Last month I stumbled upon the bewitching sounds of Sudanese artist, Abu Obaida Hassan and have since been eagerly awaiting this day, for it is on this day that New York’s Ostinato Records have released a collection of Abu Obaida’s recordings entitled, Abu Obaida Hassan & His Tambour: The Shaigiya Sound of Sudan. (Check out more from this label on my page here.)
The talent of Sudanese artist Abu Obaida Hassan has been described as mercurial and if you journey through this new compilation you will, no doubt, be enchanted by this sound! With swirling melodies constructed from a modified tambour, two drummers and backing vocalists, his complex Nubian rhythms are hypnotic! Active between the 1970’s and 80’s, Abu Obaida Hassan’s band roster frequently changed, but he remained the one constant throughout and repeatedly played for sold out shows in cities across the country, capturing a large following wherever he performed.
Abu Obaida Hassan & His Tambour: The Shaigiya Sound of Sudan is a compilation born out of The Ostinato team’s discovery and research into Abu Obaida’s music after they first came across some of his recordings in 2011. Finding scratchy bits and pieces over the years prior to their travelling to Sudan in 2016, the label began their exploration to find the clues to piece together the Abu Obaida Hassan puzzle. Talking of their discoveries on their bandcamp page, Ostinato Records describes what their travels to Sudan unravelled, explaining how, ”some extensive detective work with our man in Khartoum, Ahmed Asyouti, and a generous dose of good fortune, we tracked Abu Obaida to the rural outskirts of Omdurman, the old capital just across the White Nile from Khartoum. Age has taken its toll, but he remains full of life and music, ready to jointly curate a selection of his eight best cuts. He has written over 100 songs, only 30 were recorded.”
Abu Obaida’s distinct sound can only be found in Sudan and when Ostinato Records first heard his music 7 years ago, I wonder if they ever dreamed that they would actually track him down?! This journey has produced the first global release of Shaigiya music and Abu Obaida Hassan & His Tambour: The Shaigiya Sound of Sudan is now available in all of its unique glory!
This music really resonates and, for me, sitting back and working my way through this whole album has been both a treat and a blessing. With each track averaging at over 5 minutes long, it’s easy to become absorbed and consumed by its many rich, hypnotic layers. I can only imagine how magic it must have felt to discover and ultimately encounter Abu Obaida after so many years piecing together his story…but, having this opportunity to listen to his music has been a true pleasure and I hope you feel the same about this gorgeous music?..
La…La (Don’t Say I Am Betraying You) extends over 7 minutes of rhythmic bliss, its many warm textures built upon entrancing call and response vocals..It’s glorious, what more can I say? Check it out above and order your copy of this very lovely and highly recommended album from here.