Release Date: May 8, 2012
Record label: Born Bad Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, International, West African, African Traditions, Cameroonian, Neo-Traditional
African Electronic Music 1975-1982 compiles recordings from the earlier portion of multi-instrumentalist, writer, and musicologist Francis Bebey's output. Employing traditional Western and African instrumentation as well as innovations of the era like synthesizers and drum machines, his sound was a forward-thinking and richly engaging blend of African roots music, the makossa (urban popular music) of his native Cameroon, and the then-emerging electronic music movement. Simultaneously minimal and layered, Bebey's ebullient melodies, kinetic rhythms, and endearing vocals (sung and toasted in his native Duala as well as in French and English) highlight songs like the marimba- and bass-driven "New Track" and the wryly bubbly "Coffee Cola Song," paving the way for artists like Afro-funk fusionist Manu Dibango, electrified thumb piano innovators Konono No.
Francis Bebey is not exactly a household name. However, he was one of the last true “Renaissance men”, something of a Franco-African Leonard Cohen, if you will. Born in Cameroon and educated at the Sorbonne and in the United States, Bebey was a successful novelist, journalist, sculptor and diplomatic consultant. He also made music, releasing scores of albums from 1969 onward, mostly in a singularly eclectic, acoustic guitar-based mixture of African and Western styles.