Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars: Sewele

Sir Shina Peters may best be known for opening Strut Records’ monumental compilation Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump. He did so with “Yabis,” a slinky slice of Afro-funk that our own Marty Sartini Garner described as “recalling ? and the Mysterians covering ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’” Sick.

Earlier this year, Strut reissued the deeply rare 1986 album, Sewele, an early solo outing for Sir Shina Peters. Along with His International Stars, he leans into languid astral funk, a slowly brewed groove billowing outward into four works that cast an ecstatic juju Afrobeat. The record has a kind of strange outsider art beauty about it that’s welcoming and inviting in its eccentricity. Big buoyant rhythms humming about streaks of strange nocturnal neon splendor. The Stars’ spaced-out soul mingling casually with their earnest and lo-fi approach to highlife garage rock.

The band is dialed in but in no rush to get anywhere, slowly ascending toward the spiritual heights of some alternate juju zone. They follow instinctual, wild trails into a patient harmony: womping beats and percussive vocals moving elegantly, expanding and contracting in concert with the direction of the groove, the odd, momentary galactic riff sending out waves from some far-off corner. Sinewy strikes of dazzling synth and echoing drums colliding into each other with a ragged charm and big-hearted sincerity. They’re all in on this, and as such the music feels joyous and devotional. Even more so in its left-field and humble candor. Languid hymns showering lightly down from their elevated state. Occasionally sending down a bolt of lightning. words/c depasquale

P.S. – Strut’s new reissue of Sewele features original artwork and a new liner note by Sir Shina Peters telling the story of the album and his work beyond.