The last time I caught up with Janka Nabay was 2012 when he was pairing his Bubu Music with indie rock stalwarts from Brooklyn on the African beats meets modern rock of En Yay Sah.
Now half a decade later, Nabay returns with plenty of horns and a large amount of layering, looping, overdubs, and most importantly, diversity. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Build Music reimagines songs from the '90s that Nabay penned, as well as new gems with his band Bubu Gang, a collection of six indie rockers with immense talent.
After the quick intro “Kadiatu,” which is basically a distant Nabay vocal with light percussion, the album launches into the title track “Build Music.” A meshing of Nabay's Sierra Leone roots and an eccentric version of today's electro-pop, it's a track that is aglow with an atypical enthusiasm. Longest song on th EP “Santa Monica ” then speeds things up with a variety of instruments and sounds, where multiple layers of keys, guitars, beats, and backing female vocals sound like it could soundtrack a late night party on the Santa Monica pier.
Nabay and company often offer busy songs, like “Popeneh” or “Budu Dub,” which both sound like they feature multiple approaches in one tune. Closer to the end, they bring in a strong Caribbean influence with the breezy, relaxing melody of “Stop Jealous.” “Tek Lak la Gben ba Kun” then is another lo-fi filler with just a dull guitar and a mix of spoken word and singing, clearly something done in a practice space that seems like it could have easily been left off. But this segues into “Combination,” one of the strongest tracks here. Full of bright melodies, lush instrumentation, and a memorable chorus, it's one of the best songs Nabay and company has written to date.
Build Music is an album sung in several different languages (English, Krio, Arabic, Temne) and deeply ingrained with '70s Afro-rock as well as quirky Casio keyboard fun. Everything here is danceable, which ultimately seems to be the point, and thankfully it's also unpredictable and oddly charming.