Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

Music in the moonlight

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

TOURE KUNDA: 'Casamance Au Clair De Lune' (CELLULOID CEL 6663) 'Ne Nam 1' 'Manoir' 'Amadou Tilo' 'Casamance'/'Ninki Nanka' 'Sol Mal' 'Fass Bougnoul' 'Saf Sap' 'Ne Nam 2

The charisma of African instruments is fully utilised by Touré Kunda who lay emphasis and premium on African material to achieve richness in their music. In 'Ne Nam 1' the use of conga and flute carry an emotional message superbly rendered by the characteristic vocal harmony of the group to pay tribute to parental love in Poular language. Undoubtedly Touré Kunda is one of the few African groups who have managed to reach non-African audience with authentic African instru ments and lyrics. The conga in 'Manoir' and in 'Casamance' and the xylophone at the beginning of 'Amadou Tilo' (Amadou's sun) are classic examples of this on the album. The percussions in 'Casamance' (which has always been a place full of source of vibrant inspiration to the group) gets frenzier in a delightful way - sounding like the 'Adowa' traditional music of Ghana. Beginning 'Ninki Nanka' with melodious xylophone and percussion Touré Kunda sets the tone of an African market place where everybody is talking at the same time. The music Sounds as if 'Ninki Nanka' (the dragon) is being invoked with the usual attractive vocal harmony of the group. The African repertoire of Touré Kunda is limitless as 'Sol Mal' (a dedication to the non-initiated) will prove to the enquiring ears. The frenzy accompanying the 'tam tam', the handclapping and the vocal chorus prescribe an attractiveness purely noble and African. The vocal precision in 'Fass Bougnoul' (black horse) lasting only 42 seconds leaves you dissatisfied because the tone prepares you for a fuller and longer version of a good song. But you are compensated in 'Saf Sap' which concentrates more on 'tam tam' rather than singing. If you are looking for versatility in African music Touré Kunda is the answer if you give 'Ne Nam 2' (the last track on the album) chance to settle. 'Nawa' (my favourite) though not necessarily a 'Ziglibithy', portrays the richness of sound only equalled by few Ivoirian arrangements I have ever come across. The track drives you crazy on the dance floor but the ins and outs of the horns are so compelling that you may wish to listen attentively to them rather unconsciously. When the guitar electrifies you the amplified organ releases you to enjoy one of the best Ivorian tracks ever. It is a contemporary African music style that pays off rather well enough. There is enough tenderness and sophistication about the way the horns display - an admirable feat by all standards.

BLISSI TEBIL: 'Ziglibithy-La Continuité' (DEG MUSIC SHA 041) 'Hommage A E. Djedje' 'Nawa'

This album conceived and put to- gether by Zadi Guillaume is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest exponents of the Ivoirian 'Ziglibithy' music form in the person of Ernesto Djedje who passed away into eternity last year in Abidjan. Blissi Tebil and others including Mr. Konan Bedié (the President of the Ivoirian National Assembly who personally took charge of the organisation of the funeral arrangements in respect of the late "Ziglibithy' hero) are convinced of the need to immortalise both the music form and the musician who carried the banner for a long time. 'Hommage A E. Djedje' and 'Gbehi' are classic examples of the most potent Ivorian music form usually sung in Beté language. African 'tam tam' which is one of the ingredients that go into this music form keeps the rhythm significantly alive especially from the middle of the track, sounding like 'Tizeré' of the late Ernesto Djedje which was a huge success. Just like Blissi Tebil intends, there is 'continuité' in the rhythm which is ably propped by the beautiful guitars and horns. Mellow softness of the organ and synthesizer fills all the corners of 'Yarabo' especially when the two instruments combine to blast. 'Yarabo'/'Ibologo' 'Gbehi' 'Gligbeu' 'Ibologo' is whistled into action by the synthesizer and the horns (which make you anxious to know who plays in that section). This track and others constitute songs and orchestrations of undeniable quality. The vocal harmony and mellowness in 'Gbehi' add fresh ness and vitality to the album. The role of the conga is left unobstructed for a brilliant display half way except by the bass line which adds a pleasing dimen sion to the song. The 'animation' in 'Gligbeu' will prove the vibrant nature of 'Ziglibithy". The short respite introduced by the sweet soft organ is beautifully killed by the conga which increases the 'anima tion' and musical magnetism of this extraordinary 'continuité' of 'Ziglibithy'. Give it a try.


On The Beat With Staccato
Years ago one could be very homesick as far as African music was concerned. The local radio stations, determined to outdo each other on the popularity charts understandably dished out only their pop music to the exclusion of any form of black African or Caribbean music. Of course, things have changed with the internationalisation of reggae which came under the umbrella of racial equality promotion on the social economic and political fronts. Television and radio stations now blare out heavy African and Caribbean music to the aficianados' content.

Not so with High-Life music. As a columnist in this magazine wrote a couple of months ago, high-life music would need a few changes to make it really internationally acceptable. But I was pleasantly surprised one morning last week when twirling the dial of my radio I tuned into Radio Caroline which operates from a boat anchored, in the North Sea dishing out a beautiful song in Akan "Na Ghana beyeyie?" (Will Ghana ever be alright?) at the end of which the Deejay introduced the band as Katakumbey. I wonder whether that band is still led by Ekow Redding, a fine musician I used to know based in West Germany.
Tuesday April 10: "Current trends in the Tunisian economy - the bread riots and after" by Dr Keith Mclachlan and George Joffe of School of Oriental and African studies. "The history of Racism 2: An academic overview by Christopher Fyfe, of Edinburgh University. Wednesday, April 11: The Struggle for Non-alignment: Zimbabwe's International relations since independence by Kempton Makamure, lecturer in Law, University of Zimbabwe. "The Politics of Famine, the case of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia". Thursday, April 12: Women workers in the Sugar Industry in Southern Africa by Pat Macfaden, University of Warwick. Tuesday April 17: "Zimbabwe since Independence" by His Excellency H.H. Murerwa, High Commissioner for Zimbabwe. All the talks take place at the Africa Centre at 6.30pm.
"The carrot and the stick", a conference on Race Relations in Camden will be held at the Working Men's College, Crowndale Road, London NW1 on Saturday April 14, 1984. Issues like "Race Relations - An industry that benefits white society?" "Aid - a trap for the Black community?" "Towards Black Control", among other interst ing issues would be discussed at workshop and plenary sessions.

Poets' Corner


N'djamena drops
Like a stainless steel,
Resisting a repressive surface,
The tinkling, like
An Iman
Calling the beloveds
To prayers


We are self-willed Garbages,
Dropped into doubtbins
Of obsolete words and rhymes
By the whirlwinds of existence,
Unabridged we opt to write our
Biographies only when the
Ink-fount of ourselves begun
To run-out
This, thus we are:
  A faint scrabbled
  On black sheets
  With Ivory ink.

Fifi, London

talking drums 1984-04-09 The military - servants or masters Guinea's post Sekou Toure coup