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Rachid Taha- Lucibela- Porangui

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Rachid Taha - Je Suis Africain
Taha died in 2018 but he left his fans this incredible album to top off a notable career that spanned more than 30-years. An Algerian with a thorough knowledge of Rai, the country's folk music, here Taha crosses musical boundaries effortlessly, whipping up a storm of Saharan psychedelia on the effects-laden "Andy Waloo," strutting down a Parisian boulevard to the slinky "Striptease" and embellishing the love song "Minouche" not only with fuzzy guitar riffs but also orchestration. "Insomnia" sounds like a cut from a spaghetti western, perhaps comparing a battle with sleeplessness to that of two Old West gunslingers facing off at high noon. Everything here is sung in French except for "Like a Dervish," Taha's first ever song performed in English. But the cut, a mélange of pop, rock and Arabian styles, is so hypnotically catchy that it hardly matters what language the words are in. A shame that this innovative artist left us at 59-years-old, but man did he go out in style.

Lucibela - Ti Jon Poca
For those familiar with Cabo Verdean singer Lucibela, Ti Jon Poca is her Laço Umbilical album with a slight change to the song list, notably the addition of the (new) title cut. Fans will be well-served by owning either version of the effort as each is filled with sunny melodies and airy vocals meant to uplift the listener at any time of day, but also perfectly-crafted for a lazy afternoon. The national language of Cabo Verde (the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa) is Portuguese, the same as in Brazil, and those with a fondness for Brazilian music will also enjoy this record and cuts like "Stapora do Diabo," "Porto Novo Vila Crioula" and "Novo Olhar."

Porangui - Live
Using both age-old acoustic instruments and modern electronics including looping equipment, here Porangui presents a live set of improvised music meant to take the listener deeper into the realm of spirit. "Ganesha" for example includes an "Om" chant and spoken word backed by an airy drone accented with chimes, the sounds of nature, vocal harmonies, and eventually programmed beats. Didgeridoo (or perhaps a synthesized mimicking of such) highlights the rhythmic "Tonantzin" while "Danza Del Viento" uses flutes and sounds mystically Peruvian. Some will define this music as being trippy and to an extent they are correct; Porangui proves here that sound is just as potent as any drug.

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