mercredi, mars 11, 2009

Afefe Iku - Mirror Dance

OK, this track has been around since early 2008 and anybody that has been going to minimal parties in the past year will tell you that this track has been played to death, but I can't deny the catchiness of the xylophone patterns in this track (they start around 0:50). I had spent the entire year hearing that track, wondering who it was, asking someone nearby, and then either mis-hearing their response or getting bad information. And then today, as I was perusing the reviews on Resident Advisor, I fell across a review of a re-release of tracks on the Secretsundaze label, which included this track. Yay! Finally, I know who this is.

So Afefe Iku is apparently the protégé of Osunlade, a composer, recording artist and DJ that hails from the US but seems to have artistic and spiritual ties to Africa (in particular, he's a priest in the Yoruba religion of Ifa, according to his Wikipedia site). He founded and now runs a house label called Yoruba Records, which has been known for "soulful" house, but has also recently taken a "world music" turn, which presumably includes Afefe Iku's work. Afefe Iku himself hails from the island of Manda near the Kenyan coast.

I'm not sure what the musical traditions are on Manda, but certainly the presence of wooden ideophones (i.e., xylophones) on this track is a strong signifier of African-ness. You can find pitched hammered-wood instruments of all sorts in Sub-saharan Africa, especially in the west and the central regions. Kenya being on the eastern coast, though, I'm not as certain that this reflects his own local musical traditions. Then again, he could be making a more pan-African gesture with this track or he may not have any intention of referencing African music in the first place (although the fact that he's being mentored by Osunlade and he's on Yoruba Records makes this more likely).

UPDATE: According to a tip from my composer-friend Shawn, you should replace the word "xylophone" above with "marimba." I can never tell those two apart.

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