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***"Grandmaster Masese is one of only a handful of living practitioners of the obokano, the unique eight stringed lyre of the Gusii people of Western Kenya (Africa). The obokano is notable not only for its massive size, but also for its unique bass heavy, rhythmic buzz filled sound. Its trance inducing sounds are unforgettable.
Masese himself is a seasoned musician, a dedicated human rights advocate, teacher, author and scholar based in Nairobi, Kenya. Masese’s commitment to his music and his enthusiasm to bring its sounds to the rest of the world inspired this collection of his songs. Rather than simply present an ethno-musicological presentation of traditional obokano music, he opted to create as unique a work as possible.
I first ran into Masese in a club in Nairobi, where I saw him playing this giant bowl shaped lyre and heard him producing some of the most unique musical sounds I had ever experienced. It didn’t take me long to approach him about a possible collaboration. My label, Dagoretti Records, put out a single in 2019 which brought the attention of numerous alt-music luminaries including Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt, who featured it on a must listen list on the Bandcamp Daily.
Grandmaster Masese’s first full length album features an international cast of musical characters, all adding to his singular sound. These include Kunal Prakesh (Jeff the Brotherhood,
Weather Warlock) on guitar, Tokyo based percussionist and sound artist Samm Bennett (UA, Haco, Elliot Sharp, etc. etc. etc.), Detroit area percussionist Mike List (Dr Pete Larson's Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band), bassist and synth player Dave Sharp (Dave Sharp Worlds). Mixing was done by Chris Koltay of High Bias Recordings (the War on Drugs, Deerhunter), mastering by Warren Defever (His Name is Alive.)
This record is a unique collection of tunes that take the centuries old folk traditions of the obokano and the Gusii people and melds them with the forward thinking ideas of some of the most singular musicians on the planet, the first full length obokano record in history and a taste of the future of African music."—Pete Larson