Exile, Nuru’s third album, charts his experiences living in Europe, far from his Senegalese homeland. Here, his resonant Moroccan guimbri, along with guitars, kora and calabash, bounce and colour his luxurious deep singing voice.
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Nuru Kane’s many-sided music is part-Moroccan, part-Senegalese, part-blues, part-whatever else he fancies throwing into the mix – on this album he alternately adds some reggae heat on ‘Issoire’, a hypnotic gnawa groove on ‘Sadye’, and then a flicker of Spaniard gypsy spice on ‘Corriendo’. His previous Riverboat records release, Sigil, was a resounding success and earned him a well-deserved nomination for a BBC 3 Award.
Born in Senegal’s hustling bustling capital city Dakar, Nuru built his first guitar in his teens, and began to strum and thrust his fishing-wire strings along in rhythm. As a young musician, Nuru began to explore the beautifully bizarre effects created when juxtaposing different modern styles with his traditional Senegalese singing technique.
Nuru is also heavily influenced by gnawa, the Moroccan trance-like spiritual music that seals his signature style – what he coins Baye Fall Gnawa. The guimbri is a three-stringed lute played in the gnawa tradition, and Nuru can be heard playing the instrument on the track ‘Bambala’. ‘Sadye’ pays tribute to the gnawa tradition and features characteristic rhythmic interplay between duple and triple meters. Here sanza, djembe and calabash add to the intense percussive play.
As well as Moroccan gnawa, Nuru takes influence from the Baye Fall, a sub-group of the Mouride brotherhood of which he is a member. The meditative-sounding track ‘Zikar’ references the practice of religious recitation practised by Sufis.
Exile balances Nuru’s fun-loving nature with a darker, brooding mood not heard in some of his earlier work. On the light humorous track, ‘Yes We Kane’ Nuru sings with heavy vibrato and playfully interacts with a slip-sliding fiddle. ‘Issoire’ is a laidback lilt infused with rolling reggae rhythms. In contrast the track ‘Exile’ (from which this album takes its name) is a sorrowful, sultry track commemorating the lives of those forced into exile in order to escape humiliation and torture. Nuru sculpts a dark, brooding soundscape complete with stark-sounding sanza and a swooping violin; next, the track accelerates wildly, painting out a sense of urgency and instability. Exile throws light and shade on Nuru’s unique worldview – on this album alone he covers topics as broad-ranging as religion, marriage, family, dictatorship and African liberation.
With Exile, Nuru’s bouncing Baye Fall Gnawa sound is set to reverberate around the globe once more. Get ready to hear him loud.