[20 April 2011]
“In 2009,” we’re told by Gilles Peterson’s website, “a handful of London-based musicians travelled to Nairobi in Kenya to collaborate with local musicians there.” The Kenyan musicians came from a village called Owiny Sigoma. “It was a loose arrangement.” In fact, the whole album sounds like a loose arrangement—a practiced looseness, an open-ended sound, sustained by repetition and Luo patterning, with a modest roughness that helps us relax and take in the unexpected when it arrives. The British musicians contribute keyboards, other instruments, English-language singing and some indie song-shaping. The Kenyans contribute more instruments, more singing and the manipulation of those patterns and unexpected moments. Owiny Sigoma Band is less dazzling than albums that construct themselves around cresting horns, monumental voices and a series of climaxes and dramas. The charm of it lives in its corduroy texture.