypt)
Tiago Correia-Paulo (Mozambique)
Jacqueline George (Egypt)
Aragorn23 (South Africa)
The Age Of Heroes (South Sudan)
Beko The Storyteller (eSwatini)
Catu Diosis (Uganda)
Yao Bobby & Simon Grab (Togo/Switzerland)
Mario Swagga and DJ Silila (Tanzania)
Rey Sapienz (DR Congo)
Sukitoa o Namau (Morocco)
Victor Gama (Angola)
Luca Forcucci featuring Cara Stacey and Mpho Molikeng (Italy/Switzerland/South Africa/Lesotho)
C-drík (Belgium/DR Congo)
Emeka Obgoh (Nigeria)
Chantelle Grey (South Africa)
Ski Crime (South Africa)
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