FoFoulah: The Wonder of Wolof

28th October 2018

Title: Daega Rek

Label: Glitterbeat

Well, this is an intriguing one and no mistake. We’ve got dub here, jazz-beats, electronica and world-based rhythms and vocals. The band is based in London while their label describe them thus, “…sabar beats, dystopian electronics and echoing, shamanic chants ratchet up both the dub quotient and the dramatic tension.” Which is pretty close to the mark, I reckon.

The album title can be translated as The Truth and what you can principally hear is vocalist and Gambian sabar drummer Kaw Secka along with keyboardist/saxophonist, Tom Challenger.

The drums and percussion for FoFoulah were arranged at Real World Studios, while the lyrics are sung in Wolof, a language central to coastal West African countries such as The Gambia and Senegal. The songs centre into varied subjects such as the importance of leadership, the nature of human connection and truth and the riddles of reality. Heady subjects indeed, then.

FoFoulah: The Wonder of Wolof

Other input is found via drummer Dave Smith, Johnny Brierley’s bass lines and Phil Stevenson’s guitar.

The core of the FoFoulah album is built around a suite of often convoluted and multi-directional beats, integrating a selection of instruments and samples, that either sit upon a core rhythm, stopping, starting and phasing in and out to build a canvas of melodies and abrupt rhythmic injections. Secka provides the narrative to this intricate and elaborate work. It’s he that turns the symphony into an opera, adding an emotional response to the music, and giving the music a sense of purpose and direction. Without his vocal, and there are instumental pieces here too, the music has an almost meditative complexity that almost reflect the human mind in its darting, flitting, randomised notation.

This is an album that works on the surface, offering enjoyable beats and foor-foot-tapping accents but it you take time to dig, there’s many layers of sonic exploration to investigate too. 

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