From the first guitar lick plucked by Niclas Knudsen, one can hear the West African influence in “Mama Ngoma”, the title track and second single off the upcoming EP from Danish band Kalaha which arrives on Rump Recordings on October 29th. This lick is followed by a simple but driving bass line. Faintly, one hears the drip and drop of a synthesizer, and a small tease of reverb. Suddenly, through a flash of color and the introduction of an absolutely infectious synth melody, the tune takes off and begins soaring through outer space. The premiere of “Mama Ngoma” is accompanied by far out animated music video, directed by Zven Balslev, animated by Mikkel Vedel, and edited by William de Waal.
Readers may recall from our past interview with him that producer Jens Christiansen aka Rumpistol plays the synthesizer and produces for Kalaha. In addition to Rumpistol and guitarist Knudsen, the group includes another electronic musician, Spejderrobot, and another jazz musician, drummer Emil de Waal, who is described as the backbone of the band. This atypical arrangement creates fertile ground for an innovative sound. Kalaha is rooted in afro beat and afro jazz and filters this style through electronic production and dance music motifs to create music that’s delightfully technical yet extremely danceable. It’s a fusion of electronic and acoustic that can hardly be heard elsewhere on today’s airwaves. Through “Mama Ngoma” this fusion finds its most straightforward expression.
The full release Mama Ngoma is a tribute to West African musical traditions, specifically the style called Highlife, which began in Ghana in the early 20th century before spreading to Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and other West African countries. The style found Ghanians playing out their culture’s traditional rhythmic structures on amplified western instruments. That four Danish musicians are weaving this magnificent sound together with their own take on jazz and electronica creates a beautiful full circle, indeed.
Keep your ears peeled on October 29th for the rest of the EP, Kalaha’s first release in almost two years. It features three original compositions in addition to “Mama Ngoma”, each as energetic and thoughtfully crafted as this title track. Diving deeper into the realms of electronica, Mama Ngoma also features remixes by MALAKAI and rising Danish musician Bwoy De Bhajan. Indeed, fans of new movement, fruitful collaboration, and the collision of musical cultures do not want to miss this release, so stay chooned and pre-order a copy of Mama Ngoma here.