We won’t blame you for not having heard of an instrument called the gyil: “A Ghanaian xylophone made of 14 wooden slats strung across calabash gourd resonators.” Awesome Tapes of Africa bring in two sides of instrumental trickery by none other than SK Kakraba.

This doesn’t give much of an idea of what it actually sounds like – think of a gamelan orchestra crossing paths with a sitar player and you’re halfway there. The incredible distorted resonance rich in harmonics give a totally unique character to this instrument, and make it truly one-of-a-kind.

There are two real stars in this record; the immensely talented performer SK Kakraba and the gorgeous instrument he so comfortably calls his own.

On the brief opener “Lubile Prai”, arpeggios give way to gorgeous walls of sound that envelope the entirety of the lower register, before opening back out into trills that recall morning birdsong. “Banyere Yo” is more steady, listenability coming from the constant subtle shifts in rhythmic emphasis and the hypnotic, calming repetition of the main melodic idea.

On “Darifu”, Kakraba sounds like an orchestra all unto himself. Heavily percussive in cadence but with shimmering melodies and arpeggios pushing their way through the dense patchwork of textures.

On side 2, “Darikpon Variations” sees Kakraba test his skill in polyrhythm, with melodies and accompaniment slipping and sliding over each other in beautiful tandem. The short-but-sweet “Sokpa” sounds like a proto-minimalist piece in the vein of Reich or Philip Glass, but with far more harmonic crunch.

Album closer “Guun” also deals in phasing rhythms and melodies, but with a greater emphasis on the gyil’s beautifully rich lower register, allowing the instrument to do the talking as much as this incredible performer. Bravo!

Included in the release is colour insert with images and extensive sleeve note as well as high quality mp3 download code.

Tracklist:
Side 1.
1. Lubile Prai
2. Banyere Yo
3. Darifu
Side 2.
4. Darikpon Variations
5. Sokpa
6. Guun

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