Music from Uganda or more precisely Iganga, which is a 4-hour drive from the Ugandan capital Kampala. It’s a collaboration between Soundthread, Santuri and On the Corner records which travelled to capture sounds, produced by unconventional artists, and sharing it across the globe; keeping it as true and authentic as possible.
Iganga is one among several villages where the Embaire Xylophone instrument can be found. It is made of various sized slabs of wood, from the huge low notes to smaller high end pieces resulting in 32 notes in total. To enrich the texture and depth of the sound, a pit is dug into the ground, thus acting as a resonator. On top of that, as portrayed on the album cover, the Embaire Xylohone is pretty demanding as it needs up to 9 people to play. As described by the muscians, the first impression to the untrained outsider; the individual players seem to be working in unconnected rhythms and time signatures, a riot of noise and energy. After a while you stop trying to figure it out and feel the unique richness of the whole. During various ceremonies and gatherings, the instrument is played along with other people around and these sessions go on for hours.
The first track, Jinja Pearls, starts off by low Embaire Xylophone sounds and further joined by higher ones. Then a subtle beat makes its way in and finally the guitar stab drops altogether. The third track, The Munaana of Mugwisa, is more electric or ‘Umeme‘ (which stands for electric in Uganda). The fast track of the beat structure is smoothly covered by the xylophone sounds and adding the deep basslines was definitely a great maneuver in providing a stunning dance tune, where i guess even shuffling is possible.
Mugwisa International Xylophone Group (M.I.X.G) is led by the village chief called Mugwisa, and these recordings he worked closely with a producer from Kampala called Jude Mugwera. Jude and Sam Jones from SoundThread worked hard at condensing their music in to shorter assemblies of 3/4 minute tracks down from the 3/4 hour epics.
Santuri is a vibrant and creative East African underground network that allows artists and musicians the freedom to experiment and present their work professionally to audiences both regionally and globally. Please visit www.santurisafari.org for more information.
The album will be out on the 8th of July, appearing on On the Corner records. Meanwhile, you can easily Pre-Order the digital format on Bandcamp and receive 2 tracks out of 3 for download or Pre-Order the vinyl format which will ship around the given release date.
By Akshar Mohnish.