“Maajo” began as a 12 released last year by Finnish producer Herman Prime. A 12 I have to admit that I completely slept on, probably because my Japanese dealers had it labelled as Deep House – a genre that I`m not sure I understand the current definition of. Is Deep House simply House without vocals, or is it DJ Sprinkles` superlative overdubs of Will Long? Anyhow, “Maajo”`s more “musical” or more “organic” than that, now expanded to a five-piece band and extended across four sides of vinyl. The players taking elements of West Africa`s Highlife tradition and placing it in a modern context. Sometimes the results come across like the Indie approximations of say Dirty Gold, Sleepy Doug Shaw, Sinkane, and Retiree. At others it`s incredibly authentic. Kalimba and echo`d chants, tin can percussion, and Konono #1 distortion mix with (Deep?) House pianos and Django Django Morricone Spaghetti Western / Sir Richard Bishop Desert Surf guitar.
There are similarities with the Fasaan family`s groove and the “New World Music” of Khidja, but even more so with Andrea Benini`s Mop Mop. “Musa Paradisa” could be this year`s “Kamakumba”. The opening “Kaba” recites Francis Bebey-toned poetry, “Darkness Is Good” throws in some African Head Charge, while “Maajo” itself is a sublime sunset dancer, of sweet harmonies and delicate picking. The warm breeze through tropical palms alluded to in the LP`s title and elucidated in the short story that makes up the liner notes. As if, perhaps, Noema would dare to rework Zambia`s WITCH.