MonoMono and Joni Haastrup
Give the Beggar a Chance, The Dawn of Awakening, and Wake Up Mind (Soundway)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Feb. 10, 2012
MonoMonoGive the Beggar a Chance (Soundway/Tummy Touch)
The Dawn of Awareness (Soundway/Tummy Touch)
Joni HaastrupWake Up Your Mind (Soundway/Tummy Touch)
As contemporary music stratifies according to genre, creed, and color, Mother Africa continues unearthing fragments of a larger, more unified musical whole. MonoMono, founded by Nigerian rocker Joni Haastrup in 1971, compounds the era's Afrodelic R&B with more electric rock runoff from the psychedelic Temptations. Bonded by the frontman's plaintive Jimmy Cliff-like cry, 1972 debut Give the Beggar a Chance opens out onto the title track's Traffic-like organ solo, Steve Winwood replaced in Ginger Baker's Air Force by Haastrup, and thus leading to this trio of rediscovered discs. Soda-bottle percussion ("Ema Kowa Lasa Ile Wa") whiffs the junk-heap beats of Congolese juggernaut Konono Nº1 (or is that Men at Work?), while no shortage of stinging, skittering electric guitars do the Allman Brothers' shuffle-n-sear ("Kenimania"). Sufficiently aerated, 1974 follow-up The Dawn of Awareness lifts off completely, Haastrup's sociopolitical consciousness bouncing off the beat beginning on big hook opener "Plain Fighting," with its blistering, stereo-panning guitar solo, and peaking on the call to arms "Awareness Is Wot You Need." Four years later, the frontman's solo bow grooved equally elastic and anthemic, orbiting around its namesake chant. To this circle add only that Haastrup, 63, and living in Oakland, Calif., still practices live dance-rock archeology.