- Artist: Cymande
- Album: Cymande
- Country of Origin: United Kingdom // Guyana // Jamaica // Saint Vincent
- Released: 1972
- Genre: Funk // Reggae // Calypso
- Available on: Spotify // Google Play // Pandora // Amazon // iTunes // YouTube
- Recommendation by Ian Magnuson
“This is a Rastafarian folk song. Dedicated to the world’s first hippie.”
Every once in a while, you come across a band that has such a unique sound that it defies pigeonholing, which often leads to its sound being somewhat timeless. I don’t necessarily mean that the sound is “classic” in the traditional sense, more listening alone doesn’t indicate how, where, or when it came from. Cymande certainly fits all the above criteria, offering a fresh take on funk, blending jazz, reggae, soul, and traditional African beats, into a sound unlike anything you’ve likely encountered before. Accordingly, they have their own name, reflecting the Afro-Caribbean roots, calypso. Calypso is perhaps a sub-genre of the Afro-Caribbean scene that developed in Trinidad and Tobago in the early 20th century that spread quickly around the region.
Founded in 1971 and quickly discovered in a Soho club in London, Cymande had a brief four-year run touring around the United Kingdom – the first of which they opened for the legendary Al Green no less! Just by looking at the breakdown of the eight-man group, you can see the priority placed on percussion commonly associated with African-styled music, with three percussionists, three saxes, and your usual guitar and bass staples rounding out the group. The music almost begs for you to get up and move, or at the very least give a good conservative tap of the foot. If you need a bit of a funky/jazzy pick-me-up, I can’t recommend “Dove” enough. Side note: Cymande, pronounced “See-man-day” means dove in Calypso!
The opening line begins the song, aptly named, “Rastafarian Folk Song”, and goes on to praise Jah Rastafari, the name that, to my understanding, symbolizes the Holy Spirit of the Christian Holy Trinity. Rastafarians, and it can be assumed that a number of band members would identify as such, believe that Jah resides in every human, and use the term “I and I” to replace “we” in speech as a form of solidarity between all men. In a nutshell, me being led to learn this through the music is a good example of the goal of Backyard Global. You never know what you’ll learn by just listening to music or watching movies! Read more about Rastafarians on the Wikipedia page for it.
Overall, I can’t recommend Cymande enough. Their beats may sound somewhat familiar as their music is often sampled, perhaps most famously by Grandmaster Flash himself. Reflecting upon my timeless sentiment, the band almost confirmed my thoughts saying upon their breakup that “their music arrived in the U.K. long before its time”.
Recommended songs: Dove, Getting it Back, Zion I
Fusing traditional music of the “Kel Tamsheq (as the Tuareg people call themselves)” with modern western rock music, they’ve created a fascinating and enigmatic sound that certainly feels at home in the desert of Kidal.
Perhaps they serve as some fairy-tale like mirror reflecting the best of us, or perhaps it just illustrates the deep cultural heritage we share as countries. Either way, Jack Broadbent, of “rural England” as his website ambiguously notes, has (or at least will likely) joined the ranks of previous masters like Jimmy Page, Mick Jager, and Eric Clapton as those who just “get it”.
It’s difficult to explain the dynamicity of Totorro’s Home Alone. The four-piece band originated in Rennes, France. Home Alone represents a notable departure from post-metal toward the guitar-driven textures of post-rock and the complex rhythmic structures of math-rock.
Yosi utilizes a great deal of environmental and acoustically scintillating sounds to start off many of his tracks. For example, “Bubbles” begins with bouncing rubber balls on what is probably a wooden floor and “Wandering” leads us in with a stroll on a crushed gravel pathway.
Using only two acoustic guitars, the duo mashes up a wide array of genres including jazz, metal (track Misty Moses has some very Metallica-y riffs), flamenco, rock, and whatever-the-hell “world music” means together to create a powerful auditory journey.
"Shintaro Sakamoto feels like an audible version of Japanese fashion. Having both Western and Eastern roots, its eclectic combination creates a whole that seems to be greater than the sum of its parts."
"Their beats may sound somewhat familiar as their music is often sampled, perhaps most famously by Grandmaster Flash himself. Reflecting upon my timeless sentiment, the band almost confirmed my thoughts saying upon their breakup that “their music arrived in the U.K. long before its time”."
"If you’re looking for some of the best blues music around, there are some obvious places to look: Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit… but Belgrade? I wouldn’t have believed it until I heard her but Ana Popovic of Belgrade, Serbia, could probably be Europe’s Susan Tedeschi.
"Keeping with a longish British tradition of mastering American music styles (such as the Rolling Stones growing up on early American blues music), Gibbons styles his music as something that might feel at home in the height of the Motown era. He jumps from R&B, to poppy rap, to smooth funky ballads, and even some jazzy backbeats, all in the same album.
"I’m starting to feel a bit homesick for a place I've never been after watching the official music video of "Africa". Its dazzling shots of the African savanna, sprawling metropolises, and, most importantly its lively and beautiful people show a side of Africa we unfortunately rarely see here in the United States."