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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ahmed Ag Kaedy - Orion Congregation (Schneeball, 2018) ***½

By Paul Acquaro

The Orion Congregation is a group out of Berlin, a mix of Malian, Nigerian, and German musicians, which caught my ear recently when I was poking around at a small record shop off of Berlin's Boxhagener Platz. Ahmed Ag Kaedy, the Malian guitarist, is the group’s leader, and his group is Johannes Schleiermacher on synth and sax, Michael Wehmeyer and Jörg Hochapfel on organ (yeah, they've got a big sound!), Kalle Enkelmann on bass, and Mahalmadane Traoré and Bernd Oezsevim on drums and percussion.

The music has a jam band feel to it, in this case modal romps with electrifying organ, served up with a dense underbrush of percussion. Overall, it’s a big mash of world-music-improvisation-stew and it’s a lot of fun to listen to and simply let surround around you. The music is built on layers of energy, growing and compounding through repetitive rhythmic figures (the bass is insistent, though it's a bit submerged in the mix). The lyrical melodies act more like a rhythmic elements, adding texture to the music.

Some fav moments: the free-ranging organ solo in 'Arodj Dalen' (about 3.5 min in, it gets modulated and even funkier). Around the 6 minute mark, the whirl has become even more intense, the whistling and cheering audience is enthusiastic, and the groove is unrelenting. The saxophone work from Schleiermacher on 'Mani Mani', the last tune on the album, adds some refreshing variety.

Good good fun, a groove band with a world-music flair, and I suspect an excellent experience live.