Alluding the famous Rene? Magritte painting “Ceci n´est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”), the British- Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare declared in 2011: “A picture of a pipe isn´t necessarily a pipe, an image of “African Fabric” isn´t necessarily authentically (and wholly) African”. In his artistic work, in which he drapes African fabrics on Victorian figures, Yinka Shonibare reflects on colonialism and post-colonialism. After all, the colorful, pattern-rich cloths which are commonly referred to as “African Fabrics” and can be found on flea and cloth markets, mostly are not “African” in its origin, but rather artifiacts of a complex political and economical interplay between African, Europa and the world. Called “African Fabrics” or “Dutch Wax” these cloths emenate mostly from Holland, lately from China.
The story of the “African Fabrics” can also be applied to the perception and the image building of music from Africa. Here, one can ask: What kind of sounds are associated with the African continent? How does Africa sound in the 21st century? What´s “African” music in the age of digital media and a frenzied globalization? The Berlin DJ, producer and label owner Daniel Haaksman deals with answers in his album “African Fabrics”. Because many of today´s urban music styles which come via the internet today from Africa to Europe have nothing more to do with what we previously imagined as “African Music”. In 2016 it should be clear: The popular cliché of Nigerian Afrobeat or drumming communities need an urgent update. Africa has long since arrived in the digital age, music videos from Africa with millions of plays on Youtube or tracks with tens of thousands of clicks on SoundCloud are emblematic of the long practiced, local African reinterpretations of global circulating signs of pop culture.
For more than ten years, Daniel Haaksman released urban Sounds from Brasil, his compilations and releases on his label Man Recordings created the genre-term “baile funk”, now used internationally. In 2012, he travelled for a DJ appearance for the first time to Angola and plunged into the world of Kuduro, that specific Angolan high-speed dance style that originated in the late 1980s from hybridization of Euro house, US rap and Angolan semba. On another trip through the former Portuguese speaking colony Mozambique, as well as numerous visits to Lisbon, Daniel encountered various musical concepts for the future that are far from the nostalgic look of pop and club music in Europe, the UK and the US these days.
For the eleven tracks on “African Fabrics” Daniel Haaksman synthesized internet and streeet market finds with current bass music styles of the northern hemisphere. “Ceci n´est past l´Afrique”, as the album is not about the one-on-one mirroring of current sounds from Africa. It´s not about authenticity either. As with the African fabrics from Holland it´s about transcontinental cultural dialogues and their artistic interpretations. The results are fueled by the global resonant space named internet in which genre confuse and new musical artifacts emerge. Yes, on “African Fabrics” we hear afro footwork, minimal marimba house, a two-step bass track paired with a kalimba, or a regional Angolan language mounted on a futurist beat. Haaksman is playing with the characters, literally. The word “Fabrics” in the English language not only means “materials” but also “structures” or “textures” – and Daniel is putting big, colourful splashes of sound onto them.
“African Fabrics” begins with “Akabongi”, a new version of a pop hit by South African group The Soul Brothers which Haaksman recorded with legendary South African rapper Spoek Mathambo in Zulu. “Sembène” pays a bass-heavy Congo funk hommage to Senegalese writer and filmmaker Ousmae Sembène whose films represent a great source of inspiration for Daniel. “Kaggua” ft. Tshila is a rap with Ugandan singer Tshila in the Ugandan Luganda langugae about fun at a party. “Rename The Streets” and the accompanying music video focuses on the colonial history of Germany. The video shows two dancers which transform street signs in Berlin´s “African Quarter” bearing names of questionable colonial figures.
“Sabado” features the great Colombian champeta guitarist Bulldozer, which echoes West African music influences that are still very dominant in todays Colombian music. “Black Coffee” is a track with the Mozambican rapper Dama Do Bling over probably the most popular African plant that is consumed worldwide – coffee! The Portuguese-Angolan kuduro-punk band Throes + The Shine is guest on “Xinguila” and combines the energy of punk with the bass and rap flow of Kuduro music. “Aho” takes the listener to a street choir in Harare (Zimbabwe) and adds a footwork groove from Chicago to it. “Afrika” is an amazing song with the inventor of Angolan high-speed dance genre Kuduro, Tony Amado, and the Mozambican singer Alcindah Guerane that is sung in Kimbunde (a regional Angolan language) about the history of Africa the time of slavery to the present, mounted on a beat that eclipses a production of Timbaland. “Raindrops” is a Berlin electronica interpretation of a Zimbabwean mbira song. And finally, “Querido”, again with Bulldozer on guitar, recapping the transatlantic and global music connections.
The eleven songs of “African Fabrics” are visually illustrated by German artist Tobias Rehberger. For years Rehberger has artistically reflected on the relationship between patterns, sculpture and space. For the cover artwork, Rehberger interpreted patterns of “African Fabrics”, abstracted their colours and shapes, creating a visual counterpart to the musical approach and the fresh new sound of Daniel Haaksman.
Listen to the album here:
If you´re in Berlin tonight, come down to Acud Macht Neu on Veteranenstrasse in Mitte. We´ll celebrate the release of Daniel Haaksman´s “African Fabrics” album tonight from 9pm till very late ft. DJs Pam Bam and Cambel Nomi plus some special guests. Visit the Facebook Event for more infos. P.S. The slick A1 posters are available in the Man Rec Online Store, they come free with every order of the “African Fabrics” vinyl!
Already excited to launch his new album “African Fabrics” coming Friday, 26th of February, Daniel Haaksman just made a mix for UK Magazine CLASH to warm up your ears + legs for the “African Fabrics” vibe. The Berlin-based Man Recordings boss can be found digging deep into rhythms coming out of various corners of Africa, such as Angola and Cameroon, which he blends with tropes from modern electronica and heavy bass. Listen to it below.