Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force
Five years into the project, with two acclaimed albums and dozens of triumphant international performances
to its name, Yermande announces a thrilling new phase for this Dakar-Berlin collaboration: emphatically a
giant step forward.
The group of players is boiled down to twelve for recordings, eight for shows; sessions in Dakar become
steeply more focussed. ‘This time around I was better able to specify what I wanted right from the initial
recording sessions in Dakar,’ says Ernestus, 'and further in the production proce' I took more freedom in
reducing and editing audio tracks, changing MIDI data, replacing synth sounds and introducing electronic drum
Right away you hear music-making which has come startlingly into its own. Rather than submitting to the
routine, discrete gradations of recording, producing and mixing, the music is tangibly permeated with deadly
intent from the off. Lethally it plays a coiled, clipped, percussive venom and thumping bass against the
soaring, open-throated spirituality of Mbene Diatta Seck’s singing. Plainly expert, drilled and rooted, the
drumming is unpredictable, exclamatory, zinging with life. Likewise the production: intuitive and fresh but
utterly attentive; limber but hefty; vividly sculpted against a backdrop of cavernous silence. Six chunks of stunning, next-level mbalax, then, funky as anything.