Tag Archives: Ska

Ondatrópica – Ondatrópica (2012)

Ondatrópica - Ondatrópica (2012)

This has been on the pile to review for a long time. The reason being that only an album sampler was available on Spotify. I sneaked a couple of couple-of-second listens now and again and looked forward to the full album being released. It never came, so I decided to review the sampler.

Ondatrópica are a large collective, most of whom from Colombia, who wanted to expand on the musical heritage of Colombia and bring it to a wider audience.

If this sampler is anything to go by (and I guess that is the point of a sampler), then this album is great! Salsa rhythms meet ska, all very upbeat and uplifting, a real treat. Opener Tiene Sabor, Tiene Sazón is a salsa tour de force with fantastic horns and no matter how inept you are, you will be dancing around your living room at this one. The carnival spirit continues on Punkero Sonidero, which includes synth sweeps giving a more mysterious/proggy feel. Next up is a Latin take on Black Sabbath’s Iron Man; unusual yes, but a lot of fun! Suena is an unusual track, the Latin passion is still there, but the vocals make it sound altogether more modern and completely fresh. Pure ska is the dish of the day on Ska Fuentes; and a perfect example it is. 3 Reyes de la Terapia is a more dubby piece, using a vocal technique that I don’t know the name of but I have heard used on Anoushka Shankar’s Sinister Grains, it’s almost like an Eskimo katajjaq as both inhalation and exhalation are both used to vocalise; in doing so, it mimics a cuica, the strange percussion drum heard on Gainsbourg’s Bonnie and Clyde and Paul Simon’s Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard. Cumbia Espacial gives an upbeat jazzy end to the sampler, with a chord progression sounding like Del Shannon’s Runaway.

Overall, a disappointment only in the fact that this is a sampler and it is so good that I really want to hear the full album. Still worth the listen!

Favourite tracks: Suena, Tiene Sabor Tiene Sazón, Ska Fuentes

Spotify link: Ondatrópica – Ondatrópica (Album Sampler)
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Rachid Taha – Zoom (2013)

Rachid Taha - Zoom (2013)

Rachid Taha is an Algerian singer based in France, who was at the forefront of the Rai n’ Roll movement in Algeria (Rai being a popular music in Algeria), heavily influenced by The Clash. He has been active since the 80s and this is his ninth solo album.

And it is an eclectic album to say the least!

Singing in French, genres covered include Gainsbourgeon Chanson (Wesh (N’amal) and  Zoom Sur Oum). Zoom Sur Oum (again), Jamila and Voila Voila are more electronically focused, reminiscent of David Bowie’s flirtations with electronic music, which seemed to miss the intended mark, but in doing so, invented something wholly new and exciting. The first is a tribute to Egyptian legend Umm Kulthum, sampling her voice for the track and singing a narrative style like Gainsbourg, while the Persian-style music sounds like Secret Chiefs 3, while Jamila is a more dubby number and Voila Voila is a little bit of an industrial-tinged remake of his own anti-racist anthem from 1993, here featuring Brian Eno and Eric Cantona (I kid you not).

It’s Now Or Never is a cover in English and Arabic of Presley’s version of the Neopolitan O Sole Mia, sang as a duet with Jeanna Added, a French singer and cellist. Presley is namechecked alongside Kurt Cobain and punk rock on rockabilly track, Les Artistes; this wearing of influences rather squarely on his chest is a feature of the album, as he goes on to explore the late British 70s on a couple of tracks which evoke The Clash: Fakir, a more punky track, and Algerian Tango, a more ska-infused track, which actually features The Clash’s Mick Jones. Finally Country is touched upon as well on tracks, Ana and Galbi.

It is testament to Taha’s talent and confidence that despite the input of these Western genres and sounds, this album is grounded in his Algerian heritage, with guitar and lute interacting beautifully. A totally eclectic mix of genres, pinned by an overwhelming sense of enjoyment and fun; Taha sounds like he is loving every minute, and I’m right there with him!

Favourite tracks: Wesh (N’amal), Jamila, Algerian Tango, Fakir, Voila Voila, Zoom Sur Oum

Spotify link: Rachid Taha – Zoom
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