En Yay Sah

Janka Nabay And The Bubu Gang

Luaka Bop Records, 2012


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Here's what you might think is an unlikely arrangement. Ahmed Janka Nabay, a musician from Sierra Leone who specializes in Bubu Music (a type of sound that stems from a number of musicians blowing into bamboo pipes of all sizes), teams up with a group of Brooklyn indie rock stars. Having transplanted to D.C. ten years ago, Nabay has since formed a full band with members of Skeletons, Chairlift, Gang Gang Dance, and Starring, which subsequently found a home on David Byrne's record label. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Nabay and company pump out quick paced and wildly energetic sounds that are easily danceable with En Yay Sah, their EP compiled earlier this year. Nabay's voice is inimitable, his delivery matching the frenetic percussion and lively guitar work, and the tightly knit rhythm section rarely takes a moment to breathe across these eight tracks.

Leading off with “Feba,” the party is started immediately with this rollicking and propulsive anthem that brings to mind a cruise to a tropical island. The amount of playful rhythms, unique guitar lines, and infectious melodies are endless here. Songs like “Somebody” and “Kill Me With Bongo” are chock full of a whirlwind of ideas and instruments, including flutes, organs, synth, and lots of background vocals and handclaps. The album closes full throttle just as it starts, with “Rotin” easily getting your body moving while you'll try to mimic the backing singers and interesting effects to this vibrant jam.

This is a very unique and radiant take on African beats mixed with modern day indie rock with an emphasis on unconventional percussion and psych rock tendencies. The complicated songs here are delivered with a  universal feel of undeniable energy and charming playfulness. Even though Nabay sings in four different languages here, it's pretty likely you'll be so enthralled with the musicianship that it won't even be that noticeable that English is rarely used. If the term 'World Music' usually has you instinctually cringing, this is something that would be a great way to ease yourself into more cultural avenues of music.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2012 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Luaka Bop Records, and is used for informational purposes only.