Afro Psych (Psychedelic Africa 1972 – 77)
Whilst the continents contribution to the global funk, boogie and disco canon has been well documented for decades, the strong presence of rock and psychedelia in 1970’s African music has been a more slowly evolving story over the years.
Pockets of young Africans, turned on by Hendrix, the Doors, Santana and more, started to add heavy guitar riffs to rumbling, ever present funk, and built an afro psych scene that is still turning up gems to this day.
With Lagos an epicenter for the emergent scene, in 1972, local headquartered label Afrodisia was born near to the eye of the storm, and provides many of the tracks on this latest attempt to capture a bit of afro-psych magick.
Iconic Lagos twins The Lijadu Sisters’ ‘Bayi L’ense’ (1977) opens proceedings in LP defining style : the Yoruba vocals, pattering percussion and cooly strutting funk bassline are eventually joined by soaring, scything fuzz guitar, and we’re off on a six and half minute head journey.
From there, tempo’s and moods shift throughout. The Oriental Brothers International free-wheeling ‘Tax Drive’ is underpinned by tight playing and insistent grooves; Saxon Lee and the Shadows International combine James Brown style brass with what sounds like long, improv’d hammond sections across the near 10 minutes of ‘Mind Your Business’.
Gears are quickly shifted as Warhead Constriction get straight up heavy on Graceful Bird, and Aura easily integrate early synth work outs on Ariya (at about the same time Kraftwerk were starting to hit wider audiences, 1976). Celestin Nyam’s ‘Mbembe’ takes no prisoners, as free jazz sax workouts, horns, hammonds AND squalling Hendrix style guitar riffs all make welcome appearances, before Christie Azumah And The Uppers International, again combine deep funk with hammonds, choppy guitars and insistent vocals on ‘Aja Wondo’.