First episode of the Philophon Family Series is out now!
Drum Butic is a young talent from the vital music scene of Kumasi, the historical capital of Ghana in the middle of the rain forest. He plays the mesmerizing groove on Florence Adooni's hit single " Mam Pe'ela Su'ure" which is played throughout the clip.
Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy are back with a new single release after their album debut "Mam Yinne Wa", which can be seen as a harbinger of the second album. You can hear another Frafra Gospel masterpiece by the king of this genre.
"Doose Mam" is a soulful piece that goes straight to the limbs with its repetitive rhythm. The jubilant middle section, in which the wind instruments and the choir pass the balls to each other, is to be emphasized. "Gure Yose Me" ties in with the Frafra Gospel tradition of making use of reggae rhythms. Here we hear a stepper played by Josie Coppola, Europe's No.1 reaggae drummer. Both pieces were produced both in Berlin and in Kumasi by Max Weissenfeldt in Philophon's in-house Joy Sound Studios.
After his international debut #1 in 2018, the north Ghanaian Kologo (a two stringed proto-banjo) master Guy One is back with his brand new band, consisting of Kumasi's finest young talents, plus Florence Adooni and Tenni Akagam as his choir voices.
So La Ma La has a straight forward Highlife rhythm which melts together with some funky articulated afrobeat-a-like bass line. To Kale Na'nabala is instead in the traditional Kete rhythm, a bounce poly-rhythm in 12/8. But both songs are mostly defined through Guy One's Kologo lines and his soulful interpretation of the typical north-ghanaian vocal style.
Ahemaa Nwomkro, which means queens of Nwomkro, are Victoria Osei and Theresa Owusuaa. Nwomkro is an old Ashanti musical style, which played an influential role in the origin of the typical more roots-like Highlife style of Kumasi, the cultural capital of Ghana in the middle of the jungle.
On this release the two singers have teamed up with the young generation of Highlife muicians of Kumasi. On guitar is Akule Pepe, who served for years in the group of Highlife legend Alex Konadu, the most on demand band in its time. The two songs are a rare example of how good pure Nwomkro gets together with typical Highlife.
Variophon is Philophon's newly established sub-label. As the name suggests, Variophon is designed to release variations, or more commonly expressed, remixes of songs taken from the Philophon catalog. The beginning on Variophon makes the all around the world beloved Jimi Tenor by remixing himself.
Jimi has chosen one title each from his two albums released on Philohon. From his first, "Order of Nothingness", it is the gently dancing "Myteria" and from his recently released "Aulos" the driving "Vocalize My Luv" (featuring Florence Adooni and Lizzy Amaliyenga). He electrified both pieces in his own very personal, subtle way in order to achieve what he does best: make people happily dancing!
The new Frafra-Gospel sensation: Florence Adooni with her debut single Mam Pe’ela Sure on Philophon
Florence Adooni shares a long history with Philophon. Being part of Guy One's group she is the voice on his radio hit "Estre". Furthermore, she is a member of Alogte Oho's Sounds of Joy and can be heard on his smasher "Mam Yinne Wa". Last but not least, Jimi Tenor chose her to sing on his instant club classic "Vocalize My Luv". In addition to all these cooperations, Florence has locally released a series of albums under her own name and with no doubt she can called the queen of Frafra-Gospel.
"Mam Pe'ela Su'ure" is a typical Frafra-Gospel Hymn, sung during Sunday services accompanied only with shakers and hand clapping. Our version here is backed up by Kumasi's finest High Life players, who transform the song into a massive wave of groove. "Naba Aferda" is a homage to the Chief of Zuarungu, Florence's home village, which was also the home village of the legendary Christy Azuma, who became the first international Frafra-Star in the 70s. Christy was always a big inspiration for Florence and makes her proud to be from a small village called Zuarungu.
"Aulos“ is a woodwind instrument from ancient Greece - like the tenor sax is a woodwind instrument of modern times. In its mythological meaning the Aulos symbolises ecstasy and this-worldliness. It was played by the Satyrs, who surrounded Dionysos, the god of earthly bliss. Will Jimi Tenor turn into Jimi Aulos on this joyful album? Find out yourself!
Out now on Lokalophon: The Zonke Family - At The Studio
The members of the Zonke family from Nyamapanda, Zimbabwe, belong to the few remaining master musicians of the matepe, a type of lamellophone which belongs to the family of the mbira. This complex interlocking music is played on each instrument with four fingers, each employing independent rhythmic patterns which effects many psychoacoustic tricks on the listener’s ear.
The musicians seek to pass on the cultural expressions of the Marembe people to younger players, an attempt which is hindered by the country’s economic struggle as well as the fierce opposition of non-tolerant churches towards any indigenous religions. It seems likely that the current generation will be the last one to play this ve- nerable music.
This is the first time ever a full matepe ensemble is captured on a studio album. We hope this album is a step towards bringing this music to new audiences – as well as a contribution to its preservation.
Out now: the first single release of the upcoming album „Aulos“ by Jimi Tenor
Finnish multi-dimensional artist Jimi Tenor is back with a new 7" on Philophon to announce the upcoming album Aulos, which is going to be released in October.On Sugar And Spice he reunited with Ghanaian drummer Ekow Alabi and German producer Max Weissenfeldt.
Sugar And Spice is the perfect summer hit for Jazz, Boogie, Soul and Afro-Beat lovers. A bouncy bass with hip chords, some sharp horns and a sweet voice are driven forward by Ekow's rolling beat. On Lover's Bridge Jimi creates some reminissence to the classic Sun Ra compositions from the 50s and early 60s. A singing organ calls some heroic horns, carried away by a rhythm section, which practice the power of repetition formula par excellence.
Full Length Album Out Now! Y-Bayani & Baby Naa And The Band of Enlightenment, Reason & Love
Cinematic Roots-Reggae from Ghana as it was never heard before! Y-Bayani and Baby Naa are giving the perfect blend of two natural talented voices. Listen and be surprised!
Featuring master drummer Josie Coppola, who gave his rhythmic energy to such artist as Gentleman, Junior Kelly, Dean Frazer, Don Corleone, Alborosie and many more.
Produced by Maxy Weissenfeldt of Poets of Rhythm and Whitefield Brothers fame, who also worked with artist such as Dr. John, Dan Auerbach, Lana Del Rey, DJ Shadow, The Heliocentrics and many more.
New Sub-Label Lokalophon:
Lokalophon is designed to release local specialities from potentially all around the world. The first three 7“ are all from Ghana. Check them out here:
No. 1: Chris the Wise Shepherd: Born in Bolgatanga, he moved as a young man from the rural north of Ghana to its coastal capital Accra. Consequentially, his style became more urban. That you can clearly hear on his 2012 release Nera Wo'o Soke, which sounds in some ways as if Grandmaster Flash himself were operating the production knobs. Atune Anya'alima on the other hand is pure Frafra-Gospel as it is usually performed in Northern Ghana.
No.2: Ahemaa Nwomkro: As LO45001 shows the one side of the label - licensing of already locally released music, Ye Fre Yen by Ahemaa Nwomkro shows its other side - the recording of local styles by ourselves directly on site. Ahemaa Nwomkro, which means queens of Nwomkro, are Victoria Osei and Theresa Owusuaa. Nwomkro is an old Ashanti musical style, which played an influential role in the origin of the typical more roots-like Highlife style of Kumasi, the cultural capital of Ghana in the middle of the jungle.
No. 3: Olando: North-Ghanaian singer Olando lives as a Frafra in the diaspora of Kumasi, the 2.5 million metropole and capital of the Ashanti people. Living there turned his style into a unique mixture of his rural heritage combined with some portion of urban insanity.
Both songs are with its 163 bpm the perfect climax in any afro-futuristic DJ set. While the A-side Tenan Wu has a playful bass which jumps around the driving Hip-Life beat, the B-side Be Han To'ora Ho Sina is chracterized by its hypnotic ostinato. Both songs are produced by Big Solo, one of Kumasi's most outstanding producer personalities.
OUT NOW! Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy - Mam Yinne Wa
Alogte international debut now available on Philophon:
Out Now on vinyl 7"!
This is Bolga! by Bolga All-Stars & The Polyversal Souls
This time the Polyversal Souls come along with the Bolga All-Stars, named after their hometone Bolgatanga up in the north of Ghana. The Bolga All-Stars are a choir consisting of the leading local Kologo and Frafra-Gospel artists: Guy One, Alogte Oho, Florence Adooni, Bola Anafo, Amodoo, Ana'abugre and Lizzy Amaliyenga.
This is Bolga! is a hymn of praise about the very vital music scene coming out of Bolgatanga. After an instrumental introduction with solos by Barou Kouyate on the Ngoni and Christian Magnusson on the trumpet, radio Dj Messy from Bolgatanga's leading station World FM is shouting out all names of the singers, before the choir finally comes in and take lead. Carried on by a heavily rocking rhythm section the piece reaches its peak throughout the eloquent solo of saxophone viking Søren Jagtkylling.
Allema Timba by Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy
North-Ghanaian Frafra-Gospel shooting star Alogte Oho is back with his Sounds of Joy for their third 7" on Philophon. With this piece they anticipate the upcoming launching of their first international album release in October 2019. The first 7" became a collectors item, the second one a hit and this one is ready to write a further chapter in Alogte's career.
Allema Timba is a slow rocking, grooving journey deep down into the world of Frafra-Gospel. Alogte and his choir put all their enthusiasm into this praise song, supported by perfectly placed horns and a singing synth. The instrumental version features Masaru Nishimoto, an expert on the Taisho Koto.
Two stunning 7“ from The Polyversal Souls feat. Alemayehu Eshete
No. 1: Feqer Feqer Nèw (PH45018)
The Polyversal Souls are back with another collaboration with Ethopia's No. 1 soul singer Alemayehu Eshete. As they did on their first mutual release Alteleyeshegnem (PH45011), one more time the band presents a new interpretation of one of Alemayehu's classic songs.
Feqer Feqer Nèw is heavy soul at his best, completed by Alemayehu's trade mark vocal style. On Portrait of Alemayehu (Daytime), the Polyversal Souls are admiringly painting a picture of the master's gentle aura which surrounded him during the session.
No. 2: Addis Abeba Bete (PH45019)
This is part three and the last of the collaboration series between Ethopia's legendary soul singer Alemayehu Eshete and the Philophon house band The Polyversal Souls.
On the A-side you hear Alemayehu's classic song Addis Abeba Bete in an intimate live performance. This recording happend during a cultural exchange programm organized by Galerie Listros, Berlin's finest gallery for Ethopian art, with support from the Bundeskulturstiftung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
The flip side is the complimentary portrait to the recently released Portrait of Alemayehu (Daytime) - now, on Portrait of Alemayehu (Night-time), you get an idea of the masters fiery stage persona as it is documentated on the A-side. It's night-time now - booooooom!
Brand new video..
... of Jimi Tenor’s hit single Vocalize My Luv - filmed during the recording session at Philophon’s Tonstudio Blütenring Section B in Berlin / August 2018
Jimi Tenor - Vocalize My Luv (feat. Florence Adooni and Lizzy Amaliyenga)
Jimi Tenor delivers another 7" on Philophon. This time he teamed up with the two glorious gospel queens Florence Adooni and Lizzy Amaliyenga from Bolgatanga/Northern Ghana. This release is a first insight into the next album by Jimi on Philophon, which will be released later the year.
Vocalize My Luv is a charmingly presented lure for love. The secret of the song is that drummer Ekow Alabi Savage's upfront high-life beat is triggering a Jimi-operated Korg MS-20 bass synth. Man and machine are melting down into a light and sportive groove, which irresistibly invites you to do some frisky aerobic moves on the 3am dancefloor. Ki'igba is a classic Frafra gospel song by Alogte Oho, completed with some jubilating flute by master Jimi.
Y-Bayani & The Band of Enlightenment, Reason And Love - Asembi Ara Amba
With his third single release, Y-Bayani (pronounced like Why-Bayani) shows clearly that he is the most intriguing roots-reggae sensation coming out of Ghana. He is backed again by the lushly grooving Band of Enlightenment, Reason and Love.
Asembi Ara Amba, sung in Fanti language, is an old Fanti story about having bad luck if you see a vulture up in the sky. As Y-Bayani sees one suddenly and for no reason he gets in trouble with the police. Being hold back in the police station he finally takes his chance to escape into freedom while the police men taking a nap.
On We Are The Band of Enlightenment, Reason And Love the group presents their personal anthem. The song is a cinematic journey starting with a mighty horn theme, followed up by a mantric chant and enters finally into a wall of sound in double time. It's a small symphony for sure.
our first label compilation Bitteschön, Philophon! Vol. I (release date 7th of December 2018):
"Bitteschön, Philophon!" presents a "best of" selection taken from the so far fifteen 7" releases by the Berlin-based label Philophon. Greats as Jimi Tenor, Alemayehu Eshete and Hailu Mergia as well as new discoveries such as Guy One, Alogte Oho and Y-Bayani echo on "Bitteschön" the wide spectrum of the Philophon catalogue.
Philophon puts its emphasis on authentic local styles - from heavy grooving Ethio-Jazz coming out of Addis Abeba to cheerful Frafra-Gospel, as it is celebrated in Bolgatanga/Northern Ghana. Most recordings took place where the music is located - and that's the recipe for Philophon's productions: go to the source and dive into the real.
Out now on Philophon: a whole album by the legendary Jimi Tenor
Named after the tenor saxophone, actually, Jimi Tenor is not just Jimi Tenor - he's as well Jimi Keys, Jimi Flute, Jimi Vox and Jimi Composer. Yeah, he is, as a multi-instrumentalist and music master in general, all of this! But wait: Active since the mid-80's he's also Jimi Legend. And if you overlook his whole oeuvre then finally you will find out that on top of all of this he's Jimi Genius.
Quantum Connection is Jimi's contribution to the recent Kraut-Life craze of the Berlin underground. Kraut-Life is the brand-new hybrid of Ghanaian Highlife and German - here extended to Northern Europe, as Finnish kitchen is also kraut-based - romantic melancholy. A heavy and driving Highlife beat (yeah, it's not Afro-Beat), screaming psychedelic sound-fragments and a sung desire for a subatomic love affair makes the song another undoubted original by Jimi.
My Mind Will Travel (Teen Party Edit) is a heavily danceable edit of the epic eight minutes version of that piece, which you can hear on Jimi's upcoming full-length album Order Of Nothingness, released on Philophon this June. For Jimi, the physical world seems to be limited: but he is confident that his mind can dive deeply and boarder less in the mystery of our micro- and macro-cosmo.
Out now on 7"
Lee Dodou & The Polyversal Souls - Basa Basa/Sahara Akwantuo
As the lead singer of George Darko's legendary Burger-Highlife hit-band, Lee Dodou became the number one voice of 80's Highlife. Born in Kumasi, the epicenter of Ghanaian Highlife, he came to Berlin in the late 70's - by then the uprising epicenter of Burger-Highlife - to work as a back-up-singer for Pat Thomas. After joining and leaving Georg Darko and running his own band "Kantata", he stopped releasing music in the early 90's. Now, Philophon is proud to present new recordings of his soulful genius to the world of 2018.
Basa Basa is a song in the classic "concert party" style, as it was played in the glorious 60's. After a firey horn introduction Lee takes over in that funny and entertaining manner typical for "concert party" music. Buzz Duncker joins Lee's phrases with some gentle clarinet. Highlife at its best!
Sahara Akwantuo is anything but a classic: it's the start of a kind of philophonic Highlife, labeled as Kraut-Life. Ghanaian love of life meets German romantic melancholy. Happy rhythms meet mysterious synth landscapes. Eternal summertime and mangos are meeting a wet winter world and roast apples. Kraut-Life at its best!
#1 - the debut album of Kologo master Guy One is out now:
Guy One's international debut #1 is an album rooted in tradition as much as it is the contemporary ("Frafra music Made in Germany" says drummer producer Max Weissenfeldt if he's forced to put a label on it) but given the fact that the traditionalism of Frafra music itself is a largely unknown force, the results are more even more potent and stirring in their creations. Choirs, trumpet, organ, bass, drums, synthesiser, vibraphone, saxophone and piano, the album is as bursting with instrumentation as it is ideas and innovation.
The album's perfect positioning between the old and the new and in taking that middle ground and launching it into completely new territory is enough to completely unglue the definitions of what music can be.
Out on 12th of January: Y-Bayani and Baby Naa & Their Band of Enlightenment, Reason and Love - Rehwe Mie Enyim (Vinyl 7“)
This time Y-Bayani has support from the great voice of Baby Naa. Baby Naa was just hanging out at the studio in Accra/Ghana when the recordings of Rehwe Mie Enyim took place. The crew was waiting desperately for a singer to back up Y-Bayani. After an hour of waiting the producer, knowing that she sings at church every Sunday, asked Baby Naa to do the missing part. Then something occurred that nobody was expecting and finally everybody was happy that the original singer hadn't made it.
Rehwe Mie Enyim is a unique example of how roots-reggae can sound today. Maybe it will be the very last recorded real roots-reggae song in human history?
On Mi Sumolo the Band of Enlightment, Reason and Love gives us a light and cheerful instrumental every DJ must have for his late night wedding set or any other high-class party.
With the single "Everything You Do, You Do For Yourself" North-Ghanaian Kologo master Guy One opens the door to his first international release #1, which will be available end of January 2018. Guy One promises what his name is saying: he is the number one artist of Frafra music, named after his people: the Frafra.
"Everything You Do, You Do For Yourself" is his only song having a phrase in English. Here he is following the example of his collegue and friend King Ayisoba, who introduced the use of English into Frafra music a few years ago. The beat is a driving Highlife rhythm. That's the kind of groove we all love Ghana for!
On "Estre" we have special guest Florence Adooni, one of the leading voices of Frafra-Gospel. She is interweaving perfectly with the horn arrangements by Max Weissenfeldt, as well the drummer of the song, and gives after her part the lead to Mr. Guy One - yeah, the number one!
Alemayehu Eshete is considered the golden voice of Ethopia. Since his first hit single "Seul" in 1961 he has become the father figure of the soulful stream of Ethopian music. In Ethiopia no other musician adapted the newest trends from the US soul scene as consequently as Alemayehu did.
With this new 7" he continues his soulful approach on Ethopian music. His funky classic Alteleyeshegnem is here re-interpretated by the Philophon house band in an even funkier way than the original. A tough beat is crisscrossed by mystic harmonies and a pumping bassline. Temar Ledje points out the sweet side of master Alemayehu. This is another classic tune that comes dosed with a rejuvenating cure by the Philophon production team. Just listen!
The cooperation between Alemayehu Eshete and Philophon was initiated by Listros e.V. Berlin with support by the Federal Cultural Foundation of Germany.
NEW RELEASE: IDRIS ACKAMOOR & THE PYRAMIDS WITH GUY ONE ON VOCALS
2016 was the year for Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids: their album "We Be All Africans" (produced by Philophon and released on Strut Rec.) vaulted them among the global top acts of the current Spiritual Jazz renaissance. The strengh of the group is its deep connection to Africa: not just that their music is inspired by the spirit of Africa, they actually founded themselves on an extended trip to the Motherland in 1972.
On that trip Idris Ackamoor visited the tiny town Bolgatanga in Northern Ghana to play with local Frafra musicians - an experiance which changed his life. Now, after 45 years, Idris dives once more into the magical music of the Frafra people by teaming up with master musician Guy One, the no. 1 Kologo artist of the vital music scene of Bolgatanga. On "Tinoge Ya Ta'a Ba" Guy One sings about the power of unity - a unity you hear clearly on this Afro-Euro-American cooperation: a driving rhythm, a eulogizing saxophone, a gripping voice and in total a journey into another dimension.
NOW EVERY LAST THURSDAY OF THE MONTH: PHILOPHON NIGHT AT BURG SCHNABEL/BERLIN
We are happy and proud to announce LEE DODOU playing live on stage together with our house band THE POLYVERSAL SOULS. Lee was born in Kumasi/Ghana, the birthplace of Sikyi-Highlife. He was learning Highlife through his mother milk and played with greats like Yamoah. In the early 80s Lee moved to Berlin where he became the voice of Burger-Highlife as the lead singer of the George Darko Band. That band became a world hit. Now, Lee brings us back to the roots of Highlife and presents a fine selection of classic tunes from the incredible great repertoire of Ghana's music heritage.
The Glimmering Ghanaian Gospel of Alogte Oho Jonas
Three years ago, on a dry January day, Max Weissenfeldt was waiting for a bus in Bolgatanga, a huge transport hub in northern Ghana. The former Poets of Rhythm drummer was in the country to record with Guy One, a prominent local musician who plays the kologo—a sort of two-stringed banjo—and sings in a raspy, magnetic voice. Weissenfeldt eventually signed Guy to his Philophon record label, but at the bus station, the German soul musician had another artist on his mind.
Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy - Mam Yinne Wa - out on 11. November
Alogte Oho is the number one Frafra gospel artist from within the explosive music scene of Bolgatanga in Northern Ghana. His international debut was the 2014 single "Zota Yinne" (Philophon PH45002), which has already become a collectors item. Alogte Oho is, as always, accompanied by his powerful female choir, the Sounds of Joy, comprised of Lizzy Amaliyenga, Patricia Adongo and Florence Adooni - all fantastic gospel performers in their own rights.
POLYVERSAL SOULS PREMIERE THE GHANAIAN-SHOT VIDEO FOR ‘ASEMBI ARA AMBA’ ON OKAYAFRICA.COM
This clip was shot in Ghana/Saltpond (hometown of highlife legend Ebo Taylor, whose funkiest 70s and 80s work was put out recently on a Strut anthology). This is the first song Y-Bayani recorded for release. We met him in Saltpond while his friend Roy X (Jimmy Taylor, son of Ebo) played me a demo version of that song which they just recorded together.
Ghana Panorama is a movie by Max Weissenfeldt about the music culture in Ghana. Beside portraits about the High-Life legends Ebo Taylor and Ralph Karikari or traditional masterdrummer Mustapha Tettey Addy, the movie gives a deeper insight into the vital role of music in Ghanas daily life. All music we like to dance to has its origine in the rhythm of West-Africa. Watch, listen and enjoy the evidence!