The first wide release of Ekuka Morris Sirikiti’s live radio broadcasts previously only heard within each station's range in North Uganda. Made between 1978-2003, these recordings show case Sirikiti's mastery of the Lukeme, a small handheld thumb piano, on which he produces hypnotic rhythms and melodies. Songs cover everything from venereal disease to reminders to be a good husband.
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- Ekuka by Ekuka Morris Sirikiti
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Kampala’s Nyege Nyege Tapes continues to shed light on the myriad sounds of Uganda with this startling release. The music on ‘Ekuka’ is an anachronistic collection of tunes made by Lira’s Ekuka Morris Sirkiti, who recorded on homemade drums and a personal thumb piano over a period of roughly thirty years. As the label notes, the track’s lo-fi and heavily distorted sound seems to commit them all to one, brief recording session, when in fact these tunes were put to tape over decades.
Ekuka Morris Sirkiti plays simple, revolving melodies, tethering their loop-like style with simple percussive restrictions. The vocals are doubled, backed up and co-signed, given an almost full-band feel despite their extremely sparse instrumentation. The result of these compressed, economical and yet communally-led songs is something quite unique, the sound gaining a full life from a very particular timbral set-up.
It’s a brilliant and beautiful collection in which melodies are stretched into a constancy, the thumb piano motifs basing the entire basis of songs that are often five minutes long. While it’s hard to discern, through the unrelenting crackle coded into each song, much about what time these songs were made in, Nyege Nyege Tapes points out that many of these songs contained didactic messages about leading a respectful life, or else were government commissions about “drinking alcohol and paying taxes”. Well worth hearing.
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