The trio. Folk musicians from Rwanda recorded Kigali in one afternoon. Continuing the tradition of Harry Smith’s local folk music anthologies, this is salvage culture; the instinct to preserve traditional music before it disappeared. Given the circumstances which name, name and name survived, there’s a good chance we would never have been able to hear this incredible music. The simple grace of the vocals holds a power over the listener, harmonies weaving in and out. The mix is simple, recording on the porch. On” Umahanano”, you can hear a dog’s distant barking. One take per song. The lyrics sheet might give some clues to what they are singing about, but you don’t really need it.
There’s a grain to these voices, a sense of regret and longing for a time that can never be regained, a wistfulness. But also a joy taken in their sheer ability to sing, one that can’t be held by nostalgia or any sepia filter. You hear it in the lively strum of “Kacyiry”, the wistful “Egidia”. The loping guitar plucking of Amagorwa Y’ Abagabo, with its cheerful talk singing that melds three voices together perfectly.–-Aaron Matthews