Work Hard

GB 134CD GB 134CD

Work Hard solidifies King Ayisoba's reputation as both a shamanic performer and a restless sonic experimenter. The album is a wild mashup of Ayisoba's frenetic Kologo sound and musical deep dives from an exciting roster of Ghanaian producers and contributors. Curated and partially mixed by Zea, from post-punk legends The Ex. Work Hard has a different focus than Ayisoba's previous releases. This was partly due to the disruptions and adjustments that Covid brought in its wake, which in turn necessitated a more homegrown strategy. The bulk of the recording and mixing was done at Top Link, Francis Ayamga's hilltop studio in Bongo, a town in the Upper East Region of Ghana bordering Burkina Faso. Francis has become an in-demand producer, due mainly to his previous work with Ayisoba, a relationship that also packed in a European tour as part of the King's band, playing the djembe and bembe drums. Francis has thrown himself into curating as much of the local music scene as possible, producing This is FraFra Power (2019), released on Makkum Records, the label of key Ayisoba collaborator and main international "presence" on Work Hard, Zea, aka Arnold de Boer. De Boer, who mixed two tracks and did the mastering (as well as adding vocals and guitar parts), talked of how some of the "Glocal" sounds on King Ayisoba's new record initially came to pass. The record's core playfulness, brilliantly captured by Ayamga, could be a spirit conjured up whilst playing live back in 2019, when Zea and Oscar Jan Hoogland toured with King Ayisoba, Ayuune Sule, Atamina, Prince Buju, and others. Tracks are often adorned with digital candy courtesy of Fruity Loops and Cubase, two programs that often inform the sound of contemporary African pop. Unlike his previous album, 2017's 1000 Can Die, Work Hard showcases no guest musicians, but De Boer sees the local involvement creating a practice akin to that nurtured at the Black Ark studios, both in terms of vibe and operation. As noted earlier, Zea throws a rope bridge to another creative hub with its roots firmly planted in the local community, Katzwijn Studios in Voorhout. For Work Hard, Ayisoba recorded one mid-tour track in this magical converted old bulb shed, the glorious "People Talk Too Much". Despite having a foot in two continents, the album is perhaps Ayisoba's most consistent, "concentrated" release. The sleeve notes and lyrics, in Frafra, Twi, or the King's own style of pidgin English, are strident and sometimes mischievous statements, dealing with uncomfortable issues many often prefer to ignore in an increasingly cloistered West.