con murphies brilliant DDT review

With members drawn from the refugee and other migrant communities from Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Iran and Iraq – as well as the UK, Spain and Ireland — Soznak (who take their name from a Middle-Eastern musical mode) honed their craft during al fresco street gigs in the north-eastern city. And despite a seemingly uncontrollably large array of local musicians, this is a taut and highly accomplished set of songs.

After a loose, upbeat horn-driven opener, it’s Angolan Beriso Lutonda who really kicks things off with ‘Weekily’, a humorous tale of new-to-the-UK payment woes backed by an irrepressible soukous-meets-highlife meeting of sparkling guitar and punchy horns, with vibrant gospel backing from the wonderfully-named Black Voices choir from Birmingham.

That track is is followed by ‘Sugar Stick’, a part-Afrobeat, part-Zimbabwean jazzy almost-instrumental, and so it goes on through Congolese rumba, Cubanismo, North African and middle-eastern flavours, flamenco, and of course Argentine tango (the closer and title track is a madcap and melancholy take on that melodramatic genre).

Those funky horns are the main constant here, along with always-engaging vocalists, but apart from that pretty much anything goes, with the manifold influences pouring out of every tune. Put this lot in the same bag of multi-rooted uniqueness as the 3 Mustafas 3, Abdul Tee Jay’s Rokoto, jazz-funk era Blockheads, Strummer and Mescaleros, 17 Hippies and Think of One. They sound like all of these and none of them — fresh, funky, hugely entertaining and totally, uniquely, wonderfully themselves.

Con Murphy
Tuesday 14 July 2009

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