Anthony Joseph & the Spasm Band
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Anthony Joseph & the Spasm Band

Band Spoken Word Funk


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"In a voodoo funk style, with hynotic Spoken word, Anthony Joseph and his Spasm band play the card of the musical and literary bewitchment" - Liberation

"Ikley Literature Festival"

"The leader of the Black avant-garde in Britain" - Ikley Literature Festival

"Le Nouvel Observateur"

"His lyrics are a mix of African mythology and science fiction" - Le Nouvel Observateur


Avril 2007 - Lego de Leon
Janvier 2009 - Bird Head Son



Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band
New album “Bird Head Son”. Release 3rd January 2009

Bird Head Son was what Anthony Joseph used to be called back in the Seventies when he was knee high to a grasshopper. He was given this bird name by people in the neighbourhood where he grew up in reference to Bird Head, his father, whose head was “said to be too small for his body”. Now it’s the title of his second album, an autobiographical collection of songs in which this son of Port of Spain looks back over the first steps and excitement of his youth in Trinidad more than twenty years after crossing the Atlantic to touch down in London. This spokesman of the “avant-garde of the diaspora” – yes, the writings of this Londoner do indeed belong to this current of thought – has made a kind of notebook of his return to his native land (to paraphrase the totemic poem by Aimé Césaire) and in it he interweaves the episodes and characters that make up his “creolised” identity. It is this identity that he has been expressing with pen and microphone for the last fifteen years… “Poetry is music. It needs to be shouted out, sung and declaimed. When I write, I always think in terms of sounds.”

It all began one carnival day when his parents met. Typical of the tropics. And so Anthony Joseph was born on 12th November 1966, during the feast of Diwali, a Hindu celebration that celebrates the transformation from darkness into light. Not so typical of the tropics. This anecdote goes some way towards explaining what happened next in the life of this preacher fired by a vision of the world as a cosmic whole in which music is one great organic communion. This is what we can hear between the lines through the alchemy of this sorcerer’s apprentice, a retro-futuristic mix and a surrealist meta-fiction in which his drumming mouth makes the hymns of the high Baptist masses of his childhood echo back off the altar of groove and blend in with the lyrical brilliance of the Calypsonians, those high priests of true rhyme. Anthony Joseph shows himself the equal of the Beat poets and follows in the footsteps of the prophets of jazz and the more aesthetic rappers to invoke the spirits of voodoo funk and spiritual soul in a spectacular odyssey that takes us across the broad ocean of Great Black Music. “I like to think that we play the soundtrack for a land where all the black diasporas are reunited. Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean in one and the same sound.”

“Bird Head Son”. This is he, one helluva guy who swears by spirituality and has a magical hint of swing in the small of his back. He and the army of ghosts that inhabit his mind. A vampire she-devil and a country cousin, the tenderness of his grandmother and an absent father, a grandfather and the painful memories of his heavy hand, a brother and all that was left unspoken, the soul of a friend found in the middle of the jungle, “that place that bears traces of us all despite the vagaries of life”. “Bird Head Son” is also a song, “a primal scream” from his English exile and bitter realisation when he returns to the archipelago where he spent his tender years. To accompany him on this journey into the depths of his memory and plough the deepest furrow through all his origins, from the private to the universal, Anthony Joseph chose to surround himself with his family. Which brings us back to family spirit…

First there is the Spasm Band – a dual reference to the street orchestras Louis Armstrong described in his autobiography and to the spasms set off by Baptist chants -, a group of friends from South London that he brought together ten years ago for a reading of his very first short story with the extremely symbolic title “The African Origins of UFOs”. The bass/percussion/saxophone trio, the hard core of “Llego de lion” that provided the nuclear energy for that first attempt, has since been joined by various other free electrons. There are percussionists, next-door neighbours, a “black rock” guitarist and three guests, each of whom adds his own personal touch to this syncretic mix: the fine tinkering of David Neerman on the eclectic vibraphone; the energy and breath of Joe Bowie, who founded the legendary Defunkt; and the blue-funk fingering of Keziah Jones, a longstanding friend of Anthony Joseph’s. “The universe always ends up uniting in perfect harmony the things that belong together.”