In a brand new album Kologo, the various Accra-based music outfit Alostmen breathe new life into Ghana’s two-stringed lute, making a sound at a crossroads between rap and Afrobeat.
The story is one thing out of a fairy story for music followers. In 2007, Stevo Atambire, a boy from the streets of Accra, was hanging out in his sister’s banana store. An odd-looking character, barefoot and wearing a skirt, popped in and recounted how he as soon as recorded a track with King Ayisoba, the grasp of kologo, a Ghanian two-stringed lute.
Stevo didn’t precisely purchase his story at first. He himself performed the instrument at weddings, funerals, markets and within the streets. On high of that, he had already launched a few albums on CD and cassette tape, and was identified for his digital music infused model.
King Ayisoba was certainly one of his greatest influences. And it turned out that what the skirted man stated was true: he was none apart from the multi-instrumentalist artist Wanlov the Kubolor and had actually carried out with the Ghanaian grasp.
When the musician stopped by the shop on one other event to purchase bananas, Stevo whipped out his kologo and started to improvise a model of certainly one of King Ayisoba’s songs, “Look Ma Shoe”.
Impressed, Wanlov pulled out his kashaka (a percussion instrument consisting of two small picket gourds) and joined within the impromptu live performance. Thus started a powerful musical friendship, one which has since produced the wonderful album Kogolo, launched on 29 January by the London-based label Strut Data.
A dizzying hybrid sound
The document is superb on a number of fronts. First, as a result of the kologo has by no means sounded fairly like this earlier than. “I’ve an uncommon enjoying model,” says Stevo, who poses along with his instrument, made out of an oil can, on the album cowl.
“The kologo is the predecessor of the banjo and the guitar, and has at all times been round in Ghana. However I’ve developed a special, extra digital sound, which has earned me recognition in my nation.”
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The monitor “Minus Me” distils an astounding variety of influences: Ghanaian rapper Medikal chants to the beat of a gonje (a Sahelian two-stringed fiddle) and the track’s loops are overlaid with the sound of flutes and a muffled drum beat. A refrain of vocalists dialogue with the singer, and the blasts of brass devices think of Fela’s Afrobeat model, sending listeners right into a trance that is aware of no bounds.
Wanlov the Kubolor, a flexible virtuoso who sings, produces and writes songs, has already gained notoriety for his whimsical music venture FOKN Bois. He makes his mark on the album’s dizzying hybrid of sounds.
The Ghanaian and Romanian artist has years of expertise making futuristic music. His bag of tips contains incorporating classic synths, artificially altering the sound of sure devices in order that they develop into one thing else fully (like turning a gonje right into a bass guitar) and utilizing autotune over Steve’s voice.
Steve himself, whom Wanlov the Kubolor compares to Jimi Hendrix, has a penchant for utilizing results pedals along with his kologo and overdubbing (including further recorded sounds to an present recording).
Individuals of the streets
The complexity of the manufacturing course of is just matched by the musicians’ expertise for dwell performances. Stevo, a outstanding member of the Frafra ethnic group (a semi-nomadic folks primarily made up of farmers however who’ve a musical tradition that makes use of devices just like the kologo, gonje and flute), lives his music.
“In my songs, I develop into a journalist,” he says. “I inform tales about what I see and what individuals are going by way of on the streets. In truth, our group is called ‘Alostmen’ as a result of we’re a part of these folks of the streets, the forgotten folks. I can’t think about writing songs about intercourse or violence as a result of we wish to uplift our viewers with a constructive message.”
After touring in Ghana and Uganda (which included a present on the Nyege Nyege Competition, an occasion that includes Africa’s most proficient younger artists), Steve hopes that his album will open up alternatives for him to carry out on phases the world over, pandemic be damned.
“However I’ll by no means get too massive for the streets of Accra,” the musician says, figuring out full properly that if he needs to go far, he must have deeply anchored roots.