– When the three of them met for the very first time back in 2015 – at a project called Forest Jam in Madagascar – a fellow musician who happened to...Read Biography
When the three of them met for the very first time back in 2015 – at a project called Forest Jam in Madagascar – a fellow musician who happened to be listening in on their conversation finally interrupted them and asked, “What is this ‘Siselabonga’ that you guys are constantly talking about?” What they were actually saying was “si, c‘est bon”, which simply means “yes, it’s good” in French. They immediately fell in love with this strange new word and started to use it whenever something that called for a joyous exclamation would happen.
Fast forward to the year 2020. After releasing their acoustic debut EP Binta in 2017, shuttling back and forth between Senegal and Switzerland repeatedly, and spen- ding excessive amounts of time together doing what good friends do – breaking bread, sharing mattresses, fighting, making up, jamming, hanging out with each other’s families – they are finally ready to drop Warnama: their sophomore EP. This new collection of songs marks an upgrade from an acoustic trio to an electric, am- plified quartet. Jokingly, they refer to this new sound as Kora Rock’n’roll meets Afro Psychedelica.
Every song found on the EP - even the ones that lean more into ballad territory – have a big stage feel about them. When you play them, you instinctively want to turn up the volume. It’s easy to imagine this set pouring out of heavy stacks and onto a sprawling, raving crowd at some remote summer festival. Stylistically, the material is a melange of West African kora-based music and the more straight-ahead ap- proaches to rhythm and structure found in Western guitar-based genres. There is also a strong psychedelic overtone throughout (think Folk and Rock) as well as the type of compositional tropes often found in trance musics across the globe, like the use of drone and repetition. The point is this: Siselabonga are not really concerned with the idea of musical purity, but rather cultivate a voracious type of eclecticism. All of the tunes found on Warnama – except for Namou, which was penned by Glauco Cataldo – were written by vocalist Tarang Cissokho, who also plays the 22 string kora heard on these recordings. It’s worth mentioning that Tarang is the great grandson of the Soundjoulou Cissokho, who is known across Africa as “the king of the kora.” The songs are sung in either Mande, Wolof or Italian dialect (Namou). They were polished up and arranged by the band after being thoroughly explored and tested during extensive jam sessions. The topics they address speak on infide- lity (Warnama), clandestine politics and the redistribution of power (Yow Me De), the Mouride saint Saliou (Saliou), the Senegalese dancer Germaine Acogny (Gay Nago) and honouring your musical lineage (Namou). The EP was recorded in Stu- dio vom Dach in Lucerne; it was engineered by Timo Keller. All of the songs were tracked live with just minor overdubs, hence the the raw, visceral feel.
Warnama will be released as a series of vintage photos.
Siselabonga as a trio consist of Tarang Cissokho (vocals, 22 string kora), Glau- co Cataldo aka Blind Boy De vita (acoustic and e-guitar, vocals) and Fabio Meier (drums, percussion). When they play as an electric quartet, they are joined by bas- sist Gregory Schärer. They’ve been shuttling between Switzerland and Senegal, playing shows – electric and acoustic – since 2015.
Tag: senegal, fusion, trance, kora, folk, alternative, psychedelic, experimental, acoustic, voices, percussion, guitar, africa music