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splendid > reviews > 10/7/2002
Various Artists
Various Artists
AfroTech: A Global Journey Into Electronic Africa
Quango


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Tony Allen's "Ariya""

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Some irony surrounds AfroTech, which purports to offer a glimpse of the electronic music scene in Africa. Specifically, the fact that African artists are appropriating a style of music that is basically a highly stylized version of the same African music that found its way to the United States and through the digestive tract of Western pop culture (under the guise of rock 'n' roll) is almost too boggling a concept to parry.

However, it should be made clear that this compilation doesn't quite deliver the "post-modern electronic groove" promised in the liner notes. In fact, there is not very much of what many of us in the West would consider electronic music (i.e. Kraftwerk, Mouse on Mars) here. Instead, the 10 tracks deliver a potent mixture of African pop and run-of-the-mill Western-style house music.

Even so, anyone who is a fan of or has some curiosity about the state of African pop will find this compilation pretty compelling. Indeed, combining African pop's glistening guitars and polyrhythms with house music produces some real gems. Tony Allen's beat-heavy "Ariya" offers a deft blend of African and Western sounds, layering drumming, beats, thumping bass, smooth robot-voiced vocals and buzzy synth flourishes.



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