Boomkat Product Review:
None-more-vital East African label Nyege Nyege Tapes present Otim Alpha’s melodic electro Acholi bangers on vinyl for the 1st time, following that blazing, acclaimed Sounds of Sisso compilation!
Alpha’s debut international release Gulu City Anthems features 11 songs written and recorded between 2004 and 2015 in Northern Uganda and ranges from hi-velocity bangers to more romantic mid-tempo swagger, all serving a totally infectious showcase of his plugged-in take on traditional Larakaraka wedding music that’s bound to get a lot of listeners itching for a +1 invite to one of his ceremonial sessions (crashing is always an option, too!).
Working with producer Leo Palayeng, Otim essentially computerises Acholi wedding music, weaving its traditional, see-sawing folk fiddles and call-and-response vocals with stripped, pounding drum machine polyrhythms in a sort of hypnotic, minimalist delirium. For the most part, it’s properly uptempo, with some searing highlights in the likes of his wickedly off-kilter jig Kodi Pa Barikiya (Kwan), the jabbing clash of almost cajun-style rapidfire riffs and turbo-charged toms in Toni G, or the Detroit/Chicago ghetto-compatible bang of Too Wiye Ming-Alphazo. But there’s also one super-charming piece called Agiki Ne Tye which works at a relatively leisurely 120bpm with strolling bass and bright, joyful chord cadence, presumably intended to allow the party a sweet breather.
Following Alpha’s recent, stellar introductory live show at Unsound ’17, this collection is set to impress his sound to eager ears beyond Uganda and the East African scene, and is surely destined to be lodged in record collections somewhere between your Shangaan, Konono No.1 and Caribbean soca faves - in other words; your party-starting section...