Much, if not most, modern music has its roots in Africa, but the twelve-piece ensemble Hoodna Orchestra aim to make that explicit by studying these traces back to their original source while simultaneously fusing these sounds together. They do so with tremendous precision and expertise, as demonstrated throughout the entirety of 2018s ‘OFEL’.
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For those unaware, the Hoodna Orchestra are a Tel Aviv-based orchestra specialising in afrobeat, funk, hints of jazz, as well as Ethiopian music. Ofel is a compact work with a lot of energy and a very interesting mood. I say ‘mood’ because afrobeat (what this LP is primarily based around) is typically thought of as a happy, care-free, joyous genre, whereas ‘Ofel’ has an almost baleful tone running through it.
It’s quite apocalyptic, in a way, as if the Hoodna Orchestra got disgruntled and frustrated with the lazy perceptions of afrobeat (and, indeed, most African music) as basically happy. There are elements of krautrock, such as the drum beat on ‘Ofel II’, as well as seedy jazz and something coming close to the kind of ska you hear on ‘Ghost Town’. All of this combines into a record that tinkers with the boundaries of genre in a wonderful way. On ‘Ofel, the Hoodna Orchestra have created something that updates afrobeat into something more modern and vital. Go listen.
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