Kairo: Sounds of the Gambia

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Arch Records
PERFORMER: Various artists
CATALOGUE NO: ARCHCD 001

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The kora itself crops up regularly in the 14 tracks that make up THE GAMBIA’s first-ever commercial release. The country is just too small to have a recording infrastructure and the mixing of this showcase album had to be done over the border in Dakar.

Put together by the national broadcasting station, the majority of the items share a ‘house style’ of gently modernised tradition, using the usual range of Western instruments as well as the local ones and welcoming influences from the Caribbean in particular into fairly laid-back textures.

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Drum-based or fiddle-led, acoustic or funky, veteran male or contemporary female – without knowing the national scene it’s impossible to tell how representative the music is, but it stands up well to the exposure and needs to be followed by single-artist issues.