Friday, March 9, 2012

Akendengue - Owende (1979)

For this, my one-hundredth post and the beginning of this blog's second year of life, I offer a special album that is one of my favorites, Pierre Akendengue's fourth album, Owende. As I wrote in my first, testing-the-water post here, I have a long history with Akendengue's music. I consider him to be a musical genius with an unique vision.

The brilliance begins with rhythms, which are always complex and impelling, yet the rhythm section integrally includes the human instrument alongside various drums, either voice or clapping hands, or both. In many of his songs the usually female chorus adds rhythmic cadence, in call-and-reponse exchanges with Akendengue, but often the voices are used specifically to augment or even give foundation for the whole rhythmic structure.

Voices, including his own, are central to Akendengue's beautiful music, and this album opens with harmonious, gentle singing. His vocalizations are inspired by his observations of birdsong in Gabon's rainforest, but a couple of the songs on this album feature Akendengue as poet, much more common in his early albums.

Akendengue is a social critic, and this may be his most explicitly political album. Owende translates as Oppression, and the song "Anome Anomie" celebrates a plethora of freedom fighters including Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Che Guevara and Malcolm X, among others. All of the lyrics are included in the centerfold of this deluxe album, replicated for your benefit in the download folder. With great pleasure I invite you to. . .

11 comments:

gilhodges said...

This is a wonderful treat. Congrats on post #100 and year #2. Your efforts are richly appreciated.

FrancoPepeKalle said...

I love this post because this post is a excellent post. Congrats on making your 100th post. I give you a great apperciation for the hard work you have done for other people. I apperciate you giving us great African Music. Keep up the good work Mr. Rhythm Connection.

swamielmo said...

congratulations on your year. i have enjoyed several of your posts. thank you for the delicious music

Rhythm Connection said...

Thank you all for your appreciative comments, and let us look forward to another good year.

Apurva Bahadur said...

Great music Sir, many thanks! Apurva from Pune, India.

DJ Jonathan E. said...

Somehow it was not until today that I found your most impressive and generous blog. Thank you, Rhythm Connection. I've been a big fan of Pierre Akendengue over the years but haven't listened to him for ages. His CDs always sounded a bit tinny and brittle, never figured whether it was his music of the time (the invasion of synths and digital recording and what-have-you) or bad mastering. Anyway, this looks like a treat aesthetically.

Rhythm Connection said...

You're more than welcome Apurva, and you too DJ J E! Welcome to this blog. Your comment about Akendengue's CDs is intriguing. I bought every record I could find of his, but also have continued to purchase CDs of the same recordings too. I think I might dub one of his records and compare it with the CD sonically to see if remastering effects were introduced. I'll get back with some information when I have some time, which is somewhat short supply these days.

damiano said...

i have all akendengue's lps/cds. def a genius. only 'silence' sounds a bit tinny to me. listened to carrefour rio last night. fab.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great album. My' Be Kalwa" and "osoto" are particular favorites.

Anonymous said...

@Damiano

Please,could you share with us your Akendengue's collection ?

Many Thanks in advance

David said...

Unfamiliar with Akendengue, I was astonished by the range of musical approaches here - every song a new experience! I can't think of anything like it elsewhere in the African music I know: it's almost an experimental album. Which of course means some things appeal more than others; but there's plenty which does appeal! Thanks for this experience - off to try out the other album you've posted!