Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds: Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds 1974-1975

Soul, brass, and gandjal rhythms bring a new energy to the Analog Africa repertoire via Cameroonian funk rock band Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds.

Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds 1974-1975
Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds

Analog Africa

15 Dec 2017

For the collector of vintage African sounds, the prospect of a new Analog Africa release is always a gift, and often a good one. Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds 1974-1975 is no exception, a lo-fi collection of fuzzy Cameroonian funk rock from one of the hottest bands you've probably never heard of.

A synthesizer flourish and spoken lyrics open the album on "Astadjam Dada Sara", a song heavy on clear horn melody and north Cameroonian gandjal rhythm. This opening sets the tone for the whole compilation; each track is made up of complex instrumental phrases, repeated over and over again and powered by the strength of Kalkaba's leadership and the entire band's coordination.

It's the aforementioned complexity that makes the Golden Sounds worth the time Analog Africa spent tracking down each obscure single (and the less obscure man behind it all; Kalkaba has served in multiple public capacities in Cameroon since his bandleading days). The gandjal itself is a rhythm requiring multiple layers of percussion. It traditionally comes into play during wedding ceremonies and other festive events, and as such, carries with it an energy that translates well into the Golden Sounds' club-worthy arrangements. Call-and-response vocals and a little added brass make for a dance party on brighter compositions like "Touflé" and "Gandjal Kessoum". Elsewhere, those same elements lend the music some serious soul; "Fouh Sei Allah" and "Tchakoulaté" take it a little slower, but are no less effective - the latter, in particular, doubles up on horns for added power.

Near the middle of the album comes "Lamido", arguably the standout track of the album. Here, a majestic introduction - horns bellowing a single melody in different octaves, a spoken start that sounds like a proclamation - electric guitars introduce a cooler element into the music, and the singers let loose, alternating between singing and shouting out. At five and a half minutes, "Lamido" is the longest track on the album, and deservedly so, an action-packed masterpiece from start to finish.

There isn't much of the Golden Sounds, unfortunately; the group's career was a brief one, and Analog Africa's compilation includes only six tracks. What does exist, though, is rich. Colonel Kalkaba himself helped the label put together photographs, lyrics, and other information included in the liner notes. Such firsthand information tends to be rare in the realm of world music reissues, to the consternation of many thoughtful consumers. Kalkaba's direct involvement and stamp of approval should offer some reassurance to those who ponder the ethics involved in commodified cassette stand rediscoveries. To those who already put their trust in the minds and working hands behind Analog Africa, the artist's contributions mean added depth to the release, a multisensory feast for the interested brain.

Analog Africa has long proclaimed its goal as being one of exposing listeners to the often overlooked (at least by so-called Western ears) diversity in African music. That they have released the music of the Golden Sounds, so different from much of what makes it to the global Afropop market, speaks volumes. That Kalkaba himself was involved in directing the project may mean even more.







A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.


Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.


HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.


Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.


Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.


'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.


'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.


Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.


DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.


JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.


​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.


Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times


Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.


How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.