The Afro Harmony band has that droning ecstatic bliss from guitar effects and shuddering rhythm sections to keep a show going till it hits the acme and even then the spirit of the music celestially pours like libation and every one in the audience goes on to cheer as they receive their ear-share abundantly. I’ve been observing their perfection gradually build momentum after each event since they backed the rapper M.anifest‘s first ever concert in Ghana in 2012 at the now non-functioning event space Taverna Tropicana.
The Sakora Records Launch, another epic La Paillote Takpekpe edition at Alliance Francaise after The Write Experience served a packed house good music aside poetry, dance and live graffiti in January. Every last Wednesday of the month, La Paillote Takpekpe offers a local emerging artist a grant and space to put together a creative programme and this has over the years garnered much appeal, mutually putting a feather in the cap of the generation of young creative artists having the chance to be cultural directors as well as promoting the brand of the venue sponsors.
At the Sakora Records Launch concert, the guy behind the drum set always kept his cool exactly knowing what to do as supported by another just next to him on a set of traditional drums; 2 Atumpans and a reddish djembe in the middle though he had some maracas and another instrument that looked like rumba shakers which magically appeared in the middle of performances to add some spice. A deck of two keyboards manned by this guy with a hoodie on his head and 2 guitars; bass and lead handled majestically by one guy to the far left and to the far right, producer and multi-instrumentalist Sewor Okudzeto; the leader and founder of Sakora Records respectively.
The melodic guitar motifs and an adowa or sometimes kpalogo-drum style drive, with keen keyboard inflections and the kind of sharp snare smack and taut beat the band delivered was sizzling already before the Nigerian vocalist; Sister Soul got on stage and did a good 10 minute performance. Yasmeen and Lady Jay‘s collaborative ‘Propaganda’ political piece right afterwards raised the pitch and allowed the audience some room to indulge in the art by adding their voices and rising up on their feet to kick in with hand sways and boogies.
Lady Jay owned the stage right after, introducing herself as “FKA(formerly known as) Lady jay Wah” and immediately had her magical voice propelling listeners into another world. “Black is Beautiful” followed by a love song ending in “Nana Yaw, me do wo (Nana Yaw I love you)” had the audience in a frenzy. The adowa-inspired “aba asem” followed by “I’m doing fine” gave her more nods than a serial awardee.
Kweku Mankind ‘killed’ the stage totally with “okwaadonto” right after, leaving a heated audience some room to digest Yaa Pono‘s highlife fused with rap performances. “Maa sisa” soaked into people’s ears and hearts, but “Light off in Dzorwulu” even cut in cleaner. The musicians exhibited a calm but serious air, to create rhythmic mantras that started slowly, in awesome washes of ambient guitar and keyboard effects, but built a relentless concise touch as we in the audience thought it could go on for ever. This kind of aesthetic purity, aided by simple yet intense red or blue and white lighting and good live sound should be exactly how most Accra night shows should go.
Panji Anoff; the CEO of Pidgin Music was present, not forgetting King Ayisoba as seen in his grand batakari in the audience tailed by kologo-playing colleagues, culturally adding to the ambience. Efya, the talented songstress was also present as well as P. Y. Addo Boateng of the Viasat TV One Show fame, all in full support of the performers and producers of the Sakora Records Launch.
The debut album produced by Sewor; A.R.T. Vol 1 (African Relaxation Techniques) brings together some of Ghana’s finest artists including Yaa Pono, Lady Jay, Kweku Mankind, in a musically and vocally epic album, fusing together Afrobeat, Neo Soul, Jazz and Afropop giving it the impetus as “one of the most original sounding albums to come from Ghana”. I will be writing a review on it later, but surely watch this space and keep in mind that Sewor promises “another classic album in the works.”
-article by kwame ‘write’ aidoo