Tuesday, July 14, 2009
SOZNAK - Dear Dad Tango (Home Made Rekords)
The debut release from this multi-faceted cross-cultural collective from Newcastle-upon-Tyne is one of the most surprising and consistently engaging treats of the year.
With members drawn from the refugee and other migrant communities from Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Iran and Iraq - as well as the UK, Spain and Ireland - Soznak (who take their name from a Middle-Eastern musical mode) honed their craft during al fresco street gigs in the north-eastern city. And despite a seemingly uncontrollably large array of local musicians, this is a taut and highly accomplished set of songs.
After a loose, upbeat horn-driven opener, it’s Angolan Beriso Lutonda who really kicks things off with Weekily, a humorous tale of new-to-the-UK payment woes backed by an irrepressible soukous-meets-highlife meeting of sparkling guitar and punchy horns, with vibrant gospel backing from the wonderfully-named Black Voices choir from Birmingham.
That track is is followed by Sugar Stick, a part-Afrobeat, part-Zimbabwean jazzy almost-instrumental, and so it goes on through Congolese rumba, Cubanismo, North African and middle-eastern flavours, flamenco, and of course Argentine tango (the closer and title track is a madcap and melancholy take on that melodramatic genre).
Those funky horns are the main constant here, along with always-engaging vocalists, but apart from that pretty much anything goes, with the manifold influences pouring out of every tune. Put this lot in the same bag of multi-rooted uniqueness as the 3 Mustafas 3, Abdul Tee Jay’s Rokoto, jazz-funk era Blockheads, Strummer and Mescaleros, 17 Hippies and Think of One. They sound like all of these and none of them – fresh, funky, hugely entertaining and totally, uniquely, wonderfully themselves.