Saturday, May 5, 2018

Toure Kunda - Lambi Golo (May 25, 2018)


The elephants of African Music return after a ten year hiatus with new album ‘Lambi Golo’, released 25th May via Shellshock. A musical thiéboudienne that is both energetic and tender, ‘Lambi Golo’ (monkey battle) is a vibrant mix of m’balax, casamancais rhythms, funk, pop rock and reggae and an open invitation to dance, to dream and to hope.

With a musical career lasting forty years, Toure Kunda needed to renew their energy and what better place to do this than in the heart of Casamance, where the incredible saga of the elephant family (Touré Kunda in soninké) took root. It's from this region in southern Senegal in 1975 that one of the brothers left for France, just like his pedlar-shoemaker ancestor who left Mali for Casamance in search of crocodile skins for riches. 

Moving to Paris, Ismaël trod the classic immigrant pathway of odd jobs and solitude and became part of West African Cosmos, a combo experimenting with rock and afro sounds. Then, in 1977, he was joined by his brother Sixu and the duo became known as the ‘Frères Griots’ (Griots Brothers), before becoming a stage performing band with a group of local musicians.

In this period, there was a new public eagerness to discover this African continent which was full of promising sounds so when Amadou, the elder brother joined the duo, Toure Kunda became the ambassadors of a new wave of African music which would also boast Salif Keita, Mory Kante, Youssou N’Dour and older musicians such as Manu Dibango, Francis Bebey and Pierre Akendengue.

From there, Toure Kunda became pioneers and forerunners of the World Music phenomenon. They would be the first group to perform in the immense Pantin Hippodrome. The first band to organise a mega tour in Africa. The first to experiment with new technologies in their sound such as using western instruments and the first to have an impact in Japan, not to mention performing to Heads of State during the Francophonie Summit in Vittel in 1983, performing with Santana and meeting Nelson Mandela.

With each event, it proved to the sceptics at the beginning of their career that they could reach audiences beyond their own community. The sons of Ziguinchor, fed on James Brown, Led Zepplin, Georges Brassens and Credence Clearwater Revival, always wanted to travel so as to meet other brothers, with the earth of their country clinging to the soles of their shoes and sabars close at hand. Hence the need, after forty years of performing, to return to this matrix which had nourished their imagination and provided their initial dreamlike fuel. 

And so to the new songs on ‘Lambi Golo’, which have been cultivated over many years and recorded in “village studio” conditions to preserve the essence of life and evoke the loss of values for confused generations; these collective values that Toure Kunda have always defended and which are symbolised by the “djambaadong” (dance of the leaves), whose pulsating rhythms mark the passage from childhood to adulthood. 

"Lambi Golo", the monkey wrestling in Wolof is both a nod to an African culture where animals play a central role in education, and a look at an African sport, traditional wrestling. It is also a look at the evolution of African society. Lamb is a struggle where two individuals clash, but it is also a time when social groups express themselves through cultural practices. Wrestling is a moment of artistic production, so it invites us to understand sport as a symbolic activity. In other words, the traditional African struggle, more specifically the "Lambi Golo", gives us food for thought about the meaning of physical activities and symbolic activities.”

Toure Kunda have always been aware of the changes and issues of the present. Surrounded by brilliant likeminded musicians such as Paco Sery, Romain Ghezal and Alune Wade along with famous friends Carlos Santana, Manu Dibango, Nelson Palacio, Chelk Tidiane, Seck and Lokua Kanza, Toure Kunda unite humanity in their own way.