[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]
The label Syrphe introduces us into the contemporary African musical universe. They have collected on this record tracks composed by interpreters of African origin, underlining that this compilation can be considered as being “the first experimental, noise and electronica music compilation including African artists ever made”. The effort and interest alone are highly meritorious. Inside of Africa music has been transmitted orally and our perception of its rhythmic structure consists of the frequent (or sole) use of percussion, so in general we simply put an equal sign between African and tribal music.
Omar Rafaat from Egypt opens the record, combining the traditional sound of a brass instrument with minimal electronica. On his second track, “Egyptian Heritage”, he adapts the local musical ethos to a modern expression, resulting in a funky amalgam nicely akin to TMK’s “Pilot” elucubrations. The northernmost country in Africa, Tunisia, is represented by Ynfl–x, which produces enjoyable beat interferences on his “17 Grey”. Kwerk brings out from Mauritius a puzzling piece of giallo electronics named “Thud”, that raves along with lurid indifference. The next track, “Phreak”, comes again fromYnfl–x and subtly adapts the echo of a folk tune to symptomatic keyboard excursus.
On his second track, titled “Obdurate”, Kwerk entangles in another down-tempo beat-trip of relaxing voyage electronics. Mehdi Halib offers sound collages in two pieces, made from different sources and supposedly influenced by his Moroccan origins. Even Madagascar music has its aural agent here, in the person of Ujjaya. “Slow Trance” and “Dead Sea” evolve around a dark ethnic ambiance, sometimes distressingly pretentious.
The Angola-originating Victor Gama’s track takes on themes of ritualism , while Patrick Lombe (Réunion Islands) treats a traditional song in a personal manner. As Is, from South Africa makes us partake in a strange sounding tune performed with unusual instruments. The Algerian Hohner Comet, displaying evident occidental influences, gives us two power-electronics pieces infused with Arabic speeches. Victor Gama closes the compilation with a white noise frequency halo.
Many of the interpreters presented here are no longer living or have never lived on the African continent, but they undoubtedly maintain spiritual connections with it. Many of their musical endeavors are subjected to obvious European cultural magnetism, and therefore the African virginal ethos echoes solely on hardly defined levels. However this effort by the Syrphe label, apart from being much appreciable, can also be a source of documentation and study about how music transforms and takes new shape when frontiers are no longer obstacles. In that event this disc acquires a pioneer status and will be a laudable acquisition for any music researcher.