Bola, Volume 7

Richard Gehr

By Richard Gehr

on 04.03.12 in Reviews
Bluesy badness with uncompromising intensity

Ghanaian kologo player Bola Anafo has a single mighty sound he sticks to throughout this release on Brian Shimkowitz’s intrepid Awesome Tapes from Africa label. The kologo is a traditional two-stringed lute with a calabash resonator covered by a hairless animal skin. Bola, who was born in the early ’80s and grew up herding livestock in Ghana’s hinterlands, has followed the lead of older kologo stars like King Ayisoba and Atongo Zimba in adding a drum machine and digital keyboard to its uptempo circular rhythmic patterns, singing over them in a shouting, chanting, force-of-nature voice guaranteed to wake your neighbors and/or gather your flock. What Bola’s seventh release lacks in variation it makes up in intensity. “Abayetidu Ma” contains the album’s most accessibly melodic keyboard line, which elsewhere serves as a sort of choral response to Bola’s imprecations in his Frafra tongue. An Auto-Tuned yelp at the beginning of “Tigantabame” (God Is Powerful), about a juju man’s failed attempt to kill the righteous singer, sets off the uncompromising intensity of Bola’s bluesy badness.