DJ MANU BOUBLI with DJs JOHN KONG, AKI, A MAN CALLED WARWICK, JASON PALMA and DEE JAY NAV as part of MOVEMENT at Roxy Blu (12 Brant), Friday (April 27). $15. www.roxyblu.com Rating: NNNNN
Cutting-edge Paris label Comet wasn't entirely responsible for the ongoing fascination with club-friendly African grooves, but it's done more to bring the continent to dance floors in the last few years than anyone else.
The imprint, run by crate-diggers Eric Trochet and Manu Boubli, initially began as a weekly club night where they met musicians like legendary Fela Kuti drummer and afrobeat co-creator Tony Allen.
As a label, Comet launched afrobeat into the future with Allen's dub-damaged Black Voices disc, but they were also concerned with the past. A trio of excellent compilations -- Racubah!, Ouelele and Bilongo -- bring together impossible-to-find tracks that have turned out dance floors and illustrated that African funk goes well beyond Fela's JB-inspired stomp.
"The compilations are a bridge between where we come from and where we want to go with people like Tony," Boubli offers from Paris. "People have been looking for these kinds of records for years, and we please them but also open-minded people beyond the typical jazz-funk crowd."
Ouelele-style archival compilations will continue for as long as Boubli's record library can hold out, but the focus around the Comet offices these days is on new recordings.
A handful of new-school afro records are due out this summer, all of which continue Comet's mandate of pushing rhythms of the past into the future.
On the way is Psycho On Da Bus, featuring tracks Allen recorded during his stay in Toronto last summer, as well as a record by Allenko Brotherhood Ensemble, an Allen collaboration with producers like IG Culture, Cinematic Orchestra and production trio Troublemakers.
"Allenko is a kind of future-sound-of-afrobeat project," Boubli explains. "We recorded several of Tony's drum patterns and handed them out to producers from around the world, and they gave us their version of afrobeat.
"We tried to find people we love and respect, but not particularly people involved in the afrobeat scene. These are people who can bring something new to the music, which is what making music for the future means."