Top of the World: Ellika, Solo & Rafael – Now

Posted on January 9th, 2014 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Nigel Williamson

CE26_cover_highresA Swedenegalese stew (with Mexican flavours)

The Swedish fiddler Ellika Frisell and the Senegalese kora player Solo Cissokho won a BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music for their 2002 album Tretakt Takissaba. A second album Abaraka Tack followed in 2006, but they’ve since been busy pursuing other projects. On this renewal of their collaboration they’re joined by Mexican-born Rafael Sida, whose percussion lends the sound a deeper resonance without being intrusive. As before it’s the intuitive interplay between kora and violin (or viola) that delights; a wonderful meshing of harmony, melody and counterpoint, the sound of two very different musical traditions not clashing but empathetically supporting each other so they sound as one. ‘Wousse’ is a traditional song from Guinea and ‘Skanklat Fran Bingsjo’ is an old Swedish marching tune, but on both the two acoustic stringed instruments are in perfect calibration.

The hybrid sounds so natural that the ‘fusion’ tag seems almost inappropriate; the contrast comes not so much from cultural differences as from the bowing of the strings on one instrument and the plucking of them on the other. Cissokho adds gritty griot vocals to several tracks and Rafael also sings, at one point adding an Afro-Cuban chant that fits seamlessly into the felicitous mix.

TRACK TO TRY: ‘Dolo/Porque e Fue’

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