Posts Tagged ‘sidestepper’

Live Review | Tropical Pressure Festival, July 15-17

Posted on August 11th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts, Reviews by .

Tropical Pressure Festival

 South American aficionado Russ Slater looks back at Tropical Pressure Festival, which took place at Mount Pleasent Eco Park in July

Sometimes it seems you have to go to the ends of the earth to find the good things in life. With Tropical Pressure I’m being slightly dramatic as it is only based in Cornwall, though it is still a long journey to get there.

Set high up in an ecological park overlooking Cornwall’s North Coast, it’s a festival full of bonhomie. Everyone’s smiling: the security, the organisers, the car park wardens, bar staff, everyone you meet on your arrival, and instantly you’re in the same boat too, wearing a smile as wide as you like. And smile you will until the festival is over.

Tropical Pressure is quite some way off the normal touring circuit, which makes the quality of their line-up even more impressive. Uniquely, the festival dedicates each day to a different region, with Friday being Latin America, Saturday focusing on Africa and Sunday skipping back across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, with each day having a number of clear highlights.

On Friday it was the double bill of Voodoo Love Orchestra followed by Sidestepper that ensured everyone started the weekend in their dancing shoes. The new look Sidestepper, who were playing their Real World-released Supernatural Love album, have switched electronic beats for percussion and with that turned their club-friendly sound into one seemingly tailor-made for festivals with a superb band playing dexterous Afro-Colombian rhythms and offering cliché-free positivity.

Saturday’s African set offered a real mix of fusions with Vula Viel’s marimba-led psychedelia and Dele Sosimi’s solid Afrobeat grooves leading the charge before Guy One – who relatively few people seemed to know – stunned everyone with an incredible closing set showcasing his astonishingly-emotive falsetto and mastery of the raw two-stringed kologo guitar. Purportedly a huge star in north Ghana, where the Frafra people think of him as the number one guy (hence the name), he was backed by the Berlin-based band The Polyversal Souls who were great companions with an obvious Ethiopian jazz fascination. Rousing and rhythmic it was a stirring way to end activities on Saturday’s main stage.

Labelled Caribbean day Sunday was mostly devoted to reggae, meaning you were never far away from a singer shouting ‘one love’, ‘positive vibrations’ or ‘feeling irie’ before drifting into an off-beat rhythm. The result was the least interesting day musically (despite Hollie Cook offering some salvation), though the constant throng of people dancing in the sun didn’t seem to mind too much.

Aside from the main bands the line-up also included a fine assortment of well-being, music and dance workshops, family games and DJ sets as well as Rambunctious Social Club’s tent of laid-back grooves and interactivity whenever you needed a change of pace. With just two main stages for live music and three tents/spaces for DJs it’s not the biggest festival you’ll ever go to, but it may well be the brightest.

With such an abundance of festivals these days Tropical Pressure showed that passion and creativity, rather than elaborate fanfare or over-ambition, should fuel a festival’s spirit. Through well-chosen bands, a gorgeous setting, great vegetarian and vegan food and an intimacy that means you instantly feel part of a community of like-minded souls, Tropical Pressure is a great example of how to run a world music festival. It’s also a sure-fire way to put a smile on your face.

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Sidestepper – Supernatural Love | Album Review | Top of the World

Posted on February 9th, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Chris Moss

Sidestepper - Supernatural Love Cover

The beating heart of Afro-Colombia

Colombia’s African musical traditions are often overlooked both at home and internationally. The electro-cumbia pioneers Sidestepper – a fluid outfit co-founded in 1996 by British DJ/producer Richard Blair, who are based mainly in Bogotá – use their latest album to distil them down to crisp vocal lines, taut guitar fingerwork and the earthy textures of hand drums and traditional shakers, sticks and flutes. Lead singer Erika ‘Eka’ Muñoz sounds increasingly like Totó La Momposina (one of Blair’s biggest inspirations): half shaman, half community leader, initiating call-and-response cycles that whirl loosely around the rhythms.

As with all Real World productions, the accent is on hybrids, with an unashamed populism. ‘Come See Us Play’ is a Mercedes Sosa-style chant with an English-language chorus to tease the listener in; the title-track has a rolling, country-style guitar evocative of road movies and gospel choirs. There’s dub, funk, a trippy sound effect opening one track, a bluesy guitar closing another. But Africa is all over every song, adding edge and an exploratory shape. This is a very cool, well-crafted album of celebration and cultural reclamation.

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Now listen to this… Shanren, The Gloaming and Sidestepper

Posted on January 29th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .

Songlines Playlist

Here at Songlines Towers we’re always on the lookout for the most exciting music from around the world. Check out our playlist of the latest tracks that we’ve been listening to.

Shanren – ‘Drinking Song’
Tying in with Carrie Gracie’s playlist in the new issue (March 2016, #115) is ‘Drinking Song’ by Chinese folk band Shanren. Minority drinking songs seem to be a bit of a theme this issue. The over-lit live performance is interlaced with fun animations.

The Gloaming – ‘Fáinleog (Wanderer)’

The second album by The Gloaming, 2, is out on February 26. Coinciding with the album’s release, the band will be performing at London’s Union Chapel.

Anchorsong – ‘Oriental Suite’

The Tokyo-born London-based producer merges his newfound appreciation for vintage West African music with his homeland for this track. Read the review of his new album Ceremonial in issue #116 (on sale March 4).

DJ Khalab & Baba Sissoko – ‘Kumu’

DJ Khalab and Malian griot Baba Sissoko took home the Track of the Year accolade at the Worldwide Awards 2016 for ‘Tata’. This song is another taken from Khalab & Baba, released on Wonderwheel Recordings.

Sidestepper – ‘Supernatural Love’

Colombian cumbia group Sidestepper perform the title-track from their forthcoming album Supernatural Love in their home of Bogotá. Read more in the new issue (March 2016, #115).


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New issue (March 2016) on sale now!

Posted on January 29th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .

March (#115) Edition

Spanish singer Buika; Irish-American group The Gloaming; Burkina Faso hip-hop artist Smockey; Colombian electro-cumbia pioneers Sidestepper; and veteran English folk duo Show of Hands

The March (#115) edition is on sale in the UK from today. The free exclusive 15-track covermount CD features ten tracks from our latest Top of the World albums and a guest playlist by BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie.

This issue also comes with bonus CD, Polish Radio Folk Festival, which includes 16 free tracks by the finest Polish acts who have performed at the event since its inception in 1998.

Featured on the Top of the World CD are new tracks from Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, Grammy-Award winning band Grupo Fantasma and Iranian singer Mamak Khadem.

• Buika – We talk to the singer about the music she discovered after confronting her fears.
• The Gloaming – The Irish-American five-piece talk about their forthcoming second album.
• Sidestepper – The Colombian group return with a fresh new sound on their latest album.
Show of Hands – We speak to the Englis
h folk stalwarts about the people behind their songs.
Smockey – Bram Posthumus finds out how the artist used reggae and rap to change Burkina Faso’s political course.




• Beginner’s Guide to The Chieftains.
• My World: A playlist and interview with BBC China editor Carrie Gracie.
• Postcard from Alter do Chão, Brazil.
• Introducing… Imarhan and Dubioza Kolektiv.
• Spotlight on The Other Classical Musics.
• Quickfire: Jane Beese, Nolwenn Leroy and James Yorkston.
• What’s New, including the upcoming Red Cross benefit album The Long Road; Mali’s Festival on the Niger; Sandblast’s benefit concert at London’s Bolivar Hall; and the Zaatari refugees.
• Reviews of the latest CD, book and world cinema releases.

Buy the new issue here.

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