Kronos Quartet – Pieces Of Africa

On Spec 9: Kronos Quartet – Pieces Of Africa

I say I bought this one on spec because, let’s be honest, sometimes these things can be awesome, while at other times they can be disappointing because you know the band, and the idea of African music is always appealing, but if they don’t nail it it’s just a let-down.

Well, I needn’t have worried. This is a beautiful melding of string quartet classical music sounds and that vibrant, invigorating energy of African music. The drums pound as the violins soar over the top, and while the melodies seem simple, they’re truly not. It’s deceptive, and very powerful. And the vocals on Saade (I’m Happy) and Kutambarara (Spreading) only add to the mix in the best ways.

I discovered that this is album is made up of commissioned pieces from notable African composers, which I think is a fantastic idea! I truly enjoyed the soundtrack quality of Escalay (Waterwheel), the playfulness of Mai Nozipo (Mother Nozipo), and the skittering strings on Ekitundu Ekisooka (First Movement). The real meat on the bones in this project, though, is the five part White Man Sleeps. It’s equally gentle and forceful, all at the right moments. The music evokes imagery in your mind and you easily find yourself adrift and going where the tune takes you.

Should you happen across a copy of this album in your travels, buy with confidence. This hybrid sound is a pure winner.

Here are the tracks and composers (with country of origin):

1. Mai Nozipo (Mother Nozipo) – Dumisani Maraire (Shona, Zimbabwe)
2. Saade (I’m Happy) – Hassan Hakmoun (Moroccan)
3. Tilliboyo (Sunset) – Foday Musa Suso (Mandika, Gambia)
4. Ekitundu Ekisooka (First Movement) – Justinian Tamusuza (Uganda)
5. Escalay (Waterwheel) – Hamza El Din (Nubia, Egypt)
6. Wawshishijay (Our Beginning) – Obo Addy (Ghana)
7. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. I (original, unrevised) – Kevin Volans (South Africa)
8. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. II
9. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. III
10. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. IV
11. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. V
12. Kutambarara (Spreading) – Dumisani Maraire (Shona, Zimbabwe)


Posted on March 11, 2018, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I foolishly haven’t kept track (as a stats enthusiast, I really should be!) but it seems like the on spec purchases have been mostly favourable returns?


  2. Good review on music i should listen to more often. Time to take this for a walk. It’s been a while.


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