Auma

10/01/20Kenyan/German Duo Odd Okoddo Release Stunning Collaborative Album

While we're at it, here's another release from 2019 that we really felt, but didn't get around to covering. Put out on the wonderful Pingipung imprint (see also Anadol's "Uzun Havalar", Cosima's "Ploaia") back in October, "Auma" is a stunning collaborative project between the multi-talented Hamburg-based percussionist and producer Sven Kacirek – whom you may remember from his ear-opening "Kenya Sessions" (2011) – and Kenyan musician Olith Ratego, hailing from Ugunja, a small market town in the vicinity of Lake Victoria. The two first worked together on a track called "Too Good To Be True", to be found on Kacirek's aforementioned "Kenya Sessions" and in 2018 founded their collaborative project Odd Okoddo.

"Auma" then is the result of this extended artistic dialogue between Ratego's mesmerising, androgynous vocals and Kacirek's intricate rhythmic arrangements and compositions. "[The two] create a colourful, dynamic sound, which is defined by both Ratego's enormous vocal compass and range of timbres as well as Kacirek's outstanding skills as a sensitive percussionist," the description reads. "Olith Ratego sings in a musical style called 'dodo', [or 'dodo blues' as he calls it], high in pitch and soulfully expressive. His lyrics touch upon the topics of politics, family and of course: love. As a skilled luthier, [a craft he inherited in his late father's woodworking shop], Ratego builds his instruments himself, like the five-stringed Okodo, which lends its name to the project." 

Indeed, the nine tracks on "Auma" kept us glued to our seats for the full duration of the album, listening intently as the sounds enveloped us in a concentrated, dreamlike trance, filling us with warmth and admiration for this extraordinary exchange. In an article for German medium Das Filter, Sven Kacirek provides more in-depth information on Odd Okoddo and also takes time to reflect on his own role in all of this, being a white man from Europe, following centuries of colonialist exploitation and depredation of the African continent. An interesting and genuine read for sure, if you know German, but the article also includes a handful of worthwhile video content. Or you can simply stream/buy the full album below and let the music speak for itself.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom