ODD OKODDO – Auma

ODD OKODDO – Auma
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ODD OKODDO is a Kenyan/German duo formed by Olith Ratego and Sven Kacirek. "Auma" is their debut album.

"What a band!" (bandcamp weekly)

"It’s an exciting debut from the duo; they are doing something brand-new and it really, really works." (noisedart)

 

Olith Ratego sings in a musical style called "dodo", which originates from the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, high in pitch and soulfully expressive. He refers to his music as "dodo blues". As a skilled luthier, Ratego designs and builds his string instruments himself, first of all the five-stringed Okodo which lends its name to the project.

Sven Kacirek is a multi-instrumentalist commuting between Germany and Kenya for many years now. He plays the marimba, percussions and piano, next to producing this project. He has closely collaborated with various international musicians, among them Nils Frahm, Shabaka Hutchings, F.S. Blumm, Stefan Schneider, Sofia Jernberg and Marc Ribot.

The two artists have met in Kenya about a decade ago when Sven Kacirek was recording his "Kenya Sessions", an album that put him on the map of outernational producers. It was reviewed as a "World Music 2.0" (de:bug magazine), whose "fascination endures" (The Wire). It was nominated for the German Record Critics' Award, who called it a soulful "Meisterwerk" in its seamless combination of instrumentals and vocals. Olith Ratego also made an appearance in the "Kenya Sessions" on the track "Too Good To Be True". 

Forming the duo project ODD OKODDO in 2018, the two musicians have joined their various talents which dovetail in perfection. By the way, it is pure bliss to see them perform live! Ratego writes the lyrics and vocal melodies while Kacirek composes, records and produces the arrangements of all nine songs on AUMA. They create a colourful, dynamic sound which is defined by both Ratego’s enormous vocal compass and range of timbres as well as Kacirek’s outstanding skills as a sensitive percussionist.

Kacirek’s sound builds upon a powerful bass marimba which is present throughout the album, and it sometimes reminds of a tuned 808 kickdrum. He works with a whole arsenal of Kenyan percussion instruments as well as household objects and found materials, for which he has developed his own jazz brush technique. After eight solo albums and producer gigs for the Honest Jons label he has now arrived at his signature sound which has been described as "thrilling and dizzyingly inventive" by the Australian Cyclic Defrost magazine.

Ratego’s lyrics touch upon the topics of politics, family, clever proverbs, and of course: love. His insistent voice praises the beauty of an admired female in "Adhiambo", or the pains of being distant from a lover in "Aora Odinona Yo". He sings about his own stories, such as how his mother left the family in "Mama Yo", and his voice reveals a pain and innocence of his younger self. „Adhiambo“ praises a girl’s beauty which make sit impossible for Ratego to eat or sleep, and he delivers his smitten feelings in metric syllables. Putting love before everything else is the message of „Hera Kende“, only this time it’s not addressed to a woman but to people of different political parties - this song (as well as "Joka Awuor") has been composed during the 2017 election campaign in Kenya. One highlight of the album is the light-hearted "Ngoma Ni Mzito". Ratego tells us how it is easy to go out to a dance, but coming back can be laborious. The same applies for the pub. This song is metaphorical about consequences to our actions, just as in "Okitwoye" which comes with a simple message: You can’t get dry by standing under the shower. If you are in a situation which needs a change, you have to make a move to get out of it.

The LP has been beautifully designed by Ventral Is Golden from London. It comes with a printed inner sleeve with liner notes by Tabu Osusa from the Nairobi based label Ketebul as well as explanations about the song lyrics.

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