Until recently, it was thought that we had heard all there was to hear from Saâda Bonaire. The German studio project’s 1980s recordings had been compiled on the now cult-classic double LP Saâda Bonaire, released by Captured Tracks in 2013. Though the group had continued working until 1994, founder Ralph “von” Richtoven had firmly stated that all of their post-1986 work was lost. Released now for the first time ever, 1992 compiles the band’s long-lost early nineties material. Produced between Bremen and New York City, the 12 songs presented here capture the group’s attempts at steering their trademark fusion sound (reggae, afro-funk, Eastern music, and sultry German female vocals) into uncharted nu jazz, trip-hop, and house territories.
It’s no surprise, given both the time lapse and the fluid nature of the project, that these recordings differ sonically from the 1980s material. 1992 finds Saâda Bonaire folding new influences from the time (house, hip-hop, rap) into their eclectic sonic universe. Vocalist Andrea Ebert’s soulful voice –the result of a church choir background and an early love of American soul and jazz music– offset Stephanie Lange’s laid-back, more German-sounding vocals. This unique interplay bolstered the band’s new direction - evident in their inspired takes on JamesBrown’s “Woman” and Syreeta Wright and Stevie Wonder’s “To KnowYou Is To Love You”. The American influence was also made literal via contributions by renowned DJ Matthias Heillbronn and rapperJimmy Lee Patterson, both of whom lent some stardust to the tracks at François Kevorkian’s Axis Studios in NYC.
Unfortunately, the demo recordings were considered too bizarre for 1990s record label standards, and as a result were never published. As with all things Saâda Bonaire, the discovery of these discarded recordings feels like a sort of magical impossibility. It’s been nearly ten years since the release of the last compilation, and thirty since the recordings were originally captured. That they still manage to sound fresh and avant garde is a testament to Saâda Bonaire’s flair for creating pop music for past, present, and future outsiders.