Album Review: Kefaya – Radio International [Radio International Records, 14th October 2016]

Once upon a time, in a world no larger than a big ball, political music was often not as artistically ambitious as visual art or poetry. It made for great music by names like Bob Dylan or Jose Afonso instead of graffiti names like SAMO, composing and performing art pretty generally easy to invest one’s self in, instead of resembling surrealist poetry. Risks taken by international music collective Kefaya (Arabic for ‘enough’) gives political art past and present a real run for its money with Radio International, all the while delivering a poignant, deeply political and artistic experience to listeners.

That ‘Manush’, a well sung, slow, song, would not normally be on the same album as ‘Interference 02’, which would not be on the same album as ‘New Routes’, a great dub reggae tune, is what is meant by Radio International. Kefaya has succeeded at mastering music itself and applying mastery to playing, and mixing, various “types” of music.

Kefaya has mastered the idea of a music album. The six interferences that they have thrown in between the songs as tracks almost force us to sit through Radio International as if it’s a book, like in olden days.

‘New Routes’ is certainly on the list of this album’s very best songs. The strings on ‘Intifada’ are entrancing and well paired with its electronic instrumentation. The most notable song, however, is ‘Protesta Flamenca’. It has what philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called the “grand style” or reality, truth, life, through simplicity and purity.

In a world where certain radio stations are committed to playing artful world music, a title like Radio International is no longer an affront to the concept “radio”. Stations like Radio Alice have pushed political activism to its very limit, which makes it so that the title Radio International is also not an affront to our perception of the possibilities of politics on radio. Most radio, nonetheless, plays mediocre art through programming that does not care to present music from a truly internationalist perspective. Radio International is an affront to that reality, as alternative morality and art.

Nonetheless, there is philosophy to this album. We live in a saturnal world – a world that eats its own sons and daughters, out of fear of losing power, as in the myth or out of feeding our minds with spectacular fables about humankind. One of these fables is that there are borders drawn between us humans that make us fundamentally different. With Radio International, Spanish protest (‘Indignados’), Italian anti-fascism (‘Bella Ciao’) and Indian classical vocals (‘Manush’) etc, are all experienced as the very same thing: great art.