Good Music We Can Know

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.


Doug S. said...

Great to see that you've been welcomed into the heart of this (reissue) thing. Your enthusiasm and championing of WO from the start surely played a significant role in Luaka Bop's decision to do it. Cheers to you.

Anonymous said...

Its a shame that Good name was reissued in such small quantities... thats just wrong.

Flash Strap said...

Yeah, I really hope they do a second run or something.

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic feat! I love that you got to be involved in the reissue process. I'd been hearing news of this work recently, but it's so smooth and good to know your tasty toasting has reached another level of recognition my friend. I want the paper, but they're sold out! (same with the button). Also we must listen to it together sometime before we be lyin' dead.


jean said...

Are you planning to print some more news paper?
I'm really interested in reading it but i was little late on this post. It's already sold out. I have been following your blog for quite a time now, first when i found the afrokraut control car mixtape. I have also been using one of your mixtape exotiste II on a daily radio show in Lausanne (switzerland). It was stunning. Thank you,

Byrne said...

Firestrap, thank you for your appreciation & sharing of William Onyeabor's music.

I first browsed to your original Onyeabor blog post & I returned tonight to discover loads more treasures.

Flash Strap said...

Thanks for saying so, Brother Byrne.

Jean: I have no idea about the paper-- that's entirely Luaka Bop's affair-- but I have to say it excites me to imagine you playing Exotiste on Swiss radio, and I thank you!

Mo: I cannot die until we lay down and listen

Anonymous said...

Flash, what speakers and receiver do you have ??????

Flash Strap said...

I have a feeling you're just treating me to a ribbing, Anonymous (and fairly so), but in case you are really curious: the receiver is a Pioneer SX-535 and the speakers are Fisher XP-60s (from before they went Japanese and dropped in quality, nice green-and-orange textile grills too). Not the most auspicious vintage gear but I get a pretty good sound for the space, it's all aesthetically quite lovely, and it fits the budget for now. Also, I often listen on 70's Pioneer SE-30 headphones, and while I've heard better cans in my life, the sound is a miracle for the price (30 bucks on ebay) and they look like they came from a Kubrickian dystopia. What are you playing on at the moment?

Anonymous said...

Not a ribbing at all, was really curious after you wrote about the Dual 1019!! Thank you for answering. I did ask in a pretty ridiculous way.... I myself picked up a sansui receiver and a pair of paradigm speakers for dirt cheap a while back, and now want to make a modest upgrade.... Just bought the william onyeabor newspaper right now (which is in stock again btw, if anyones wondering) - really look forward reading your piece.... You write so well, its a true pleasure to read your posts and of course also thank you for the musical treasures you share! You a cool man.