Ahmed Malek & Flako – The Electronic Tapes {2017}

Berlin based reissue label Habibi Funk announces the collection The Electronic Tapes of unreleased electronic music by Algerian composer Ahmed Malek compiled by London based producer Flako. Listen to two preview tracks of the album that will be released on February 17th on vinyl as well.

The quote “Wo sind die Individualhubschrauber, die ihr uns versprochen habt” (“Where are the individual helicopters you promised us?”), supposedly coined by William S. Burroughs sometime in 1960s, is popping up in my head at irregular intervals. At the start of 2017, it rings various bells.

First, he probably never said that, at least I couldn’t find a proper source online. I just found a few hits, as in a German newspaper and on Heinrich Dubel’s blog Helicopterhyterie. My assumption is that it appeared in Germany first, probably as a Graffiti, probably on some wall in Berlin and probably in the 1980s. So if we’re living in a post-truth era, it hasn’t started in 2016.

Second, in the 1960s, people were still excited about the fact that they could follow the landing on the moon glued to their TV sets. That technology could help improving things (and it did!) but wouldn’t change the world for the better for everybody would take a little more time to sink in. The assumption that somebody’s promising high-tech for everybody seems to come from a socialist perspective. It’s expressing the disappointment about the fact that technology is becoming more and more an individual and self-centered status symbol and not a means to make the world better for everyone.

Last summer we sat on our balcony on the sixth floor when suddenly a drone appeared a few meters away from us. It was really scary even though I know we’re living in a safe environment. I couldn’t help but thinking that a few years back people in Germany complained about Google Street View and some even demanded their homes to be pixelated because of privacy concerns. Drones might exactly the individual helicopters mentioned in the quote but how do they, self-driving cars or any other AI-driven device help us becoming a better, more humane, creative, open and smart species?

What I like about early electronic music, especially coming from countries you wouldn’t expect that a lot of people had the money to buy them, is that expresses a positive and creative attitude towards technology and the future. Call it naive, but the passion and openness  it transports might exactly fulfill the socialist idea of technology for everyone and for a good cause (even it’s just for the arts). There’s even a term for it: retro-futurism. I’m aware that you could accuse me, a blogger who writes mostly about the 1960s and 1970s, of various things: escapism, exoticism, glorification of drug consume, romanticizing etc. I’m really trying to avoid all that. Actually I’m just trying to figure out what went wrong with some of the really great ideas of the hippie era and how to transfer the best of them into our times.

Habibi Funk is a great label from Berlin specializing in reissues of funk, disco and psychedelic rock from the 1960s- 80s from North Africa. Actually I wanted to write about them a few times when they released the rough funk of Fadoul and the amazing collection of film music by Algerian composer Ahmed Malek. Last spring, Jannis Stürtz, one of the managers of the label, posted two unreleased electronic tracks by Ahmed Malek on Facebook. When I heard it I hoped the label would release more of it.

Now Habibi Funk announced a compilation with more unreleased tracks by Ahmed Malek to be released on February 17, 2017. The music on the album comes from the original master tapes and was compiled by the London based electronic musician Flako who gives the music recorded in the 1980s a more contemporary feel and a denser and more concentrated atmosphere. Habibi Funk’s made the right decisions in involving Malek’s family (Ahmed Malek sadly passed away in 2008 aged 76), choosing a contemporary electronic musician to produce the album and releasing it on vinyl too. The limited screen printed vinyl sleeve is already sold out.

“In the early 1980s, Ahmed Malek was already in his 50s, when he discovered synthesizers and electronic music for himself and started to experiment with sounds. None of it was ever released but we got a huge box of master tapes from his family and we’re happy to present this different side of Ahmed Malek’s music. It was compiled and co-produced by Flako, a fan of early electronic and synth music. This is not a remix album though, Flako’s aim was to create an album out of 2 hours of material that sounds like it might have if Mr. Malek would have finished it himself before of his death. Fully approved by the artists family.”

Preorder it on Bandcamp

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