Day 15 of our charity Advent Calendar in aid of Help Musicians.
We were first graced with Esa’s infectious afro-house bumper ‘Africa Ni Leo’ at the end of summer as it graciously brought the sunshine, in the final chapter (Uganda) of the much loved Highlife World Series. Thus we were understandably over the moon when the South African native generously offered up an alternative edit for our festive calendar series.
With a helping hand from singer-songwriter and fellow native Nonku Phiri, the pair manage to blend even more flavour in a track that has already had many a torso cutting a rug. Added to the opening of a nimbly fingered guitar riff are Nonku’s vibrant melismatic vocals, beautifully layered and eventually turning percussive with dexterous ghost notes, creating the build to the main monolithic groove. Sonics reminiscent of the bowed sounds from a masenqo – a one-string lute from neighbouring country Ethiopia – charm the senses before a return of Nonku’s vocals. We’re definitely suckers for the odd vocal, so very pleased this is seeing the light of day. Here’s what Esa had to say about the track:
“This was originally recorded as part of the East Africa Music Project – Santuri – featured on the Highlife World Series: Uganda with young Kenyan band, Sarabi, and empowering hip-hop outfit from Uganda, Bantu Clan. It also features musicians like Giovanni Kremer, Jude Mugwera, Sandy Soul and Sol – all part of a new breed of talent emerging from East Africa. These new ideas we shared resonated with me, it also allowed me to share this with friends now, but at the time of recording the vocals on this version of ‘Africa Ni Leo’ we had just met and this is the result of our first meeting. I present to you a sample of Nonku Phiri (check out her Debut single soon available on 12” and digital, Nonku Phiri – ‘Things We Do On The Weekend‘.)”