CYNEFIN Debut single

Musician Owen Shiers delves into his Welsh roots.
We’re happy to be supporting this fine new project Cynefin.
The journey begins with the debut single Cân Dyffryn Clettwr (Song of the Clettwr Valley) released today on Astar …..

 

 

Toto Features On New Jay Z album

A hefty sample of our Totó appears on the physical version of Jay-Z’s 4:44 featuring a loop of vocals from La Verdolaga on the track We Family. As Totó says ‘la musica ancestral’ is irresistible!

AMJ LP for release on Record Store Day in France and the UK April 22nd 2017

BELIEVE_Cover_digital.jpg

“Whenever I see the name AMJ Collective I know I’m going to be in for something special, something different, something unique.” DAVID RODIGAN MBE  BBC 1XTRA

“Un art de dub mix époustouflant!” … “The art of the breathtaking dub mix!"

FREDERIC PEGUILLAN  TELERAMA

This new release continues to showcase the dynamic future-roots sound of AMJ.

Following up on their Sky Blue Love album, the AMJ Collective now deliver an eight track set called 

Believe.

Rob Smith-RSD is at the controls once again delivering a masterful dub-scape. The album features the granddaughters of legendary Colombian artist Totó la Momposina on vocals - Oriana Melissa delivers a soulful lead on the song Believe, recorded when she was just eighteen years old.

AMJ meets RSD new album SKY BLUE LOVE

We are happy to be rolling out the debut album from the AMJ-RSD collaboration. A 15 track journey through chapters of dub quite unlike anything you will have heard before.

The album artwork is pretty special too featuring images from Japanese photographer Ikue Uyama plus fascinating sleeve notes telling the story of dub adventurer Rob Smith.

Already it is picking up some serious airplay including regular plays on David Rodigan's BBC Radio1Xtra show.

Now released in Japan and the UK with France and other European countries to come over the summer and autumn.

“An awesome album ... if you like dub and instrumental music you’re gonna love this! It really is very special.” DAVID RODIGAN BBC1Xtra

“Classic” GILLES PETERSON

Toto releases "Tambolero"

totobanner We are proud to announce the release of a new album by Toto la Momposina.

Tambolero

Click here to buy the album and find more information on this release.

A re-creation and re-imagining of the classic 1993 album ‘La Candela Viva’.

"You don’t normally get the chance to go back in time and recreate an album. Building on a classic project that began 24 years ago is a challenge and a delight!" John Hollis, producer.

An invitation to perform at the WOMAD Festival led to Totó’s participation in the first Real World Recording Week and ultimately to the recording of the songs – with legendary American producer Phil Ramone at the controls in 1991 and English producer John Hollis for the follow-up sessions in 1992 – that would become La Candela Viva. The international success of La Candela Viva, and the following two albums Carmelina 1995 and Pacantó 1999 (MTM/Colombia), would ignite Totó’s career in Colombia and finally see her recognized as a star in her own country. The music has continued to endure, including being routinely sampled by the world of dance and hip-hop (Michel Cleis, Da R3volution and Timbaland, to name but a few).

It was during the search for the original master tapes to find the parts for a Michel Cleis dance track that producer (and now son-in-law of Totó) John Hollis discovered something rather remarkable. Amongst the original 2” master tapes was a treasure trove of material: some 40 takes of 20 different songs. Material all involved had forgotten existed, until then. Not only was there a wealth of recorded material from the La Candela Viva sessions that didn’t make the original album there were also a number of previously unreleased songs too.

To restore the analogue tapes, which would otherwise slowly deteriorate, the first job was to bake them (literally!) to remove any moisture that had accumulated, making them playable again. The recordings could then be digitised to work with modern technology. A process of reassessing all the different versions and new songs, re-editing and over-dubbing began. "At this point it occurred to me that Totó’s granddaughters would add a nice texture to some of the chorus lines,” explains John. Totó happily agreed: “Claro, ellos son mis choristas [of course, they are my backing singers].” Soon after, Maria del Mar and Oriana Melissa entered The Wood Room at Real World Studios, the very same space in which Totó and her band performed their set live 23 years earlier; Maria was present, a toddler at the time, and Oriana hadn’t been born. “It was a surreal moment and they delivered their parts beautifully,” adds John.

The result is Tambolero. More than just a re-release of La Candela Viva it is a genuine re-appraisal and re-imagining of the original. Tambolero is in effect a new album and one in which Totó La Momposina continues to reflect the experience of her native Colombia through her life and music. The two things are intertwined: the story of Totó La Momposina is truly the story of modern Colombia. It has also become a celebration of Totó’s professional career, which will soon reach a landmark 60 years – six decades dedicated to preserving, researching and developing an ancestral tradition, the identity of a people, passed down through the generations. This album is part of the REAL WORLD GOLD series of reissues.

AMJ Release BELIEVE on 15th June

Click to hear a snippet and available now for pre-order.  

 

Due for release on June 15th, Believe features Oriana Melissa on lead vocals. Oriana, the granddaughter of Colombian singer and Latin Grammy Award winner Totó la Momposina, recorded this track at the tender age of 18. Her honeyed vocals gracefully coat the heavyweight rhythm section of Andy Clarke and Mark Spence on drums and bass, propelled along with a superb dub-inflected mix from Rob Smith.

This is the first AMJ release featuring the live band:

  • Drums - Andy Clarke (JA/England)
  • Congas - Paolo Moussa Hollis (Colombia/England)
  • Bass - Mark Spence (JA/England)
  • Trumpet and keyboards - Michel Padron (Cuba)
  • Lead guitar - Owen Shiers (Wales)
  • Rhythm guitar - John Hollis (England)
  • Lead vocal - Oriana Melissa Hollis (Colombia/England)
  • Chorus - Maria del Mar Hollis (Colombia/England)
  • Chorus - Camilo Menjura (Colombia)

www.amjcollective.com

Believe Believe Artwork

Toto la Momposina – Curura Remix Competition

Curura Remix Competition Toto’s music has been sampled in many well known dance and hip hop tracks over the years, including tracks by Michel Cleis and Timbaland. Now, it’s your turn!

In advance of the release of Toto’s new album ‘Tambolero’ we are running a remix competition that allows you download the stems to Toto’s classic track ‘Curura’ so you can do your own remix. The winner will win a pair of Bowers & Wilkins headphones. Competition closes 17 July.

For full details and T&Cs go to www.realworldrecords.com/totoremix. The rest, is up to you! Good luck

Real World release unseen Toto video

Totó La Momposina went to Real World Studios in August 1991 to begin recording what would prove to be her most important album, now being re-released on Real World Records as ‘Tambolero’. In this never before seen footage from the original recording session, Totó delivers an outstanding live performance of El Pescador, surrounded by friends and guests. The soundtrack has been restored and remixed and features as a track on the new album.

Pre order “Tambolero" from iTunes and download 'El Pescador’ instantly: iTunes - http://smarturl.it/Tambolero-iTunes

Also available via: iTunes - http://smarturl.it/Tambolero-iTunes Amazon - http://smarturl.it/Tambolero-Amazon Google Play - http://smarturl.it/Tambolero-Google

Asere US tour announced

Grafitti_01 okSMALL Asere will be touring the US next year in a show organised by Columbia Arts Management in association with our partners at Run Productions in France. It will be an enlarged line-up performing the band’s repertoire created over 4 albums.

Full details and dates to follow.

http://www.cami.com/?webid=2475

AMJ and WOMAD schools project: Wiltshire Gazette and Herald

oriana womad 2014Malmesbury students give their all on WOMAD main stage

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:  Monday 28th July 2014  By Barry Leighton

You could see it in their faces – elation at having their music appreciated by so many people, pride at being part of an outstanding performance at a major festival and very likely relief that it all went so well.

Some 100 young musicians, singers and dancers from in and around Malmesbury opened this year’s WOMAD Festival with a spectacular, hour-long set of high energy roots reggae that had thousands of fans dancing ecstatically in a field.

Every year since the festival moved from Reading to Charlton Park, near the town, in 2007 music students from Malmesbury School and a cluster of surrounding village schools have collaborated with a group of world class musicians to open the event.

This year they linked up with a Bristol based reggae collective AMJ - John Hollis, Mark Spence and Andy Clarke – and after just a week or so of rehearsals had the unnerving task of performing what they had learnt in front of a huge crowd at the festival’s main, open air stage.

As the early evening sun beamed onto hordes of people swarming onto the grassy arena at 7pm on Thursday the ranks of singers and musicians, all wearing colourful T-shirts, struck-up a reggae beat that immediately had everyone dancing.

The AMJ collective provided a slick and solid reggae Afro framework within which the young musicians and singers expressed themselves while the dancers hardly stopped moving throughout.

“It was amazing, really amazing,” said breathless 11 year-old dancer Lily Gee-Smith, of Malmesbury primary school, minutes after stepping off-stage.

“I was slightly nervous at first but once we got started it was great.”

Fellow Malmesbury primary school pupil Sakura Clemo, 10, one of the singers, said: “It was really, really fun. A great experience. When you get on stage you don’t feel nervous any more – you just enjoy it.

“I could see my mum, my grandparents, and lots of people I knew in the crowd. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it. They were all dancing.”

Toby Journeaux, 17, normally plays classical and jazz saxophone but had to adapt his style to fit into a Jamaican groove for what was called The Road To Reggae project.

“I’d not experienced reggae at all until the rehearsals so it was all new to me," he said.

“But I’ve learnt a lot and it went really well. We were improvising a lot, bouncing off each other. It was great fun.”

Another Malmesbury School student Lucy Kershaw, 16, one of the singers, said: “It was a really fantastic experience. They (AMJ) were great people to work with. They were really good teachers. Was I nervous? Not at all. AMJ made us all feel really confident.”

Malmesbury School music teacher Debbie Corscadden said: “It was brilliant. It went really, really well. The students pulled out all the stops.”

Around half the students on-stage were from Malmesbury School while another 50 were recruited for the session from five local primary schools – Malmesbury, Brinkworth Earl Danby, Minety, Lea & Garsdon and Crudwell.

Their performance set the template for the fo llowing three days which saw around 30,000 world music fans converge on the Earl of Suffolk’s back garden to experience approximately 100 artists/bands from virtually every corner of the planet.

http://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/11370985.Malmesbury_students_give_their_all_on_WOMAD_main_stage/?ref=rss

Malmesbury students learn a new rhythm for WOMAD appearance

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Saturday 19th July 2014 By Barry Leighton

The spirit of Bob Marley has been alive, well and kicking up some unfamiliar but decidedly heady rhythms in Malmesbury over the past week and a half as the town has gone reggae crazy.

In the space of five days around 100 children applied their musical skills to performing some funky reggae beats in preparation for next week’s WOMAD Festival.

Music students from Malmesbury School and a cluster of village schools in the vicinity have risen to the challenge of creating their own take on the sunshine sounds of Jamaica.

During a series of intense sessions throughout last week they were tutored at the school by three experienced Bristol-based reggae musicians John Hollis, Mark Spence and Andy Clarke, known collectively as AMJ.

The trio – who also brought along several guest musicians – taught the children, aged between eight and 18, the basics of the music that emerged from the ghettos of Kingston during the 1960s.

On Tuesday Malmesbury’s reggae ensemble had a dress rehearsal within the medieval walls of the ruined abbey that has been more used to the sombre chants of monks.

Now the young reggae orchestra is set to open the four-day WOMAD – World of Music Art and Dance Festival – with a performance of material especially written for the event by AMJ on the main stage at 7pm on July 24.

“There’s been a positive vibration ever since the project began,” said music teacher Debbie Corscadden, quoting a phrase from the Bob Marley song of the same name.

“The school has certainly been filled with sunny, laidback music,” she said. “The children were very excited to be working with professional reggae musicians. Some of them are accomplished musicians themselves – even those as young as 12.”

While the younger children focused on singing and dancing, the older ones have learnt how to apply their talents to the singular reggae beat on a variety of instruments including bass, brass, guitars, keyboards and percussion.

It has now become a tradition for children in the area to open the event on the Thursday night in front of thousands of fans with a performance alongside a top world music band.

http://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/11347055.Malmesbury_students_learn_a_new_rhythm_for_WOMAD_appearance/

To see a gallery of photos, click here.

Catrin & Seckou No 1!

no1Many congratulations to Catrin and Seckou for reaching the No 1 slot on the Amazon World Music Chart. The album is also doing well in the US, currently placed at No 4 on the US Amazon African Chart.  

Catrin & Seckou on BBC Worldwide

BBC_Worldwide_LogoCross-Cultural Collaborations First broadcast: Saturday 16 August 2014

Global Beats showcases up and coming musical talent from around the world. Presenter Max Reinhardt explores the unique music that can result when artists from different traditions come together to create new sounds. As a broadcaster, event curator and director, Max’s musical life has focused on bringing together contrasting and diverse musical traditions.

This week, the programme also featured the magical sound of strings with Catrin Finch’s harp making award-winning music with the kora of Seckou Keita.

Click below to listen to the interview.

[audio mp3="http://www.astarmusic.co.uk/wp-content/images/2014/08/BBC-Global-Beats-16-8-14.mp3"][/audio]

Catrin & Seckou at Lorient Festival: Cap Sene-Galles!

/ Propos recueillis par Justin Daniel Freeman /

Racontez-nous la genèse du projet.

Seckou Keita : En mars 2012, mon manager, John Hollis, m'appelle en urgence alors que j'étais à Rome pour un concert pour l'Onu. Il avait lancé un projet entre le Malien Toumani Diabaté et la Galloise Catrin Finch. À cause des événements au Mali, ça n'a pas pu se faire comme prévu. Je suis arrivé dans le studio de Catrin qui n'avait aucune connaissance de la musique africaine et dès le premier jour, nous avons travaillé six heures. Finalement, Toumani est arrivé juste avant le premier des cinq concerts et le duo s'est transformé en trio pour les dates de Cardiff et Swansea .

Catrin Finch : Quand on joue avec certains musiciens, il y a un respect mutuel qui s'installe vraiment et c'est ce qu'il s'est passé avec Seckou. On a décidé de pousser le projet plus loin et ça a abouti à l'album "Clychau Dibon" sorti à l'automne .

Comment définiriez-vous votre musique ? S. K. : C'est difficile de mettre une étiquette là-dessus. Ce n'est pas classique, ce n'est pas world... C'est le résultat d'une expérience totale où l'on a dû aller l'un vers l'autre et chercher la ressemblance entre nos deux harpes. En fait, ce n'est pas de la musique du monde, c'est de la musique pour le monde !

C. F. : Je viens d'un monde très classique, lui d'une tradition de griot, très orale... On est tellement éloignés au départ qu'on pourrait peut-être ranger notre disque sur l'étagère "tout et n'importe quoi" ! ?

Avez-vous rencontré des difficultés à accorder vos répertoires respectifs ?

C. F. : Lorsque j'ai découvert les rythmiques que Seckou a connues toute sa vie, ça a été très difficile à assimiler. Venant d'une formation classique, j'essayais d'écrire nos compositions mais ça n'avait aucun sens, c'est quelque chose qui se ressent. C'est en jouant qu'on a compris qu'il y avait de nombreuses structures communes .

S. K. : Il y a en fait beaucoup de passerelles entre les mélodies galloises des XVe et XVIe siècles et la musique traditionnelle du Sénégal, de la Gambie et du Mali qui datent à peu près de la même époque. Elles se "parlent". Ça a pris peu d'efforts à marier. D'autre part, Catrin est une incroyable joueuse de harpe, elle a réussi à complètement se déconnecter de sa formation. Pour l'un comme pour l'autre il s'agissait tout simplement d'élargir nos horizons .

Quel a été votre mode de fonctionnement ?

S. K. : Au départ, je suis venu avec mes compositions et quelques morceaux traditionnels, car il fallait trouver des ressemblances entre les deux harpes. Après des recherches sur Llio Rhydderch, avec qui j'avais partagé une tournée en 2002, on a retrouvé un air qu'on a repris, en y ajoutant nos idées ; c'est devenu "Les bras de mer". Il y a aussi "Robert Ap Huw meets Nialing Sonko", qui vient du mélange de deux morceaux traditionnels qui se jouent avec les mêmes notes. Je n'ai rien changé sauf le tempo. Ces deux morceaux parlaient "la même langue". Ça nous a trop excités, on s'est dit : "Woaw comment se fait-il que ça se passe comme ça ?" En fait, le travail avait déjà été fait par nos ancêtres !"

C. F. : Après deux ans à travailler ensemble, on se pousse plus l'un l'autre. Le processus de création change. Au départ il fallait poser des bases. Aujourd'hui on est plus créatifs, on comprend mieux ce que peuvent faire nos instruments. Pendant les balances, par exemple, on arrive avec des petites idées. On sort vite nos smartphones pour ne pas les oublier mais là on arrive à tout un catalogue prêt à être enregistré !

Il y aura donc une suite à Clychau Dibon ?

C. F. : Peut-être ! On ne sait pas encore, mais pour l'instant notre premier album est toujours "en vie". On ne va pas prendre une décision trop rapide mais on le souhaite .

S. K. : On a déjà fait une trentaine de dates ensemble, il nous en reste une vingtaine et, autour de février 2015, on devrait sortir nos projets personnels. On est prêts pour un nouveau projet commun mais le temps ne nous le permet pas pour l'instant, on doit d'abord retrouver nos sources .

Catrin, Seckou and AMJ rock WOMAD 2014

wom1The Astar family were out in full force this week as WOMAD sold all 40,000 tickets for the first time at Charlton Park. Catrin & Seckou played a blinder in the early hours of Saturday morning. Don't take our word for it... here is what the papers said.

"Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, a collaboration as delightful as it is unlikely. Finch, a Welsh harpist, was lined up a few years ago to play a tour with Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté, and warmed up by rehearsing with his Senegalese counterpart Keita. Diabaté eventually showed up mere hours before the first of those concerts, and though he was there for the tour, Finch felt a closer connection with Keita. They carried on working together and last year released an album of duets, Clychau Dibon, that proved a surprise hit.

Here, the blend of Manding and Welsh material finally stilled the buzz of chatter around the edge of the tent. They listened intently to each other, nodding and smiling as the songs took shape. They duelled playfully on “Future Strings”, Finch plucking ascending chords and running 47-string-long glissandi in a way that is hard for a kora to emulate, though Keita tried; when she knocked rhythms on the frame of her harp, his echo on the gourd of the kora was resonant and strong. The centrepiece of the set, as of the album, was “Robert Ap Huw Meets Nialing Sonko”: in the second half, when Finch took up the dancing Casamance pattern with her right hand, plucking the occasional bass string with her left, the whole tent held its breath."      Financial Times

"Following Thompson after midnight was the mellifluous award-winning sound of the kora and harp of Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch, as gorgeous as it is on record"   Independent

Copyright: York Tillyer

AMJ were also a huge success on the main stage with the Malmesbury schools' project. Their biggest gig yet and the Collective has expanded tenfold!