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Fofoulah — Fofoulah

Fofoulah — Fofoulah (22 September 2014)

Senegal                   Fofoulah — Fofoulah 
°×°   Fofoulah is a London–based group mixing Senegalese voice and west African rhythms with dub basslines, sci–fi synths, raw guitars and intense grooves. Featuring musicians from Senegal, the UK and The Gambia, Fofoulah blend genres and cultures to create a sound which is unique in the UK music scene.
Location: Senegal ~ London, UK
Album release: 22 September 2014 ¦UK¦
Record Label: Glitterbeat
Duration:     40:00
01 No Troubles (Kelinte) (feat. Batch Gueye)      6:45
02 Hook Up (Nango Dereh) (feat. Juldeh Camara)      4:57
03 Make Good (Soumala) (feat. Batch Gueye)      4:35
04 Don't Let Your Mind Unravel, Safe Travels (feat. Ghostpoet)      4:45
05 The Clean Up (Rahas) (feat. Batch Gueye)      5:28
06 Blest (Issaâdiyen) (feat. Iness Mezel)      3:35
07 Fighting Chance      1:48
08 Reality Rek (feat. Batch Gueye)      7:38
09 Last Orders      0:29
°×°   Batch Gueye — vocals
°×°   Phil Stevenson — guitar
°×°   Tom Challenger — sax/keys
°×°   Johnny Brierley — bass
°×°   Kaw Secka — sabar
°×°   Dave Smith — drums
By Daniel Paton | posted on 21 Sep 2014 | Score: ****
°×°   Fofoulah’s exhilarating blurring of the boundaries between West African polyrhythmic music, jazz, rock, dub and funk grooves has turned many a jazz club into a party space since their formation in 2011. Whilst their debut album has been anticipated for some time by those in the know, its gestation can partly be explained by the band members’ hectic individual schedules and also perhaps by an evident desire to get things right.
°×°   Fofoulah the album continues the band’s collaboration with vocalists, this time with a range of artists including Juju’s Juldeh Camara, Batch Guaye, Iness Mezei and eminent UK rapper Ghostpoet. Drummer Dave Smith (also of Juju and currently very busy with Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters) here adds a production credit to his CV, and with additional engineering from Matt Calvert of Three Trapped Tigers, and the band have clearly worked carefully on the album’s sound, without sacrificing their commitment to groove and rhythm. The album certainly feels like a natural evolution from the Bene Bop EP. The opening No Troubles, with its mesmerising echo effects on the vocal and a lightly menacing organ part neatly summarises Fofoulah’s intriguing combination of celebratory energy and studio experimentation.
°×°   Whilst the band is mostly drawn from London’s improvising scene (most specifically members of the Loop Collective), they draw both on their own studies in West African music (perhaps beginning with the Outhouse Ruhabi project in the Gambia in 2002) and on the experience and insight of sabar drummer Kaw Secka. Few could doubt this project’s authenticity given the extent to which the band members live and breathe this music. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a drummer better suited to these restless and insistent grooves than Smith, and Phil Stevenson’s spiderly guitar lines feel effortless and comfortable. Smith and bass player Johnny Brierley (also of the Outhouse Ruhabi project) are completely locked in, and handle both the complex grooves and the periodic hits with precision.
°×°   Senegalese singer Batch Gueye is a charismatic and exciting presence on a number of tracks and Juldeh Camara is commanding on the sprightly Hook Up, on which his vocals seem to contribute to an overall sense of movement. Ghostpoet is perhaps a less expected presence, but his softly spoken rap on the hilariously titled Don’t Let Your Mind Unravel, Safe Travels proves appropriately compelling. The way in which his words mesh effortlessly with the accompanying rhythms is fascinating. Other highlights are provided by Kaw Secka’s expressive sabar drum introduction to Make Good and the elevating West African guitar lines of No Troubles. The album’s best track, however, is the seven and a half minute Reality Rek, a brilliantly disorientating journey that veers from an exploratory introduction into the band’s most restless and stirring groove, with saxophonist Tom Challenger providing a crisp, memorable phrase that holds the piece together.
°×°   At just under 40 minutes, Fofoulah is a concise and breathtaking trip, and the full joyous impact of this band needs to be experienced by seeing them live. It is, however, a great example of the ways in which studio production and articulate musicianship can work supremely well together. >> http://www.musicomh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fofoulah?directed_target_id=0
Robin Denselow | Thursday 18 September 2014 21.45 BST | Score: ****
°×°   Dave Smith is a remarkable young drummer, as those who have heard him playing with JuJu, or with Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters will know. With his band Outhouse Ruhabi he mixed improvisation with the Sabar drumming styles of Gambia and Senegal, and with Fofoulah he takes those experiments further by matching African rhythms against anything from rap to dance styles. This is an album dominated by percussion (which is to be expected, as Smith is also the producer) but it displays surprising variety. He is joined by a band that includes Sabar and Tama talking–drums exponent Kaw Secka for a set that features chanting African vocals from Batch Gueye and JuJu’s Juldeh Camara; an impressive, drifting contribution from the Algerian singer Iness Mezel; and moody, thoughtful rap from Ghostpoet. Fofoulah often concentrate on rhythm not melody, but this is a bravely adventurous new fusion band. :: http://www.theguardian.com/
°×°   The London–based quintet Fofoulah (meaning "it's there" in Wolof) was formed in 2011 and features Tom Challenger (Red Snapper) on saxophone and keyboards, Phil Stevenson (Iness Mezel) on guitar, Johnny Brierley (Outhouse Ruhabi) on bass, Dave Smith (Robert Plant's Sensational Shape Shifters) on drums and Sabar drums, and Kaw Secka (Irok) on Sabar drums and tama. With the rhythms of the Sabar drums — a traditional form of Wolof drumming from Gambia and Senegal — at its heart, Fofoulah's music has evolved into an inspired cosmopolitan mélange that also incorporates elements of electronic music, dub, improvisation and Afro–rock. Like the complex city they live in, their music is shaped and lifted by diverse sound–worlds and cultures. Having performed mainly in the creative hubs of east London and Bristol, in 2013 Fofoulah released the Bene Bop EP, a collaboration with Senegalese singer Biram Seck. Later that year the band entered the famed Real World Studios near Bath to begin work on their radiant debut album Fofoulah. Produced by drummer Dave Smith (Robert Plant, JuJu) Fofoulah is a previously unvisited crossroads where Sabar rhythms meet dub bass lines and sci–fi synths; liquid melodies and Wolof rap entangle with trance–like dance grooves; and raw guitars, horns and samples blend with west and north African song forms. In the album's liner notes, bass player Johnny Brierley describes the creative journey that led to the making of the album: "The rhythms and traditions of the drums were essential starting points for our compositions and acted as the building blocks for all the other instruments — our music has developed and evolved with each member's musical background and influences being heard within the band... Fofoulah, our first album, is a snapshot of the band at this moment in time and the result of a constantly developing sound." In keeping with the band's expansive approach, the album also features an incredible roster of guest voices: Senegalese singer and Bristol resident Batch Gueye, UK hip–hop sensation Ghostpoet, Algerian/Parisian singer Iness Mezel and the acclaimed Gambian–born, Fulani musician Juldeh Camara (JuJu, Robert Plant). Fofoulah is not merely a cross–cultural project. They are a dynamic band born naturally out of personal friendships and varied backgrounds, the nerve net of contemporary London and the post–global interconnectedness we all experience daily. °×°   The band is propulsive, innovative, celebratory, and always leaning forward. They are a thrilling extension of the deeply–rooted Sabar rhythms upon which their music revolves.

Fofoulah — Fofoulah