In Rotation: Francis Bebey's 'African Electronic Music, 1975-1982'
In Rotation: Francis Bebey's "African Electronic Music, 1975-1982." A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers and contributors are listening to right now...
French label Born Bad has reissued an important collection of work by Cameroonian-born songwriter-protest singer Francis Bebey, who in his prime was one of the most visible purveyors of the rhythmic makossa music. The release offers a look at an underexamined corner of early electronic music. Bebey, a writer, poet and musician, traveled throughout his life, at various points living in both the United States and Ghana before ending up in Paris. He released 20 albums, many of them using acoustic instruments.
In the 1970s, however, Bebey secured an early synthesizer that he installed in his living room and on which he began composing. Over the next decade, he continued accumulating drum machines and other devices and created curious, magnetic sounds that used as their base the complicated rhythms of the makossa beat -- as crafted on electronic gear that changed the shapes and textures of the tones without affecting the propulsion.
-- Randall Roberts
Photo: Francis Bebey in his studio. Credit: Pierre René Worms