Eight tracks that combine Bugandan drumming with traditional instruments and contemporary electronics.
Kawuku Sound is the latest project from the region to bear fruit, a collaboration between the Ugandan percussion troupe Fonkodelis Arkestra and the UK producers Contours and Cervo. The group's aim, they say, is to combine Bugandan drumming with traditional instruments and contemporary electronics. Their first record, Kawuku Sound, has been released on the Manchester label Banana Hill. The opening track, "Ggaba Road," is a field recording of beeping horns and chatter from the road near Boutiq Studios that leads down to Lake Victoria. The pleasing groove of "Jinja To Kampala," whose title nods to the journey to Nyege Nyege Festival, features the plucked sound of the adungu (a harp-like instrument) played by the Otim Alpha collaborator Leo Palayeng Kenna, while "Lost In Sound" and "Buganda Dub" bring the Arkestra's percussive skills to the fore.
Kawuku Sound shares some sonic overlap with another Boutiq Studios project, Nihiloxica, a collaboration between UK artists Spooky J and Pete Jones and the Nilotica Cultural Ensemble, though this record lacks Nihiloxica's drum-fuelled energy. Of all the thrilling sounds coming out of East Africa right now, Kawuku Sound lands somewhere towards the safer end. Take "Many Hands," whose standard deep house template, combined with shakers and live percussion, somehow feels less than the sum of its parts. Better is the pared-back "Youth," featuring Nilotica Cultural Ensemble's charismatic Spyda on MC duties. "Things are changing now in Uganda, we are becoming more diverse," he says, before paying tribute to the country's "youth energy." (The country has the world's second-youngest population.) It's that energy that's fuelling Uganda's blossoming electronic music scene.