Tapeworm: Analog Africa’s rare releases

Photo of Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou courtesy of Analog Africa


In the last few years Frankfurt’s Analog Africa has established itself as one of the world’s premiere reissue labels. Everything they release, from the astounding African Scream Contest series to their unstoppable Afrobeat mixtapes that are freely disseminated online, takes the burgeoning Afro-funk reissue world to the next level. And it’s all assembled and legally licensed by lone German record collector and world traveler Samy Ben Redjeb. He also keeps a blog with a detailed historical record.

The label’s latest release, a set of rare recordings by Benin’s Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou, is a collection of singles dating from the 70s, secretly recorded for smaller labels while the group’s major label head was away on business in Nigeria. Originally released in extremely limited editions by amateur fans, the sound is recognizable Afro-beat: relentless power and confidence, off-key horns, and poly-rhythms hammered with stoic continuity. The lo-fi production of songs like “Se We Non Nan” lend the recording an intimacy not found on comparable compilations. The CD, which includes extensive (read: obsessive) liner notes and full-color reproductions of the original record sleeves, is put together with tremendous style and care.


Also, with puppets: