The Badiare EP sees singer and percussionist Falle Nioke reunite with Ghost Culture for another collaboration, their last being Youkounkoun, released back in July 2020. This fusion of West Africa and Europe is a winning combination, and this EP brings us four-tracks that gleam like freshly soldered circuits and also bounce with rhythmic joy.
The EP opens with former single ‘Leywole’, which means ‘whatever’ in Coniagui (Nioke speaks many languages including French, English, Susu, Fulani and Malinke). It has the repeated low growl of vocals along with Nioke’s half-rap, half sung lyrics that dart between the raindrops of electronic and organic percussion (Nioke plays gongoma, Bolon and Cassi). ‘Spiritually’ has a playful arpeggio set against more rumbling vocals and there are surges of keyboard washes and harmony synth lines that sound like bells sent back from the future. ‘Jaarama’ is a gentle lullaby of a track and Nioke demonstrates that, as well as a conversational style of delivery, he can also soar up to the same dizzying heights where you normally find Baaba Maal or Youssou N’Dour. The final track, ‘Ayekouma’, is a shining pulsar rotating like a galactic mirrorball; full of sub bass, undulating keyboards and spiralling synth threads and it’s ripe for a remixer to turn it into a full-on dance anthem.
Ghost Culture has an empathic sense of what sounds to use and when to use them, and the lack of clutter allows Nioke’s vocals to shine throughout. Like a top chef understands that a pinch of something or a glug of something can make or break a meal, so Ghost Culture always chooses the perfect sound or beat, placing them in the perfect spot. And what sounds they are, he has managed to create music by bouncing ping-pong balls off clouds or translated champagne bubbles into arpeggios. And all of this in support of Falle Nioke’s extraordinary voice which is clear and strong with just a hint of smoke. He brings charm and syncopation to his delivery from his lowest notes all the way up to those transcendent soaring passages.
Also, see Falle Nioke’s EP Marasi, a collaboration with Swedish artist sir Was.
Falle Nioke live:
5th November – Leeds, Headrow House
6th November – London, Studio 9294
7th November – Brighton, Green Door Store
2nd December – Margate, Elsewhere
Review by Paul F Cook