West Nile Funk

Ex-Centric Sound System - West Nile Funk
Ex-Centric Sound System – West Nile Funk
New York City, USA – Ex-Centric Sound System has a new recording titled West Nile Funk. “The first time you stand next to the sound system trucks at Carnival in Trinidad it is unbelievable,” exclaims Yossi Fine, founder and bassist for Ex-Centric Sound System. “On one truck alone, the amount of low end sound, the number of speakers: it’s huge! That is what we tried to create on the album,” he
says referring to West Nile Funk.

This former bassist for David Bowie, Lou Reed, and Me’Shell Ndegocello wants the
listeners to feel the bass in their bodies. “When you stand in front of the
trucks, you can’t help it. The way you dance changes,” says Fine. “You stand
there once and you will be converted
.” ine—joined by traditional Ghanaian musician-dancers Prince Nana Dadzie and Miss Adevo, and Moroccan-Israeli drummer Michael Avgil—says the sound system is a very important element in the African diaspora for gathering people. “In Africa, they do it with drums,” continues Fine, who was born in Paris to a West Indian singer and an Israeli guitarist. “But in the Islands they do it with these trucks.”

But there are other ambitions for West Nile Funk, the band’s second full-length
release. “I am a DJ too,” explains Fine. “I have spun world music dance albums, but most of them are either too soft on beats or too soft on the African
element. People just get off the dance floor! Being a band with Ghanaian dancers
and musicians, when we play live, people dance. I wanted to get that on record,
capture the energy from our live show, but also create something that is totally
progressive. A new sound for the future

Ex-Centric turns the idea of a sample on its head. Each track includes a
complete African song from start to finish, rather than small snippets repeated
throughout or looped. “This is not electronic. It is us playing live,” says

A lot of people are trying to do everything with hip hop,” Fine explains. “But generally African music is not suited for hip hop. Dancers in Africa need to
dance faster, to get into the trance element. Our drummer plays Afrobeat but not
in a ’70s way. We want to take it into the future. Just as Hip Hop took a bar or
two of soul and repeated it, we do that with Afrobeat. We go into a specific
part of the beat and speed it up and play it over and over. It’s modernizing
that stuff

The songs themselves alternate between traditional and modern. “The Original Raga”
is a Hutu wedding song. “Ebae” tells of Dadzie and Favouz’s experience as Ghanaians living in Israel. The song includes some Hebrew.

In the beginning, I just recorded any good musicians from Africa,” says Fine about the origins of the group. “But they didn’t end up in the band. ‘Alice in Voodooland’ includes some of those other guys.” The horn sound comes from a hunter from Burundi blowing and vocalizing through a pipe. He is joined by a storyteller from Togo. And Nana rounds it out with a Ghanaian dancehall vocal.

West Nile is everything west of the Nile. Not just West Africa but the Caribbean and America too,” Fine explains. “When we called our first album Electric Voodooland, it was originally going to be Electric Motherland. But it is everything that is Black. It’s the same with ‘Alice in Voodooland,’ but this
time the emphasis is more on the funk elements rather than the dub element. We
did the down-tempo dub element on the first album and we did not want to repeat
that. I wanted a different album altogether to go completely to the future. We
do not want to retro all the African things that have been done. Our logo, the
Sankofa, is a Ghanaian bird looking back at its egg, and it means to look
backwards in order to move forward. For this album, the forward is extremely

West Nile Funk is the first album on Fine’s EXS label (which stands for Excentric Sounds). Fine recorded the next release expected on the label, The AfroRhythms, in Jamaica. He says EXS will “always revolve around cultural world music but of our times.”

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Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.