Akwaaba! Welcome to the “No Problem Saloon”, the second album from OY, (previously released under the name “Kokokyinaka” last year on Creaked Records), this time repackaged on the Belgian label, Crammed Discs and featuring some extra tracks.
OY are a Berlin-based duo composed of Swiss-Ghanaian vocalist, story-teller, musician, sound sampler Joy Frempong and mysterious drummer & producer Lleluja-Ha. This album is a refreshing, improvised breeze of African-influenced electronica based on a road trip that absorbed sounds and experiences from Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and South Africa. Tales, proverbs and folklore were gathered along the way to be retold in an experimental, kaleidoscopic style, at times dark and mercurial, other times as joyful as walking through an African market place. As OY sings: “Life is like a mobile phone your unit comes, your unit goes”…
A charmingly beguiling, left-of-centre, musical adventure
The slam of a taxi door becomes a drum, an antiquated washing machine provides a bass sound, conversation and street noises drift in and out of songs, the lyrics naturally develope from the stories and fragments of popular African wisdom encountered along the way. It makes for a charmingly beguiling, left-of-centre, musical adventure told in Joy’s elegant, playful voice that is as ease in English and French as it is in the numerous regional dialects.
Full of observational delight
Songs about bizarre name choices “My name is Happy” and the sexual politics of afro hair “Halleluja Hair” are pure poetry in motion full of observational delight, colourful local custom and Joy’s own personal fire. Her velvety speaking voice entertains us with tales of how you should never run to a funeral of the man who stumbled and died (“Don’t Run Run”) and should you ever find yourself in a village where snoring is a crime punishable by death just start singing instead (“I don’t snore”).
Compassionate observation of humanity
Graced with ambidextrous talents, Joy is mistress of many synths and sound machines, often distorting her voice and playing it back as haunting accompaniment or backing vocals. An impressive wall of sound is at times created between herself and partner as in “Doondari”, where dark voice effects and heavy synth rhythms clash with swirling drum beats as menacing as a locust storm. Contrast this with a playful singing voice that combines rare soothing sweetness and reassuring confidence. ‘No Problem Saloon’ exudes compassionate observation of humanity and wraps it up in multi-textured, exhuberant electronic soundscapes.
OY are a wonderful live experience, catch them on stage here!