Thursday, November 14, 2013

Saâda Bonaire

This is a publicity photo for the early '80s synth dance band Saâda Bonaire. Problematic, isn't it? Especially given the name, the first half meaning happiness in Arabic (سعادة).
The 'ayn is often rendered as "â" in French.

I guess this photo (evoking what? catwoman in burka?) goes with not only the name of the group but also their track "The Facts," which is a wild synth-pop-goes-world dance number, entirely of its time, synth with "Eastern" instruments mixed in. Fact recently announced the "rediscovery" of the group and the release, over thirty years after their recording, of a single released in 1982 (two sides, it was the days of vinyl) and 11 previously unreleased tracks. All produced by the amazing Dennis Bovell, who also worked with The Slits and The Raincoats and Pop Group among others.

Of the tracks that I have managed to hear so far, it's "The Facts" that has that Eastern feel. Fact says it "is a decisively weird collision of Pet Shop Boys-influenced FM synth, pummeling disco rhythms, deadpan female vocals and, yep, Middle Eastern flutes and what sounds like Oud. It shouldn’t work at all, but we’re glad it does." I don't think it's flutes and I think it is a bouzouki (or in Arabic, buzuq), but Fact does get the idea. It does, somehow, work. (But I admit, I love that 80s synth sound.)

And it seems, according to this source, that the musicians on the recordings were "culled from the local immigration center." Hmmm, I wonder how much they were paid...
culled from the local immigration center
joined by dozens of local musicians culled from the local immigration center. - See more at:

Here's the video for the song, featuring the two German vocalists, Stefanie Lange and Claudia Hossfield, in various states of undress. Very eighties. You've been warned.

Stefanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld

And here is the cover of the release, just out on November 12. Yep, Arabic on the cover.

Here's a photo of Saâda Bonaire without the weird "burqa":

And a couple more Saâda Bonaire tracks on youtube. "Invitation" (with bagpipes that also "work" and what sounds like a sampled Middle Eastern female vocal). "You Could Be More As You Are." And "Funky Way," which is very dub, but with "Eastern-sounding" horns, and the best track of theirs I've heard so far.

However, I just bought the album (it came out two days ago, 12 November), so maybe I'll find more that I like.

Note: for some strange reason "Funky Way" is not on the just-released album. So grab it from youtube. You've got the link.

ADDED November 16: You can now stream the entire album here.

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