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Abbi ‘Mudunia’ CD

Abbi’s CD is a welcome rest form the now mainstream local hip-hop craze. I tend to find his music a deliberate ‘soothy’ Kenyan alternative. When I say Kenyan I mean there are things we can identify with either in content or language of the songs on this CD. Where there is Dholuo and you cannot understand at least you are still engaged by percussions or rhythm - a dance is almost a default in most African tunes.

Drums and Percussions feature predominantly though he tends not to discriminate booms, djembes, shakers, cow bells, chivoti are used for various tunes and effects. The power of the saxophone is heard in the last tune koroboi. Acoustic, Electric and Bass guitars not forgetting the everlasting keyboard can be heard characteristically in various tunes. The CD is rich in instruments not just jumbled together but also deliberately and creatively used.

Koroboi the first song is a good opener and as the name suggests it sheds light to the Abbi’s subsequent songs. He includes meanings of the song titles on the CD folio so that one can be in spirit of the music. Jum ju Mane and Dak are overlaid with exemplary Luo style. Salaam Aleikum is an anthem of peace slotted in as the fulcrum of the songs. You can dance to most songs but my favourite dance tune was Nzerere, which Abbi explains as an abstract piece of instincts. And like most people would do, a song for Mama features amidst a whispery intro and welcome flute sound, it is in this song that Luhya and French are used. Apart from these languages, Luo and English, Hebrew and Arabic are the other tongues used in the whole CD. Reggae for some reason could not escape Abbi in Wololo. If you remember the Lala mtoto lala tune it will send you back to those formative years only that in this song Its You Abbi sings for his Love.

Kikwetu are the dudes you hear resonating their altos and bass voices oh yes! And even sopranos too in the vocals, they are in some way a signature to this CD. Apart from the excellent production and even design of the CD sleeve the only misgiving that I found or did not find is “ Hey Abbi where are your contacts on the CD? Even your Executive Producer Blue Zebra, a good piece but we cannot write to you to say so”. Abbi’s CD in simple is peace and fun.

Achieng Abura - Spirit of a Warrior

Achieng Abura is mentioned and the first thing you think of is music. Her CD Spirit of a Warrior address several tensions and tends to be a commentary of life especially themes like love, patience, destiny -she dedicates it to African brothers and sisters so it is actually intended to stir afro centric spirit of togetherness. It is about people yearning for each other or going through various human experiences we could say it is CD that has an emphasis on ‘belonging’.

The strength of artistry is Abura’s voice songbird would be a palatable tag for her to wear. She seems to be looking for some real rooted African style and she does so by fusion of various notable genres we have heard in the continent. You are reminded in Oyiengo na Yo and Piny Olokore both in Luo this slow West African samba beat. She is strong on piano and bass guitar then puts in the balance of percussions but there is no doubt the strumming of the Acoustic gets the better out of the CD especially in Toto Wangu, Wimbo Wangu not forgetting Ntangu especially when it begins.
Languages used are five English, Swahili, Luo, Lingala and French. She has used Language as a medium of negotiation and belonging for instance her dedication Nitangu to Mpongo Love the Congo Brazaville songbird in a style reminiscent of Lwambo Lwanzo the Maestro. Mpongo seems to have been Abura’s inspiration but that’s just a subjective deduction - the statement read here is the affirmation of femininity and African inspiration.
Basically the mood of the CD is melancholic it brings in the emotive sense of nostalgia and meditation and achieves a balanced picture of the amplitude of life - up and down.
The two French tunes Narchand de Bonne Humeur and Quand Les Hommes Virvont D’amour have a characteristic style by Chansons Pour Les Pieds album especially the small dry drumbeat. Narchand … especially is fun to listen to, it really captures the humour it sings about but is also ‘chanty’ sort of creating a francophone nirvana.

Sadly though Ovuyanzi song number ten has everything going for it the tune, and beat but all these are swallowed up by bad Luhya diction and lame mastery of the intonations and pronunciation a great song fell here.
A great and promising CD especially its thematic expressions and the marriage of people, their experiences to an Afro fused contemporary setting. The warrior here is not about killing and bloodshed but celebration of attributes of existence in a people, which makes life a simple metaphor of war.

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