Hera Ma Nono by Extra Golden on Apple Music

9 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ian Eagleson first heard benga music in 1995 and was fascinated with the infectious, guitar-driven dance style and its basis in traditional Kenyan music. In 2004, Eagleson and his D.C. cohort Alex Minoff joined forces with singer and guitarist Otieno Jagwasi and drummer Onyango Wuod Omari, recording their debut, OK-Oyot System, at a semi-outdoor Nairobi nightclub. Sadly, Jagwasi passed away from HIV-related illness, but the well-respected (in benga circles) Opiyo Bilongo was asked to replace him, and Bilongo’s iridescent lead-guitar lines highlight this brilliant, exciting follow-up, recorded in a remote area of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The opening “Jakolando” boasts the bright, chiming electric guitar that distinguishes so many dialects of African pop. The ebullient “Street Parade” leans heavily on American R&B (complete with second-line rhythms), while “Night Runners” best fuses the Kenyan and American elements in a delectable blend of traditional Luo chants and Shuggie Otis-style psychedelic soul.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ian Eagleson first heard benga music in 1995 and was fascinated with the infectious, guitar-driven dance style and its basis in traditional Kenyan music. In 2004, Eagleson and his D.C. cohort Alex Minoff joined forces with singer and guitarist Otieno Jagwasi and drummer Onyango Wuod Omari, recording their debut, OK-Oyot System, at a semi-outdoor Nairobi nightclub. Sadly, Jagwasi passed away from HIV-related illness, but the well-respected (in benga circles) Opiyo Bilongo was asked to replace him, and Bilongo’s iridescent lead-guitar lines highlight this brilliant, exciting follow-up, recorded in a remote area of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The opening “Jakolando” boasts the bright, chiming electric guitar that distinguishes so many dialects of African pop. The ebullient “Street Parade” leans heavily on American R&B (complete with second-line rhythms), while “Night Runners” best fuses the Kenyan and American elements in a delectable blend of traditional Luo chants and Shuggie Otis-style psychedelic soul.

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8:04
3:24
7:25
6:18
6:24
11:21
5:56
6:57

About Extra Golden

A cross-continental collaboration, Extra Golden began with Ian Eagleson's documentation of the Benga music of Kenya and Nairobi for his doctoral thesis. Starting in 2000, Eagleson was assisted in his work by Kenyan musician Otieno Jagwasi, who played in a band with drummer Onyango Wuod Omari called Orchestra Extra Solar Africa. Eagleson returned to Africa in 2004 for further study, but this time, he brought a portable studio along with him. In April of that year, Eagleson's bandmate from Washington, D.C.'s Golden, Alex Minoff (also of Weird War), decided to visit Nairobi and Extra Golden were born. A truly collaborative effort between African and American musicians, Ok-Oyot System was recorded (for the most part) in a single afternoon at a nightclub in Nairobi. Sadly, Otieno Jagwasi passed away in May of 2005 due to liver failure. In 2006, inspired by Extra Golden's recording, Thrill Jockey Records suggested that the remaining members release a follow-up. Soon after, Otieno's brother Onyango Wuod Omari and Benga star Opiyo Bilongo teamed up with the group, and after a five-day recording session in a Pennsylvania home, the group emerged with Hera Ma Nono in October 2007. Extra Golden followed it up with Thank You Very Quickly in early 2009. ~ Sean Westergaard

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