VARIOUS ARTISTS — Pop Makossa: The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976-1984

Album: Pop Makossa: The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976-1984

Artist: Various Artists

Label: Analog Africa

Release Date: June 16, 2017

www.analogafrica.bandcamp.com

The Upshot: Like the best kind of disco, but warmer and funkier and rougher around the edges.

BY JENNIFER KELLY

If you know one song in the bass-heavy, disco-evoking makossa style of Cameroon, it is likely Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa,” the source of Michael Jackson’s “mama say mama san mamakossan” refrain in “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.”  Analog Africa’s crate-digging excursion tends towards a rougher, grittier groove, found somewhere in the crease between high life and Chic with rubbery low-end booty-bumping foundations that pulse with vibrant life.

Of these 12 tracks, “Yaounde Girls” by Mystic Djim & the Spirits is maybe the most satisfying, with its timbale-rattling percussion, its slinky girl-group chorus (“Yaounde Girls…all they need is loving”) and its agitated, superbly physical bass line, which blurts and bloops and bumps with three-dimensional heft. Yet it’s far from the only winner. For instance, though you might not have heard of Bill Loko’s synth-writhing “Nen Lambo” (like the Thompson Twins in glitter-splotched platform heels) — I hadn’t — it was a big enough hit in Cameroon that its teenage super-star had to flee the country, and this exuberant version gives you a good idea of why. Pasteur Lappé’s “Sekele Movement” with its bright blasts of brass and again, sorry to be repetitive, that wonderful pushing, seething bass, is enough to make you reconsider your allegiances in the punk vs. disco battle lines. And the long, multi-drummed, multi-rhythmed “Africa” by Clément Djimogne engages the body while letting the mind float free, stuffed to the margins with positive energy.

It all sounds like the best kind of disco, but warmer and funkier and rougher around the edges. Even the slickest variety of makossa turned into the best part of a Michael Jackson song — the good stuff is immeasurably better.

DOWNLOAD: “Yaounde Girls” “Sekele Movement”

 

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