sun 21/07/2024

CD: Jagwa Music - Bongo Hotheads | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jagwa Music - Bongo Hotheads

CD: Jagwa Music - Bongo Hotheads

This Tanzanian band drum home their message a little too assertively

Jagwa Music couldn’t have picked a better title for their debut album Crammed Discs

This Tanzanian crew of eight youngsters play a galloping bongo-led music called “Mchiriku” that spews torrentially from the speakers, exhausting your reviewer after just the first couple of songs. Perhaps if the arrangements and instrumentation had been more varied and nuanced I might have felt differently, because there’s certainly much here that charms and intrigues.

But that’s probably akin to suggesting that the first Ramones album would have been better if they’d done a couple of ballads and added orchestra strings to “Chain Saw”.

But having said that, I’ve been a huge fan of producer Vincent Kenis’s other work with Congolese bands such as Konono No1 and Kasai Allstars, so I’m not averse to noisy, somewhat dissonant music generated from homemade amps and percussion instruments. Perhaps the distinction lies in the fact that with, say, Konono No1 the sound was more intricately layered and therefore more engaging. Here there’s just the paper-thin whine of a 20 quid Casio keyboard, lots of congas (in case you hadn’t guessed), tambourine, maracas and vocals. With the furiously beaten drums pushed up highest in the mix, the end result is decidedly in-your-face and almost comically energetic.

Bongo Hotheads isn’t really for me, although it could well be for you. For there’s no denying that it’s a spirited, exuberant debut like nothing you’re likely to have heard before. This admirably uncompromising music will either make you get up and dance or get up and leave, and you’ve got to admire them for that fact alone.

Admirably uncompromising music that will either make you get up and dance or get up and leave


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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