Hera Ma Nono

Extra Golden - Hera Ma Nono

2007 | Thrill Jockey 

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Videos from Hera Ma Nono

All Music Guide Review

It is completely understandable if you're wondering what Extra Golden, the unlikely transcontinental band who created a new sound by integrating rock and American indie pop sensibilities with Benga, a music emanating from Kenya and Nairobi, would sound like without original vocalist Otieno Jagwasi, who passed away after a long battle with liver disease before the release of Ok-Oyot System in 2006. Otieno's brother Onyango Wuod Omari has stepped in to fill his brother's shoes as a vocalist and on drums, and Extra Golden has recruited guitarist Opiyo Bilongo, who sings as well. The basic tracks were recorded in Lakeville, PA, with additional recording completed in Washington, D.C., New York, Austin, Louisiana, and elsewhere. Those who were enchanted by the debut album have nothing to fear on Hera Ma Nono. The basic rock & roll shuffle that introduces the opening cut, "Jakolando," is quickly wound into the chittering, snaky lines of Bilongo and Alex Minoff. Ian Eagleson's bassline is a constant, funky pulse and Onyango's drums and vocals offer a song that is utterly infectious, albeit an elegy for his deceased brother. The only hint that this might be a lament is in the elongated bridge where the listener can hear the anguish in Onyango's voice. Like New Orleans funeral music, what may be a tome of mourning is transformed as song into something danceable while retaining its deep well of emotion. "Obama" is a tribute to the one and only Barack Obama. It is a hymn of platitude and gratitude for his aid in obtaining visas for the African half of Extra Golden to tour and record in the United States. Given the sound of this cut, we all owe Obama, no matter our political persuasion. Almost an hour in length, these eight lengthy tracks offer a heady, jubilant brew of folk musics both African and American, because if rock & roll is anything, it is folk music. The bubbly syncopated rhythms and intricate melodic inventions of Benga seamlessly wed themselves to rock and vice versa. Song, of course, is the vehicle for this cross-cultural transference, and gives an entirely new sound to "world music." It's not that this hasn't been attempted before, but it's never sounded quite so natural -- with the possible exception of Roy Ayers and Fela Kuti's recorded live performances. The rock-out wah wah guitar in the last half of "Obama," as it engages the piercing lyric invention of Bilongo's semi-improvised lead vocal and guitar lines, not only blur lines but establish both musics firmly as identities which meet and speak but don't become the same thing, instead becoming something wholly other as a result. A new musical language is created, not mere hybridization. Things become more introspective on the short but utterly moving and reverb-laden "I Miss You," sung by Bilongo with Onyango's drums and backing vocals supporting him while Eagleson's guitar is on full slide, adding to the notion of distance and the passage of time in the mix. The deep funk of "Street Parade" celebrates New Orleans as both a marginal place and one where harsh life circumstances and joy coexist. Fuzz, wah wah, and oceans of drums crisscross with the vocals that are exchanged in call and response fashion. The big piece here is also the longest: "Love Hijackers," with its many twists and turns of guitar phrasing, layers of drums, and four-part sung harmony is utterly propelled by Eagleson's bassline as the anchor from which this band just takes off. Winding, circling, darting, and feinting guitars are herded by Onyango's drums. It's hypnotic but ever changing and Onyango's breakbeats are stellar. The lyrics almost don't matter. The human voice -- in this case Bilongo's lead -- becomes another rhythmic and simultaneously melodic instrument in this wild and utterly ecstatic harmonic exchange. Hera Ma Nono is a triumphant second effort from a band who reinvented themselves from the ground up before releasing an album whose possibilities seem, at this point at least, to be endless. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Hera Ma Nono Track Listing

  • #
  • Title
  • time
  • 1
  • Jakolando
  • 9:09
  • Sound Clip for Jakolando from Hera Ma Nono

  • 2
  • Obama
  • 8:04
  • Sound Clip for Obama from Hera Ma Nono

  • 3
  • I Miss You
  • 3:24
  • Sound Clip for I Miss You from Hera Ma Nono

  • 4
  • Night Runners
  • 7:25
  • Sound Clip for Night Runners from Hera Ma Nono

  • 5
  • Street Parade
  • 6:18
  • Sound Clip for Street Parade from Hera Ma Nono

  • 7
  • Love Hijackers
  • 11:21
  • Sound Clip for Love Hijackers from Hera Ma Nono

  • 8
  • Hera Ma Nono
  • 5:56
  • Sound Clip for Hera Ma Nono from Hera Ma Nono

  • Credits of Hera Ma Nono

    • Ian Eagleson
    • Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Group Member, Vocals
    • Alex Minoff
    • Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Vocals, Group Member, Guitar (Bass)

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