Producer Søren Kjær Jensen looks at the songs on renowned Somalian ensemble Waaberi's 1997 album.
Sun, 18 November 18
Released 21 July 1997
A circle of singers sit on decorated pillows, drinking sweet tea. The atmosphere is intense but relaxed as they slowly warm up, singing their way through old songs of love and death, of the beautiful lover with the long neck, of desire and of the sensible advice of the wise old men.
This is the good life. Lots of talk and music among friends, witty and sharp comments back and forth between performers and audience— this is no passive crowd. People sing and play along gently, always respecting the direction and authority of the master singers. When the song culminates, or when the singer ad-libs a double entendre lyric variation, they explode in laughter and shouting. There is no amplification. To hear the singer, musicians keep the volume down while maintaining the high energy. Traditionally, the nomads could not afford to carry instruments on the camels, so they learnt to beat on the nearest thing that sounded good; today, teacups and bottles are perfect percussion instruments— clear, but not loud. The musicians follow every little sign and wink as they support the lead singer, interpreting the sorrow and joy of the people.
On this album, Waaberi is joined by Egyptian master percussionist Hossam Ramzy. They had a lot of fun together, proving that Somali and Middle Eastern music is still closely related. These performers are the elite of the National Theatre— once a great troupe of musicians, dancers and actors before civil war destroyed everything.
‘Waaberi’ is the Somali world for morning. After years of exile, some of the artists have finally found each other again. I think they will manage to create a new dawn for Somali music.
Released 16 March 1998
Released 26 June 2006