Africa Express Records – July 12th
With such a vast collective of artists in just 18 tracks, you might be forgiven for wondering if the old “too many cooks” saying is true. Thankfully, EGOLI sidesteps the stereotype; it’s jam-packed, fizzing over with the electricity of South Africa in ‘City in Lights’, languishing in the sunshine of ‘Where Will This Lead Us To?’ and fighting revolutions in ‘Africa To The World’. The pre-released single, ‘Johannesburg’, featuring Gruff Rhys unearths novels of African history in its lyricism, while simultaneously feeling light and effortless in its contemporary percussion and rhythms. It’s a great choice for a lead album single; one that balances the customary with the current.
EGOLI as a whole tells a coming-of-age story of the continent. Up-and-coming afrobeat artist Muzi contrasts the yodels of Zola 7 and Mahotella Queens on ‘The River’ that carry the heartbeat of community-driven music in Africa. He joins Ghetts for ‘No Games’ which features a hook that definitely fits the aesthetic of a Friday night set in Dalston Superstore. Together, the mesh of genres and histories makes for an engaging listen from start to finish.
Damon Albarn – of Blur and Gorillaz fame – and leader of the collective’s efforts, has allowed each track its own sense of ambiguity, meaning you’d do more harm than good in not listening to all 18 tracks in one sitting. Indulge yourself the time to pull at each thread of this tightly-woven tale of African heritage.
Photo by Denholm Hewlett.