Soundway Records presents the OST to Ola Balogun’s legendary 1978 Afro-Brazilian film Black Goddess

Soundway Records has been releasing some of the purest and worthwhile reissued material around the world. Hands down, Soundways packaging, linear notes, exclusive and rare photos and much more seperates them from almost everyone in the reissue catalogs. Along with a handful of other labels, they are leading the way on unearthing gems that music lovers around the world. One can’t even begin to find the words to thank the men and women involved in finding this rare music. Soundway Records has been making lots of trips to Africa since the label began with the latest round of pictures released this summer and fall. The OST Soundway has released of the 1978 Afro-Brazilian of Black Goddess is among the finest items the organization has ever put out. The film was created by one of Nigeria’s most well known and critically acclaimed directors, Ola Balogun. With a deep root in the music culture of Nigeria, Balogun called upon the services of Remi Kabaka to facilitate compositional work for Black Goddess. The setting for the film that was to be shot in Brazil and his native region of Nigeria, marking it the first of its kind. No film production before this had ever been shot in collaboration with an African country and Brazil.

Knowing the gravity of what the film could become, Remi enlisted the services with some of Nigeria’s top players of the 70’s: Biddy Wright (keyboards, percussion, bass), Dele Okonkwo (saxphone, percussion) and leading force of Mono Mono, Joni Haastrup (guitar, keyboard). The film Black Goddess was a cult following hit when it hit select theaters in both Brazil and Nigeria, eventually winning the International Catholic Film Office prize for best motion picture at the Carthage Film Festival in 1978. The film was also given an honorary and very special screening in the widely acclaimed “New Films, New Director’s” program at the New York Museum of Modern Art, April of 1980

Original Soundtracks for films are one of the strongest elements for tying in the emotional and environmental fabric of a visual story. Remi Kabaka was a very seasoned composer at this time, having worked with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Ginger Baker and many other western musicians.; his presence in film soundtrack scoring could have only strengthened with these iconic musical connections.  His work with many of his contemporaries in Lagos, Nigeria and abound made him a very important bridge of the west and east, much like his contemporary Fela Kuti.. The pulse and heavy rhythms of this culture captured the worlds attention and the film Black Goddess was very important in presenting this vision to Brazil, Nigeria and the lucky people in the film industry who had access to this material.

Photo by Adran Alvarez

The contents of the OST for Black Goddessis easily one of the finest experimental afro beat albums ever created. The soundtrack was of course produced by director Ola Balogun in collaboration with composer Remi Kabaka. As mentioned before, the 4 musicians are in there own right, beacons of light in the afro beat scene and can all stand on their own as composers and band leaders. With Remi’s compositions in place, the standard for experimentation was high.

‘Brothers and Sisters’ starts off the soundtrack and it doesn’t take but 10 seconds for the deep head nodding pulse to enter your body. Joni Haastrup lays down some really funky afro beat electric harpsichord with the bass falling right behind him. Dele Okonkwo interjects very brief statements and rides over the cycled rhythm section that never stops. This sounds like Stevie Wonder and Fela Kuti jammed for a session.

What is very unique about this album is the amount or should we say lack of percussion found on the recording. The second piece The Quest has long, beautiful sustained notes from Dele that reflect a very deep and contemplative mood. Once the keyboard and rhythm section fall behind, the piece picks up a lot of pace and becomes another vehicle for pulsating dance floor thunder.

The title track, Black Goddess (from Black Goddess OST) by Soundway
Black Goddess is one of the most beautiful songs on the soundtrack. A very gentle, relaxed mood starts off the piece with slow swells of saxophone that underpin the short the keyboard statements. The piece comes to full life after 2 minutes of this somber mood. Over 10 minutes in length, this song reflects a lot of the work Fela Kuti was completing in the 70’s with the Africa 70, just a lot more stripped down.

The piece that stands out the most to me on this is the slow and blissful groove of ‘Slave March’. Keyboard pronounces the main theme right away and the rhythm that follows is one to write home about. Afro beat music always has these slow burning grooves that crawl inside of you and make you get up and move around. Watching this film with this song is heaven to me. The bass guitar never misses a beat and lays down thick line after line. You can’t get this sound just by picking up an instrument these days. This is a result of the time, culture, gear, concepts and energy present.

Black Goddess is somewhat of an unknown artifact in the world of film. Having so much attention and respect in a small pocket of time, it is a mystery and down right sin it has been shelved away for many years. This reissue of the OST is a promising start to a full restoration on the negative prints of Black Goddess. One can only hope this manifests itself. In the mean time, enjoy this sonic gift of Nigeria’s burgeoning afro beat, funk and fusion scene  from some of the best in the region.

By Erik Otis

Black Goddess Original Soundtrack Reissue
Composed by Remi Kabaka Adenihun
Soundway Records
Fall 2011

Track Listing

Side A

  1. Brothers And Sisters
  2. The Quest
  3. Slave March

Side B

  1. Black Goddess
  2. The Quest (Shadow Of Tomorrow) Piano
  3. The Warrior

Graphic artist: Biodun Odunsi
Artwork recreated by: Meurig Rees
Published by Afrocult Music

Order HERE.

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