Here we have one of the collaborations of the year. French band Fanga wanted to try mixing their soulful Afrobeat music with traditional Gnawa music so they got together with Maâlem (Gnawa Master) Abdallah Guinéa from Morocco and his band, Nasse Ejadba. Both Afrobeat and Gnawa repeat rhythms to achieve a musical trance. When the two styles are combined the result is a spiritual funk of epic proportions. Fanga is an eight-member band from the South of France, rooted in Nigerian and Ghanaian traditions. They play an assortment of Afrobeat, funk, soul and jazz. Their 2007 album, Natural Juice featured Tony Allen and Segun Damisa. They’ve performed with some of the top Afrobeat acts, including Antibalas, Seun Kuti and Kokolo. This experiment was curated by the Détours du Monde festival in Montpelier, France during 2011 in association with Nueva Onda. That led to Fanga and Maâlem Abdallah Guinéa recording Fangnawa Experience together which is available now on Strut Records.
“Our objective from the sessions was not so much to create an entirely new flow but more to bring the real Gnawa sound and trance feeling to some of our songs – we wanted to make the songs work so neither group’s sound was compromised. For us, it was also a human and cultural meeting. We represent two continents but also two ways of thinking and two completely different styles of life.”
Burkina Fasso-born Fanga bandleader Korbo and Guinéa share lead vocal duties and sound like they have been working together for years. Even though the language barrier made it difficult to communicate verbally, the musicians had no trouble letting the music do the talking, communicating in the universal language of groove. Fanga does a great job laying down the foundation for Maâlem Abdallah Guinéa to play melodies on the gimbri while Nasse Ejadba provides hypnotic percussion on the large metal castanet-like krakebs. This is an amazing, cross-cultural set of music and Europeans will be thrilled to hear this project will be on the road in 2013. Let’s hope they come to North America someday. For more information about this collaboration, check out this great video below which features interviews with the musicians as well as live footage. Pick this gem up at your local record store today.