Best New Music: Made Kuti and the Notwist

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It’s Friday, which means it’s time for Spark’s music expert and iconic L.A. radio DJ Nic Harcourt to weigh in on what new music he’s got on repeat at the moment.

Made Kuti is a third-generation Nigerian artist with some impressive family lineage. His Grandfather Fela Anikulapo Kuti was the inventor (along with percussionist Tony Allen) of Afrobeat. A uniquely African musical hybrid mixing politics with a jazz-funk style of blaring horns, bubbling guitars, and hypnotic grooves has been leaving its mark on pop music since the ’60s.

That musical legacy continued with Made’s father, Femi Kuti, a circular-breathing sax player. And now the grandson is set to build on the family legacy with his debut single “Free Your Mind.”

He says the song is not about decadence but in fact the opposite, it’s about critical thinking, “It means to use your mind to its full potential, to think, to try to find answers and ask the right questions.”

The song is included on a remarkable new double album release Femi Kuti and Made Kuti – Legacy+ which is essentially father and son packaging their separate new albums together with each sharing their generational take on the family DNA.

Check out Made carving out his own place in the family sound “Free Your Mind” on the playlist or take a look at the video directed and animated by Olly Frostie.

For fans of: Fela Kuti & Africa 70, King Sunny Ade, Antibalas, Orchestra Baobab.

Germany’s The Notwist began life in 1989 as a grunge-metal rock band bouncing around the Munich club scene, shape-shifting through the nineties, making a jazz-electro rock album (1998’s Shrink) followed by a more indie rock outing Neon Golden in 2002.

Timing is everything and as the US indie scene was becoming a mainstream genre, the band picked up some radio play and found a small but passionate fan base. I remember booking them on my old KCRW radio show in Los Angeles and thoroughly enjoying their live in-studio set. I hadn’t really heard too much from them until this week, when I came across their first new album in seven years Vertigo Days which finds the band fully embracing their inner Can and Neu, morphing into a way cool electronic outfit complete with skittering beats, house jazz, jangly guitars and trance.

The band’s singer Markus Acher’s voice sits delicately over most of the material and the group have also called on a variety of international collaborators including noted jazz vocalists Ben LaMar Gay and Angel Bat Dawid, as well as Japan’s Saya and Argentina’s Juana Molina. Check out Molina’s contribution “Al Sur” with which is new on the playlist this week. If that one grab’s you delve into the full album. Highly recommended.

For fans of: Can, Arab Strap, The Sea and Cake, Junip

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The Artists,
Community Leaders,
The Chefs,
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Meet The Scientists, The Artists, Community Leaders, The Chefs, The Educators, The Investors and The Innovators Who are Spark.