Asante Sana is the anticipated second album from Amy Mayson (formerly Amy & The Calamities), folk-and-blues artist from Zimbabwe. The six-track EP was recorded at the historic Angel Studios in North London, in a brief window when lockdown was lifted in the winter of November 2020. The previous month, Georgina Leach (violin) and Amy Mayson (née Wawn) had just finished a residency at One Night Records’ production of Lockdown Town. The duo performed for a week running as Amy & The Calamities on the Dustbowl Stage, to crowds of recently liberated humans under the arches of London Bridge. Riding on that energy, they decided to dive straight into the studio and with the expertise of sound engineer and producer Hugh Fielding, recorded the bulk of this live album in one session, lending this record it’s raw and honest character. Besides the signature sounds of Amy & the Calamities – the acoustic guitar, vocals, and stomp box (Amy Mayson) and violin (Georgina Leach) – the listener will also note the sombre song of the cello and low droning hum of the accordion (Leach) as well as the deep rolling rhythm of the double bass and percussive elements, graciously contributed by Nick Pini at a later date.
Angel studios has a fascinating history. It was originally constructed as a chapel in 1888 and bought later by De Wolfe Limited in 1979, who transformed it into the studio it is today. The chapel’s 18th century organ still stands in Studio One where the six tracks of Asante Sana were recorded. Asante Sana means ‘thank you very much’ in Swahili and echoes a lyric in the first track of the album, Seven Day Blues. It was wonderfully synchronistic to discover that some of the tracks for The Lion King were originally recorded in Angel Studios, and that the famous words of the wise Rafiki – “Asante sana, squashed banana” – may have also once resonated in that same chamber.
Finally, after another subsequent lockdown, the tracks were carefully mixed in Fielding’s Moreton-in-Marsh studio on his beloved 1975 Soundcraft series II; a class A, discrete circuitry, transformer balanced, inductor. To put it in British, layman’s terms, this analogue desk makes music sound rather quite nice, and it does so with a distinct vintage flair.
Asante Sana will be available on all online platforms from 12 August 2o22, with a limited number available on vinyl and CD – pre-order link coming soon.