Music review: King Ayisoba with Ayuune Sule, The Glad Café, Glasgow

King Ayisoba PIC: Jacob Crawfurd
King Ayisoba PIC: Jacob Crawfurd
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Ghanaian musician King Ayisoba is the reigning monarch of the kologo, a traditional west African string instrument not unlike – yet quite unlike – a banjo. The staccato attack and propulsive rhythms he summons from his axe is astonishing to behold.

Music review: King Ayisoba with Ayuune Sule, The Glad Café, Glasgow ****

Add to that his declamatory growl and howl, and you’ve got yourself a joyously intense experience. He’s a sort of one-man afro-beat explosion, except tonight he was joined by fellow kologo musician (the instrument has given its name to a genre) Ayuune Sule on a spherical hand drum called a bara.

During this sixth birthday bash for Glasgow’s popular bohemian salon The Glad Café, Ayisoba and Sule whipped a room full of caucasian hipsters into something approaching a frenzy. That’s not something you see every day.

The café’s bijou backroom was extremely hot and humid, so the musicians were sensibly shirtless. The rest of us suffered gladly.

Kologo music’s fiercely hypnotic grooves are obviously, whether they realised it or not, a profound influence on The Velvet Underground, hard funk, Krautrock, Giorgio Moroder and every drone-rock, dance and electronica act who’ve emerged since.

It was as if, without fanfare yet with effortless intent, these incredible musicians had arrived in Glasgow to remind us that Africa is the crucible of all civilisation.

Ayisoba, who fixes his gaze to the ceiling as he rasps his imperious mantras, is a powerful performer. He and Sule locked into an almost telepathic, rhythm-driven tumult, a sound aggressive and ecstatic all at once. A remarkable performance.

PAUL WHITELAW