Barney Wilen - Moshi 2xLP+DVD


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Label: Souffle Continu

Our Review:

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.