Im Rahmen der Hidden Music-Reihe bringen Glitterbeat ein Album des im Norden Ghanas beheimateten Trios Fra Fra heraus. Dem Albumtitel entsprechend handelt es sich bei den sieben Stücken um raue, live und bei Prozessionen eingespielte “Funeral Songs”. Mit Kologo, einer regionalen Langhalslaute, Flöten, Percussion und Gesang offenbart die Aufnahme eine weitere Facette traditionell angehauchter Undergroundmusik des Landes, wie sie bereits auf Compilations wie “This is Cologo Power” und “This is Frafra Power” demonstriert wurde. Der Name der Band ist der Bezeichnung einer regionalen Sprache sowie einer geläufigen Fremdbezeichnung für Sprachgemeinschat als ethnische Gruppe entlehnt.
“On the dusty-road outskirts of Tamale (Ghana) near the School of Hygiene, the group says they prefer to use the name given to their tribe by colonialists (Fra Fra) rather than being commanded what to correct after the fact; a retraction made on their behalf. The group is led by Small, a man who celebrates his diminutive size rather than seeing it as a lack. He picked the two-string Kologo ‘guitar’ with dog-tags fastened at the head as rattles. As funeral songs are often done in procession, I took the mics to the group since they seemed reluctant to enter the compound. Instead they gyrated in circles on the gravel outside. In recording, coverage is more important than precision. Every microphone tells a slightly different version of the truth, so I quickly threw up as many as possible.
I’ve often wondered: What is the tensile limit of cohesion culturally? How far can geography stretch – scaled for cities and nations – before a culture fractures? Ghana struggles with its own north/south divide. This northern zone was a wellspring of the Blues, a land where they emanated and never left. Rather than resembling deathly dirges, these funeral songs were largely celebrations. As so often is the case, literacy in no way interfered with creativity. Small was able to riff almost endlessly. In fact, his performances grew freer and stronger past the ten-minute mark, so much so that songs would become nearly different tunes entirely. Following his flow, I simply let tape roll until things fell apart, but even then I feared that still greater things may’ve lay beyond if only the musicians had kept going.” (Ian Brennan/Fra Fra/Bandcamp)