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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Extra Golden

By Derek Beres
Published March 16, 2007

Ok-Oyot System
Thrill Jockey 153

Every day new cross-cultural collaborations appear. For Ian Eagleson and Alex Minoff of Washington, D.C. rock band Golden, it would be through ethnomusicological research on the Kenyan dance music benga. What’s unique about today is that field recordings no longer require microphones in distant lands; only a laptop and ingenuity are necessary. Hence this meeting with Otieno Jagwasi and Onyango Wuod Omari of Nairobi-based Orchestra Extra Solar Africa. Despite limited studio time, the quartet created a gorgeous rock/benga fusion that may not have existed prior. Certainly this form of African-driven dance is quite accessible, and if Ok-Oyot System leans toward anything, it’s Africa. The long soundscapes, reminiscent of Afrobeat, highlife and juju are present; the opening 11-minute “Ilando Gima Onge” is a journey in itself. Beautiful guitar sections and an ease of rhythm proves this album well worth the listener’s time, especially given Jagwasi¹s unfortunate death of HIV-related causes.