A few months ago I finally got rid of my old music cassettes. In amongst them were an irreplaceable few that had to be digitalised… in particular, some of the music that I got in Africa way back when I was 18! They are obviously very nostalgic to me; it was so nice to rediscover them and start playing them again. And now finally I have got around to sharing a small selection (4 tracks) of this music. I know it will not mean the same to anyone out there as what it means to me… but it makes me feel really excited to think of these tracks being heard outside their countries of origin by someone other than me! Hopefully someone will press “play”!!
Sakis is an artist in the widely-known Congolese genre of soukous (or kwassa kwassa in Malawi) which, to me, is the most exuberant, happy dance music in the world. It has these gorgeous guitar lines that soar effortlessly upward into blissful melodies, and take my mood up with them every time! I became familiar with this style in Malawi, and then this artist in particular during a coach journey from Bulawayo to Harare in which his videos were played on a TV screen. I later bought the album, “Cyclone”.
This first song is typical of the soukous style… it is fast, hypnotically repetitive, and immensely cheerful! The beginning section features Sakis’s ad-lib vocals; there is then a drum fill signalling the onset of an ecstatic, high-energy guitar solo, after which (around half-way through) just when your mind is beginning to saturate on the energy, it goes quieter and these lovely female vocals come in and freshen the whole thing up again 🙂
The album contains a few slower ones (slower being a relative term :P), and this is my favourite of those. It’s just so sweet and romantic 😀 It has the same kind of simple major harmonies and melodic sound, but at a somewhat reduced pace. It is also quite repetitive, but the interest builds up with a series of beautiful key changes and sweet vocal touches. They mix up the vocal riffs a bit and even switch languages several times which is nice.
The other two songs I’m sharing are from the album “Take Over” by Malawian politician/singer Lucius Banda. He sings political/protest songs and was very popular at the time I was there. I kept hearing his music blared out on the crackly speakers of the minibuses and other places. It has a much more relaxed beat but is every bit as melodic and cheerful as the soukous style, and is perhaps influenced by reggae a little bit. The first one is my favourite song on the tape:
The second one is bit more pensive somehow; it actually has minor chords in it! which bring out a sad sweetness in the melody. I particularly like the female vocals with gorgeous low-frequency vibrato in the choruses.
Finally, and I must be crazy, but I’m posting a track written by me at school when I was 16! It’s played on a digital piano through a MIDI interface (I wasn’t able to play it altogether myself). It’s super-corny, even for the 90s. Prepare to laugh. 😀