Words by Max Reinhardt
An apt title indeed! Owiny Sigoma Band have aimed high and stolen the electronic Afro-roots crown. Their music has become a revelatory fusion, bringing together the Kenyan Luo tradition and the melting pot of London’s club scene, making the walls shake in any language. The project started when Jesse Hackett and others from the electronic hip-hop/soul collective Elmore Judd visited Kenya at the invitation of an NGO promoting local musicians. They started playing with Joseph Nyamungu, a vocalist and nyatiti (eight-stringed lyre) player, and Charles Owoko, a Luo drummer. Last time around they recorded in Nairobi. But for this second album, the Luo musicians joined their partners and recorded in London. The result will undoubtedly prove to be one of the albums of the year.
It’s not just the thudding sub-bass and the skittering electronics that propel the music. It’s the influence of the many cosmopolitan styles and rhythms of the streets and clubs of London. You’ll hear a Shangaan electro influence in the rhythms, a dubstep feel in the bass lines, Congolese stylings in the guitars, an indie feel in some of the melodies and a London jazz/soul vibe to some of the vocal tracks. Not to forget, of course, the power of Nyamungu’s mighty voice, while the Luo rhythms really ground the grooves. Truly outstanding.
TRACK TO TRY: Lucas Malore
(On Brownswood Recordings)