Boomkat Product Review:
Like most of Mark Ernestus’ work since the early 90’s, it’s only a few years later that the full impact and influence becomes fathomable - something that’s especially true about his work with the relentless, motile Ndagga Rhythm Force. Incredible, heavyweight but also supremely lightfooted Senegalese mbalax; stripped down drums, vocal and guitar syncopations that are essential listening if yr into anything from Rhythm & Sound to Beatrice Dillon.
A logical progression in Mark Ernestus’ pursuit of outernational rhythm & dub sound dimensions, in Yermande he basically channels, edits and diffracts highly complex drum patterns by Sabar drummers with floating vocals in arrangements that bristle with a discipline and energy which has been deeply preserved and learnt thru the ages; in effect helping to knot the loop of influence between West African drum traditions, Caribbean synthesis and digitised Detroit futurism.
If you’ve kept up with the series so far, then you’ve probably worked out set moves to the remarkable, ricocheting depth charges of Walo Walo and tussling B-line and poised vox of Mbene Diatta Seck on wrestling anthem Lamb Ji, which are both included in their original mixes here along with the sprung tri-step hustle of Yermande (Kick and Bass Mix) whose bouncing dub chords perhaps betray Ernestus’ earliest work strongest.
Ernestus conveys a dusky respite in the beautifully breezy prowling space of Simb (which was paradoxically ‘the most difficult one to mix’), before Jigeen (meaning ‘Woman’) unfurls the most limber, stepping’ and rollin’ groove that swinges into the filigree hi-hats and grubbing traditional guitar chops of Niguel, last spotted in its deadly Groove mix, now with the calligraphic vocal signature of Mbene Diatta Seck.
Beyond redundant dichotomies of outernational music as happy/dark or raw/polished, Ndagga Rhythm Force are making music that matters from myriad emotive and physical aspects, relatable to your own rituals and feelings.