Erik Aliana on Radio Nova, interview and live. here here
Cameroonian vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Erik Aliana and his band Korongo Jam are attracting their fair share of attention, and no wonder. The korongo-style music of this tight-knit outfit has the sort of joyous, freeform creativity that turns heads. Korongo music is based on kindo, which is in turn a form of the heavily energetic bikutsi music – a term which leterally means to « thump the earth » and hwich relies upon the clunk of the balafon (xylophone). Aliana, a schoolteacher’s son who grew up studying in a Western school but spent holidays in his village in Badissa in Central Cameroon, deftly blends the traditional and modern. Electric guitars and kit drums vie and blend with flutes, balafon and mvet, the unwieldy but resonant African stick zither, creating a funky and often trancey sound with its own quirky identity (…) An important new player in African music.
Jane Cornwell, Songlines, Aug-Sept 2011
To see in pdf click here
With its highly nuanced singing and infinite vibrations, vocals interlaced with delicate polyphonies, blithely complex rhythms, the woody sounds of traditional instruments (balafon, percussion, guitars etc), and flutes, sound effects, hissing and whistling, the lavish Songs from Badissa, the 12-track album by Erik Aliana and his Korongo Jam, sounds like a call from Cameroon’s equatorial forest, which is where the singer, a descendant of the O’Sananga people, comes from. Surrounded by four musicians, the artist, brandishes the colours of his ancestors and perpetuates their vivacious sound. Aliana’s work perpetuates a fragile heritage, interwoven with makossa (urban brass music from Cameroon made popular by Manu Dibango) and bikutsi (traditional women’s music from the Beti ethnic group), inspired by initiation ceremonies, assiko (a healing dance) and pygmy sounds. At the same time, the artist blows the dust away from this musical legacy, mixing tradition with jazzy bass, touches of funk and cha cha cha. (…) The high points of this sunny, subtle album are its fine architecture, and Aliana’s undeniable talent as arranger. Every track on Songs from Badissa opens up a Pandora’s box of rhythmic, melodic and harmonic surprises.
(translation by Anne-Marie Harper)