RECON: King Ayisoba / Blood Sport
RECON Festival comes to Fuse Art Space, on the very last day of Bradford Beach. It's a rare opportunity to hear the magnificent Ghanain kologo master King Ayisoba, and a final opportunity to get some sand in your shoes. Support from Sheffield-made tropical punk explorers Blood Sport (http://bloodsport.bandcamp.com/)
King Ayisoba mixes traditional kologo music from the Upper East Region of Ghana brought with the energy and flavor of the 'Modern Ghanaian' dance scene. He sings in Frafra, Twi and in English, jumping from his low, guttural growl to moments of piercingly high interjection. He plays the kologo, a two-string guitar with a calabash gourd resonator that allows skilled players to double up hard rhythms with twirling melodic refrains. Ayisoba learned how to play the kologo from his grandfather, becoming a musical child prodigy throughout the Bolgatanga area thanks to a steady stream of gigs at weddings, funerals and festivals. After moving to Accra and working with late Hiplife star Terry Bon Chaka, King Ayisoba released his first two albums 'Modern Ghanaians' and 'Africa', becoming a big star in the process. Championed from early on in Europe by Arnold DeBoer (aka Zea) from legendary punk band The Ex, Ayisoba went on to release a collection of songs on DeBoer's Makkum records. He played a small string of dates in the UK last April and this time returns for a longer tour organised by Scottish 'Party Music Beyond Borders' collective No Globe, with a new album on Makkum and a new backing band in tow. Ayisoba's politically radical lyricism has not stopped him from topping the Ghanaian charts, or winning multiple awards, but this is partly due to the wide scope with which he pitches his attacks on corruption and unkindness, as he puts it: "My music has been simple and easy for everyone, no matter their ages, status or location in the country, to identify and sing along" Following on from a raucously received summer of European festival slots, this UK tour sees that appeal widen even further.
"Bare-chested, wearing his hair in elaborate looped braids and dressed in rainbow-patterned trousers, Apozora Ayisoba's live set is a unique experience. He plays alone with his kologo, a simple wooden cross between a guitar and a lute which creates loud, rhythmic tones, especially when its strings are hit with such force as the King uses. Similarly, his voice is a powerful call which fills the space, the joyous, mantra-like repetition of his songs creating the perfect conditions for dancing. What was most thrilling was the chance to have our ears opened to an artist so outside the traditions of Western rock music, especially one whose hiplife sound has taken him to No.1 in Ghana with the hit I Want to See You My Father. By the end he had encouraged the audience to bray like goats in musical tribute to their animals, performed a kologo and guitar duet with his European sponsor Arnold de Boer (aka support act Zea and a member of The Ex), and brilliantly introduced Wicked Leaders with the innocent but well-received words "we don't like bad leaders, we don't like corruption either… this is a song to advise them to be good." (The Scotsman)
"Commanding, infectious and magisterial" (Ears 4 Eyes)
"King Ayisoba is not the next big thing, he is actually the big thing" (Ghana Show)