Newsletter – April 2011

in-depth writing about global music, culture and life – www.andymorganwrites.com
Some recently posted articles:
GADDAFI AND THE TOUAREG: Love Hate and Petrodollars
Gaddafi has been buying the affections and fighting skills of the nomadic tribes of the Sahara for a long time. His vision of a borderless desert, an Islamic republic of the Sahara, has often found favour with the Touareg, who have been fighting their own struggle against the governments of Mali and Niger. Read More…
THE SOUNDTRACK TO THE ARAB REVOLUTIONS: From Fear to Fury
It took a rapper to light a firecracker and lob it at Tunisia’s youth, whose frustration had been distilled into liquid hydrogen by years of government corruption, nepotism, ineptitude and general state imposed joylessness. Read More…
AFROCUBISM: An Old Transatlantic Love Story
When the record producer Nick Gold traveled to Cuba in the early 1990s and fell in love with a cassette by the late great Ñico Saquito, the Afro Cuban story was already old, very old. Gold, who was infatuated with Malian music, had the genius to perceive and appreciate the well-spring of love for Cuba music that still flowed through Mali and West Africa and the strength of their intertwining histories. Read More…
SUPER ONZE DE GAO: Takamba Champions of the Niger Bend
They say that takamba has its origins in a neighbourhood of the same name situated on the edge of the small town of Témera, up-river north of Gao, on the road to Bourem. Its driving force is the unmistakable takamba rhythm which pulses on the boom and bip before lurching at the end of every phrase, catching the uninitiated in mid-step. Try and imagine the lope of a camel combined with the flow of a vast sedate river and you’ll be getting close.
Read More…
SMOD: Bamako Talking Loud and Saying Something
“Africa needs to speak out right now,” says Ousco calmly over a crackling phone line from Bamako. “Africa must stop crying.” His words are a neat little summary of what African rap is all about: No mincing words or metaphors. No ancient musical traditions that cosy up to power. No decadent ghetto fabulous fantasies. None of that. Read More…
‘BENDA BILILI’ THE MOVIE: ‘They never told us it was impossible!’
An in-depth interview with Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret, the French film-makers behind the hit documentaries ‘Benda Bilili’, ‘Jupiter’s Dance’ and ‘Victoire Terminus’. ‘What I find extraordinary about a camera, is that you can film people that seem to be so far from you, culturally speaking, and thanks to the emotion that your work expresses, you can relive certain emotions through them and make them appear extremely close. And it’s clear that you need time to do that. If you want to understand a culture, you need to understand the language; you need to live in that culture…’ Read More…
SOCKLO: The Genius Guitar Maker of Kinshasa
Once a guitarist himself, Socklo now makes about 2 to 3 instruments per week, with the help of a couple assistants, in a clapboard shed in the Lembas district of this enormous teeming city. Tools are rudimentary; no workbench, no electric jigsaws, drills or shape cutters, just a heap of hammers, chisels, planes, saws and anvils made from recycled ordnance, all lying at the feet of the kind-faced Socklo while he sits and patiently fashions his artisanal wonders on his lap. Read More…
TAMIKREST: The Coalition, the Knot, the Future
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s Tinariwen who created the path,” declares Ousmane Ag Mossa, frizzy-locked leader of Tamikrest, in a pre-emptive strike against a thousand inevitable questions. “But the way I see it, if younger bands don’t come through, then Touareg music will eventually die. They created the path and now it’s up to us to walk down it and create the future.” Read More…
CHEIKH LO: Senegalese Soul of Many Colours
It’s this gentle yet luminous spirituality that makes Cheikh Lo’s music so unique, injecting its boundary-busting mix of Cuban, Congolese, Senegalese mbalax and international pop flavours with a tender fire that banishes sentimentality or the empty pop formula. Lo is now 50 years old and philosophical about the time it’s taken him to deliver ‘Lamp Fall’, the ‘difficult’ third album, whose title is synonymous with the Baye Fall’s revered founder. Read More…
HAITI: Tap Tap Magic
The Tap Tap is the local transport in Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti. As the country struggles with every cataclysm and curse known to a nation, it’s public transport system remains one of the beautiful in the world. Read More…
THE SOUNDTRACK TO THE ARAB REVOLUTIONS: From Fear to Fury
It took a rapper to light a firecracker and lob it at Tunisia’s youth, whose frustration had been distilled into liquid hydrogen by years of government corruption, nepotism, ineptitude and general state imposed joylessness.. Read More…

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