Sometimes the underground is a surreal place to be.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Aquai - Afrocaribe Beat

Aquai - Afrocaribe Beat (1985)

this is one of my all time Vortex finds, from the first trip i ever made there. i'll let the back liner notes speak for themselves. might do a re-rip at some point but for now, enjoy.

When asked to write the liner notes to this album, I questioned myself: "Am I the Nat Fletcher of Highlife Music, or is my prowess as a music critic being tested?" However, after listening to the album several times, I was obviously convinced that the RENAISSANCE of Highlife Music has finally arrived. The art has been dormant for over a decade. Attempts have been made by amateurs to revive the music, but their efforts contributed to its further decline in quality and texture.

There is no need prodding into Mr. Aquai's musical background; my colleague Mark Duodu took care of that on Aquai's premiere album "Wodo, Yi Ye, Odo" released in June 1984.

It is not an overstatement to compare the man "Aquai" and his music to Van Gogh and his painting. In a nutshell, it is a blend of artistic discipline, innovation and the interweaving of the sum of the parts that make Highlife a unique art form from Ghana to Guyana.

The frequency by which Aquai is releasing LP's and the quality of his compositions and arrangements is testimony that the man has a large REPERTOIRE and obviously has more surprises for his fans.

Music as a universal language has always been Aquai's central theme. As a composer and arranger, he makes sure there is a musical element in his work that touches the musical foundation of people from different ethnic and cultural background. Notice his treatment of "Mutea Masam". A mixture of African, Caribbean, Latin and Western contemporary ballad.

Although some of the lyrics are in Fanti or Twi, the message is about love and life as opposed to hatred and death. Isn't that what living is all about?

Against a warmly lush backdrop, Aquai instills, emotion, grace and depth; just other words for perfection.

This album celebrates the return to musical activity and creativity by a truly great keyboardist. The calmness and serenity that embodies the music of Aquai is merely an artistic extension of the inner peace of the man. This inner peace is translated into musical statements of delicate beauty. Aquai has this passionate infatuation about his heritage as an African. His parents are from Togo, Ghana and Sierra Leone. No wonder his lyrics are constantly directed towards his love for the African Continent and its people. He once confided in me that an artist should serve his or her people through the arts and not capitalize on their fantasies.

Some of the songs on this album are a collage of themes based upon Aquai's childhood experience of the joy, sufferings and aspirations of the black race south of the Sahara.

Sam Arthur Jr.
Tracy Towers
Bronx, N.Y.

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