Words by Alex De Lacey
Here’s a Story with a very happy ending
This new record from multi-instrumentalist Dexter Story is an endearing and enjoyable listen. Wondem (Brother) takes influences from the music of Ethiopia, juxtaposing them alongside contemporary production styles. Opener ‘A New Day’ is devilishly catchy, as is its successor, ‘Be My Habesha’. A raunchy desert blues number, it kicks off with joyous ululations that feed into a solid guitar line; its lilting drumbeat builds and builds to its climactic chorus.
An eclectic energy propels Wondem, maintained right up to the serene album closer ‘Yene Konjo’. There are some lovely arrangements, too, with a vast array of influences on show. ‘Mowa’, for example, takes its inspiration from the great Sudanese singer Mohammad Warsi, and features strong work from Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Mark de Clive-Lowe, whose string lines and deft keyboard work complement each other well. This approach, in fact, is emblematic of Wondem as a whole. A marrying of traditional Arabic melodies and new electronic sensibilities from LA has provided this album with a strong sense of cohesion that’s resulted in some really great work.