Artwork by the majestic Trav
Yes Yes and Yes Sunday Jammers and welcome. Hope all is good at your end and whatever it is may it be sublime and soulful.
So, for the next few episodes I am choosing artists/music from particular labels that should feature somewhere on one of your playlists, (really they should be every one).
Kicking off with Crammed Discs. As a lover of music - in as many forms as is possible to consume in a single lifetime - I have always found the term ‘World Music’ so infuriating. The act of lumping together anything that does not come from the ‘West’ is short sighted, cringey and lazy. I have heard the argument that labels can help musicians to shift units etc and yes maybe maybe but really no, ultimately, I reject that. It's the twenty first century, we can do better, it's really not that hard. Lumping together so many, many, many, many groups of creators is not just incredibly backward, it bypasses the dynamics of other cultures, musical traditions, innovations and relegates a whole swathe of artistry to novelty which just seems silly.
Crammed Discs have actively bypassed this term, in favour of just seeking to work with artists from around the world - crammed full of them. That is why I pledged love to this label straight off without hesitation. That is the kind of thinking that encourages artistry and champions innovation.
So this week, in homage to that I am nominating ‘Lufuala Ndonga’ off the seminal 2005 album from Konono No 1: Congotronics. This supremely powerful album sits in my permanent top 20, it set me ablaze the first time I listened. It was so many, many, many things, one part furious Congolese percussion rhythm, another crashing vocals, the other electronic experimentation. It could match Drum'n'Bass or any other dance music form for intensity, faster than lighting beats and the ability to induce trance-like commitment and breathlessness from anyone who dares to dance. Not only did these incredible musicians make music that was fully formed, embracing their Congolese identity, but they also made the percussion instruments that enabled them to create their sound and, incidentally, bag a Grammy award. But you know, no big deal.
This wall of sound created by a mixture of instruments, voices and dancers, makes for something stirring and vibrant. A little bit harder than usual for a Sunday but worth it. This album is a classic and the perfect way to start a deep dive into the Konono No 1 soundscape. If it takes you, I also suggest Nihiloxica, a Ugandan dance outfit, making techno and electronica spoken through Ugandan rhythms and experimentation.
So, walk my path, be introduced to Crammed Discs via Konono No 1 but stick around to discover more in the catalogue, adopt the ethos and pass it along.