Label: Tramp Records
Format: Vinyl LP
“The past 5 years we have taken our music all over the world: Europe, Asia, Africa besides our homeland Denmark, and even though we cannot speak with many of the people we meet, our music is a universal language that transcends borders. The meetings we have had (and continue to have) all over inspire us to create new music. But of course we are the composers of the music, so this is our representation of those meetings.
Our 3rd album is called AFROTROPISM. Tropism is a biological phenomenon that indicates growth of a plant in response to the environment; so when you see a plant turning for the sunlight, this is tropism. In other words, this is not so much about the plant’s roots but more about how it reacts when it touches the air, feels sunlight or rain – in other words the outside world. So AFROTROPISM refers to the fact that we are drawn towards the African traditions, but we are “growing” our own music.
On our first two albums we have recorded extensively with African musicians, and AFROTROPISM is centered around The KutiMangoes (TKM) as a band. We are developing our artistic direction by going more in depth with how we can mix our inspirations with our own musical heritage. Our musical mission is (and has always been) to mix cultures and create our own sound.
With our background in jazz music, TKM counts virtuoso instrumentalists with a heartfelt intent and sound innovators with our horns, effect pedals, synthesizers, drums and percussion from all over the world. AFROTROPISM is a further and deeper development of our trademark bold sound that experiments with synthesizers, soundscapes and a bit of electronic effects without losing it’s focus on groove, melody, atmosphere and musicianship.”
The KutiMangoes, July 2019
About each track:
STRETCH TOWARDS THE SUN
This track opens up with a synthesizer groove that is inspired by the polyrhythmic grooves played by the balafon (a predecessor of the piano) from West Africa. Our rolling sequence could not be played on the balafon because of the key changes, but the basic idea comes from that instrument. Quick and light, we wanted to write a song where you can feel the sun coming out and feel the energy it’s rays give. The combination of the programmed groove, the horn-arrangement, the huge percussion section and the live instruments makes for a sound that we have not heard before, and it illustrates what this album is all about (and what the track’s title refers to): that we stretch towards the things that give us energy – and that although our roots are in Denmark, when we encounter a musical tradition as rich as in West Africa, it changes us and our music.
A SNAKE IS JUST A STRING
The first time we saw Mali-bluesman extraordinaire Vieux Farka Touré on stage was just after we had played at a huge festival in Burkina Faso, and we almost literally caught on fire. Their groove was so strong and insistent that we were mesmerized, and it inspired us to come up with the opening guitar part of this song. Basically a bluesy tune with some unusual chord changes and a crazy synthesizer solo by Johannes Buhl Andresen reminiscent of that fuzzy guitar-sound we love so much in the Mali blues. The title is an homage to the Nigerian writer Chinua Acheba, who in his masterpiece novel “Things Fall Apart” tells that in the village during the night, to ward off the fear of darkness, people would call dangerous animals by a different name: don’t be afraid, a snake is just a string.
KEEP YOU SAFE
It is a basic human necessity to have a place where you can feel safe. But there are far too many people in our world that fear for their safety, their livelihood, their children, their relatives – and this is surely not a feeling that helps us to flourish as humans. With this song we are saying that we all need to make it a priority to help our fellow humans to feel safe. And of course, if our song can offer a feeling of safety and comfort for a short time to those who listen, we are truly thankful.
MONEY IS THE CURSE
This track is directly inspired by Fela Kuti’s ability to create music that is both physical and political. Dance music with a serious message about our times. For the solo part we wanted a more melancholy, pensive feel (than the full-on baritone-trombone melody) and also wanted to experiment with some choppy, stuttering effects to make the horns sound desperate. Money is the curse because it can become the objective of our life; money is the curse because it changes the relationships we have with our fellow humans. Money is the curse.
THORNS TO FRUIT
This melody is inspired by the scales and developments of a traditional Bambara folk-song. We love the way these melodies constantly evolve with small developments and changes. We felt like an accompaniment that is really dry, sparse and earthy would fit well and then made a contrasting solo part. As a group we are interested in how to develop our improvisations together and create sonic landscapes that evoke a distinctive atmosphere – so here, we have no soloist, but a collection of synthesizer parts, saxophone lines and guitar-sounds that together create a dreamy and lush ambience.
SAND TO SOIL
We started out with a short ngoni riff played by our good friend and master musician Aboubacar Konaté. We then sampled it, built soundscapes and our own both meditative and pumping groove around it. We created a melody with both melancholy and joy, with afterthought and impulse and then the brilliant Aske Drasbæk added an emotive and blistering saxophone solo. The title refers to the contrasts in our humanism. As part of our human nature, we have a dark side that drives us (and each other) towards destruction – making the fertile soil into barren sand. The title is an encouragement to emphasize the opposite movement in our nature: to create life and help it flourish. We keep ourselves human by insisting that we must never forget this side of our nature no matter how tough, tiresome or trying it might be. Let’s keep our focus on the light, the warmth, the positive energy – that can turn the cold stone into fertile ground.