Owiny Sigoma Band – Power Punch (2013)
Owiny Sigoma Band is something of an unusual project. Back in 2009, five Londoners went to Kenya with the intention of creating music. Lyre player Joseph Nyamungu and drummer Charles Owoko joined the outfit and brought along other unnamed Kenyan musician, resulting in an eponymous debut album.
Here, the band return with another slice of unusual fusion. This album certainly falls into the do-not-judge-by-the-cover category; first glances can be deceiving and I admit, I was led astray, thinking this would be something of a rap album.
However, I was pleasantly surprised! This is a fusion album like no other I have come across; minimalistic dub, glitch-style electronica and Kenyan traditional music meet in a wonderful clash of souls. Take, for example, Sunken Wrecks: the drumming thoughout is dense oppressive African beats, driving forward, while electronic bass notes ring out. Other tracks are more biased towards the African influence: Lucas Malore has a distinctive Kenyan flavour, very upbeat with (presumably) Swahili lyrics; the Western influence is resigned to a subtle electronica keyboard backing. This interplay is played out throughout the whole album and while it doesn’t sound like a marriage made in heaven, it more or less works. Some tracks do seem out of place, however; for example, All Together is an electro-dream pop sounding track with no apparent reference to the African influence everywhere else (not that it’s a bad track).
Overall, it is actually an unusual album and one, based on the cover, I would never have touched were it not for this project. I’m glad I did, because this is an album where the gamble paid off and I was treated to a fusion odyssey like nothing I’d heard before; not perfect, but the experimental approach justifies any misgivings I may have.
Favourite tracks: Sunken Wrecks, Magret Aloor, Owiny Techno
Spotify link: Owiny Sigoma Band – Power Punch