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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peak Hill 26th June 2011

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:Tramp No.106
Peak Hill 26th June 2011
A nice easy/moderate winter trip, as was listed in the CTC trip calendar, and after talking to the trip leaders they said that it was a particularly beautiful trip in snow with great views of the surrounding mountains and lake, so it said in a description by Pat Barrett. I left home on a cool but frost free morning to meet the rest of the party at Windwistle. The clouds were lumpy and sitting low on the Torlesse range as I headed for our meeting place and I hoped they wouldn't also be sitting on the tops of the 1240m hill we were to climb. The wish for snow was still unfulfilled, even though the forecast earlier in the week had been for a light coating, so it was going to be even easier trip. 20 CTC trampers headed across the old farm paddock from the road heading for the start of a well marked and used track on the south west side of this hill which is now on another DOC conservation estate.
Being a climb of just over 600m on a good track took us a fairly short time with a couple of stops to admire the views and lunch was had on the top with light but cold wind and pretty good views of Lake Coleridge and the Rakaia. The Leaders said that this was the third year they had been up this hill and still hadn't done it in the snow. Better luck next time. A nice trip to fill in the day and look forward to doing it again when we finally get some snow.

The eastern end of lake Coleridge

Lake Coleridge, with the Rakaia to the right

Peak Hill

This lot were too busy socialising and fell behind

A higher shot of the lake

On the top.

Uncle Roddus with the upper Rakaia in the background

The western end of the lake

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vis-a-vis - Obi Agye Me Dofo (Ghana 1977)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African music month

 A classic Afrofunk album from 1977. This copy is a 1980 reissue with the first two tracks on side two different from the original release, apparently. The opening title track is a brilliant extended piece of Ghanaian funkiness that I have on the Ghana Special- Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Ghanaian Blues 1968-81 compilation. A real catchy number with plenty of great brass melody's and soloing and a real groovy rhythm.  "Kankyema Ntoaso Ne Awadee" stays in the same groovyness with a wonderful guitar break and again some cool jazzy sax work. "Me Mere Beba" is the first of the replacement tracks and is a tad more traditional sounding than the first two numbers but still an uptempo piece with another nice sax break. The next track is another goodie, keeping the quality of this album high, a short uptempo little afropop number and is followed by the most wonderful closing track which rhythmically is similar to the previous track but has vocals that I enjoy very much and has been etched into my subconscious from another compilation or mix I Have. Rating 4.5/5

Get it here

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Daouda Dembele - El Hadji Sekou Oumar Vol. 1 & 2 (Mali)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African music month
Two Volumes of this story told to music, basically this fellow talking over a traditional sounding string instrument which sounds similar to what I have heard on an Ali Farka Toure album. All told in his native tongue, so I don't understand a word of it and the music in very repetitive and pretty boring. Most probably won't appeal to many of us Westerners, except those who really dig this trad stuff. Another Awesome Tape From Africa which I don't fine too awesome at all. Rating 1/5. Some more space on the hard drive soon.

Check this out here and here if you like this sort of thing.

Alhassan Ibrahim - Naa Mahama-Kpema (Ghana)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African music month
I don't seem to be having too much luck with the stuff I got off Awesome Tapes From Africa Blog lately. It is an excellent blog and well done with plenty of very obscure and unknown African music and I appreciate the effort. I don't really connect with traditional African music (although there are exceptions) and this is very traditional music. This consists mostly of Alhassan Ibrahim banging away on that thing he is holding under his arm in a fairly random sounding fashion interspersed with him singing unaccompanied in between his bursts if drumming. The whole lot sounds pretty much the same and I just don't really connect with it at all. it really is very tedious and I'll have to rate it 1/5.

Awesome Tapes From Africa explains the music briefly Here and now I can free up some more room on my hard drive.

Assa Cica - Assa Cica LP AF004 (Benin)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African music month
a1. Mi Man So Gbeme We Fide (6:30)
a2. Zaedo Kin Lokode (6:49)
b1. E Non De Nouwe (7:09)
b2. Se Na Blo (4:47)
b3. Assou Ve Nou Min (5:02)
 Another album I struggled to enjoy today, this solo album from Assa Cica is slow and mellow reggae tinged afro pop and leaves me pretty bored. Not as dismal as yesterdays reviewed album and the opening track is quite pleasant and there are some nice guitar lines throughout the album. Still pretty unmoved and only worth a Roddus rating of 2/5.

Have a listen for yourself here

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Esther Smith - Gye No Di (Ghana 2002)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month

I thought I better review this tape to show that not all African music is worth all the gushing praise I have been laying on it lately.I hadn't really got to concentrate on listening to anything in particular at work today as it was a fairly hectic day but this caught my attention late this afternoon on the new 160G Ipod Classic, as I had loaded a whole folder of African stuff downloaded from Awesome Tapes from Africa Blog some time ago. The reason this caught my attention was because it is so totally bloody awful. Ok, so first it probably doesn't help that this was ripped from a cassette and judging by the quality, a well played tape, but that still doesn't take any thing away from just how turgid this Ghanaian commercial gospel pop actually is. According to Awesome tapes blog, this was huge in Ghana and was plastered all over the radio constantly. It is just so typical the world over that a country that has produced so much fantastic music would instead plaster this dribble all over the airwaves. Of course as you listen it, it is not hard to picture this puking out of some cheap transistor radio in some local Ghanaian market. I don't usually go down so hard on any type of music but considering this is suppose to be music of faith to Jesus and God or whatever, I find it quite soulless and passionless and sounds very processed and insipid. Rating 0/5

If you wish to torture your ears, listen Here although I would rather listen to ABBA, it's that bad.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fela Ransome-Kuti and The Africa 70 - Why Black Man Dey Suffer (Nigeria 1971)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review

[A] Why Black Man Dey Suffer
[B] Ikoyi Mentality Versus Mushin Mentality

Fela Time again with this early Africa 70 recording from 1971, although EMI apparently refused to release it , so it didn't see the light of day until a few years later. Just two extended Afro Jams here, which became the norm for Fela albums. I am not too familiar with either tracks on this LP and this is the first time I have really sat and listened to it since I obtained the Box set last Xmas. Good tracks, with some nice blowing from various brass instruments and some good organ lines happening too, but overall these two don't really grab me like some of Fela's other stuff. The title track is quite a slow jam and I prefer "Ikoyi Mentality Versus Mushin Mentality" for its better groove and more enjoyable Horn melodies. There is so much better to come from this master, but this is a good start. Rating 3.5/5

Have a listen Here

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gangbe Brass Band - Assiko (Benin, 2008)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month
1. Nikki
2. La porte du non retour
3. Salam Alekoum
4. Miwa
5. Un été à Vodelée
6. Rakia
7. Beautiful Africa
8. Sida
9. Se
10. Sofada
11. Yonnatche
12. Mementon
A nice surprise this little gem from Benin, I just came across it very recently and thought it worth a listen to compare with some of the New Orleans Brass Bands I had checked out some time ago. There is a connection to those bands but of course with the African angle this works very well. Great production  and excellent playing adds to the enjoyable music presented on this disc and I think I might have to add this to my ever growing shopping list. highly recommended and rated 4/5

Have listen for yourself Here

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Eboa Lottin - Eboa Lottin SAT 087(Cameroon/Benin 1975)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month

A sort of African folk music, with Eboa playing acoustic guitar with minimal backing, apparently from the mighty Poly-Rhythmo on some tracks. Not really my cup-of-tea but a good album overall with "West Africa" being a great stand out African Folk/Pop tune with catchy melody's and  "Makunako" being similar. Rating 3/5
Check this out for yourselves Here

Afro National - Tropical Funk music (Sierra Leone, 1977)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month

A1 Jokenge
A2 Mother In Law
A3 Gowa
A4 Money Palava 
A5 Yamba Lay 
A6 Gbaunkalay 
B1 Yorneh Yorneh 
B2 Kama Kama 
B3 Tollon Tollon 
B4 Elef Pan You

This is a great album. I was getting a sense of it during the week as I was working and now as I check it out on the big stereo I am enjoying this blend immensely. Funky, but more traditional than pure Afrobeat , a great sounding recording with excellent production and very strong songs. The album starts very strongly with "Jokenge" an uptempo beast with excellent female vocals and it seems to me that all the tracks with the female vocals are the best ones. Pretty much a toe tapper throughout and a pleasant surprise from Sierra Leone. Rating 4/5

Defiantly worth checking out Here

African System Orchestra - Bad Friend (Nigeria 1978)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month

Very little info on the net about this large collection of Cameroonian Musicians based in Nigeria. A pleasant recording with plenty of stuff happening in these four 9 minute tracks, as you would expect with so many in the band. The style of music on offer here reminds me of some of the South African Stuff that came out of Soweto, with  about 3 guitars playing along, one in each channel and one in both as well as some nice brass solos to keep it interesting. Plenty of good melody's and the quality is consistent across all four tracks which makes the songs all sound a bit similar, but overall an enjoyable listen that won't set the world alight. Rating 3/5
Worth Checking out though, Here

African Brothers Band - Odo Paa Nie (Ghana)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month

Listening to this album through the week, I discovered I already knew a song or two from this LP after first hearing them on one of Franks Mixes from Voodoo Funk. This set, Recorded in London sometime in the early 70s, is a mix of styles and kicks off with a couple of nice Afro Reggae numbers before getting more Afrocentric with the rest of the album. The two Highlife numbers were already familiar to me and "Mensu" with its cool organ and mesmerising groove is the highlight of this set and a classic. "Miniwaa Ba" isn't too far behind in the classic stakes and "Nansooben" keeps up the quality with its quirky guitar melodies. Although a bit of a slow starter, this album really picks up in the second half and finishes strongly. rating 4/5

Check this one out here

Friday, June 10, 2011

VA - Nigeria 70 - The Definitive Story Of 1970's Funky Lagos (Strut 2001)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month


01.Monomono - Tire Loma Da Nigbehin 04:46
02.Blo - Chant to Mother Earth 06:07
03.Fela Ransome Kuti & the Africa 70 - Jeun Ko Ku 07:14
04.Tunji Oyelana & the Benders - Ifa 05:00
05.Bala Miller & the Great Music Pirameeds of Africa - Ikon Allah 05:46
06.Segun Bucknor & His Revolution - La La La 03:29
07.Peter King - Shango 05:39
08.Tony Allen & His African Messengers - No Discrimination 08:19
09.Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestroes - Akayan Ekassa 03:10
10.William Onyeabor - Better Change Your Mind 08:24
11.Bongos Ikwue - Woman Made the Devil 04:10


01.Orlando Julius & the Afro Sounders - Alo Mi Alo 08:04
02.Ofo the Black Company - Allah Wakbarr 03:30
03.Sahara All Stars Bandjos - Enjoy Yourself 05:59
04.The Funkees - Dancing Time 03:19
05.Afro Cult Foundation - the Quest 08:10
06.Joni Haastrup - Greetings 06:13
07.Gasper Lawal - Kita Kita 06:01
08.Lijadu Sisters - Orere Elejigbo 04:14
09.Fela Anikulapo Kuti & the Africa 70 with Sandra Akanke Isidore - Upside 14:42
10.Shina Williams & His African Percussionists - Agboju Logun 11:34
11.Sunny Ade & His African Beats - Ja Fun Mi (Instrumental) 07:13

This totally awesome collection, being another brilliant release on on the exceptional Strut records, may be one of the earliest compilations in the latest  revival of  70s African music and one of the best. Dominated on both Discs by the mighty Fela Kuti, the rest of these tracks don't fail to inspire and impress even in the shadow of two Fela monsters. The Psychedelic guitar freak out of Blo's "Chant to Mother Earth" is unrivaled and is the cause of that track turning up on several other comps. This collection is where I first head "The Lijadu Sisters" and with the likes of "Sunny Ade & His African Beats", "The Funkees", "Orlando Julius", just to name a few, we have here the cream of funky 70s Lagos. As an early introduction, for me, to Afrofunk this collection is one of my favorites and along with Analog Africa's mighty  "African Scream Contest" essential listening and worthy of 5/5.

This Compilation has been reissued and you can buy it Here
If you want a listen first, check it out here

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra - Boulevard De L'independance (Mali 2006)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review
African Music Month

1. Toumani (5:53)
2. Boulevard de l'Independance (3:57)
3. Ye Fama (4:56)
4. Mali Sadio (7:54)
5. Africa Challenge (5:45)
6. Wasso (5:29)
7. Mamadou Diaby (6:47)
8. Taphia Niang (6:50)
9. Single (4:58)

This wonderful album may be the good score of the year. I was rummaging round the dregs of Borders CD collection after they had put their entire stock on sale, as they were getting out of the CD market, when I spotted this little beauty for about 5 bucks. Most local music buyers wouldn't have a clue what this is about but I thought the name looked familiar and the Symmetric Orchestra  part suggested to me that this was worth the small risk to purchase unheard.
First up I must say that the production and audio quality is outstanding and the musicianship is, of course first rate. This music gets very complex at times with a 50 piece orchestra but it never looses the plot.
Toumani Diabate , as with his fellow countryman Ali Farka Toure, has had international recognition for his music and his outstanding playing of the 21 string African Kora(Man this guy can play fast).
Traditional material given the full orchestral arrangements as well as some originals, this is great toe tapping stuff and just full of soul and passion. Highlights include the opening track, "Mali Sadio" and "Taphia Niang" and my short rushed review just doesn't give this music full credit. Fantastic contemporary African music. Rating 5/5

Have a listen Here  But better still, go and buy it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fowler Pass/Lake Guyon/Stanley River/Edwards River/Cow Stream 4-6th June 2011

Uncle Roddus Tramping diary:Tramp No. 105
Fowler Pass/Lake Guyon/Stanley River/Edwards River/Cow Stream  4-6th June 2011

Plan A:To tramp up to Koropuku(Big Tops)Hut and also visit Otehake Hot pools for the long weekend.
This plan is scuttled by Thursday night, as the weather forecast for that area is not too good,with plenty of rain forecast and possible high winds on the tops. Plan B:To head up to Hamner and over the back into Molesworth and head up to a hut on the Severn River and explore this area and hopefully stay just east of the rain.Unable to secure key for locked gate to Molesworth Station at short notice. Plan C: Head up past lake Tennyson and Island Pass and cut across to Severn River from this side. Wairau-Hamner Springs hydro Road Blocked By Slip in Island Gully. Plan D: Head back and camp at Lake Tennyson and explore from there. Possibly due to some discussion in the Leaders vehicle on the drive back to the lake, when we got to the acess road the leaders car stopped and Plan E was announced: that we would head back to Fowlers hut near Pass Stream and follow the track over Fowler Pass and tramp to lake Guyon to camp the night and see what the morrow would bring.
The area we were in is the former St James Station, now the St James Conservation estate and the routes we were to follow were new mountain bike trails, following old farm tracks and some tramping tracks. This area is huge country, with large open grassy areas dotted amongst the mountains, or is that lots of mountains dotted amongst the large grassy areas, as well as plenty of rivers and streams feeding out of picturesque valleys. Not much forest in this area but plenty of tussock and Matagori and swamps.
Fifteen keen CTC Trampers left Fowlers Hut around 12:30PM on an moderately warm day with light winds and no rain. The rain clouds could be seen hanging over the mountains to the North West and our hope was they would stay there, our intentions were to stay off the tops as the wind was forecast to be gale at 2000m. The track up to Fowlers Pass is very well developed and the climb of a lite gradient before we dropped sharply down into Smyths Stream. We then rapidly followed Smyths Stream, resting for second lunch where we meet the Stanley River, we then continued on at a brisk pace following the Stanley before rounding the base of Point 1144 and heading onto the wide grassy plain of Stanley Vale before we hit the light rain at the end of Lake Guyon.
We Camped, spread out in the excellent grassy area below the tiny Lake Guyon hut, which was full of Hunters, and spent the evening socialising around a nice bonfire before hitting the hay around 8:30PM, having walked 16KM in around 4 hours for our first day.
We were unsure of the plan for Sunday as we awoke to rain over the lake. We could see the edge of the rain band over Stanley Vale and so the days plan was to head back over Stanley Vale and continue following the Stanley River and then head back up the Edwards River to Scottys Camp Hut and onto Cow Steam which had some good camping AND according to one of our party, some unspectacular tepid hot springs. After leaving the rain behind Our first stop was at the historic Stanley Vale Hut, Where we found an old Possum Trapper living. We continued on untill we got to Racecourse Stream, where a fairly new track has be created up to and across the Racecourse Flats, which was a very nice area. The track took us up to point 992 and then lead down to point 930 following the ridge down to Charlies Saddle. Most of us just dropped off point 922 and headed straight for the hut, with a short Matagori encounter near the bottom. From there it was about another hour along the four wheel drive track to Cow s Stream and our camp for the night. 26KM in about 7 hours. Before setting up camp I popped down to check out the state of the hot pools, just below our excellent camp site, and found a very well constructed pool with quite warm water bubbling up in it. Several of the group were in it as soon as, but I helped pitch the tent and had a leisurely dinner and set up bedding etc before heading down to check the spring out. Entering the pool was a slow process due to the rather high temperature of the water and most of the group had already had their go by this time so there was plenty of room. With the heat of the pool estimated to be around 43C, it didn't matter that only our legs and backsides were in the water, and plenty of comments were made about the word Tepid.
Monday dawned fine, after a dry night and we packed up and headed off by about 8:45am for the 12 odd  kilometers back to the road, following the 4WD track, except for when we spotted the car and headed off through the swamp in a direct line to the waiting vehicle. Another excellent and enjoyable weekends tramping in an area that I haven't yet spent much time in at all.

The Fowler Hut, Our Starting point.

Heading up to Fowler Pass

looking Back Down Fowler Pass Track

On Fowler Pass

Heading into Smyth Stream

Smyth Steam, The Stanley is at the end of the ridge to the left.

Stanley Vale Hut

Heading Across Stanley Vale

Lake Guyon

Lake Guyon Hut

Our Camp

Stanley vale Hut

Heading down the Stanley, Day Two

Looking down on the Stanley as we climb up Racecourse Creek

The Racecourse

Crossing the Racecourse

The other end

View of The Racecourse from near point 992

There were a few hill around

Looking up the Edwards from Pt 992

Heading up the Edwards to Cow Stream

Looking up Cow Stream

Sunday night Camp site

Heading out Monday

Looking back down the Edwards

looking up to the head of the Edwards from the Mountain bike track.

The Car! The Car!

The Swamp on the way to the car

The reason there is a road up through here.