Beat The Border

Geoffrey Oryema

Released 27 September 1993

  1. The River
  2. Kel Kweyo
  3. Market Day
  4. Lapwony
  5. Umoja
  6. Gang Deyo
  7. Hard Labour
  8. Payira Wind
  9. Lajok
  10. Nomad

Liner notes

Beat the Border is the result of some significant collaborations. The first is with Jean-Pierre Alarcen, a brilliant guitarist and composer/arranger who is featured throughout the album. Jean-Pierre brings the electric soul to this cultural collaboration of western pop/rock and African traditional melodies. The second was with producer Bob Ezrin who has worked with, among others, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, and Paul Simon. Ezrin produced the original demos for the album as well as the powerful single ‘The River’ with Brian Eno, and two other tracks, ‘Kel Kweyo’ and ‘Gang Deyo’. The balance of the album was produced by David Bottrill, who has worked extensively with Peter Gabriel and came to this album fresh from co-producing the Robert Fripp/David Sylvian album The First Day.

Geoffrey Oryema’s music has developed and matured and with Beat The Border the powerful root of his African heritage has come to influence his music in more subtle ways. His songs have become more universal and although their expression is still to be found in the Swahili and Acholi of his native Uganda, he increasingly writes in English as well. He uses his memories of Africa as well as his theatrical training to realise the images and situations he wishes to impart. What is real comes from within — and Geoffrey Oryema’s music will continue to merge the language, culture and sounds of his childhood homeland with his European home of exile.

Listen

Reviews

  • Moves between rural Africa, with its fleeting rhythms and thumb pianos, and an accessible international style, all neat harmonies and acoustic guitars, that gives rein to his love of medium tempos and sooting melodies. Q Magazine (UK)
  • An album for all those interested in mellow, mature rock with a twist. Vox (UK)
  • Contemplative arrangements and soothing melodies that saunter around a winning-formula Folk Roots (UK)
  • A harmonious marriage between traditional and Western influences. Billboard (USA)

Further Listening

  • Exile

    Geoffrey Oryema

    Released 10 September 1990

    Produced by Brian Eno, this album introduced the world to the struggles of singer-songwriter Geoffrey Oryema, who fled Uganda at a young age following the secret assassination of his father, a government minister. A wistful reflection on the Uganda of Oryema’s youth and the sadness of his exile.
  • En Mana Kuoyo

    Ayub Ogada

    Released 17 May 1993

    Kenyan singer-songwriter Ayub Ogada was a busker on London’s Northern Line when he came to Real World’s attention in the late 80s. And this 1993 set – his only record for the label – proved that it was a meeting of minds, with his disarmingly simple arrangements allowed to hang there unadorned, making a lasting impression.

Further reading

Les Amazones d’Afrique feature on BBC’s The Cultural Frontline

The Cultural Frontline celebrates the music and activism of West African band Les Amazones d'Afrique

Sad to say goodbye to Ray Cooper

Virgin Records executive Ray Cooper died on 28th July. He was a great champion of alternative music.

Stephen Hague on bringing Big Blue Ball to the finishing line

The New Order producer faced the mammoth task of sifting through years of recording sessions.

Track of the Day: ‘In The Sun’ by Joseph Arthur

A look back on Arthur's most popular song, which featured on 2000's Come To Where I'm From.