Jesse Hackett, London-based producer and member of cross-cultural fusionists Owiny Sigoma Band, created the Ennanga Vision project with Ugandan singer/musician Albert Ssempeke. Their music combines traditional instrumentation (including gigantic xylophones, thumb pianos, and reed flutes) with abstract electronics, drifting between folk melodies and cloudy experimentation. The songs have roots in Ugandan royal court music as well as Acholi wedding music, and they're filtered through lo-fi electronics and club music influences. The musicians never stick to one sound or mood, nor do they adhere to proper song structure. The album's most memorable tunes are abundantly cheerful, particularly the irresistible "Like a Football." Acholi wedding singer Geoffrey Opiyo Twongweno playfully cries "I'm like a football, but don't kick me around" over a jumpy electronic rhythm recalling John Wizards. Other songs are centered around family themes, such as the slow, dubby "Abbanna Kange (Children of My Father)" or the celebratory "Happy Birthday Wonder (Acholi)." The latter is one of several tunes sung by local legend Otim Alpha, in a duet with Hackett, whose spoken voice cuts in like a pirate radio transmission. Both direct the song toward a lovely, much-missed daughter, with a promise to return home soon. The rhythm is fast and jumpy, like a less frenetic version of Shangaan electro, and it's covered with festive Endingidi fiddle playing. Other songs are a bit darker and more politically themed, such as "Otim's War" and "Killing Ghosts" (which samples Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni). While some tracks have fairly straightforward rhythms, others are offbeat and deconstructed. "Kampala Auto Chase" is a bizarre soup of pitched down vocals, pulsating beats, and sporadic duck calls. "Jaja (Grandmother)" is a gentle ambient drift with a resounding bassline and the sound of children playing in the background. Ennanga Vision feels a bit scattered, but it clearly sounds fresh and original, and much of it is enchanting.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson