wed 24/04/2024

Album: Jantra - Synthesized Sudan: Astro-Nubian Electronic Jaglara Sounds from the Fashaga Underground | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Jantra - Synthesized Sudan: Astro-Nubian Electronic Jaglara Sounds from the Fashaga Underground

Album: Jantra - Synthesized Sudan: Astro-Nubian Electronic Jaglara Sounds from the Fashaga Underground

Synths from Sudan seduce

Sci-fi SudanCover artwork by Mahammed El Mekki

Synths has a special attraction in a world that aspires to modernity. Thirty years ago Algerian Rai, which combined elements of traditional North African music with rock, was characterised by the sweet and slight tinny sound of electronic keyboards. Slightly tweaked they could imitate the harmonics and microtonal universe of Arab music.

Now they are all over Africa, as well as in the super-charged dabke wedding music of Omar Souleyman and many other places.

Jantra is a star of underground dance music in Sudan. His first album has been pieced together very creatively from existing material hitherto available on cassette, by producer Jante Konté for the US label Ostinato who specialise, as a few other American labels in all manner of hidden musical treasures around the world.  A track like “Khadija” has an almost sci-fi feel about it – or is it that it reminds one a little of Delia Derbyshire’s playful Sixties soundtracks with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop for Dr Who’s alien universes. Not surprising, perhaps, as Jantra talks of having been inspired by the divine nature of the night sky and the cosmos.

There is a sameness about these snaky and seductive instrumental dance tunes, an almost hypnotic effect, that would probably work better on the dance floor. The beats are appealing and the music has a celebratory quality. It gets surreptitiously under your skin.

“Ghedma” whirls away and the small Roland synth does the whirl to perfection, a souped version of Terry Riley’s electronic keyboard classic “Persian Surgery Dervishes”.

At times this near-minimalist Sudanese music can sound a little cold. That is the price of electronic sound. A little like Kraftwerk and their machine music. And yet, something of Sudan’s laid-back and dreamy sensuality transcends the technology. It might be best to hear this really loud, on a sweltering night in Khartoum, once the present and terrible civil war has gone away

Something of Sudan’s laid-back and dreamy sensuality transcends the technology

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