Sven Kacirek

The Kenya Sessions

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The Kenya Sessions Review

by Rick Anderson

This isn't exactly a unique concept: a German drummer/producer travels extensively in Kenya, gathering field recordings and studio performances by local musicians, brings the resulting tapes home to his studio, messes around with them, and creates something new, something simultaneously ancient and modern. Such projects have led other artists to be accused of musical colonialism, but it's hard to imagine anyone leveling such charges at Kacirek, partly because he conscientiously and consistently puts the musicians he has recorded out in front, both in musical terms (they are always at the center of his arrangements) and in the liner materials, which prominently feature photos of the musicians and credits their contributions in detail. The album's centerpiece is "Dear Anastasia," a song in the dodo style sung by nearly-80-year-old Ogoya Nengo, but the program is filled with highlights of various kinds: the glistening, multilayered mallet keys on "Kayamba Tuc Tuc" (featuring the Chimanga Kayamba Orchestra), the complex flute-and-drum interplay on "Lamu Sunsail," the frantically rhythmic homiletics (underscored by subtle percussion) of "Takaye Preaching." Kacirek's musical embellishments are always tasteful and always serve to showcase the Kenyan musicians and their various traditions, and the result is a wonderfully moving document.

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