World Skip the Beat host Parker Mah presents his Best of 2013 with a spread of his favourite global music offerings of the past 12 months. 2013 saw a continuing trend towards EPs and singles with no physical release, which is why these are listed in a separate category this year. All lists are displayed in no particular order.
Albums were selected, like last year, based on originality, production value, consistency, and overall booty-shakingness.
TOP WORLD ALBUMS
Fimber Bravo (Trinidad) – Con-Fusion – Moshi Moshi Records
A dark and groundbreaking album from Trinidadian master Fimber Bravo, tastefully layering the bright timbre of the steel pan over evocative beats.
Sample track: Life After Doomsday
Oy (Ghana/Switzerland) – Kokokyinaka – Creaked Records
Joy Frempong follows her debut album First Box Then Walk with an even more audacious stew of samples, stories and song.
Sample track: Market Place
Son Palenque (Colombia) – Leyendas de la Música Afro-Colombiana, Kamajanes de la Música Palenquera – Palenque Records
Hat-tip to label head Lucas Silva who has outdone himself with the first new recording from Afro-Colombian legends Son Palenque in 20 years, bolstered by excellent bass work from musical director Edgar Gutiérrez.
Sample track: Agua’ta
Débruit & Alsarah (France/Sudan) – Aljawal – Soundway Records
From out of left field, this unlikely combination of French producer Débruit and Sudanese-born singer Alsarah floats on ethereal hymns and pure originality.
Sample track: Jibal Alnuba
Owiny Sigoma Band (Kenya/UK) – Power Punch – Brownswood Recordings
The sophomore release from Owiny Sigoma band delivers a one-two knockout of infectious bass-driven rhythms and sweet harmonies.
Sample track: Owiny Techno
Astrid Engberg (Denmark) – Poetry is Gone – Phonosaurus Records
This surprise favourite from Danish singer Astrid Engberg blends afro vibes with future hip-hop. The production quality is top-notch.
Sample track: Ouaga Noma
Jupiter & Okwess International (DRC) – Hotel Univers – Out Here Records
An album of raw afro-funk that was over 20 years in the making from Kinshasa-based musician Jupiter Bokondji, he of the documentary Jupiter’s Dance.
Sample track: Congo
Art Melody (Burkina Faso) – Wogdog Blues – Akwaaba Music
Akwaaba brought us a number of gems this year, including this fantastic follow-up release from Burkinabé rapper Melo. Intense flow paired with minimalist beats from the likes of Redrum, DJ Form and others.
Sample track: Yam Sabaab
Mop Mop (Italy/Germany) – Isle of Magic – Agogo Records
A stunning record that is Mop Mop’s most percussive to date. Brimming with afro influences and driving marimbas, I couldn’t help but strut while listening.
Sample track: Kamakumba
Siba (Brazil) – Avante – Mais Um Discos
Manguebeat master Siba, of Siba e a Fuloresta, blesses us with a varied yet tempered album, his first solo outing, full of delicate arrangements and fantastic guitar work.
Sample track: Preparando O Salto
Mama Julia y Los Sonidos Ambulantes (Colombia) – Pa’ que se lo goce – Independent
Their late autumn show at Mikasa Bar in Cali blew me away. Their seamless blend of jazz, hip-hop and other urban styles with afro-colombian rhythms, gaita flutes and marimba, polished by several solid months of touring, is electrifying. See our exclusive (Spanish-language) interview with them here.
Sample track: Distrito
Daora: Underground Sounds of Urban Brazil: Hip-Hop, Beats, Afro and Dub – Mais Um Discos
Props to Lewis Robinson & curator Rodrigo Brandão for one of the most genre-bending modern Brazilian music compilations to date (and that’s saying a lot!). If you want to know what’s really going on in Brazilian music today, look no further.
Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & ‘80s –Soundway Records
Funky, soulful gems from beginning to end, this two-volume set proves these tracks are no worse for wear. Pick one and try it on.
Dur-Dur Band (Somalia) – Volume 5 – Awesome Tapes from Africa
Brian Shimkovitz spent years trying to track down members of this band for permission to re-release their music. Now we understand why – searing funk served up Mogadishu-style.
Uproot Andy – Worldwide Ting Vol. 1 & 2 – Que Bajo
Brooklyn’s own secretly Canadian producer / DJ darling, Uproot Andy, riding the wave of his hugely popular Que Bajo nights, puts out all of his bangers on two compilations. For free. Need we say more?
Angola Soundtrack 2: Hypnosis, Distorsions & Other Sonic Innovations 1969-1978 – Analog Africa
Just look at the title and tell me it isn’t badass. I dare you.
Wanna check out the rest of Parker’s year-end favourites? Head over to the World Skip the Beat tumblr, where you can find the rest of the list. And if global sounds are your jam, be sure to check out the accompanying playlist that will act as the perfect soundtrack to recap the highlights of 2013.