Saturday, December 07, 2013

Jeremy Marre's Kokombe: Nigerian Music

Jeremy Marre's Kokombe: Nigerian Music (1980) gives us a fascinating glimpse into the fruitful and sometimes harrowing Nigerian music scene of the 1970s. From this distance especially, it's pretty easy to see cross-cultural influences at play, Nigeria's impact on American and European music and the reverse flow. I remember many of these beats starting in the 1980s: original work by King Sunny Adé (b. 1946), Fela Kuti (1938-1997), talking drums, hypnotizing rhythms, brassy punctuation, and a generally cool sound that still feels both familiar and new. 
There are some crazy scenes in this documentary, ranging from Fela Kuti boxed in with multiple wives (27 by one count) because of his opposition to the Nigerian government -- in the words of Dorothy Parker, "what fresh hell is this?" -- to a mass shallow river-fishing scene featuring hundreds of men with nets and clay jars plunging into the water to the sound of Islamic drummers in northern Nigeria; a blind beggar drummer-singer working for alms; and the Lijadu Sisters, twins (b. 1958, pictured here), dealing with all sorts of obstructions because of their gender.  

Marre's remarkable Beats of the Heart series is available in the USA on DVD -- I was able to find this one via Netflix, and ordered another one for purchase online. Individual film names seem to vary slightly, but the gist is the same.

Today's Rune:  Fertility.   


Charles Gramlich said...

What Fresh Hell is this? certainly gets a workout as a phrase around here.

the walking man said...

Dude I LOVE African tribal music.

jodi said...

Erik-I listen to African tunes on Pandora. When the mood is right, it's the perfect thing. I accuse my trainer of 'fresh hell' all the time!