. issue XXI : i .

by barathron

. artist : janka nabay & the bubu gang .
. album : en yay sah .
. year : 2012 .
. label : luaka bop .
. grade : b plus .

EnYaySah

Ahmed Janka Nabay released a series of popular cassettes of what he calls bubu music in his native Sierra Leone in the 1990’s. Civil war drove Nabay into exile in the USA, where he formed a full band in 2010; this is their first full-length album. Bubu is based on the Islamic music of northwestern Sierra Leone, which is driven by percussion and bamboo flutes; in Nabay’s elaboration, drum machines provide the percussion while electronic keyboards sub for the flutes. What he’s making here is African “tradi-mod” music, with one foot in tradition and the other in contemporary electronica – Congotronics, South Africa’s Shangaan Electro sound and Ghana’s Bola are all working in a related direction. There’s a lot more than beats and blips going on here – the whole band (most of the members are affiliated with the experimental rock band Skeletons) riffs cleverly on this structure, Douglas Shaw channels some of the great African guitarists, and Boshra AlSaadi (a Syrian native) excels as the second vocalist. This is post-colonial hybridity you can dance to – looking forward to the next installment.

by Bill Lupoletti

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