Revelatory reissue of Barney Wilen’s ambitious jazz-fusion journey, Moshi (1972), presenting the legendary French jazzman and Miles Davis-sideman’s wildly ambitious effort fusing recordings of Pygmy tribes with African rhythms and stellar avantjazz leanings, sounding little like anything before or since its release.
Newly available for first time in 30 years, this faithful, deluxe SouffleContinu reissue, now including an amazing DVD documentary, is a total must-have for fans of anything from Jon Hassell and Brian Eno’s hyperstitions to Sublime Frequencies’ Saharan rock jaunts or the fantasy trips of Spencer Clark!
“In 1970 Barney Wilen assembled a team of filmmakers, technicians and musicians to travel to Africa for the purpose of recording the music of the native Pygmy tribes. Upon returning to Paris two years later he created Moshi, a dark eccentric effort fusing avantjazz sensibilities with African rhythms, ambient sounds effects and melodies rooted in American Blues traditions.
Cut with French and African players including guitarist Pierre Chaze, pianist Michel Griller and percussionist Didier Leon, this is music with few precedents or followers, spanning from extraterrestrial dissonance to earthbound, street legal funk. Wilen pays little heed to conventional structure, assembling tracks like Africa Freak Out and Zombizar from spare parts of indeterminate origins. - Jason Ankeny, AMG”…………………
In 1970 Barney Wilen assembled a team of filmmakers, technicians and musicians to travel to Africa for the purpose of recording the music of the native pygmy tribes. Upon returning to Paris two years later, he created Moshi, a dark, eccentric effort fusing avantjazz sensibilities with African rhythms, ambient sound effects and melodies rooted in American blues traditions. Cut with French and African players including guitarist Pierre Chaze, pianist Michel Graillier and percussionist Didier Leon, this is music with few precedents or followers, spanning from extraterrestrial dissonance to earthbound, streetlegal funk. Wilen
pays little heed to conventional structure, assembling tracks like
“Afrika Freak Out” and “Zombizar” from spare parts of indeterminate origins. (Jason Ankeny, AMG).
Deluxe reissue with additional artwork & high definition remastered audio.
20-page booklet on 200gsm art matt paper including rare pictures, sheet music & original liner notes.
Bonus dvd of Caroline de Bendern’s movie « à l’intention de Mlle Issoufou à Bilma » documenting this incredible african journey. …………..
Originally released on Saravah in 1972, Barney Wilen’s Moshi is an album absolutely deserving of its legend. For too long impossibly hard to find, we are very excited to see this available again on vinyl. Wilen was a mover in the Paris bop scene. The saxophonist played with Miles Davis and Art Blakey whenever they came to France in the 1950s. By the 1960s, he was dabbling in exotica, free jazz and musique concrète. Invigorated by their experiences during the 1968 Paris Revolt, he and partner Caroline De Bendern embarked for Africa with a team of filmmakers, musicians and sound engineers in a convoy of colorfully painted, brand-new Land Rovers. The plan initially was to shoot two films and make a record of Pygmy songs, with a brisk six month schedule but that was not to be. The filming went nowhere, and the crew spent its time playing with guns and debating politics, until one final argument led to their quitting en masse. The rest of the planned excursion dragged on for the next two years. There was success found in recording Archie Shepp with Gnawa drummers in Algiers, but after a narcotics bust and deportation from Algeria, everything completely fell apart while recording Touareg musicians near Agadez. Their cinematographer converted to Islam and vowed to no longer document the human form. The project’s furious financial backer called an end to the adventure, providing just enough money to return with the Land Rovers. Wilen and De Bendern returned with two and pocketed the difference, but they also brought home the tapes that became the foundation for Moshi.
With producer Pierre Baouh, Wilen built collages from his field recordings and put together a terrific band of French and African pop musicians to respond in the studio. Moshi is an extraordinary record – at times dark and foreboding, at others full of boundless joy. This is the sound of complete disregard for borders between cultures or genres. It is Pharaoh Sanders jamming along to the Ocora catalog and inviting Funkadelic to join in, too. For this deluxe reissue, Souffle Continu has remastered the original double LP and included a booklet and DVD of De Bendern’s never-before-available private documentary of the trip that led to Moshi’s conception. Limited to 1000 copies…………..
Originally issued by the seminal imprint Saravah in 1972, and among the most uncategorizable and sought after artefacts of the French avant-garde, Barney Wilen’s Moshi is nothing short of a masterpiece - long holding a coveted spot in the hearts of adventurous listeners and record collectors alike. A wild unkept cultural collage. A series of sonic experiments. A spiritual, psychedelic pilgrimage into the unknown - darting from one continent to the next, each of its tangents building toward a more optimist world view through ordered sound. Its scope remains as difficult to understand today as it was when it was released. Now brought back into the light by Souffle Continu, this is a moment to be celebrated far and wide. Barney Wilen first came to prominence during the late 1950’s and early 60’s, working with Miles Davis, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, and Thelonious Monk, during the beginnings of post war American jazz’s slow migration toward Europe. Always ambitious, his restless spirit pushed him forward. Wilen was among the first French players to embrace Free-Jazz, and equally among the earliest to attempt a fusion with rock music and the dawning psychedelic underground. At the outset of 1970, he began to look further afield, ultimately bringing together a team of filmmakers, technicians, and musicians, who traveled to Africa to document and record the continent’s indigenous music. Released two years later following his return, Moshi is the conceptual result of that journey. Stretching across two LPs, it’s sometimes difficult to know where Africa stops and Wilen begins.
Moshi is a collage, but not as we often understand them. Though it incorporates field recordings made during Wilen’s travels, placed in connection and association with the efforts of the saxophonist and his ensemble (many of whom where from Africa themselves), the album is best understood as a cluster of diverse sound - a weaving of ideas, where the music of Africa, sometimes literarily and sometimes conceptually, enters the music of Europe and America, and equally the music of Europe and America enters that of Africa. A complex hybrid. A soup of humanity. A patchwork quilt where the thread is Africa, but the material is woven from endlessly diverse sources and ideas.
The enduring brilliance of Wilen’s grand effort is the inability to say what it is. It is restless, each of its fourteen pieces becoming autonomous adventure, veering with single-mindedness toward its most logical end, while never entirely losing sight of the album’s cohesive whole. The moment you think you understand it, it becomes something else. At times the unmediated voices of Africa reach the ear - easily mistaken for artefacts from the Ocora catalog. At others they are intervened with, laying the groundwork for an extended jam. In passages, we hear the imprint of popular music - the distinct sounds of African Jazz against funky excursions similar to the territories Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Soft Machine were exploring during this period. In other moments we are dropped into loose, free improvisations, and still others, psychedelic meanderings which stretch toward the realms of the Grateful Dead. Each moment, like its totality, is singular, strange, exciting, and challenging - rebelling and refusing categorisation.
Moshi is an unquestionable artistic triumph. It is a high water mark from the 1970’s French avant-garde, which remains as rewarding today as the day it was made. As a reissue, the album offers an added dimension as a reminder of another, possibly more open, era - of an alternate way of being and hearing that can be carried to the future. It displays a strange democracy - a reassessment of the character of collaboration, and a distinct respect for audience and source. Wilen seems to have been proposing a different way of seeing the world and understanding relationships between its diverse elements - one where the artist may play only a minor part. Where the rising tide is culture itself, and where borders and time dissolve.
In addition to the deluxe vinyl reissue, which has been treated to a high definition remastered audio, and contains the original liner notes with additional artwork, Souffle Continu has also included a bonus DVD of Caroline de Bendern’s film A l'intention de Mlle Issoufou a Bilma, which documents the incredible journey through Africa which gave way to Moshi - made that much more vivid by its brilliant soundtrack, also composed by Wilen. This the first time it has been released in a physical form, making this edition of the LP the most definitive and complete to date.
“In 1970 Barney Wilen assembled a team of filmmakers, technicians and musicians to travel to Africa for the purpose of recording the music of the native pygmy tribes. Upon returning to Paris two years later, he created Moshi, a dark, eccentric effort fusing avantjazz sensibilities with African rhythms, ambient sound effects and melodies rooted in American blues traditions. Cut with French and African players including guitarist Pierre Chaze, pianist Michel Graillier and percussionist Didier Leon, this is music with few precedents or followers, spanning from extraterrestrial dissonance to earthbound, streetlegal funk. Wilen pays little heed to conventional structure, assembling tracks like "Afrika Freak Out” and “Zombizar” from spare parts of indeterminate origins. (Jason Ankeny, AMG). Deluxe reissue with additional artwork & high definition remastered audio.“” (label press)……….
During the fifties Wilen was in great demand as a jazz saxophonist, playing with moguls like Miles Davis, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk. Then in the sixties something must have happened. Probably he began taking drugs or had a kind of enlightment which led him musically into a more psychedlic direction culminating in albums like “Dear Prof.Leary” and “Moshi”.
“Moshi” is recorded in 1973 and mainly the result of an africa trip in 1971. He might have recorded singings of africans their during his trip and used these recordings to put together a a kind of soundcollage, mixing orignally recorded african music and his funky, psychedelic jazz funk. On some of the tracks this works perfectly, for example on the title track (lasting more than 16 minutes) and on “Chechaoun”.
But not all the songs (or sounds ?) work as good as the mentioned ones. Some of his collages are a bit directionless. They are more a pose, than interesting music. And I’m not sure, if his tries to make a pop song like “Zombizar” and “Gardenia devil” really convince me. But anyway, more than 30 minutes of nearly perfect psychedelic jazz funk. Very entertaining….by……….sun_goddess ………….
Well known to our Parisian readers, the excellent record store Souffle Continu and its selection of plates of the best taste, launched a few years ago, with its label of the same name, in an ambitious work of reissue of hexagonal curiosities. The catalog of Souffle Continu Records has already resurrected many of the musicians of which France can be proud: Heldon, Mahjun or Bernard Vitet to name but a few.
Faithful to its editorial line, Souffle Continu Records is releasing today the indispensable Moshi. Holy Grail of the diggers of the world, this record is the result of an initiatory journey undertaken in 1970 by the immense saxophonist Bernard Jean “Barney” Wilen (member of the Miles Davis quintet during the historic session Elevator for the Scaffold And author of the very innovative Zodiac) to the discovery of Africa and its rich musical and cultural tradition. He returned with numerous tapes recorded during his meetings with local musicians and singers and eventually gave birth in 1972 to the double album Moshi. Produced at the time by the Saravah label of the late Pierre Barouh, Moshi is very singular in the sense that it is one of the rare (very successful) examples of fusion between African folklore close to field recording, negro-spirituals inherited from slaves Black exiles in North America and modern jazz. The perfect bridge between picturesque and modern, Genesis and New World.
African musical and vocal tradition is thus embodied by the sanza of 14 Times and “Balandji in Bobo” as well as by the Arabic echoes of “Chechaoune”, the hypnotic chanting of “Guilde’s Song To Binkirri” and the radiant choruses of “Gardenia Devil ”. Transcended by the saxophone of Wilen, jazz obviously invites itself to the festival, in turn fusion (the guitar of the “very Bitches Brew” Moshi), ethnic (“Afrika Freak Out” which looks at the side of Pharoah Sanders without the projections Sound) or free (the experimental trance of “Tindi Abalessa”). But even better than to talk about it, go and listen to the funky “Zombizar”, perfect synthesis of this record, you will surely come out conquered. This long awaited reissue came in early February in a limited edition and very richly documented with a booklet of 20 pages and even a documentary DVD that unveils the journey of Barney Wilen on the black continent. You said indispensable?………….
Barney Wilen for Saravah from 1972.
Barney Wilen (ts) Michel Graillier (el-p) Pierre Chaze (g) Christian Tritsch,Simon (el-b) Micheline Pelzer (d) Didier Leon (takamba, oud) Caroline de Bendern, Marva Broome, Babeth Lamy, Laurence (vcl)
Completely bonkers mash up of afro to free jazz with field recordings and vocal harmonies - out there and all the better for it.Recommended.
In 1970 Barney Wilen assembled a team of filmmakers, technicians and musicians to travel to Africa for the purpose of recording the music of the native pygmy tribesupon returning to Paris two years later, he created Moshi, a dark, eccentric effort fusing avantjazz sensibilities with African rhythms, ambient sound effects and melodies rooted in American blues traditions. Cut with French and African players including guitarist Pierre Chaze, pianist Michel Graillier and percussionist Didier Leon, this is music with few precedents or followers, spanning from extraterrestrial dissonance to earthbound, streetlegal funk.Wilen pays little heed to conventional structure, assembling tracks like “Afrika Freak Out” and “Zombizar” from spare parts of indeterminate origins.Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
A wild and groundbreaking record recorded by the great French tenor player Barney Wilen! Although he got his start as a bebopper in the 50’s, Wilen sort of dropped out of sight by the end of the 60’s and only emerged from time to time to cut strangely experimental sides. This record is unlike anything he ever made, and features a wild mix of African rhythms, ambient sound, and Wilen’s deep deep tenor. By this point, Wilen had been absorbing a lot of different influences, from Coltrane, to Pharoah Sanders, to some of the European free players, and his sound is a weird mish mash of styles that weaves in and out of all the stuff on the record. It’s a haunting bit of afro jazz and funky noise, with some cuts that are spacey, and others that are nice and funky. Dusty Groove…………….
Barney Wilen: saxophone tenor
Michel Graillier: piano électrique
Pierre Chaze: guitare électrique
Simon Boissezon: basse
Christian Tritsh: basse
Didier Léon: luth
Micheline Pelzer: batterie
A1 : Moshi
A2 : Giulde’s Song To Binkirri
B1 : Gardenia Devil
B2 : 14 Temps
B3 : Bamako Koulikaro
B4 : Afrika Freak Out
C1 : Zombizar
C2 : El Hadji
C3 : Chechaoun
D1 : Tindi Abalessa
D2 : El Hadji
D3 : Balandji In Bobo
D4 : Sannu Ne Gheniyo
D5 : El Hadji