Review | Songlines

Africa Soyo

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


Simo Lagnawi




London-based Gnawa master Simo Lagnawi returns with his latest album, Africa Soyo, a clean, crisp recording – something that's very difficult to achieve with Gnawa records. One thing that's also seldom heard in traditional Gnawa records is variation in the musical arrangements. There's lots of hand claps, qaraqab and jingles to support the frenetic playing of Lagnawi's gimbri.

‘Soudani Manayo’ is laced with lots of reverb in the mix, which adds to the ethereal, other-worldly feel that Gnawa music is known for. ‘Boulilalila’ leaves the listener falling into a trance with chanting and fast-paced playing. ‘Africa Soyo’ is an enjoyable but paradoxically relaxing and intense listen. You get the sense of going through many emotions and different experiences with every listen. And with Gnawa music recently recognised on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list (see What's New, #155), this album is a great place to start for newcomers to this special genre.

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