African Scream Contest 1 & 2 (Analog Africa) LP/CD’s:

Sami Ben Redjeb & Analog Africa have been knocking-out some absurdly-gorgeous, vintage composites of lost/forgotten/obscure 60’’s/70’s/80’s African recordings for over a decade now, retrieving some utterly superlative gems that had long been lost to the topsoil of time. Such recordings may entail magnificent, hypaethral sessions (a lot of this stuff was recorded outdoors), of black American Funk & sometimes Rock-themed modus, dipped in local traditional forms of bush or orisha antics & raw African interpretations jumbled with homegrown mediums. If you exhausted your Funk archives, then it’s almost as if a whole new parallel world (& arguably an even better one given all the extra African influences from the pantheon of genres, styles, instruments & methods included) has surfaced, teaming with new energy & differing examples. What’s more, the 60’s & 70’s stuff (which constitutes the majority of material on the releases, you need to be careful once the 80’s ooze in) is all captured by analogue equipment with loveable rawness & gloss-free credentials. By on large, the issues have been remarkably consistent, with deciding a clear preference/victor an extremely sapping task (it’s probably between African Scream Contest & the two Angola Sountrack editions for me). Some of the recent snowballing (they seem to be getting way more regular) have indicated a drop in dopeness, with some intensely quirky & lovingly obscure releases, but baring a finality that’s not up to much once it’s on the turn-table & the rare exoticness is deducted.

Still, here comes African Scream Contest 2, ten years after the shockingly supreme first edition was sprung on the world. The original was definitely one of the best volumes AA have ever done. The second edition does a fine job (considering the task) of squaring-up to its predecessor, but definitely’ definitely bites-the-canvas blow-for-blow. There’s a fair bit of junk & mediocrity (well, at least to a seasoned AA connoisseur), but as always, a single on-the-mark track is worth it’s pulse in gold (of which there are a few here), & for those uninitiated & less fussy with comparisons & competition from prior compilations, this should be pretty flooring experience. The diamonds-on-the-branch for me come from the opener ‘A Min We Vo Nou We’ by Les Sympathics de Porto-Novo, a 6.16 burner with some brain-splayingly yum-fuck guitar work & run-away solos, further elevated by the talking-drums…awesome stuff indeed. Next, & for me the absolute high-light of the album, it’s the truly magnificent Picoby Band d’ Abomey…these guys are so good & so cult that the rails divert! They stole the show for me (from all the fierce opposition participating) for their single track on the previous scream Contest comp, the howling classic ‘Mi Ma Kpe Dji’ which has to be one of the best tracks I have heard in my life! Hearing them do it again (& I did not initially detect their presence before making the gravitation to their lone tune) proves the groups magic touch with certainty. Pure humanistic joy, without a trace of the plastic, smart phone, internet jacked hyper-dumb shit of the modern cloud-caitiff era. It does not just sound brilliant, but has immense atmosphere & warmth. Beyond dope! The final track from Orchestra Poly Rythmo de Cotonou is also a keeper. We then have some spares that I think originate from other great AA takes, Bambara Mystic Soul & the scorcher Orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou along with some Afro Beat Airwaves groups (what a shame that Orchestre Abass are not present as ‘Operation Bye Bye’ was another apex in the AA back-cat). Some very fine cuts from Lokonon Andre et Orchestre les Volcans. As usual, sprawling sleeve notes & interviews compiled by Sami, along with excellent photos & quality packaging. A fine addition to the AA ground-swell. Although not depositional to the champ (the initial African Scream Contest), this mighty selection definitely earns a place next to its former progenitor. Continuously excellent.

Rekd: 60’s-70’s-80’s (released 2018)

Label: Analog Africa