“Everybody, bring your dancing shoes; Come let’s party, I want to see you move.” The opening words to ‘Kologo’ as sung by Alostmen founder, Stevo Atambire, sets the tone for the joyous nature of their new album released through Strut Records.
The album’s title ‘Kologo’ pays homage to the stringed lute that forms the central focus point for the entire project. As performed by Atambire who also doubles as Alostmen’s lead vocalist, the band are also comprised of Jo Ajusiwine (goje fiddle, vocals), Aminu Amadu (talking drum) and Sowah (gome box, djembe and conga). ‘Kologo’ also boasts production from Wanlov the Kubolor who recorded the album while all parties were touring as part of Wanlov’s Afro Gypsy collective back in 2017.
With the songs built around Atambire’s stringed instrument, just how effective the entire project is with such minimal arrangements is really where the album’s charm truly lies. Even the simplicity of the repetitive vocals recited chant-like through the single ‘Teach Me’ hits instantly: “Teach me how to get cash is better than you teaching me how to spend cash”.
But my reference to “simplicity” is in no way intended to diminish the overall ambition of the ‘Kologo’ project. While there are in fact minimal arrangements – and the project does indeed excel in its effectiveness in that area – the album is very much a shining example of a contemporary and forward-thinking Ghanaian musical sound. The electronic-like inspirations for ‘Do Good’ which features rapper Medikal steer the project towards a slightly more synthetic pop territory while the range of guest rappers that are featured throughout serve Atambire’s affection for hip-hop that comfortably makes its way into the compositions. As well as on ‘Do Good’, ‘Fauziah’ should also be cited for its rap contributions in this case from Yaa Pono who injects some inspired energy into the track.
‘Minus Me’ featuring guest Ambolley is presented like an anthemic afrobeat number propelled by some uplifting horns already delivers as a soaring album highlight but I’d be lying if I hadn’t considered what the track would have sounded like if backed by the powerhouse afrobeat orchestras of Antibalas or The Budos Band.
While certainly a project that is enhanced by its many collaborators and contributors, the incomparable magic that Atambire brings to the table is completely unmatched. His performance on ‘Bayiti’ alone is enough to sell the record – between his playing on the kologo and his fiery and impassioned vocal, it’s everything you would need to hold ‘Kologo’ up as a shining example of the aforementioned contemporary Ghanaian sound.