Nicknamed “the white jewel of the Indian Ocean,” the Somalian capital of Mogadishu sits on the Horn of Africa, a longstanding intersection where Arabic, African and Asian-subcontinent cultures meet. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that this 45-minute mix of Somalian music from the '70s and '80s hints at all of these influences, with an understandable similarities to nearby Ethiopian and more remote Anglo-American music.
When last we heard from Berlin-based Jakarta Records, we got the lowdown on record hunting in North Africa for their newly-formed—and incredibly named—imprint, Habibi Funk. Willing to signal-boost fellow cratediggers, they've been hosting a Somali disco-mix cassette compilation, put together by another German reissue label, Çaykh Recordings.
As the Çaykh press release describes it, “proper releases” of Somalian music recorded before the 1991 civil war are very rare, so making this tape took some creativity. “[We] spent some months finding, compiling and editing rips of TV and live recordings on old VHS tapes and radio broadcasts to cassette tapes and here is what [we] got,” the accompanying text states. “Enjoy!”
The mix is definitely easy to enjoy. Fans of the Ethiopiques series already know how potent East African funk can be. During the second song, by Somali music supergroup Waaberia, a waltz gives way to a relentlessly intense chorus. The next track has a panning echo that wouldn't sound out of place on a reggae track, which, incidentally, the next one, Qadiijo Qalanjo's “Diriyam Oo Hoo Diriyam” nearly is.
There's plenty of loping rhythms, hot guitars and organs, and a spectrum of synthesizers to enjoy here; it's getting some good reception 'round the Afropop office, and is bound to be a success in yours. In the event that your office is a time-capsule of the '80s, you can order a cassette of Au Revoir, Mogadishu from Çaykh Recordings, here.