1. Nyari Garong 01:10
2. Ndanane Fofoulah04:41
3. Seye Fofoulah 03:54
4. Daega Rek 03:44
5. Njita Fofoulah05:18
6. Chebou Jane06:02
7. Knicki Fofoulah 03:20
8. Kaddy 06:30
9. Pulo Fofoulah 05:40
“Fofoulah’s foundations are dub and jazz, but these are beefed up with electronics…and, most persuasively, the sabar and tama drums of West Africa.”
“Bravely adventurous” –The Guardian
“Avoiding pastiche or casual borrowing…Fofoulah have set sail toward an original sound.”
The London based afro-dub ensemble Fofoulah, have followed-up their trailblazing debut album (“Fofoulah”/Glitterbeat 2014) with an even more shapeshifting and adventurous recording. Slippery sabar beats, dystopian electronics and echoing, shamanic chants ratchet up both the dub quotient and the dramatic tension. Creating a soundworld that is both earthy and urban, futurist and rooted – the new album “Daega Rek” (The Truth) is brought into sharp focus by the rhythms and vocals of Gambian sabar drummer Kaw Secka and the vivid production of keyboardist/saxophonist Tom Challenger.
After the release of their self-titled first album, the band played extensively in the U.K. and Europe where – spontaneously – every concert would see Kaw Secka rise to the microphone (with his tama – a talking drum) and rap over the last song, cuing rhythmic patterns for the group to play in unison (called Bakas). It was decided to take this exploratory part of the shows forward into the next realm.
The concept that emerged for the new album – “Daega Rek” – involved combining recordings of drums and percussion (laid down at Real World Studios) with improvisatory vocalizations and a production aesthetic that pushed the band’s collective sound in a much more electronic and dub-based direction.
The resultant tracks were shaped by Challenger in his studio (Brockley, London), fusing the new rhythm sessions with a variety of manipulated, previous recordings of the band – while also adding an array of synthesizers and a vast sample palette. Secka then came in to lay down vocals and it was these contributions that went on to define the final songs.
Every song has a different meaning, or message, all of them sung in Wolof, a language central to coastal West African countries such as The Gambia and Senegal. Secka’s lyrics explore a myriad of topics – ‘Njite’ for example, focuses on the importance of leadership, and all that it entails; ‘Seye’ (Marriage) explores the nature of human connection; and the title track ‘Daega Rek,’ sets its lens on truth and the riddles of reality.
Says Secka: “The truth is only true; Where is death coming from? Something true, but what is the truth?”
The rhythmic propulsion of the initial recordings made by drummer Dave Smith and Secka at Real World, melds with a backdrop of constantly shifting sonic colors – Johnny Brierley’s deep, melodic bass lines, underpin the evolving patterns of Phil Stevenson’s guitar which in turn, intersect with Challenger’s keyboards and the urgency of Secka’s incantations. The emphasis on the sonic structure and the identity of the material showcases its influences – traditional sabar drumming meeting glitchy electronics; and dub textures blending with elements of footwork and drum & bass.
Moving outward, the band will tour their new show – alongside their original singer and dancer Batch Gueye – and will not only feature the music of “Daega Rek,” but also sounds from their past catalogue cast through a new lens.
Fofoulah remind us that sonics and human experiences combine, resonate and land where they will. “Fortress” mentalities can slow this down, but the spirit of morphing and connectivity still flashes forward.
Song descriptions from Kaw Secka:
Meaning star. The first child of a family is called this: taaw. He should always set a good example; the family will be dependent on him as well as his followers. He will bear the burden of responsibility when his parents pass. He should be a good person, should avoid wrong doing and maintain the characteristics of the family. ‘Lou y rendi sisa loho yee lai natcha.’ If you slaughter ‘it’, only ‘it’ bleeds in your hands.
Meaning Marriage. Where is the first connection coming from? Who makes the link to ensure that you meet so that you may fall in love, get married and start a family? You must have seen something special on both sides, that’s why we should do it for the sake of that person – which is God. Whatever happens, we should do it for God’s sake. Love is only love. ‘Sa baga baga sa am am ci man ci man lolou louko waral.’
The truth is only true
Where is death coming from?
Something true; but what is the truth?
‘Lee reka la’ – as you walk past the grave yard you pass the graves, but no one is talking to each other. Even when you are the richest you will walk past something that doesn’t belong to you. ‘Loh wakhadi wakhadi wakhadi boh guisay nen neh nen nagui’ – even when you don’t want to speak, if you see an egg, then say this is an egg. Accept it, believe it is the truth.
I say, as a leader, Imam, manager, president – please don’t think about favoritism or populism. Think about the responsibilities of your role – you are dealing with human beings (who are very difficult to know). Do what you have been chosen for. Look at Mam Cheikh Ibrima Fall; The leader of the Baye Fall, followers of Serigne Touba. Look at Imam Abdalah Bah, Mam Baye Nyass and prophet Mohamed Salahou (Alaihi wa Salam). The third president of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, should take heed from these special leaders.
Dedicated to my first cousin, Yama Secka Ndure. The national dish of Senegal/Gambia but it’s now international. Rice with fish, delicious and popular. At most weddings or naming ceremonies they will cook this special dish for guests. If you cook this dish, you have to give the time it needs. I remember those days in Sweden – if I missed home, I would go to my cousin Yama’s house to cook it for me. The best Chebou Jaine I ever had was cooked by her.
In life there is an original and there is a photocopy. The king will do his washing and put it out on the sun, and God will rain on it. ‘Yallah la aye ci putout burr.’
About the Grenfell disaster that happened in West London (Kensington). We lost a great talented artist and composer – Khadijah Saye.