From the team who brought you 2017's masterpiece of a compilation, Sweet As Broken Dates comes an even deeper dive into music from Eastern Africa, this time highlighting enigmatic Sudanese musician Abu Obaida Hassan. In the early 2000s, a prominent Sudanese newspaper declared him dead. Internet forums confirmed his passing. Many in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, said he had indeed died. But rumors that he was still alive persisted. In 2016 the label heads traveled to Sudan to piece together the puzzle of Abu Obaida, and whether he was indeed dead. Through some good fortune and a healthy does of detective work they discovered Abu Obaida was very much alive, residing in the outskirts of Omdurman, the old capital just across the White Nile from Khartoum. Abu Obaida is renown in Sudan, creating a vibrant new music for the youth of 1970's and '80's Khartoum. When he was just 19 he stepped away from the traditional Shaigiya music of northern Sudan by modifying a tambour (similar to a lyre), adding an extra string and electrifying the instrument. The result is entirely unique, adding trance-like complexity to an instrument long adored across Eastern Africa. Rhythmically these tracks are dreamy, mesmerizing and hypnotic, with swirling melodies, two drummers and melodic call and response backing vocals. Peep the tracks "Qamar Al Massa (Moon of the Night)", "La...La (Don't Say I Am Betraying You)" or "Nas Fi Nas (People on People)" for a primer. The label, Ostinato Records has issued an astute warning with this release: "WARNING: We are not responsible for any addiction issues caused by Abu Obaida Hassan's Shaigiya sound". You'll be playing this record over and over and over again - and hell, I'll be the first to admit it's been on or close to my turntable since it was released - as you try and wrap your head around the fact that up until a few years ago this music only existed within the country it was made. The rest of the world is a little better off, and certainly lucky, to be able to hear these tunes. Released by Ostinato Records, 8 tracks in all housed in a gatefold sleeve which includes vintage photos and liner notes regarding the remarkable story of one of the greatest representations of the diversity and effortlessly timeless music of Sudan. Recommended.
- gatefold sleeve
- includes vintage photos, authentic Sudanese designs, textures, patterns
- music label: Ostinato Records 2018
reviewed by Ralphy Corduroy2/2019
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