2018 Re-Press: 140g vinyl in quality plain Kraftpak sleeve.
Originally released as an accompanying EP to the compilation Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and ’80s, Soundway delivers a special remix and edit 12″ featuring two tracks from the collection and two exclusives.
The A side kicks off with Batida’s remix of a 1977 benga 45 (Ndiri Ndanogio Niwe) from the Mbiri Young Stars. Fast 120bpm plus 4/4 rhythms with liquid guitars and machine-gun drumming are married with kuduro drum programming. Second up and surging with sub bass, British production duo The Busy Twist inject The Kalambya Boys’ Kivelenge (also from 1977) with a slice of London club culture. Many late 70s Kenyan benga 45s were cut loud and heavy with often ludicrous amounts of low end squeezed onto sides that technically shouldn’t have exceeded three-and-a-half mins but frequently topped five. Perfect fodder for remixes these cuts were way ahead of their time production-wise and sound even more amazing considering the limited equipment Kenyan engineers had at their disposal in the late ’70s.
On the flip Sofrito’s Frankie Francis subtly tweaks a sublime Nairobi Matata Jazz track from the mid ’70s: focusing on the wobbly guitar lines and letting the blaring horns speak for themselves. Consisting of both Kenyan and Congolese musicians Nairobi Matata Jazz were a perfect example of how rumba from Congo (which consumed East Africa in the 1970s) was blended with rat-a-tat-tat benga style Kenyan drum patterns and Swahili language vocals. These same rhythms are in full effect on the last track by the Gatanga Boys Band, edited and chopped up by Hide and Smile (Frankie Francis and Miles Cleret) – super fast instrumental benga guitar and drum interplay, heavy on the cymbals and dynamite on the floor.