Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Hypertension Functions: Flash Strap & William Onyeabor, a love story
Over the summer I was contacted by Luaka Bop with regards to our mutual appreciation of the fantastic Mr. William Onyeabor. I learned of their long-in-the-making plans to release a deluxe, remastered Onyeabor compilation. We spoke on the phone, and I was treated to a fascinating tale, outlining a recent Luaka Bop expedition to Enugu, Nigeria to meet Onyeabor and learn something, anything, about the elusive figure (much of that tale is satisfyingly laid out here, thank goodness, and I highly recommend the read). In their bold, egalitarian magnanimity, they invited me to contribute to a newspaper project, one part of the elaborate panoply of Onyeabor items which have exploded onto the earth as accompaniment for the comp album. I was to write a news story, covering the return to Enugu of Nigerian scholars from their studies abroad in the USSR. I wrote it, made it as strange as I could, and the other day I finally got to see it in print. Pretty cool.
You can read the whole paper, which is chock full of weird pseudo-journalism, metatextual reportage, Onyeabor referentiality, and actual information, if you purchase it here. It's only five bucks. But what I really do have to recommend-- if the means are available to you and you have the inclination-- is that you procure the grand, magisterial comp, Who Is William Onyeabor? particularly on vinyl, which comes in the form of a 3LP monster-- not only does the vinyl sound amazing, it also features several tracks that aren't on the CD/online version, including a revelatory remaster of "Jungle Gods," which I for one have never before heard without cataclysmic scratches and pops (it bears mentioning, though, that all the remasters presented are truly heroic).
I'm spinning it right now on my Dual 1019, that funkelectro sound like warm African air just pouring from the speakers and filling my explorer's room, and I'm a very pleased head-with-ears indeed. (The vinyl reissue of Good Name, if you can get it, is just insane, also-- the original cover art is gloriously reproduced-- and I hope it's followed by many more Onyeabor LP reissues.)
I'm not trying to shill, it just makes me very excited to see Onyeabor being presented to the world in a major way, and very relieved to see that it's been done so well-- the whole thing is such a labor of love and a monument to mystery. And I'm happy to have been a part of it, in my small way, and I wanted to tell you all about it. Anyway, may you all explode like atomic bombs today. Hiya hiya hiya hiya hiya.