The Shaolin Afronauts are an 11-piece ensemble from Adelaide, Australia who describe their sound as "interstellar futurist afro-soul" influenced equally by Fela Kuti and Sun Ra. After three excellent albums of progressive Afrobeat in the early 2010s, they went silent from recording for eight years.
Now they're back with their most audacious project yet: a five-album box set of all original material called The Fundamental Nature Of Being that expands the band's sonic vision to incorporate experimental and new age electronica, Ethio-jazz, South African marabi, West Africa's post-colonial big band sounds, psychedelic rock and more alongside with their origins in Afrobeat and spiritual jazz. It's a sprawling set, unwieldy at times, brilliant at others, and so much more ambitious than anything I've heard all year.
This week on Global A Go-Go (Sunday October 30, 1:00-3:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards on the wrir.org archive player, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site) I've selected three tracks from The Fundamental Nature Of Being to give you an idea of what's inside the tin. You'll also hear a whole lot of new African music: highlife-jazz from Ghana, Afropop out of Guineé-Bissau and Togo, young Nigerians playing Afrobeat, Wassoulou rock from Burkina Faso, and a smoking new reissue of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou Benin.