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African rhythms

Fed up with the current relentless dance scene? Andrea Baxter thought you might be so went in search ofJon K and Matthias who have just opened two clubs in Glasgow specialising in African and Latin music.

Is it just me. or does club culture seem to be undergoing a recession of its own at the moment? lfyou're feeling like a bit ofa change from constant breakbeats. bleep bleep twiddle loops and Right Said Fred. the mellow rhythms of African and Latin music could provide an alternative. Coincidentally there are two— count 'em African clubs opening in Glasgow this month. which could spark an upsurge of interest in the genre: Jon K's Oja and Matthias‘s Matata.

'K‘. as I suppose his friends call him. is a well-known-if-you-know-that-sort-of-thing Ghanaian musician and producer previously based in London who says his decision to branch out here was because ‘there's always room for alternative music to the usual diet‘. Playing a mixture of township jive. soukous. makossa. juju. hi-life and Columbian salsa. he stresses the diversity of African/Latin sounds which mean that within ten minutes your feet can take you on a quick tour of the tropics via three different music styles. Of all these. the forms most familiar to the casual listener to. say. Andy Kershaw or Radio Scotland‘s Earthbeat are probably the poppier sounds of Zimbabwean (like the Bhundu Boys) or South African (like Hugh Masekela) artists- ‘well. obviously that‘s because of the political situation which means that everything about the culture of the people is highlighted. But I think that people will also like more unusual sounds— if they want to know more about what I play I‘ll explain or try to

order it for them but really I‘m not out to educate

the people of Glasgow. just to create a good dance atmosphere for them to enjoy themselves‘.

The foot-tapping element is bound to predominate when most clubbers won‘t be able to understand the words (unlike. say. the poetry of Utah Saints ofcourse). Matthias. who seems to have lost his surname en route. is an English Cameroonian so he must have had a good World Cup who doesn‘t either. ‘But sometimes when you know the lyrics it really puts you off the song! The words come in as part of the rhythm. not as some kind of message of understanding. like another instrument.‘





Because. as yet anyway. African musicians are rarely well-known in the West except as a homogeneous mass. there isn't the individual adulation or promotion which clouds reception of the music. Matthias thinks this is crucial to its laidback appeal: ‘African musicians really play for

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Jon K olea

pleasure. the commercialisation ofit hasn‘t been around fora long time'. But mostly ‘it just feels so good to dance to.‘

()er is (m .S‘aturdays a! The A rches and Manna is on Thursdays at M ardi (1' ms. See listings for details.


SD The List ll 24 October 1991