Philophon Vinyl, CD & Tape 20 Items
"Mam Pe'ela Su'ure" is a typical Frafra-Gospel Hymn, sung during Sunday services accompanied only with shakers and hand clapping. Our version here is backed up by Kumasi's finest High Life players, who transform the song into a massive wave of groove. "Naba Aferda" is a homage to the Chief of Zuarungu, Florence's home village, which was also the home village of the legendary Christy Azuma, who became the first international Frafra-Star in the 70s. Christy was always a big inspiration for Florence and makes her proud to be from a small village called Zuarungu.
On this release the two singers have teamed up with the young generation of Highlife muicians of Kumasi. On guitar is Akule Pepe, who served for years in the group of Highlife legend Alex Konadu, the most on demand band in its time. The two songs are a rare example of how good pure Nwomkro gets together with typical Highlife.
"Aulos“ is Jimi Tenor's second album on Philophon. Basically, the core crew is the same as on his Philophon debut „Order of Nothingness“: beside our Finnish singer and multi-instrumentalist we have again the two drummers Ekow Alabi Savage from Ghana and Max Weissenfeldt from Germany, the latter of whom is as well the producer of „Aulos“.
As the basic recordings were cut at Max’ former „Tonstudio Blütenring“ in Berlin-Kreuzberg, the finishing touch however happened at Philophon’s newly established „Joy Sound Studios“ in Kumasi, Ghana. Therefore the album presents some local guests from Ghana. First and foremost, the two Frafra-Gospel queens Florence Adooni and Lizzy Amaliyenga, who are featured on lead vocals on „Vocalize My Luv“ and the Frafra-Gospel classic „Ki’igba“, which Jimi re-arranged in his own musical language. Furthermore, you will hear a young shooting star of the vibrant music scene in Kumasi: Kofi Emma on the Kpanlogo, a Ghanaian drum which historically is the forefather of the well known Conga. Last but not least, we hear Pat Thomas’ guitar player Sergio Manuel on the krautrockish piece „128 Cosmic Rock“. The instrumental „Afroeuropean“ reflects in its title the bridge this album has built between the two continents.
This bridging also runs through the cover artwork: here the Ghanaian artist Babs provides his very personal interpretation of the epic painting Väinämöisen soitto by the Finnish painter Robert Wilhelm Ekman, who worked in the 19th century, which Jimi puts into a scenario surrounded by characters from Finnish mythology.
Jimi says: „Like the name of the album "Aulos" suggests I wanted to feature flute quite heavily on it. I love complicated melodies and structures, so there are a couple of songs where went just for it. Of course the core of the album is groove based music with African-style bass lines“.
„Aulos“ is another landmark in Jimi’s fruitful career, which started back in the 80’s in the dark corners of Industrial Music and which evolved consistently into his very own kind of a bright and playful Nature Music.
His only wish at the time was to be old enough to join the church choir. When he turned thirteen his wish came true and he instantly had hisfirst studio experience, as the choir recorded a series of cassettes on which he performed.
After he hadfinished school he focused on his own career as a Frafra-Gospel artist. In 2007 he released hisfirst album, but it took anotherfive years for him to have his break through as a leading singer. Since the release of his third album in 2012, which contained the original version of "Mam Yinne Wa", he was booked for almost all of the festivals and celebrations in the region and was also invited to almost all of the countless Frafra communities which exist all over Ghana.
In 2013 Max Weissenfeldt visited Bolgatanga, the capital of the Frafra for thefirst time. When he stepped out of the bus at the main market a song by Alogte was playing loudly through some big speakers. He was immediately captured by the music and arranged to meet with Alogte. After a short introduction they both agreed to do some recordings.
Weissenfeldt had some instrumentals with him, so he charged his laptop well, packed his microphone and Alogte drove with him through the savannah into the backcountry of the Frafra land. When they had arrived in Namoo, Max set up his studio and Alogte assembled the Sounds of Joy. The result was "Zota Yinne", which became Oho'sfirst single released on Philophon in 2014. For some reason the song became a hit in Reggae sound system circles and is already a very sought after collectors item.
The same year Weissenfeldt returned to Ghana from Germany with some fellow musicians to play an extended tour through Ghana alongside Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy and Kologo master Guy One (Guy One - #1, released on Philophon in 2018). During that tour he learned a dozen songs by Alogte. Following this, 2016 saw the release of the follow up single "Mam Yinne Wa". In the same way as the locally released version pushed Alogte to the top of Frafra- Gospel singers, this newly produced version made him a global player.
Mam Yinne Wa - God, You Love Me So. It looks like that somebody has heard him!
Asembi Ara Amba, sung in Fanti language, is an old Fanti story about having bad luck if you see a vulture up in the sky. As Y-Bayani sees one suddenly and for no reason he gets in trouble with the police. Being hold back in the police station he finally takes his chance to escape into freedom while the police men taking a nap.
On We Are The Band of Enlightenment, Reason And Love the group presents their personal anthem. The song is a cinematic journey starting with a mighty horn theme, followed up by a mantric chant and enters finally into a wall of sound in double time. It's a small symphony for sure.
Philophon puts its emphasis on authentic local styles - from heavy grooving Ethio-Jazz coming out of Addis Abeba to cheerful Frafra-Gospel, as it is celebrated in Bolgatanga/Northern Ghana. Most recordings took place where the music is located - and that's the recipe for Philophon's productions: go to the source and dive into the real.
Vocalize My Luv is a charmingly presented lure for love. The secret of the song is that drummer Ekow Alabi Savage's upfront high-life beat is triggering a Jimi-operated Korg MS-20 bass synth. Man and machine are melting down into a light and sportive groove, which irresistibly invites you to do some frisky aerobic moves on the 3am dancefloor. Ki'igba is a classic Frafra gospel song by Alogte Oho, completed with some jubilating flute by master Jimi.
Now, Bajka has found her way back to her musical family and joined Philophon - the right environment for such a unique voice, joining a growing roster of talented artists including: The Polyversal Souls, Roy X, Guy One, Alogte Oho Jonas, Hailu Mergia, Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids, Jimi Tenor and Y-Bayani.
"The World" is driven by the heavyweight drumming of Max, counterpointed by the iridescent voice of Bajka. She reflects the glory of our world by showing the listener through her talent that she in person is for sure part of that glory. On the flip side, "Invisible Joy", Bajka gives her own interpretation of Philophon's own label anthem, which was already the title track of The Polyversal Souls' celebrated debut album.
"Siakwaa / Nana Agyei" are two songs taken from above mentioned album "Sikyi Highlife". Frank gets here some vocal support from the original court singers of the Ashanti king, which fits perfectly, as both songs are praise songs to the king.
"Odo Agye Gye Me" is composed by legendary Kumasi based singer Baffour Kyei, who sang for such groups like Kyeremateng Stars or B.B. Collins & His Powerful Believers. Besides creating this song, he is part of the choir on this future Highlife classic.
"Zota Yinne" is a dubbed out variation of the original Frafra gospel classic with the one and only Jimi Tenor as a guest on flute and synth. "Starlet Road Filling Station Romance" is an other-worldly search for love, perfectly characterized by Jimi Tenor's love cries on the saxophone.
This is Bolga! is a hymn of praise about the very vital music scene coming out of Bolgatanga. After an instrumental introduction with solos by Barou Kouyate on the Ngoni and Christian Magnusson on the trumpet, radio Dj Messy from Bolgatanga's leading station World FM is shouting out all names of the singers, before the choir finally comes in and take lead. Carried on by a heavily rocking rhythm section the piece reaches its peak throughout the eloquent solo of saxophone viking Søren Jagtkylling.
On the A-side you hear Alemayehu's classic song Addis Abeba Bete in an intimate live performance. This recording happend during a cultural exchange programm organized by Galerie Listros, Berlin's finest gallery for Ethopian art, with support from the Bundeskulturstiftung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
The flip side is the complimentary portrait to the recently released Portrait of Alemayehu (Daytime) - now, on Portrait of Alemayehu (Night-time), you get an idea of the masters fiery stage persona as it is documentated on the A-side. It's night-time now - booooooom!
Quantum Connection is Jimi's contribution to the recent Kraut-Life craze of the Berlin underground. Kraut-Life is the brand-new hybrid of Ghanaian Highlife and German - here extended to Northern Europe, as Finnish kitchen is also kraut-based - romantic melancholy. A heavy and driving Highlife beat (yeah, it's not Afro-Beat), screaming psychedelic sound-fragments and a sung desire for a subatomic love affair makes the song another undoubted original by Jimi.
My Mind Will Travel (Teen Party Edit) is a heavily danceable edit of the epic eight minutes version of that piece, which you can hear on Jimi's upcoming full-length album Order Of Nothingness, released on Philophon this May. For Jimi, the physical world seems to be limited: but he is confident that his mind can dive deeply and boarder less in the mystery of our micro- and macro-cosmo.
Basa Basa is a song in the classic "concert party" style, as it was played in the glorious 60's. After a firey horn introduction Lee takes over in that funny and entertaining manner typical for "concert party" music. Buzz Duncker joins Lee's phrases with some gentle clarinet. Highlife at its best!
Sahara Akwantuo is anything but a classic: it's the start of a kind of philophonic Highlife, labeled as Kraut-Life. Ghanaian love of life meets German romantic melancholy. Happy rhythms meet mysterious synth landscapes. Eternal summertime and mangos are meeting a wet winter world and roast apples. Kraut-Life at its best!
"Everything You Do, You Do For Yourself" is his only song having a phrase in English. Here he is following the example of his collegue and friend King Ayisoba, who introduced the use of English into Frafra music a few years ago. The beat is a driving Highlife rhythm. That's the kind of groove we all love Ghana for!
On "Estre" we have special guest Florence Adooni, one of the leading voices of Frafra-Gospel. She is interweaving perfectly with the horn arrangements by Max Weissenfeldt, as well the drummer of the song, and gives after her part the lead to Mr. Guy One - yeah, the number one!
On that trip Idris Ackamoor visited the tiny town Bolgatanga in Northern Ghana to play with local Frafra musicians - an experiance which changed his life. Now, after 45 years, Idris dives once more into the magical music of the Frafra people by teaming up with master musician Guy One, the no. 1 Kologo artist of the vital music scene of Bolgatanga. On "Tinoge Ya Ta'a Ba" Guy One sings about the power of unity - a unity you hear clearly on this Afro-Euro-American cooperation: a driving rhythm, a eulogizing saxophone, a gripping voice and in total a journey into another dimension.
Philophon Vinyl, CD & Tape
Philophon Records is a record label from Berlin, founded in 2012 by Max Weißenfeldt. As founding member of The Poets Of Rhytjms, by the music magazine Wax Poetics called »the godfathers of deep funk«, and the Whitefield Brothers Max Weißenfeldt has already left deep marks on the wide beach of soul and funk music. With Philophon Records he turns over a new leaf. He starts with a handful 7-inches of the Ghanaian musicians Guy One, Alogte Oho Jonas and Roy X (son of the Highlife legend Ebo Taylor) and so focuses on current trends of West African music. With Releases of Ayusef Bayani and Ana’abugre the examination is deepened. With Hailu Mergia and The Pyramids releases of legends are offered. Friends of Afro-Funk should keep an eye on the activities of Philophon Records.