Fanga is a French/Afro collective and at the Detour Du Monde festival in Montpelier last year they got together with Morroccan Gnawa master (Maalem) Abdallah Guinea and his band Nasse Ejadba.
So far, so much a series of complex names. The result of the collaboration was a re-interpretation of Fanga classics, cherry-picked from 15 years of the collectives music.
From the opening baritone sax of ‘Noble Tree’ I was completely hooked on the mesmeric rhythms and pounding congas. Mix in righteous vocals from Abdallah Guinea and some exceptional keyboards and the changes in the number keep you entranced for the full 14 minutes. There is plenty of the Afrobeat guitar and Heart of Africa chants carry along to the introduction of a riposte from Korbo as the song moves to the breakdown – simply divine and should be in anyone’s collection.
‘Gnawi’ follows and in its own way it is every bit as fine as ‘Noble Tree’. More shuffling rhythms and a more tribal feel, it meanders like a slow moving river picking up elements as it goes and building to a mighty boogie with all the elements working together to create one of the most danceable numbers I’ve heard this year.
Because the numbers have been picked out from a long and fruitful career there is plenty of variation in the style and the personnel here – certainly enough to keep this reviewer entranced for the whole album.I don’t think that there is a moment that flags or that sounds as though they are lost or aimless – evcery track has a purpose and a direction.
All told a mighty work and one I suspect I will be investigating for much time to come.