Remi Kabaka: Black Goddess

Remi Kabaka
Black Goddess

Remi Kabaka’s soundtrack for Ola Balogun’s 1978 film, Black Goddess, has long been out of print. But, as they tend to do, Soundway Records has unearthed this afro-jazz gem and reissued it for a new crowd to catch on to. Since Balogun is one of Nigeria’s most renown directors, it’s curious that this film was shot and cast in Brazil, but Kabaka’s soundtrack was recorded in Lagos with all Nigerian players. The results are funky but obscure, spacious and exploratory even at their most excited. “Brothers and Sisters” thumps along on fuzzy keyboards and high horns, and the results sound sped-up, frantic. “Slave March”, on the other hand, trudges along on low-end and moody space, the spare percussion stomping along while short runs of notes come and go. The nearly 11-minute title track is the crowning achievement here, churning with afro-beat energy but laced with unruly horn vamps and solos that bring it an unpredictable, improvisational jazz feel. The music stretches itself out, sometimes leaving space for the film itself so — unless you’ve seen Black Goddess — it might feel like some of the sparer moments here can’t stand alone. But on the whole, Kabaka produced a compelling and intricate piece of afro-jazz with this soundtrack. Evocative and often fascinating, as confounding as it is immediately satisfying, this is a record that has clear staying power, so now that it’s back in print it’s not likely to fade away any time soon.

RATING 7 / 10