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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Baron Ya Buk-Lu

By John Kuhlman
Published January 5, 2007

Dumu aye ‘ku’
Ngomo Line Productions

Baron ya Buk-lu is a sharp-looking dude (check out the bomber jacket and cheaters on the front cover) from the small West African nation of Equatorial Guinea, though now based in Madrid, who has put out four or five albums so far. This one, Dumu Aye ‘Ku’ (“I Do Not Understand”) is his latest, put out by the Ngomo Line label, and it’s disappointing to have to say that it fails to ignite the listener’s mental coconut. It’s certainly not a terrible disc, it’s just that when you’re making an album of African dance grooves, you have to come up with something pretty extraordinary to stand out in a very crowded field. And while the Baron is capable of making some distinctive sounds, like the solemn call-and-response vocal foundation of “Nobay,” topped off with his own gruff rap vocals and bird noises, or the declamatory vocals on “La Ciudad te Esta Hablando” backed by tamburas and synth drones, or his recurring technique of mixing raw field recordings in and between his songs, for too much of the rest of the album he relies on boilerplate drum programming and preset keyboard sounds that leave his lyrical calls for African unity dead on arrival.