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Cumbia Cosmonauts & The Radio Africa Band is the long-awaited second album by sonic explorers Cumbia Cosmonauts. It is an afro-futurist soundtrack for the dancefloor, in which the Cumbia Cosmonauts’ distinct take on cumbia and tropical bass meets the ancient musical traditions of the West African griots. This album is four years in the making, capturing the sound of synthesizers, kora, animal skin percussion and drum machines forged over a series of acclaimed live performances. The music was co-composed with three Melbourne-based West African master musicians – Lamine Sonko, Amadou Kalissa and Olugbade Okunade – coming together as The Radio Africa Band. The vocals in English, Wolof, Yoruba and Spanish express life in contemporary Melbourne and Australia as we hear, feel, and live it. The Melbourne Festival 2015 live performance was broadcast by ABC Radio National, and the recording of this album was financially supported by the Australia Council.
The Cumbia Cosmonauts project is headed by Moses Iten (also known as Saca La Mois DJ!!), and this album was co-produced with long-time collaborator Thomas “Soup” Campbell, extending their collaboration to include Lamine Sonko (voice, guitar, djembe, tama), Amadou Kalissa (kora, dundun, krin) and Olugbade Okunade (voice, trumpet). Sonko is one of Australia’s most accomplished African musicians, as the band leader of Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence and guest musician with numerous projects. Born in Senegal, Sonko comes from a griot family, and both his parents are high profile artists who have toured the world as performers. Born in Guinea, Amadou Kalissa is also from a griot family, carrying several centuries of musical and traditional knowledge passed down from his ancestors of the ancient Mali Empire. Nigerian musician Olugbade Okunade adds another musical dimension and additional pedigree, as he toured the world for fifteen years playing trumpet with the seminal afrobeat band Seun Kuti & The Egypt 80.
This album is inspired by the afro-futurist vision behind concept recordings produced for Colombian sound system DJs from Rafael Machuca (Cumbia Siglo XX, Myrian Makenwa) in the 1970s, to the champeta of the 1980s and contemporary guarapo music. This vision behind the sound is also reflected in the cover art designed by Mexico City-based graffiti artist David Cruz (Chykle) in the style of the Mexican sound system sonideros, and incorporates the artwork of Monsengo Shula, who started out as a graffiti artist in Kinshasa, and is now one of the most celebrated contemporary artists of the “popular painting” style of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Shula’s emblematic ‘cosmonaut’ painting shares the title of the 1956 congolese rumba song by Adou Elenga ‘Ata Ndele Mokili Ekobaluka’ translating as “soon the world will change”. In this changed world, Shula envisions Africa launching space programs.
This album is inspired by the idea of Melbourne being a perfect place from which to imagine and produce the electronic dance music constantly being reinvented in cities such as Lisbon (Enchufada, Principe Discos), Kinshasa (Congotronics), New York (Dutty Artz) and London (Hyperdub). The result is a unique sound that is not quite Africa, Europe or America, but definitely local, fresh and explodes on the dancefloor with a feeling of tomorrow.
Cumbia Cosmonauts & The Radio Africa Band album is out from 9 January 2019 on Hawaii Bonsaï Records, as vinyl LP and digital download.
Now booking Cumbia Cosmonauts Radio Africa Tour – performed solo by Saca La Mois DJ!! – throughout 2019 starting in Australia (February-April 2019), Latin America (April/May 2019), and Europe (July/August 2019).
released January 9, 2019
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