In 1977, the Nigerian band Tirogo cut one of African rock's almost-lost cult-classic albums, Float. Though Float was released a decade after psychedelia came into full bloom, searing, psych-flavored fuzz guitar lines are a key element of the band's sound. But Tirogo wasn't totally out of step with their times, either, the R&B and Afro-beat influences that can be felt just as strongly here were certainly still au courant at the time of Float's release. Most of the lyrics on this rather short, six-track record feature English lyrics, and the aforementioned guitar licks that pepper the album seem to be definitively influenced by the U.S. rather than U.K. psychedelic scene, specifically the ‘60s Bay Area sounds of players like Big Brother & the Holding Co.'s James Gurley and Quicksilver Messenger Service's John Cipollina. But when those fat, fuzzy six-string statements are interwoven into a completely different musical context, as they are here, the effect is quite different. There's an undeniable, rather irresistible percolation going on in the grooves here, with the drummer mixing funk and African rhythms in equal parts while driven further along by the polyrhythmic fervor of the congas. Charmingly cheap-sounding, reedy organ adds to the garage-psych feel, as Float continually feeds the feet and the head simultaneously. The English-language lyrics are split between social messages ("Let's Feed the Nation") and more mysterious, evocative topics ("Gypsy Girl," "Devil's Gonna Get You"), mostly delivered in chant-like harmonies over harmonically simple (though generally not quite modal) song structures that keep things in the Afro-beat camp. While the production sounds pretty low-budget even on the presumably cleaned-up reissue, the sonic imperfections only add to the scrappy, underground appeal of Float.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by James Allen