Nilotika Cultural Ensemble / Nyabingi Resurrection / Switchstance Recordings – By Cal Gibson

Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

Kampala’s Nilotika Cultural Ensemble present a wonderfully stripped back, pared-down cultural sound-clash collision, as East African drum patterns circle back around the behemoth that is Caribbean sound system culture. The resultant heady brew providing a lilting, shuffling delight on tracks like the achingly lovely Oli Kibun’omu. Laid back rhythms, skanking chords, and an almost pop-like melodic grasp, all add up to the sweetest of grooves for the after-hours or the warm-up session. This is a really fresh reimagining of well-worn paths, a spiced-up jamboree of all the good stuff.

Opener, Jajja Amiluffe, sets the scene ably: drums and steel pans loping along, carefree and tumbling, wide open to life: vocal refrains join the throng – hushed and intimate, waiting for the trumpet to call down the gods. A perfect introduction to the group’s marvellous modus operandi.

Praise Jah relocates the classic Trenchtown phraseology in a louche, swinging fashion: ‘Jah is good all the time’ they sing and the circle is complete: reggae revived by its African roots, all routes headed back to the source – thanks, and praise, to the wonder of music. 

It’s intoxicating, powerful stuff, with a grace and beauty underlying it all: this could be a huge crossover album given the right context – it’s super accessible, warm and welcoming, easily capable of working in a myriad of environments. Okufa Kufuuka highlights the deftly woven interplay once again, as the chanted backing vocals echo around an island groove: guitars skank, the bass drops heavy, the elements chiming together in a joyful dance of all the senses.

If you’re a reggae aficionado, an Afrobeat connoisseur, or just a lover of quality worldwide grooves then Nyabingi Resurrection is well worth checking. There’s a freshness to the collection that is really enticing, a borrowing and a bending of cultural tropes that instinctively works so well – it’s an album that you’ll be coming back to time and again, a little gem in the ocean of sound. Unmissable.

Nilotika Cultural Ensemble`s Nyabingi Resurrection can be ordered directly from  Switchstance Recordings. 

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