I will call this future funk mixed with a bit of jazz insirations. Its cheesy at times, but just enough for the album to remain very enjoyable to listen. Its quite energetic also, but knows when to lower the tempo.
Composer/arranger/producer Etienne de la Sayette is a frenetic globe-trotter and a relentless collector of musical instruments. Founder and headhunter of, among others, the Frix and Baeshi Bang groups, co-founder/saxophonist for Parisian Ethio-Jazz band Akalé Wubé, Etienne might mostly be a live musician, he manages nonetheless to find the time for audio production, remixes and synch music. 'Maputo Queens' is his first solo album, a deep afrojazz masterpiece for thoughful moods and after-hours atmospheres, with some masterful blends of spices from all over the globe.
Opener 'Take A Second' featuring American MC RacecaR is one of the two tunes with vocals on this long player. In the footsteps of the other Paris DJs recordings of the rapper, those are uncharted territories for him, nothing "natural" like a minimal or a boom bap beat, but polyrhythmic jazz instead, on which the rhymester becomes even more of a word playing & world playing poet. 'Maputo Queen' got its title in memory of an epic night (with Etienne's collaborators in the Akalé Wubé band) at Maputo in Mozambique. Blending an array of vintage synths and flutes with old school electro beats & claps from an antique Univox drum machine, this tune is a psychedelic waterfall. A kind of afrobeat with some cheesy beatbox, trippy saxophone & keys improv all along. Epic indeed.
'Jungle Blue' is a racing short story told by the dynamic drumming of Arnaud Lechantre, with a baritone sax and a small family of vintage keyboards as the main characters. Groovy, cool and soundtrack-ish, the tune is also an indirect tribute to the 'Tarzan' rip-off 'Rey Del Amazonas', an hybrid exploitation B-movie from 1978 also known as 'Jungle Blue'. Think jungle craze from the late 70s, think crime thriller music, think of explorers hunting for fortune in the deep forest, getting lost by mind-altering Ayahuasca into a drug-induced dream… The vinyl A-side closes on 'Mafa Doubou', an animist gospel track that wouldn't be out of place in an animated movie with its relaxed joyfulness, some soothing saxophone, flute, keyboards and percussions tangling up one after and over the other like feel good cartoon characters. 'Mafa Doubou' is actually a guardian spirit among some tribes of Paris' 10th district...
The minimal and intense 'Han Gang' could have been extracted from the sound recording of a macabre motion picture. Its desperate mood is build on small "moktaks" polyrhythms. The moktak is a Korean wooden percussion instrument that creates one of the most natural sounds, mainly used in Buddhist temples, either for summoning the monks to the rituals or to keep the rhythm during sutra chanting. Etienne de la Sayette is sophisticly calm here, digesting music from the preceding generations of various continents into a dreamy soundscape unheard before.
'Feeling You', which opens the vinyl LP B-side, is a rework of a Grant Phabao production with Californian singstress Afrodyete (from The Breakestra). The original afrobeat tune is gone, replaced by a thrilling clavinet & clavioline-led funk piece. Hot stuff!! 'I'm So Cool In Seoul' is a spiritual jazz delicacy connecting Addis Ababa, Paris and Seoul. The soundtrack to a very pleasant, relaxing road-movie. Close your eyes. You're in a taxi, in the streets of Seoul, Korea. It's the early hours, the day has just barely started. The sun is slowly rising to some deep, soul jazz funkyness. In the background you hear some Zimbabwean mbira… when suddenly, out of nowhere, 'Lord Bougainvillard' arrives on the scene. The mbira is still playing, but the scenery has morphed into a kind of out of hand chamber afrobeat paying homage to an imaginary explorer. Or is that Etienne de la Sayette messing with your mind?
Well, confirmation comes with the playful 'Z-Man Boogaloo', a direct tribute to a character from Russ Meyer's most excellent 'Beyond the valley of the Dolls'. The rhythmic pattern is a reproduction of some naive ones found in an antique Korg drum machine, replayed with real instruments. An instrumental which should appeal to the inner child inside of you. Album closer 'Post Card' brings the listener back to a deep smokey jazz vibe. This Unidentified Musical Object floats freely and in weightlessness like a particle of dust snatched by a sun ray. A perfect dreamy counterpoint to the more uptempo tunes of the album. When it ends, open you eyes, and play the record over again. Search for the details. It's all in the details. Out there.
released May 27, 2016
All tracks composed by Etienne de la Sayette, except "Take A Second" written by RacecaR & composed by Etienne de la Sayette; "Feeling You" written by Afrodyete & composed by Etienne de la Sayette
Recording : Etienne de la Sayette, except "Jungle Blue" drums recorded by Christophe Menanteau; "Feeling You" vocals recorded by Grant Phabao
All instruments by Etienne de la Sayette, except :
Take A Second - vocals: RacecaR
Maputo Queen - additional drums: Grant Phabao
Jungle Blue - Drums: Arnaud Lechantre
Mafa Doubou - Drums: David Georgelet, Trombone: Phil Georges
Feeling You - vocals: Afrodyete, Drums: Stefano Lucchini
I'm So Cool In Seoul - Guitar: Loïc Réchard, Drums: Max Whitefield, Bells: Blundetto
Lord Bougainvillard - Drums: David Georgelet
Z-Man Boogaloo - Drums: Stefano Lucchini, Congas: Erwan Loeffel, Bass: Oliver Degabriele
Mix: Cristian Sotomayor & Fabien Girard (1 & 6)
Mastering : Fabien Girard
Artwork : Ben Hito
Note : 05. Hang Gang and 10. Post Card are CD/Digital-only bonus tracks not available on the vinyl LP.
Paris-based production team (Djouls, Grant Phabao, Loik Dury & Ben Hito) featuring worldwide guest vocalists, musicians, deejays, graphic/web designers and writers. Reggae, Afro, Funk, Soul, Jazz, Latin, Hip Hop and more audio goodness.