Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stronghold Sound Is On The Move Again

The latest Stronghold Sound compilation, Sembeh Ma Fa Fe, offers a bevy of sounds that thrill and amaze and come straight out of West Africa with passion, heart, and soul. The San Francisco based musical collective traveled to Guinea Conakry to record music in what was once the Mandeng Empire and to find Mandeng roots music and then revisit sounds from Guinea Conakry. This is the second volume of those explorations and shows the region, despite it's isolation, embracing reggae, hip hop, and r&b and coming up with something rather unique.

Sembeh Ma Fa Fe is filled with modern production techniques and sounds but still sounds raw, traditional and rustic enough to make it feel pure. You'll have no idea what any of the artists are singing about, but one guesses that it's about the isolation and struggles that each of these artists have faced in their homeland. The passion that's here is genuine and the tunes teem with enthusiasm and authenticity. Each of the artists on Sembeh Ma Fa Fe are impressive and much better than I would have expected. The songs are very good and even with the language barrier could and should be heard everywhere. From reggae and dancehall call and response, to hip hop beats and minimal production Sembeh Ma Fa Fe is truly a fascinating exploration of culture and sound and how one influences the other.

This is an album of artists paying their dues and who are honest, positive, vibrant, and good. Sembeh Ma Fa Fe is a fierce listen of pure, raw, genuine music from a region of the world that may have limited resources but has artists who have desire and never ending drive to overcome. If you have any interest in traditional African sounds clashing with modern ones you'll find this record an absolutely gripping experience. Stronghold Sound are rapidly becoming the African music equivalent of Numero Records; finding and unearthing the coolest sounds no one has ever heard but totally need to.

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