The singer and percussionist once again teams up with Maurice Fulton, with predictably excellent results.
Suleiman, who was born in Zanzibar but has been a resident of the UK since 1988, is an utterly infectious singer and a percussionist. Still, it would have been easy to overlook her three albums since Tungi, released in the low-key, digital-only fashion that's typical of BubbleTease Communications. It would be reductive to say that Si Bure is more of the same from Suleiman and Fulton, but in a way it is. You're treated to a wealth of music, 11 full pieces and three shorter ones, that glide between styles, with Suleiman's voice as the common thread.
All of Fulton's hallmarks are there, from deliciously phased bass licks to rubbery funk synths, and Suleiman's incredible singing marries perfectly with the full-fat funk. "Wewe" is plush, warm, '80s-inflected but rendered in pristine high definition, the kind of jam that would achieve crossover success in a just world. There are many other shades to this record beyond party bangers. "Uutu" is a beautiful, beatless lullaby of cascading arps and swooning pads underpinned by a roaming, rounded bass undulation. "Patosha" also benefits from a gentle approach, with Suleiman as a kind of celestial voice calling out over a wide open plain. Her percussion intertwines with Fulton's electronic sprites in a beautiful symbiosis, while carefully placed piano chords drop a hint of bombast that remains just the right side of tasteful.
That said, this definitely an album to get up and move to. "Kumenora" and "Usiogope" are straight-up house tracks, albeit less thrilling than the hopped-up kuduro thump of "Aruka." Fulton's production strikes a sensitive cultural balance, fusing his style with Suleiman's in a way that never feels forced.
Seasoned Fulton fans will find themselves nodding with familiarity at many of the tricks pulled off across the album—the razor sharp cuts from one groove to another, those luxurious bass licks, the twitchy energy and delirious ecstatic peaks. Luckily, they never get old, especially with a vocalist as bold as Suleiman at the front of the project. This is striking, immediate music, but beyond its immediacy there's depth as well—a sure sign of its staying power even in the face of the equally strong albums before it.