With the jazz demographic getting older and older, more and more mainstream labels are turning their attention to the dancefloor in order to capture younger ears. Savoy had already released a CD by the English dance-pop trio Saint Etienne, but Cafe D’Afrique is the first release on the label’s new Worldwide imprint for electronic music.
Dino Moran and Mother Nature’s “Vuna” is the track that sounds the most like kwaito, South Africa’s indigenous-steeped take on European house music. Unfortunately, there’s little else on the CD that resembles kwaito—a shame since so little of that genre has been released in the U.S. The rest of Café D’Afrique sounds like European and U.S. music from the 1990s.
Steady Wisdom’s “The People vs. Life” and Social Scientist’s “Mood Blender” evoke early 1990s ambient house. “Hands On a Miracle” by Newtown and featuring Amy Elle is a power ballad that could easily be a Shania Twain hit 10 years ago. D’Sound’s “Give It All Back” and Iridium Project’s “Into the Sky” are pretty close to straight-up R&B balladry. Goldfish’s “Dream,” Joe Public’s “Why Do You Love Me?” and Ellora Ghosh’s “How Do You?” sound like torch-bearing downtempo tracks from the mid-1990s.
Cofield Mundi’s “Count Me Out” has a 1995 feel as well, but it’s also got a great big hook. This great song is somewhere between Portishead and Sia’s “Breathe Me,” the tune that played as Six Feet Under’s last episode faded to black. It’s also the best tune on Café D’Afrique.