Wayo: Trance Percussion Masters Of South Sudan

Wayo’s unique debut album celebrates the joy of communal music-making. Trance Percussion Masters of South Sudan wasn’t made by a soloist, by a band, or even by an orchestra – this album was made by a village. In this village music is king and everyone is a master of their shared sound.

That very village where Wayo was recorded nestles in the ever expanding outskirts of Juba, the capital of South Sudan. During music-making, three villagers play the kpaningbo, a large wooden xylophone. As the only melodic instrument in the ensemble, the kpaningbo is considered the beating heart of both the music, and the village.

Another man sits atop the gugu, a log drum, and alters its pitch by lifting his leg up and down. The abss drum is constructed from re-used material, and was once a plastic water container. Other villagers circle around the ensemble, switching in and out to play the drums. Bells and other hand-drums are also passed from person to person at will. This relay race approach to percussive participation adds a tangible fluidity to every riff and figure, the mood and timbre ever changing and ever unique.

The sound itself is a woven tapestry of polyrhythms, each overlapping and edging in to the other. The driving beats recall the haunting repetitions of minimalism and the trance-inducing club beats of contemporary electronica, while song topics tackle real concerns and provide commentary on social divisions. ‘Now You Are Like A European’ is a particularly revealing allusion to the return home of many Sudanese people who had previously been displaced by war.

‘The Sky Will Fall (Remix)’ is a pulsing tornado of repeating cross rhythms that strikingly recalls the catatonia of Wayo’s continental colleagues, Konono N⁰1 and Kasai Allstars.

Trance Percussion Masters of South Sudan is a quite simply killer compendium of thumping, exhilarating beats. Let Wayo loose on your eardrums, and lose your head in the hot percussive party.