Download + Video: Eric Lau "This Is For You"



It's not you it's him. That is if you don't fully understand or are vaguely impressed by something Eric proclaims to be simple, he's just a really humble person. He also hates interviews so it's nice to seem him so relaxed on camera.This might be the last of this kind of sound you hear from Eric for a little while, he's been working on a raft of new stuff lately - collaborations, pseudonyms and experiments I can't wait to hear more about. Eric and PMOI also have a little announcement coming soon I'm getting very excited about, keep 'em peeled...

Download: Kae Sun "Outside The Barcode" EP



I've just come across this lovely artist of Ghanaian extraction based in Canada, Kae Sun. I really like the stripped down sound of his "Outside The Barcode" EP, which he released for free at the end of June. The video above was shot at the farm where the EP was recorded, he reminds me in places of both Nneka and Paul Simon, there's something warm and endearing about this music.

Download: Kae Sun "Outside The Barcode" EP

Now Playing: New Albums From Ebo Taylor, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo and Seun Kuti

I seem to have acquired three brilliant new albums from West Africa this spring, all on the funk inflected flex but not all strictly afrobeat.

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The most recent is The 1st Album by Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou of Benin released on June 7th through Analog Africa. Apparently Samy Ben Redjab came across a test pressing of a session by the band from 1973 which was rejected by their record label at the time because of background noise. The band had to record a second session which became their rare as hen's teeth official album, and The 1st Album features two tracks from each. OPR actually put out another album earlier this year on Strut featuring their first new recordings for 20 years entitled "Cotonou Club".
Download:
The 1st Album 07.06.2011, Analog Africa [iTunes link]
Cotonou Club 29.03.2011, Strut [iTunes link]


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The second is also a set of re-releases but from Ghana's Ebo Taylor, hot on the heels of his album Love and Death last October. My lovely friends over at The Revivalist have a great interview and feature on the man as part of their Transatlantic Issue. You can download a track from the album for free from Nora Ritchie's Soundcloud player below.

   Ebo Taylor - Atwer Abroba by noraritchie
Download: 
Life Stories 12.04.2011, Strut [iTunes link]
Love and Death 22.10.2011, Strut [iTunes link]




Finally, Seun Kuti's From Africa With Fury: Rise. The interview with Wax Poetics above is great, but I can't help but wonder what Africans who are based outside of Nigeria or Africa will be feeling in reaction to this kind of music.   
Download: 
From Africa With Fury: Rise 1.4.2011, Knitting Factory Records [iTunes link]

Stream/ Download: Gil Scott-Heron - Live At The Bottom Line '77

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"We have a feeling that everybody in the whole world speaks drum..." 

I've been digging through some of Gil Scott Heron's work I was previously unfamiliar with since his passing, and this is one of my favourite finds so far. I love the way as he speaks to the audience he jumps between hilarity, fascinating stories and the searing truth. At times it's tough listening to such a beautiful soul knowing he's gone, but comforting that recordings like this ensure the most important parts are still here.

It's easy to forget with so much information at our fingertips that Gil Scott Heron was aeons ahead of his time in terms of his knowledge of world politics and culture, I'm reminded here that he really was one of the griots he spoke of. The music itself has also lost nothing over the 30 years since this recording, which came just before the release of the album Bridges. Even classic songs like It's Your World feel brand new again with the addition of the beautiful introductions and live instrumentation. 

Download: Gil Scott-Heron "Live At The Bottom Line '77" [click here]



Download + Interview: Tanya Auclair "Origami" EP

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I'm so happy to be sharing this EP, Tanya Auclair is such an exciting singer songwriter and her work continues to exert a strong gravitational pull on my heart strings towards her live shows and recorded projects. I asked her a couple of questions about the new EP "Origami", the first 1000 copies of which are available for free download through her Bandcamp page so be quick.


I've searched high and low but can't find a single "ooh baby I love you/ you broke my heart etc etc", is it safe to assume the inspiration behind this EP was not your love life?

Haha! Yes, zero tolerance on the smoochy time policy on this EP. I kind of set myself these little 'rules' before setting out on the record. 1) no love songs 2) write everything live before even sniffing a computer...The rules were really just tools to push my songwriting skills. Its easy to write about love, I wanted to get better at telling stories. 

What exactly is a Sverige?

Sverige started out as an epic poem I wrote for my mates after we did a road trip round Sweden. Travel and movement have always been good catalysts for me when it comes to writing, whether its the rhythm of your stride or the random stuff you get up to or the newness of it all. That trip set me off, soon as I got back I wrote the EP Thrum. The lyrics ‘Hear that whistle blow’ is the call you hear when something needs to be done. 

Your last EP Thrum was a solo effort but for Origami you've worked with other people, what prompted the change and how did the process differ?

With the first EP it was me locked in my room with a Zoom recorder, Fruityloops and some instruments. This time I just wanted to try the opposite. I wanted to write and record as much of it ‘live’ as possible, rather than it kind of living on the computer. This last year I’ve been working with the brilliant drummer Joe Allen, and more recently double-bassist Arista Hawkes – and its really been a time of exploring making music of minimal means, whether by myself, in duo or trio. They’re such sick players that I had to have them and their personalities on the record. Then Jack Allett got on board to record/co-produce and he was also really into the idea of keeping the elements minimal. We managed to blag 6 hours of downtime in a studio to record the core parts, then all the rest was done in friends kitchens and flats. This time I’ve also been lucky enough to collaborate with some great filmmakers - Will Hanke on the ‘Gabriel’ video and Eleni Savvidou on the trailer for ‘Origami’. 

Whilst we're on the subject, your solo show involves an almost annoyingly impressive number of instruments, how many do you play (please list) and will the list continue to expand exponentially?

At the moment I’m playing Microkorg, ukulele, guitar, melodihorn, sticks, shaker and sampling my voice. I’m still having fun messing about with this set up, but definitely up for new elements, as long as it can fit in my granny trolley (what I cart all my equipment in) 

Your cover of "Gabriel" by Roy Davis Jr ft Peven Everett was rather beautiful, but if you could collaborate with anyone who would top the list?

Ingoma Nshya – the hottest drum troupe I’ve ever seen. They’re a company of female drummers from Rwanda – the first of its kind - traditionally women weren’t allowed to drum, but they broke the mould. Imagine being backed by 10 or 12 women dancing like cranes and drumming like thunder?! Powpow!

PMOI Presents: d e g o "What Ever" feat LuvBugz [MP3 + Stream]

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Photo by Lars Beaulieu

If this is what's not on the album I'm so excited to hear what is! Mr Good Good aka Dego has a new album coming out on 20th June via 2000Black and on CD, and in the meantime has blessed us with a little exclusive to ease the wait. Apparently you can only grab this one here at PMOI and rappersiknow.com but I think it needs to be shared...

   d e g o "What Ever" feat LuvBugz by ameliaideh

Download: d e g o "What Ever" feat LuvBugz [Click here]

Interview: Aly Gillani on First Word Records 7th Birthday

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One of the UKs finest independent record labels First Word (home to Kidkanevil, Homecut, Laura J Martin, Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra and lots of others) turned seven years old this week so I asked label boss Aly Gillani AKA DJ Gilla about the journey. If you're quick you can grab this great free compilation they've released to celebrate, it's up for another day.




I've read the bio but still don't know where the name "First Word" came from, is it a dark secret? If so please will you tell us anyway?

Well, originally we were called 'Sounds Like' - as in charades - 'sounds like music' - we started getting logos with an ear being tugged as you would if you were playing the game. Then we found out there already was a 'Sounds Like' so we continued the charades theme and came up with 'First Word' - it seemed only natural that our first compilation should be called Two Syllables. I have no idea where this charades fixation came from - I don't even like the game that much....

We're sure there have only been highs, but please will you humour us and tell us about the biggest highs and lows over the last 7 years?

It's funny, but when you start out everything is a high. I remember rushing down to the newsagent to buy magazines and newspapers which had our reviews in, recording Radio One off the 'listen again' feature into my minidisc recorder when we had our first airplay, our first big shows at Jazz Cafe, Koko etc, were all hugely exciting. Particularly as the label has always had a real family vibe to it, you really feel part of something. As you get more experienced you get a bit more blase about it, because it becomes normal. The event at Vibe Bar this week was great, because it was the biggest line-up of artists on the label we've had since we started - I'm really lucky to work with a genuinely great group of people, and to have them all meet each other, socialise together and collaborate on fantastic music is really gratifying.

Plenty of lows too though! Going way back, our second single was by a band called Today's Mathematics - a really beautiful hip hop soul record. To this day it's still one of the best reviewed releases we've had - Radio 1 airplay, loads of press, great DJ reactions - we had high hopes..... it sold 30 copies on vinyl - heartbreaking! We've also been ripped off a couple of times, it's the nature of the business that distributors go under, and that's just how it goes. However, one guy literally pocketed a very significant amount of our money, for entirely selfish reasons - he just never paid us (and lots of other people too). It was pretty early on for us and it nearly sent us under. What's even more frustrating is that the guy is still working in the industry today! The only other real low point is when we have to destroy unsold stock - in the last year I've taken two full carloads to the skip and it's pretty soul-destroying - all those hopes and dreams you have end up in the crusher. It's generally all old releases, we definitely have more hits than misses these days, but it's still hard to take.

Is there anything you've found yourself wishing you knew about before you started running an independent record label? Like people don't buy that much music anymore...

There's so much I wish I knew, and so much I still don't know. I think when we started it was at a really interesting time in the independent scene. We were taking our cues from people like Ninja Tune, BBE, Tru Thoughts - labels that had started when people still bought a lot of records - they'd locked down how to run things in that climate and we tried to replicate that. That taught us our biggest lesson - everything changes so quickly - the nature of the business changes constantly. When we started in 2004 iTunes was in it's infancy, and not really a big consideration. If you didn't release something on vinyl DJs couldn't play it - which now is almost unimaginable. Technology has completely transformed the way we work, and the lessons from today don't necessarily help you tomorrow.

Has it made much of a difference moving your base from Leeds to London (apart from the lack of friendly conversations with strangers on public transport)?

Ha ha! Yeah, the number 78 bus from Peckham isn't a place to start a conversation really! I'm glad that we started the label in Leeds - it gave us our identity and the support from people there and in Sheffield was massively important to us. I still feel that we are rooted in that Leeds musical scene which has produced such amazing talent. As well as The Haggis Horns, kidkanevil, Homecut, Mike-L and Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra on our label, there's Corinne Bailey Rae, Andreya Triana, Shlomo, Eliphino, Kato, Laura J Martin, Submotion Orchestra, Ramadanman and tons more - it's a really inspiring place.

The move has been great from a business point of view even though my reasons for moving were personal ones. There is a much greater scope for things here - Leeds is a relatively small city - which makes it all the more remarkable that it produces so much great music, but London opens up so many more possibilities. We're still proud of our Yorkshire roots though!

What's next? Any plans to sign a group of potty mouthed middle-class teenagers from the West Country and take over the world?

What, the cast of Skins or something? Actually, a record made by them would probably outsell everything we've ever done! We've got loads of great stuff coming up though - we're about to release a couple of reggae records in the shape of a new album from Lotek and East Park Reggae Collective (another product of the Leeds music scene). There's also the debut Souleance LP which is gonna feature Shawn Lee and Raashan Ahmad (that track is sounding crazy!) and we've recently signed RBMA graduate Amenta who I'm really excited about working with. There's an ethio-jazz album from Brighton duo Ye Mighty and we've just signed (today in fact) a 7" from Tall Black Guy out of Detroit. Plenty to keep us busy!