Cumbia Cosmonauts & The Radio Africa Band

by Cumbia Cosmonauts

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Cumbia Cosmonauts & The Radio Africa Band is the long-awaited second album by sonic explorers Cumbia Cosmonauts, four years in the making. It is an afro-futurist soundtrack built for the dancefloor, in which the Cumbia Cosmonauts’ distinct take on cumbia and tropical bass meets the ancient musical traditions of the West African griots. This album captures the sound of synthesizers, kora, animal skin percussion and drum machines forged over a series of acclaimed live performances. The music was co-composed with three Melbourne-based West African master musicians - Lamine Sonko, Amadou Kalissa and Olugbade Okunade – coming together as The Radio Africa Band. The vocals in English, Mandingo, Wolof, Yoruba and Spanish express life in contemporary Melbourne and Australia as we hear, feel, and live it. The Melbourne Festival 2015 live performance was broadcast by ABC Radio National, and the recording of this album was financially supported by the Australia Council.

The Cumbia Cosmonauts project is headed by Moses Iten (also known as Saca La Mois DJ!!), and this album was co-produced with long-time collaborator Thomas “Soup” Campbell, for this album extending their collaboration to include Lamine Sonko (voice, guitar, djembe, tama), Amadou Kalissa (kora, dundun, krin) and Olugbade Okunade (voice, trumpet). Sonko is one of Australia’s most accomplished African musicians, as the band leader of Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence and guest musician with numerous projects. Born in Senegal, Sonko comes from a griot family, and both his parents are high profile artists who have toured the world as performers. Born in Guinea, Amadou Kalissa is also from a griot family, carrying several centuries of musical and traditional knowledge passed down from his ancestors of the ancient Mali Empire. Nigerian musician Olugbade Okunade adds another musical dimension and additional pedigree, as he toured the world for fifteen years playing trumpet with the seminal afrobeat band Seun Kuti & The Egypt 80.

This album is inspired by the afro-vision behind concept recordings produced for Colombian sound system DJs from Rafael Machuca (Cumbia Siglo XX, Myrian Makenwa) in the 1970s, to the champeta of the 1980s and contemporary guarapo music. This vision behind the sound is also reflected in the cover art designed by Mexico City-based graffiti artist David Cruz (Chykle) in the style of the Mexican sound system sonideros. The painting featured on the cover is by Monsengo Shula, who started out as a graffiti artist in Kinshasa, and is now one of the most celebrated contemporary artists in the DR Congo. Shula’s emblematic ‘cosmonaut’ painting shares the title of the 1956 congolese rumba song by Adou Elenga ‘Ata Ndele Mokili Ekobaluka’ translating as “soon the world will change”. In this changed world, Shula envisions Africa launching space programs.

This album is inspired by the idea of Melbourne being a perfect place from which to imagine and produce the electronic dance music constantly being reinvented in other global cities such as Lisbon (Enchufada, Principe Discos), Kinshasa (Congotronics), New York (Dutty Artz) and London (Hyperdub). The result is a unique sound that is not quite Africa, Europe or America, but definitely local, fresh and explodes on the dancefloor with a feeling of tomorrow.


released January 9, 2019

All songs written by Cumbia Cosmonauts & The Radio Africa Band.

All songs produced by Thomas 'Soup' Campbell and Moses Iten, except 14 produced with Bryan Phillips.

Additional instruments by:
Lamine Sonko (voice, guitar, djembe, tama)
Amadou Kalissa (kora, dundun, krin)
Olugbade Okunade (voice, trumpet)

Mastering by Jim Moinyhan.

Cover art by Monsengo Shula, ‘Ata Ndele, Mokili Ekobaluka (Tôt ou tard, le monde changera)’, 2014. Courtesy galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris. Album design by David Cruz (Chykle).

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Label: Hawaii Bonsai Records, HB004, Switzerland
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Cumbia Cosmonauts Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne's Cumbia Cosmonauts are leading innovators of new wave Cumbia and the Tropical Bass club scene, with a solid reputation as an explosive dancefloor act. Their distinctive sound combines infectious Caribbean offbeat rhythms, African connections and bass heavy sound system influences including Jamaican Dub and Dancehall, Mexican Sonidero and Colombian Pico culture. ... more

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