1000 Can Die

GB 044LP GB 044LP

LP version. 180-gram vinyl. Includes download code. In King Ayisoba, Ghana's ancient empire, the 21st century global express, the rhythms that created the past, and the beats forging the present all converge. "King Ayisoba and his band know that traditional instruments are stronger than anything modern," says album producer Zea (The Ex's Arnold de Boer). "Playing them is a gift from God. They'll take what they can use from electronica, from hiplife (the hugely popular Ghanaian style that fuses the local highlife music with hip-hop) but they won't let it beat them, because they know what they have is more powerful. Their music is pulled from the ground." The juxtaposition of the two on 1000 Can Die shows the irresistible drive of both sides. The thick, squelching bass and beats that push under the older rhythms of "Anka Yen Tu Kwai" are overtaken by the guluku and dundun drums that bring in "Yalma Dage Wanga," its rapid-fire melody dictated by Ayisoba's voice and two-string kologo lute. "We wanted the drums leading and upfront all the time, not as exotic additions," Zea says. "The sense of tradition always rises above everything." That overwhelming sense of the past in the present has been the hallmark of King Ayisoba's career. Born in Bolgatanga in rural Ghana, he was a prodigy on the kologo, playing locally until he'd outgrown the possibilities of the area. Moving to Accra, the country's biggest city, he eventually released the song "I Want To See You, My Father." There was nothing modern about it. No hiplife rap, no electronic beats. But somehow it conquered the country and brought the tradition firmly into the mainstream. "It was Song of the Year and Traditional Song of the Year," Zea recalls. "He also had a song called 'Modern Ghanaians' that said we shouldn't forget the tradition. Instead we should use it to fight modern problems." On the juggernaut of 1000 Can Die, the trailblazing Nigerian saxophonist Orlando Julius adds a raw, reedy quality to "Dapagara," while on "Wine Lange," the only song not to feature kologo, Sakuto Yongo's one-string gonju fiddle takes the music into a different, ancient dimension. The title-cut features Ghanaian rapper and producer M3nsa alongside the shapeshifting vision of legendary reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. Alone or with beats, ultimately the power that propels 1000 Can Die comes from the band itself, from the sense of history that forms every piece of music. On 1000 Can Die, King Ayisoba is digging a new future from Ghana's soil. King Ayisoba: vocals and kologo; Abaadongo Adontanga: dancer, backing vocals, dorgo; Ayuune Sulley: sinyaka, backing vocals; Gemeka Abobe Azure: guluku and dundun drums; Ayamga Francis: djembe and bemne drums.