Yoruba Drums from NigeriaBest known for his work as percussionist for the internationally proclaimed jazz/funk band Jamiroquai, Solá Akingbolá is reconnecting with his roots by releasing his first solo album, Routes to Roots. Though he has spent most of his life in England, Akingbolá was born in Nigeria and finds his way home during this musical journey with Yoruba drums.

“I was always seduced by the sound of the Yoruba language and the way it was expressed within the drumming. When a Yoruba drummer plays, it’s not just music: he’s talking, reciting, teasing, invoking and praising. These qualities open up other worlds of interest for me that go beyond music; worlds that lead me to history, to the essence of my people,” says Akingbolá.

The intensity of expression Akingbolá speaks of is present throughout the album. Though the songs all feature incredibly beautiful rhythms and drumming patterns, each track has its own unique story and vibe. The vocals, transcribed in the liner notes into English, German, French, and Spanish, are made up of chanting Ifa poetry ranging from fables and myths to praise songs for various gods and goddesses.

In the fast-paced “Kulumbu Yeye,” a praise song for the Yoruba Goddess of fertility, the variance of rhythms and sounds produced by the diverse assortment of drums and vocals is quick and spiritually inspiring while the slower, more deliberate chanting and drum-beats in the brief “Ojo To Wa Ninu Ose” and the gentle “Ori Ni Kan” are soothing and relaxing. 

The aspect of spirituality and the supernatural is strongly evident throughout, but most notably in the sensuality and mesmerising repetition of the instrumental “Witch Dance,” the only track not composed by Akingbolá, which features high-pitched rhythms from bell-like drums (most likely Bata drums decorated with bells) to deeper driving beats.

Routes to Roots is 48 minutes of non-stop drumming artistry. With pulsating beats and infectious vocals, it’s impossible to resist the urge to move to the rhythms Akingbolá has masterfully created. Providing a perfect backdrop for belly-dancing, spiritual awakening, or just relaxing on the couch, Routes to Roots is a must-have for any fan of African rhythms.

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: A rhythmic journey to Africa
Stay Away if: You’re content listening to Top 40

To purchase Routes to Roots, visit ARC Music or Amazon
For more on Solá Akingbolá, visit his homepage

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