Amanaz - Africa

Much like Krautrock, the term Zamrock does not do justice to the quality of the music being generated by the musicians of said country. Coming out of Zambia in the mid 70s, the bands’ innovated a hybrid of psych rock, funk and garage that in its crudeness, came to represent the  strife the musicians overcame as Zambia struggled to achieve independence from colonial rule. Bands such as Witch, Rikki Ililonga, Paul Ngozi and Peace made some great records at that time but none are better than Amanaz’s Africa released in 1975
What sets apart Africa from its counterparts is the damaged mood that pervades the LP. The band of freedom fighters paint a dark picture throughout as fuzz-laden, sludgey guitars add serious weight to the desperation of the songs. While the record is pretty heavy, (see “History of Man” and “Amanaz”), there is some levity on the more pastoral yet desolate “Kala My Friend” and the serene ode to the Velvet Underground, “Sunday Morning.” “Africa” is a brilliant standout featuring a creepy melody, reverb drenched guitars and a funky percussive breakdown. Amanaz do get groovy with the instrumental “Green Apple” which brings in a dance-able beat with some nasty leads and propulsive rhythms.
If you’re in the market for groovy Afrobeat or Funk (and rightly so), you may want to look elsewhere. However if you want to a glimpse into the struggle Zambians faced in the mid 70s or if you like the idea of brutalized psychedelic rock than you need Amanaz’s Africa. Now Again has kept this Record Store Day release in print which actually comes in 2 separate mixes: one has the vocals and drums mixed up front (the dry mix) and the other rich with reverb and guitar solos mixed hot (the reverb mix). Both have their appeal but neither take away from the importance of this record. Essential to the core. (Dom)
Check out a track here.