Best Product Notes Hype

This really is a rather remarkable, if somewhat over the top, set of product notes for a new release. I hope at least some of you find it worthwhile. I’m left just a little speechless.

When a passionate DJ and crate digger intuitively selects music for a DJ compilation, without artistic compromise and without the burden of trends, AfroMagic vol.1 emerges from the depths of his soul. Herewith we present the new favorite phonomancer’s tool for all the DJs who experience the dance floor as a sanctuary and a source of freedom and love.

The most fundamental thing that defines African music is that it was created for dancing. In African dance, there is often no clear distinction between ritual celebration and social recreational entertainment - one can seemlessly merge with the other. Because dance and rhythm have more power than gesture and more richness than words, and because they express the deepest experiences of human beings, dance is in itself a complete and self-sufficient language. It is truly an expression of life with all of its emotions – joy, love, sadness and hope – without which there is no African music and dance. For the African people, dance and music are integral parts of the body and soul, thus depicting the expression of life, current emotional states, visions or dreams. Through hypnotic repetitive music and dance, people communicate with each other and with the souls of the dead, the animals, the plants, the stars, the Gods… They free the body and the spirit through ecstatic states, reaching a healing sense of freedom, happiness, and satisfaction.

Throughout history, this transcendental perception of rhythm and dance originating from Africa, influenced popular music worldwide, thus creating new living and breathing forms of musical genres – freeing them from their industrial mold. Funk, disco, soul, boogie, reggae, dancefloor jazz etc., developed in parallel all over the world. It is foolish to perpetually discuss where they originated from and who were the creators of all these fiery dance floor genres – being obvious that they directly or indirectly originate from the African continent and its people who were as well, over the centuries, influenced by disturbing socio-cultural factors of colonialism. However, no one can enslave the soul. The seeds of free and uninhibited dance and rhythm, true to their original form, initially first sprouted onto the USA’s fertile fields of clubbing and popular music while later evolving in other parts of the world.

The disco funk club culture manifested itself as a phenomenal explosion of artists and grooves in the second half of the 70s in the USA. Shortly it spread around the world continually reigning over charts in its various forms – to this day. Clubs emerged where the DJ is an almighty shaman and the dancers are a tribe united under one roof. This urban ritual had and still has a single goal: togetherness, freedom, and love. Clubs have evolved into temples where we free ourselves from the burden of consumerist lifestyle and suppressed emotions - a place where we receive love and give love – to be who we really are.

Disco funk clubbing was such an influential global phenomenon that its influence can be observed in various other genres from the disco funk era i.e. progressive rock, which mutated by layering complex rock arrangements with a disco funk groove resulting in hybrids, highly sought by today’s diggers, producers and collectors.

The profit-hungry music industry of the 80s very quickly commercialized the original disco funk sound by amputating it of its original Afro groove to be able to easily ‘sell’ it globally. So, the original disco funk groove became underground again, and it has remained so until this day. Today, for a DJ to unearth that ravishing groove that will lead the dancers to the stars, he must dig passionately like a true musical archeologist in search of that groove that picks you up after just a few initial beats. That groove which forces the atoms in your body to vibrate, that groove which unites the body and releases the burden.

The selection of songs on the AfroMagic compilation is focused on African club music created in the second half of the 70s and early 80s, when it was at its peak, especially in West Africa. The funk, soul, disco, boogie, RnR, jazz and reggae were entranced at one point by African culture and magic. Considering that, unfortunately, the African continent always lagged in technological progress due to constant colonial weight and theft – new electronic instruments (synths, effects, etc.) were employed rather naively by local musicians who weren’t following default rules dictated by the industrial pop culture. It is in fact this that gives the AfroMagic compilation that special quality and uniqueness – because the music presented here was created without any restrictions or influence of capitalism.

The compilation opener, Jungle Magic by Benis Cletin, hitting us from the start with an acidified loud synth, sounding like a space helicopter mixed in with a slow 4/4 kick, indicates the progressiveness and freedom that forms the basis of the AfroMagic compilation series. Soon after the wackiness of Jungle Magic, Joe Kemfa takes us to the very center of African clubbing with his band Aura. A chorus of chanting female singers, heavy lofi modulation paired with a murky groove and dreamy synths in an unconventional arrangement – bringing forth the smells and images of intoxicated clubbing hedonism of the 70s West Africa. Felix Lebarty finally breaks out of the intoxicated atmosphere of Joe Kemfa and switches back to the original recipe – repetitive funk & afrobeat grooves interspersed with dirty RnR licks and solos that simply make you close your eyes and fly away. Goldfinger Doe & B.M.S. close the A-side in an anthemic manner with synth tribal funk, which at one point polymorphs into a scorching hot Latino groove that enthusiastically rocks the dancefloor.

The B side, with a slightly different progressive concept, is opened by the great Geraldo Pino.
A mutant reggae riddim song based on a fat groove with Geraldo telling us directly and humorously about his ‘problem’ – wife with an insatiable sexual appetite. On B2 Joe Moks raps like a rhythm machine on top of a repetitive psychedelic disco groove. The lyrics, ‘Boys and Girls let’s groove on together’, will stay with you and ring for a long time. A special AfroMagic moment you’ll fall heads over heels instantly is ‘10 years of love’ by Danny Offia and the Friks. This song vividly displays influences from the early House music developments originating from the USA, making this number an authentic representative of the Afro proto house sound from the early 80s.

The last song on the B side by the BLO band, with its pop disco sensibility, ends the first volume of the AfroMagic compilation in style – as per any DJ set of value and significance.

The AfroMagic series of compilations was created with the goal of being used as a tool for real DJs who stick to the aesthetics and essence of clubbing.


Wowza! Rarely have I read something that long and disagreed with - or been irritated by - pretty much every word. On the other hand, we’ve all got to hustle. I then checked out the label (Austria’s Everland Music) expecting hasty cash-ins, but they actually do seem to do loads of interesting / obscure re-issues. So the hype kind of worked… :thinking:


“Yeah, I’m really glad you asked me what music i play - it’s a really difficult question to answer because I’m not the kind of DJ who likes to get put in a pigeonhole… but I’m the sort who sees the dance floor as a sanctuary and a source of freedom and love - like in African dance where there is often no clear distinction between ritual celebration and social recreational entertainment. I’m a ‘digger’ - if you know what that is? - which means that I’m like a true musical archeologist in search of special grooves. So, yeah, I buy them on these modern commercial compilations. On vinyl of course, because it’s all about authenticity, you know what I mean…?”


I think the earnest would-be DJ is the target market for that product. Great music, shame about the hype - though I do kind of admire it in a way.

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Yes, I think we’re agreed then. I’m just left wondering if this is a problem of not being written, presumably, in the hypster’s native language, which I’d assume was German. One way or the other, it does walk the line between irritating pretentiousness and deeper insight. Perhaps with a smidgeon of cultural condescension (not sure if that’s the right word) thrown in.

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Next level. Keep in mind that this is for a candle…

“Imagine a place where you drink music like sacramental wine. It tastes like black currant and honey. Head to the skies, mouthfuls of purple rain. Your pulpit, the DJ booth. The rapture is an 8-track. A place where soul could save your soul. Imagine Heaven lived in a parking garage in Soho. This is where your friends become family. Deep bonds form in that sacred second between songs, when lights change from violet to amber and you hear a syncopated beat. There’s a cyclone on the dance floor. A blooming orange blossom. Like nectar from the gods, the crowd feeds you. The lyrics anoint you. The music sets you free.”


Brilliant! A brightly burning candle! Oops, the curtains are on fire! They emit the aroma of polyester . . .

I doubt I will ever pay £45 for a candle. I know I’m extremely bad at writing marketing materials or ad copy.

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Well put. Yes, it does meld pretentiousness with a degree of insight - but a certain type will absolutely lap it up. It taps into the cultural trope of the search for ‘authenticity’.

And, Yes, there is definitely a very strong whiff of cultural condescension.

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“Sustainable vegan wax”.

Speaking as someone who is vulnerable to being described as ‘woke’, this really made me laugh.


Once upon a time, about 200 years ago, people had these little tools, scrapers I guess, to collect their earwax with. Earwax they then used for something, although I forget what. These tools are found in some numbers by the mudlarks along the Thames. Learnt this from a fascinating book by a modern mudlark. Unfortunately, title of book and name of author are now buried in my mental mud. However, if you’re sufficiently interested I could probably dig it up.

Anyway, this earwax would surely be sustainable wax, although I’m not sure of its vegan standing. No animals were exploited except your own human animal self, although it has just occurred to me that perhaps there was some horrible trade in earwax scraped from the ears of the orphans of the day.

I hate the word “woke” although I have no problem with its basic meaning and intentions.

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I am so done with the search for “authenticity.” It’s a bogus concept.

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Speaking as someone who is cool with euro-disco and Italo-disco, give me artificiality! It’s more fun than authenticity!

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Having said that, I specialize in original euro-disco and Italo-disco. It’s more authentically fun, y’know…?

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Authentically artificial is the way to go unless you aspire to artificial authenticity. Both are best when sustainably vegan.

Mudlarking book: possibly this?


That’s the same author. Slightly different title in the US. Still in our library system.

Highly recommended for those with an interest in such larking about. It covers more than earwax, although I understand why DJs might be particularly interested in earwax - and earworms.

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A friend of a friend is a mudlark. I think there are 2 different categories - people who dig on the foreshore (for which they need a licence) and people who just look for finds on the surface having been uncovered by the tide. He’s one of the latter group. We bumped into him once on the foreshore almost outside the Royal Festival Hall which was built in about 1946/47 on the site of the old Fullers brewery. Amazingly my friend’s friend had turned up a small punched brass plaque saying ‘Fullers’ (presumably from a tool cabinet or something similar). Bizarre that it had lain in the mud at the same spot for about 70 years until something caused it to rise to the surface. Was really interesting to hear some of his stories about his finds, and the finds made by some of his friends. If I had more time in my life it’s something I’d love to try.


Also found this book in our library, which will hopefully be interesting when it gets to me.

Surely you’ll be able to find it in the UK.

What I remember from the other book is that the tide is everything - and you need kit for the mud. Flip flops won’t cut it.

This is to generate sales for a compilation of Rai, 83-90.

"Delving into the deepest recesses of raï, this compilation serves as a tribute to its roaring years, but also as a rejuvenation of the genre in its sulphurous, subterranean version.

It seemed like a good idea to dig into nearly untraceable cassettes, thus confirming it’s in the oldest of Oranese pots that the very best of raï is to be found. Just 50 years ago, no one would have believed even a bit in a genre seemingly bound to forever turn round and round in its native Oran, laying low in one of its many coastal road clubs. In these underground venues, singers – backed up by a minimalist orchestration for lack of space – would move their audience to laughs and tears, sobbing in a beer or chuckling down (dry) whisky. Either way, the public would unfailingly be moved by their defying tunes, sounding like a challenge to the established, self-righteous order of things – complete with trumpets, electric guitars, accordions and an array of percussions. Through the pre and post-independence years, from 1950 to 1970, raï urbanised itself, with a generation growing up between asphalt and concrete to the sound of traditional flute, but also and mostly listening to twist, French variété and rock music. Their names were Boutaïba S’ghir, Messaoud Bellemou, Groupe El Azhar, Younès Benfissa or Zergui, and they passed on their collection of songs to the incoming “Chebs” –breathing a second youth into them. Oran, the capital of West-Algeria, will be at the heart of this rejuvenation.

Overshadowed to the West by the bare mountain of Aïdour, a foot set onto a beautiful bay and the other on a long dried out wadi, covered up with buildings since, Oran must be the most European of Algerian towns – regardless of its kasbah, its sanctuary built in 1793 under the reign of the Bey Mohammed ben Othman and devoted to Sidi El Houari, the city’s patron saint, and praised in many a raï song, and its Pacha 18th century mosque built in memory of the displaced Spaniards of 1492. The bare minimum, you could say, for a town formerly known as Ifri – or the cave, in Berber – and conceived in 903 under the name of Wahrane – the lions, again in Berber – by Andalusian seamen. The most notable, though, is its Christian legacy, mostly passed on by the Spanish who occupied the city for the best of two hundred years, from the beginning of the 12th century. To name a few, there’s Saint-Louis’ church, the Sacred Heart cathedral or the Virgin’s chapel. Oran is blessed with the sea, with its hue more intensely blue than elsewhere, and pine forests all around and above it, towards Sana Cruz. In short, it is rich with Hispanic, Andalusian, Turkish, Arab-Berber and French influences.

This cosmopolitanism is very much part of the city’s largely jovial nature. Staying up late is an enduring habit in Oran. Seaside walks on the ALN (former sea front) are never ending and the eyes riveted on the port, never tiring. Later still, some head for the open air theatre, renamed Cheb Hasni in honour of the creator of love raï, killed on September the 29th, 1994. Others take over restaurants – especially the ones with fish on the menu – before taking it all out on the dance floor of one of the many clubs dotted along the coastal road. The most famous ones are called “Le Florida” and “Le Dauphin”, and their number has been on the rise in the past years – even though Oran was, at one point, also hit by acts of violence. The clubs that have witnessed the beginnings of Khaled, Cheb Mami, Fadéla and Sahraoui, Houari Benchenet or Cheb Hindi remain the natural habitat of raï and a breeding ground for new talents.
Oran did however suffer from its frivolous reputation and the openly disdainful attitude of the rest of Algeria towards it. Its inhabitant easily reassure themselves though, mocking all of these Algerians and Constantinians who take over their city’s beaches to hit on “petitates”, these girls known to be promiscuous (sometimes even students) and often looking for a “beggar” (literally, a cowboy; a nouveau riche who likes showing off his smartphone and big wad of cash at the club). Some also come to Oran to chat up the “mariquitas” (queens wearing an outrageous amount of make-up) haunting the water front.
The birthplace of raï, where Johny Hallyday (and before him, Louis Armstrong and Josephine Baker) performed at the Casino in 1966, has always been known as the country’s affordable slumming spot. The pleasure of the flesh and inebriation recounted in many a raï song is no legend, and in Oran, illegitimate love affairs are still a great source of delight.

Before becoming an international musical phenomenon, raï was first and foremost the expression of a social behaviour, of a way of being. It bothers, excites, seduces, but leaves no one indifferent! Especially particular intellectual, political and religious groups who have always declared their hostility towards what they consider to be no more than a vulgar and trivial cultural by-product. Presumably born in 1920 somewhere on the Oranese plains, the movement gains breadth in the 40s and 50s, years of majors challenges, which have seen the emergence of the “cheikhate” (feminine plural of “cheikha”, the equivalent of the masculine “cheikh), of which the late Rimitti was the emblem, propelling their innuendo-heavy melodies in the brothels, second-class dancehalls and private parties that could turn into near-Saturnalias. The genre was then modernised in the 60s and 70s, by artists such as Blaoui Houari, Ahmed Wahby, Messaoud Bellemou, Bouteldja or Ahmed Saber. However, the musical arrangements and architecture still lacked depth and consistency. A major artist of the Oranese scene, Rachid Baba Ahmed – born on the 20th of August 1946 in Tlemcen, a middle-class city custodian of the “gharnati”, a traditional art from Andalusia, with its well-structured and conscientious melodies – will finally give the genre the adornment it deserved. His father, well-off both in monetary terms but also artistically, played the “rebab” – traditional violin – with the city’s most renown orchestra, conducted by Larbi Bensari.
Rachid will keep a fond memory of his father’s music – though, as a teenager, he preferred rock and twist. In the early 60s, at a time when, all across Algeria, bands with (often) Americanised names would set the dance floors of the emerging tourist developments alight, he buys himself a guitar, and with his brother Fethi, covers standards with lyrics sung in Arabic. Success will come in 1972, with a video clip produced by Oran’s television station, in which the pair is seen riding big motorbikes. The brothers rightfully sensing raï’s wind rising – a genre they didn’t readily identify to – decide to open up a sophisticated studio, the Rallye, in reference to Rachid’s love for car racing. There, they take charge of the destiny of various singers, of which Fadéla, Khaled, Benchenet, Sahraoui or Djalal. Suspicious at first, local producers and editors entrust their protégés to the brothers, accumulating meetings at the studio. Rachid, apart from having a very convincing personal touch, gives a central focus to synth parts, enhanced by acoustic and electric guitars and drum machine. He introduces eccentric electronic parts, under the asserted influence of Jean-Michel Jarre. A virtuoso on the decks, he finally gains a reputation as a controller and studio concept genius. Hits, clips and famous variety television programs – such as “Top Rai” or “Wach Raïkoum” (What do you think?) – accumulate. Also known for dressing in military outfits, wearing varied hats and speeding with his 4x4, Rachid is shot dead in Oran on February the 15th. Luckily, he’ll have had time to witness his pupils’ triumph when raï truly explodes in the 80s, and, like a tidal wave, sweeps onto the public mind. His armada of singers, called “cheb” (young), is to radically transform the musical scene and shake up the foundations of the old cultural aristocracy, of which the most fearsome “tasks” had been to demean popular forms of expression and attempt to ban its manifestations.
“To live and let live” – his keen, impatient creed disseminated by hundreds of thousands of cassettes, did much more than seducing: it conquered a whole youth, predominant in number though excluded socially, baffled by idleness, stadium chauvinism and the media’s patriotic lingo, trapped between the bar, the mosque and a virtually inexistent leisure market.

Raï’s success was overwhelming, so much so that in 1985 – when it appeared at the Youth Festival in Alger and when Oran held its first raï festival – the Algerian authorities hastened to nationalise the genre, all the while calling for its “normalisation” (that is, the “purification” of its lyrics), and to declare it “an integral part of the national heritage”. About a year later, raï is introduced to France via two festivals, one in Bobigny and the other at La Villette. They brought together all of the big names of raï, old and new, and drew in a public mostly made out of nostalgic blédards (a French expression designating a person originating from the Maghreb), plus a handful of curious onlookers. In France, raï doesn’t stir much enthusiasm – if not in the media, or of a sociological kind. While in the Maghreb cassettes dealers are regularly ransacked, only a few French labels dare investing themselves in the recognition of a music bringing a new fresh wind, seducing and conquering other Algerian as well as Moroccan cities and regions. Later on, the Oranese style gains international appreciation and evolves technically – though more technique also means less feeling. Luckily though, the historical channel raï to be heard in the dives and discos survives its shinier cousin - sex, alcool and raï’n roll style.
In the late 70s, Chaba Fadéla, born in 1962 and noticed early on for her role in the TV film “Le gaucher” (the leftie), gives electric raï its first voice. She’s only 17 years old at the time, but ignores the ban prohibiting her from performing in cabarets. An ex-Boutaïba Sghir backup singer, she is supported by the famous trumpet player Messaoud Bellemou. In the 90s, she will even perform abroad, forming a duo with her then husband. She is part of the generation made up of Khaled, Mami, Cheb Hindi and Benchenet.
The latter was born in Oran, on the 25th of May 1960, to a large and modest family. Influenced by Blaoui Houari, Ahmed Wahby, Ahmed Saber and Ben Zerga, the leading figures of Oranese chanson and heralds of modern raï, Benchenet takes his first musical steps in 1975. A former student at the Ibn Khaldoun secondary school, a specialist in the civil part of metal construction, he first tested his skills as a singer and musician performing for his neighbourhood friends in the Plateau before making the great leap and performing for weddings and circumcision ceremonies. His charisma on stage and subtle way of playing the organ are well appreciated, landing him a fair number of gigs.

In 1977, he is spotted by Belkacem Bouteldja, known as “Kacimo”, an absolute raï-pop star at the time, who lets him sing in his place once in a while. Benchenet’s voice, soft and clear, is a pleasant surprise for the audience and has him noticed by Abdelkader Cassidy, a production pioneer who will get him to record his first cassette – a success. Houari, who never bothered with the particle “cheb”, is propelled to the scene’s forefront and starts writing his own songs – for the most part robbed by his direct competitors.
What sets him apart from his “coreligionists” is his romantic touch, his way of setting the scene and redefining tenderness. A fine melodist and the author of many outstanding ballads, he is the founder of “rai love” – turned into a genre of its own by the late Cheb Hasni.
His pal, nicknamed El Hindi due to his immoderate love for Bollywood movies, first sung with the boy scouts, then recorded a dozen of confidentially successful cassettes before triumphing with “A moi la liberté”. They will sometimes team up with the late Cheb Tahar, who was both a great singer and dancer – giving his representations a dramatic effect.

Like in the case of Mogamed Sghir, a kid coached by his famous father for his voice, Mogamed Belardi, a virtuoso drummer and percussionist, was also the author of poetic writings, which his son’s falsetto would bring out the best of.
Cheb Hamouda, a reggae fan, has five recordings to his credit, the last of which goes back to 1991 – he never planned for a career, just like Tchier Abdelghani and his extremely rare production. Their feminine counterparts – like Chaba Amel with her timbre as heady as the scent of jasmine, or the captivating Malika Meddah, combedian and ex-scholar – found more luck on their path. And what about the non-Oranese: Cheb Djala, born in Sebdou in the region of Tlemcen, with his style bringing together popular Moroccan music (introducing the lute) and raï, Rachid and Fethi style - his initial producers, hailing from the same region; Rostane Benali, arranger for Cheb Hasni and Khaled, or here for the latter’s fan: Khaled Sghir, with his great appearance in the king of raï’s clip “Chaba”, born in 1965 in Alger; and above all, the magnificent Nordine Staïfi (1956-1989), who lived in Chambéry until his death, promoter of “staïfi” – a sort of compromise between melodies from Eastern Algeria’s Highlands, swaying rhythms from Aurès and Oranese groove. Meanwhile, the Moroccan-French Cheb Khader tasted international success in the 90s after a first opus, “Awama” (the Sorceress), from which “Reggae-Raï” is taken.
And today, this compilation is a tribute to the kind of raï which, still and always, makes us love raï."

Sounds great from the clips!


The problem for me is that whoever wrote all that obviously put a lot of time and effort into it, but it is just way too much to read on a screen. I’ve skimmed over it and it looks interesteing but I’ll never actually read it. It’s like the booklets in CD boxed sets. I keep telling myself that when I’ve got better glasses sorted out I’ll finally have a go, but three prescriptions later and it still never happens.

I do quite like it when people give a detailed description of what you can expect from their latest house or techno track on Soundcloud or Bandcamp, because I don’t want any surprises before I press play.
Hmmm, so it starts with a simple driving kick. I’m ok with that, and the tight percussion that gets introduced, but later there’s “rhodes flourishes”, so I might give it a miss.