Saturday, 19 September 2020

Auntie Flo ‎– Radio Highlife (2018)

Genre: Electronic, Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Brownswood Recordings

01.   Life Is High
02.   Nobody Said It Would Be Easy
03.   Havana Rhythm Song
04.   Isbjorn
05.   Radio Souk
06.   Lights In The Northern Sky
07    Western Princes
08.   Inga's Choir
09.   Malawi Skit
10.   Cape Town Jam
11.   One Guitar
12.   Kampala
13.   Magic Stones Skit
14.   Mame's Story

Synth – Laurie Pitt
Keyboards – Yohan Kebede
Percussion – Jon-Eirik Boska, Yissy
Fiddle (Ugandan Idingiti) – Hakim Kiwanuka, Julio Rigal
Vocals – Mame Ndiack, Dan Mugula, Inga Mauer, Zozo, Andrew Ashong, Eric Alejandro, Shingai Shoniwa
Vocals, Talking Drum, Percussion (Magic Stones) – Mame Ndiack Seck Thiam
Written-By, Producer – Brian D'Souza

The tracks on Radio Highlife, Brian D'Souza's latest album as Auntie Flo, were made in the past seven years and recorded in Indonesia, Cuba, Norway, the States and various parts of Africa and South America. The artist's British passport makes touring life easy, but a key presence on the LP is the Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Mame N'Diack, who, to perform a single gig with D'Souza in Edinburgh, had to ride trains, sleep rough, crash on floors and queue for hours before securing the necessary visa. It's N'Diack's unrehearsed clattering of rocks we hear on "Magic Stones Skit," recorded in D'Souza's mum's back garden in Glasgow. A song named after him, "Mame's Story," closes the LP.

D'Souza's music has drawn naturally from his long-running party, Highlife, which Huntleys + Palmers' Andrew Thomson once described as connecting the dots between "kwaito, UK funky, early Cóméme records, stuff that was getting reissued by labels like Soundway and Sofrito and artists like [Ricardo] Villalobos, Shackleton and Actress." Though Radio Highlife is much less club-focused, it has several joyful, percussive highs. Take the bright and bubbling "Western Princes," which is lifted by N'Diack's talking drum and synth playing from Laurie Pitt, a member of Glasgow bands like Golden Teacher, Modern Institute and Banana Oil.

You can hear older styles of music here, too. On "One Guitar," Dan Mugula, who has been making hits in Uganda since the '70s, explains the country's oldest genre of mainstream music, kadongo kamu (or "one guitar"), a style of pop that comes from traditional music played on a bass guitar. With Radio Highlife, D'Souza presents a musical travelogue of the sounds he's heard while on tour, from the echoey township beats of "Cape Town Dub" to the snake charmer reeds and traffic noises in "Radio Souk," while creating his own hybrids along the way.
Claire Sawers / RA