Continuing the series of posts featuring the legacy of the late king of apala music, Alhadji Haruna Ishola, I have dug up a rare example of apala in its rawest form. This lp was recorded in the early 1970s, and not released on his own Star label, but by Phonodisk. Nevertheless* the sound is exceptional.
The first side starts with a rhythm resembling and with the regularity of the ticking of a clock. This not only sets off the 'smoothness' of the interplay between chorus and lead vocalist (the master himself), but also acts as a balance for the almost impetuous talking drum. There is some extensive messaging going on with that talking drum!
After 10'53 the song stops and, seamlessly, a second track commences. This is - in my opinion - the most remarkable track of a very singular album. In the minute before the talking drum resumes its subliminal chat session there is a sense of expectancy, of emptiness, which never ceases to surprise me, - even after having heard the lp uncountable times.
The B-side continues in the same vein, with the same minimalistic arrangment (compared to Haruna Ishola's recordings released on the Star label), but this time with a more jumpy rhythm. My wife - who in this time of the year can not resist going outside to sweep up the leaves (I watch her from behind the window) - commented that the percussion was just like her sweeping. I was tempted to reply that this sweeping is more effective, but was wise enough to keep my mouth shut...
Phonodisk PHA 24
*The studio he and I.K. Dairo started for their Star label was the first 24-track studio in Africa.
Les Vikings d’Haïti Disques Debs 1973
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