Friday, September 16, 2016

‘Suku: Your Life is Your Poem’ by Nils Kercher

16 September 2016

Nils Kercher is a classically trained musician from Germany who has developed a keen interest in West African music. Having studied the kora with Djelimady Sissoko, Kercher has created an album of beautifully gentle music called ‘Suku: Your Life is Your Poem’. He blends traditional West African, instruments including kora, ngoni and balafon, with violin, viola and ‘cello, acoustic guitar and vocals. Many of the tracks have a repetitive, pulsing quality that suggests the minimalist contemporary classical music of Michael Nyman, Philip Glass or Steve Reich. But ‘Suku’ also reinforces the case made by Toumani Diabaté in his 2008 album, 'The Mandé Variations' (reviewed here in May 2008), for Malian griot music to be considered 'African classical music' – equivalent to Western or Indian classical music. And I was particularly reminded of the Malian singer Rokia Traoré’s wonderful 2003 album ‘Bowmboi’ which includes two amazing tracks with the Kronos string quartet. ‘Suku’ features musicians from Mali, Senegal, Martinique, Finland and Australia – but it is firmly focussed on West Africa and has a quiet, restrained beauty.

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