||Décalé. and Bongo Joe Records present an all new compilation placing the spotlight on the Swiss experimental and electronic scene of the ‘80s and the early ‘90s. The compilation Intenta assembles under-appreciated gems, sought-after titles and newly mixed versions. It places leftfield synth-pop next to otherworldly jazz, and joins the dots between lyrical post-punk excursions and proto-house experimentation.
The compilation covers a period of transition: When songs mutated into sounds. When synthesizers and samplers became the règle du jeu in DIY music-making. When a politicized youth movement slowly gave way to the hedonistic embrace of techno culture in Switzerland. Intenta mines the outer fringes of a scene yet to be. Many of these experimenters were pretty much on their own. Often the only way you would get in touch was at the local synth dealer.
A spirit of bold improvisation inhabited studios between Geneva and St. Gallen: these artists were articulating pop sensibilities (Air Project, Sky Bird, D-Sire, Peter Philippe Weiss), entering computer worlds (Claudine Chirac, Olivier Rogg, Carlos Perón), exploring exotic shores (Andreas Hofer, Bells of Kyoto, Fizzè), building future discothèques (Aborted at Line 6, Carol Rich, UnknownmiX) or finding glacial bliss (Dressed Up Animals, Elephant Château, I Suonatori).
The compilation was put together by Matthias Orsett and Maxi Fischer. Intenta unfolds as a sonic story that is laid-back yet energetic, sultry yet daring. The two crate diggers set out to meet with many of the artists arrayed here. Memories were shared, wine bottles opened. There were moments of sadness: Karl Lienert Löwenherz (Dressed Up Animals) and Claudius Scholer (Sky Bird) passed away during the making of this project. What remains of this journey into the backrooms of Swiss popular culture, is Intenta. If you listen closely, it will reveal a nation on the move. Beyond the Matterhorn, there is sweetness and light.
Léve-Léve is the first ever compilation devoted to music from São Tome and Principe, two small islands situated off the coast of Gabon in central Africa. The album unravels a story of liberation where the music of Africa, Europe and the Americas unify with a carefree spirit personified by a phrase the islanders use all the time: “léve, léve” (“take it easy”). With echoes of Angolan semba and merengue, of Brazilian afoxê, of coladeira from Cape Verde and dance music from the Caribbean, it is a sound fiercely proud of its island heritage, sung in local dialects and using distinctive local rhythms.
On this record you can hear the cultural and social history of São Tome and Principe, and how live music represented its beating heart. Once known as the “Chocolate Islands” (remarkably, these two tiny islands were the largest cocoa producers in the world, though now this title acts as a reminder of its colonial past), through the years leading up to independence from Portugal, music would be a fundamental voice of liberation and conviviality. Os Úntués were one of the first groups to make an impression, releasing a couple of 7 inches in Angola – the litmus test of success for any of the islands’ groups. They united unique rhythms and dances like socopé, puita and dança-congo – borne from the islands’ largely slave-descendant population – with the sound of pop music beamed in on the radio from Europe, even adding in a little bit of soukous and Brazilian instrumentation. Their main rivals were Conjunto Mindelo, who fused São Toméan rhythms with rebita, an Angolan style, to create high energy puxa, a truly original island rhythm.
From the mid-1970s, coinciding with independence from Portugal in 1975, the islands’ groups featured an even stronger African influence and nowhere was that more apparent than with Africa Negra. They would listen to the latest records from Gabon, Zaire and Cameroon, taking inspiration and trying out phrasing from the greats of Central African guitar playing, developing a devoted fan base off the islands, as well as on. A score of other bands would follow a similar musical path, with a few getting their dues overseas in Angola, Cape Verde, Portugal and across Africa.
Os Leonenses (led by the iconic Pedro Lima), Conjunto Sangazuza, Sum Alvarinho and Conjunto Ecuador were just some of the other bands that formed a lively home-grown music scene that lit up the islands’ bars and open-air shows from the 1950s through to the mid-90s. Regardless of class or age, they were responsible for keeping the population entertained come the weekend, with Sunday matinee shows the highlight of the week, the music not stopping from midday until midnight.
As a Portuguese island colony that was for many years populated with slaves brought from Africa, São Tome and Principe has much in common with other Lusophone countries and boasts a richly complex and idiosyncratic musical DNA. Whilst the musical tapestries of Angola and Cape Verde are well known, São Tome and Principe’s secrets were assigned to the islanders themselves. Until now.