Santrofi – Alewa

Album Review | Outhere Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson

The debut album by the Accra-based eight-piece collective Santrofi, meaning a rare bird in Akan mythology, captures the dynamism and energy of their live set, seen by many last year at some of Europe’s biggest international festivals, including WOMAD (UK) and WOMEX (Finland).  Absorbing the highly infectious rhythms of their forebears, especially those associated with vintage Ghanaian Highlife and funky Afrobeat, the ten songs maintain a level of vibrancy and clout throughout the album, each selection showcasing the band’s startling ability to provide a fresh take on these irresistible rhythms.  Racial diversity is high on Santrofi’s agenda, significantly in the album title Alewa, which refers to the local black and white striped confectionery.

With bassist Emmanuel Ofori at the helm, the musicians create a sound that demands increased volume to the norm and never mind the neighbours.  The sparring between the horns and the funky rhythm section provides a strong base for the voices to blend in with, whilst the colourful and affecting stage antics, such as doing press ups mid song or just engaging with their audience on the mighty “Adwuma”, will just have to remain in our memory and imagination until better times are upon us, which will hopefully be soon.

Choice Track: Alewa (NSV 500)