Seven Plays I

Welcome to our new feature, Seven Plays. Each week one of our contributors will keep a personal music diary for seven days, handing the feature over to another Truant at the end of the week. The idea is to keep sharing great music with our readers, but with a more individual touch than our more objective posts and reviews. The first Seven Plays instalment comes from OG Truant Tabitha Bang, with a week of West African dance and psychotic clown anthems, taking a True Detective detour and finishing off with A Slice Of English Toast.

Friday: Magic System – 1er Gaou (Next Music) 

“I heard this one in the NTS office on Friday. A commenter going by the name of Taf99x60 claims that “[y]ou can’t be African and not know this track”. I’d be inclined to agree with this wild generalization because hearing it took me straight back to being an awkward kid at family parties, even though I’m Sierra Leonean and Magic System are from Abidjan, the former capital of Ivory Coast. It shouldn’t have been quite such a shock to hear it getting played in an office in Dalston seeing as the track was a huge crossover hit in France in the early 2000s, a few years after its original 1999 release. African dance music has been on my mind recently, partly because I recently found a long lost hard drive with a bunch of incredible Sierra Leonean party tracks on it, but also because of the rise and rise of Principe, the Lisbon-based label releasing music by Portuguese producers whose Angolan heritage forms the basis of their genre-crossing aesthetic. Like the Principe DJs (most notably Marfox and Niggafox, although a younger generation are following in their footsteps), Magic System came from suburban ghettos to international prominence with a polyrhythmic ‘fusion’ sound. I started thinking about the fact that the Principe showcase at Unsound was noted for the brilliant party atmosphere that the DJs created, but nonetheless the label’s output, and the performances of the DJs it champions, has been subject to deeply considered critical analysis. But for me “1er Gaou” and other West African dance music that I would consider ‘party music’ has remained just that, music I hear at parties and don’t really investigate much further. My personal association of the music of my pan-African heritage with parties has led to a shameful complacency when it comes to really understanding the history of the sound, which is particularly frustrating when I consider how quickly my enjoyment of American and European dance music developed from a visceral pleasure into a more academic interest. So it would probably be more accurate to say that the politically complex implications behind my ignorance of African dance music has been on my mind recently…”

Saturday: Popcaan – Ravin (Tad’s Record)

“This came on shuffle en route to a Jandek concert (which turned out to be completely uninteresting, sadly). The weather in London, always a fascinating topic of conversation, has been on everyone’s mind even more so than usual because it’s been so insistently shit. This track is really intended for summer days, or at least for mild spring days when the promise of summer is in the air, but hearing it on an icy February night is a bit like the universe accidentally-on-purpose stepping on your foot.”

Sunday: Reload – Peschi (Original Mix) (Evolution)

“An extremely lazy end to a pretty lazy weekend. Started checking out some stuff I was only vaguely familiar with but ended up skipping back through my youtube history instead. This one recommended by the great Hurfyd, who was completely right in thinking it’d be up my street – I’ve got endless time for anything that’s club-ready but dreamily melodic. Techno laced with trance by Drs. Pritchard and Middleton.”

Monday: Africaine 808 – Lagos, New York (Golf Channel Recordings)

“Spotted on Test Pressing. Watched the latest True Detective episode right before bed which is the best and worst time to watch it. I thought this track might help shake off the creeps those triangular stick sculptures give me but no luck –  which is a testament to True Detective’s prop makers, as this track is relentlessly cheerful.”

Tuesday: Tabu Ley Rochereau – Hafi Déo (Genidia)

“Totally incredible way to start the day – this one nicked from Charlie Bones’ breakfast show. Super nice afro-disco with beautiful synths around seven minutes in that are just as pretty as the guitars in the more traditional Congolese zoukous which Rochereau helped to popularise internationally. Brought to mind Fonda Rae’s “Heobah“, another total jam. Looking into Rochereau also lead me to this, similarly brilliant.”

Wednesday: Mumdance – It’s Peak

“I mentally file this one next to Punters Step Out and have been completely rinsing it recently. If there was some kind of special gym for clowns in garish face paint, this would be on the system for sure. Imagine Chucky from Child’s Play in a zumba class. Don’t see it? Maybe I just ruined this track for everyone, then.”

Thursday: Ñaka Ñaka – 000020 (Opal Tapes)

“All the action was over by the time I could lock in to this week’s Hessle show, but missing it reminded me of Juan Pestañas, an excellent Opal Tapes EP that I tardily discovered after Ben played it a few weeks back. I’ve been aware of the hype around Opal Tapes’ releases but – probably for that reason, perversely – haven’t actually listened to many of them. This is a piece of highly recommended, scuzzily foreboding but totally gorgeous ambient electronic, and the entire EP is expertly understated brilliance. Not much around on Ñaka Ñaka, besides the fact that they’re from Mexico City but based in New York, so far releasing consistently great stuff – there are a few other beauties floating around on soundcloud – and will feature on the Black Opal 12 12″ series.”

Friday: Ranking Ann – Liberated Woman (Ariwa)

“Was introduced to this track late last year, fell in love with it immediately and have listened to it almost every day since then.  The Mad Professor’s production is totally unreal, as usual, but it’s the juxtaposition of Ranking Ann’s fiercely political lyrics and the languid dub rhythms that really gets me going. Her voice singing “me a liberated woman…you can’t control me life…” inbetween those robustly romantic piano stabs is everything. I’d love to claim this track as a feminist anthem, but firstly Ranking Ann is said to have rejected the label, instead claiming to be an individualist, and secondly I think that to hear only the gender politics in the track would do a disservice to its complexity. The backing vocalists chorus “concrete slave ship” with a touch of gospel about them, and is it just me or does she switch between singing “although some foolish people really wan fi change me” to “although some foolish people really wan fi chain me”? To me it seems like over the course of the track Ranking Ann insists her own agency, on being “free like a bird inna di tree” regardless of gender but also regardless of race. Again, would really recommend the entire album but see also “Feminine Gender” and the famous “Kill The Police Bill“. Side note: this one came on whilst I was on my way to a group interview, during which someone used the word “enjoyful” thinking it was a real word. Laughed all the way home. Only God can judge me.”

Next week’s Seven Plays is helmed by the great Soraya, look out. 

Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura

Camberwell based ricecake enthusiast. twitter