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Lagos Chop Up|Lagos All Routes

Cementing his role as a David Byrne-style sonic curator for the 21st century, Damon Albarn's love for African music gets translated in these two sets of Nigerian Afropop on his Honest Jon's imprint. The comps dabble in swinging, ebullient highlife tracks and the searing fusion Fela Kuti rendered of the form to James Brown's superbad funk (a combination dubbed Afrobeat), while also offering the music made in Fela's shadow. The players collected here are mighty in their own way, all bearing regal titles: Sir Victor Uwaifa, Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, and Dr. Victor Olaiya (previous employer to Fela and Tony Allen). Nicknamed "the Evil Genius," Dr. Olaiya could be downright Frankensteinian, as on "Moonlight Highlife," which merges Bourbon Street brass (via an indolent trumpet line) to Lagos highlife. Kollington Ayinla buoys cowbell clanks against river-deep talking drums on his "Omo Mi Gbo Temi," while Shina Williams & His African Percussions do a deft Fela impression with lots of percussion, spidery guitar lines, and horn bursts over its 15-minute duration — albeit in a traditional 12/8 meter the man himself rarely employed. As the disc titles allude to both feasts and traffic jams, these long, winding sets cram joyous bounty to the point of tumultuous density.

 
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