Review | Songlines

The Dancing Devils of Djibouti

Top of the World

Rating: ★★★★★

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Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Groupe RTD

Label:

Ostinato Records

Aug/Sept/2020

World music has woken up to the wondrous delights of Somali music over the past few years through reissues of classic ensembles from the 70s and 80s. This time, Ostinato Records brings the sound of live Somali-language music today with an album by the premiere group of the small nation of Djibouti.

The music of the Somali-majority port country on the mouth of the Red Sea is little known outside the Horn of Africa, and this is actually the very first album of Djiboutian music ever released by a foreign label. So, for a big first release, why not go to the very best? Groupe RTD are the house band for Djibouti's national broadcasting company and the one called upon to perform at any official ceremonies in the country. They are part of the great legacy of Somali pop music, with elements from traditional music shining through among retro dance-band arrangements while keeping an open ear to the synth-dominated modern styles. Theirs is a real Red Sea sound, a musical midpoint between Africa and the Middle East. Add in Bollywood influences, lots of reggae and disco funk with a heavy swagger, and you have some serious party music. Good vibes only.

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