Album of the Week: N’Draman Blintch – Cosmic Sounds

The Nigerian artist N’Draman Blintch and the album Cosmic Sounds is one of those records that’s been steeped in mystery and folklore in the record community for some time. It has all the markings of a cult classic: an artist that disappeared into obscurity, affiliations with an infamous record producer and a host of musicians that went on to great careers in music after it was released.

Very little is known about N’Draman Blintch, and after releasing three records within a year of each other in 1980, his name never comes up again in music history. The record sleeve and various online references only refer to his academic career and that his favourite hobby is “sleeping and dreaming,” possibly in an effort from the label to create an aura of myth around him.

One of the myths they’ve chosen to dispel around the release however is its tenuous connection to William Onyeabar. While Blintch might have recorded parts of his previous album, “Cikamele” in Onyeabor’s Nigerian studio, there is irrefutable evidence he was no in deed the producer of this record that everybody assumed he was.

Cosmic sounds boasts some incredible musicians too like Lemmy Jackson and Gasper Lawal, but on of the most surprising collaborators is Carol Kenyon, who later went on to be the voice of Heaven 17’s “Temptation” as well as doing lead- and backing vocals on a host of iconic eighties pop albums, just check her wiki page. It’s no surprise that the only original copy available for sale at the moment is coming in at an eye watering €1200, but on a recent trip to our local record store we were able to secure a copy for a mere €22.00. We love re-issues. Cosmic Sounds is too good to keep vaulted in some glass house where it can’t be pawed at, and played until the grooves are worn out.

Opening track “Self Destruction”  leaps over the grooves as it bounces in a funky Disco staccato over the grooves of the record. There’s a fusion element to the track which expands over the next few tracks, but “Self Destruction” is sultry Disco stepper with keys melting in the heat of that funky bass. Percussion weaves in lattice pattern around a space-aged progressive arrangement, pulsing with a primal energy.

Syncopated rhythms, Funky bass-lines and staccato keys might have been common place by the 1980’s but N’Draman Blinth and his band touch the borders of space with this record as synthesisers dart across speakers like Todd Terje’s Inspector Norse, threading their way through the tightly organised organic elements from the musicians.

From “Self Destruction” through to “Cosmic Sounds”  the band maintain some inhuman intensity in upbeat arrangements that even through their extensive journey of the extended tracks on the record that never seem to get tedious. Transporting you form one end of a track to the last through a inter-dimensional beam, “Cosmic Sounds” touch on a variety of elements and styles and phases, before it dissipates completely into the soulful lament of the closing track, “She Africa.”