April 2, 2009

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Despite a reputation as one of Nigeria’s most successful and best Afro-Beat boom bands, information about Monomono remains scarce on the Internet. Even the normally dependable, All Music Guide, lacks a bio on the three-piece outfit. I’ll presume it’s due to Google searches yielding results on “the kissing disease,” not Monomono’s definition in Yoruba: Dawn of Awareness.

Fronted by golden-throated frontman, Johnny Haastrup (also known as Joni), Dawn of Awareness saw release on Capitol/EMI in 1974. Unsurprisingly, it takes direct cues from Nigerian funk overlord, Fela Kuti, who’d previously employed Monomono co-founder, Friday Jumbo, as a conguero. In fact, the album cover even offers, “thanks to brother Fela, for the little hint that did a good job.”

But rather than succumb to sterile imitation, Monomono cook up their own sound, opting for a comparatively poppier aesthetic (meaning most tracks run in the four to six minute range). Nonetheless, if you dig Fela, you’ll love this, with star-scraping vocals, infinite organ lines, polyrhythmic drums, and supernal sax riffs, all snipped from the same sokoto.

Download:

MP3: Monomono-“Make Them (You) Realise”
MP3: Monomono-“Plain Fighting”