Art Review

Goethe-Institute celebrates Burkina Electric

An energetic band’s stopover in Addis Ababa thrilled audiences at Goethe Institute

Zela Gayle

The 10th Sauti za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom) Music Festival, Zanzibar’s favorite annual music festival, held between the 14th-17th of Feb 2013 may be a memorable event for those who had the chance to enjoy it, but a part of it has also thrilled those who encounter the Burkina Electric band, which has a stopover open air concert in Addis Ababa shortly before flying to Zanzibar and has given its debut performance at the Addis Ababa Goethe-Institute, the German cultural center in Ethiopia.

Members of the Burkina Electric astonished the audience with their multiple talent of singing and high energy dancing which created a real atmosphere of explosive and electric sounds capturing every audience’s attention. With a charming yet comical display of sharing anecdotes with the audience, the band, to the happiness of everyone in attendance, has performed the dance choreography and energetic songs simultaneously.

It was an ambiance that added an exciting flavor to the early afternoon show on Feb 9th which brought many families and friends together to share the experience of the electric sounds. It was captivating because the band had conveyed variety of skills on stage and showed the pure multi-talent in each artist who was on the stage. The spontaneous flow of interaction with the audience has also created a unique and enchanting world of electric beats and sounds of traditional instruments as well as the unique instrument  – Marimba Lumina (a traditionally arrayed set of electronic bars and some (not so traditional) trigger pads) that works with magnetic fields.  Lukas Ligeti, a member of the band, dazed the audience with his fast playing of Marimba Lumina and commented later on that the instrument was rarely played.

 The band

Burkina Electric is the first ever electric music group from Burkina Faso, based in its capital Ouagadougou. First formed in 2004, Burkina Electric emerged as a band sponsored from a Goethe Institute workshop led by drummer and eletronicist Lukas Ligeti and electronicist VJ Pyrolator, who has been one of Germany’s most inventive pop musicians and top producer. The band came together originally for a one-off tour in Austria but the collaboration was so successful that the band had decided to create a longer lasting arrangement.

Burkina Electric combines traditional Burkinabe music and rhythms with contemporary electronic dance culture, making them a trailblazer in electric world music hailed by the New York Times as an “irresistible brew of West African music and electronica”.

The group is very diverse and talented consisting of four musicians and two dancers who collectively participate in the creative process and represent musical genres ranging from exotic grooves as powerful as rock, electric disco, drum and bass that serves to create new funk rhythms that enriches the fabric of electronic dance music rarely heard or known to the global industry of music. This includes ancient rhythms of Burkina Faso such as the Mosi people’s Ouaraba while also experimenting with new grooves of their own.

The award winning lead singer Mai Lingani, known as ‘a star’ in Burkina Faso because of her unique voice and charismatic stage presence, captivates the audience with her songs in the local language of More, Dioula, Bissa and French. She has her own way of making her audience feel vibrant by cheering and dancing and buzzing with delight.

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The grand finale song had all 300 plus people in attendance off their chairs and on their feet dancing as Mai Lingani stated; “Ok, [with] this song we all must go crazy otherwise it doesn’t work”.

The last song may have sent a sense of euphoria but the band, sponsored by the Austrian Embassy in Addis Ababa, certainly knew how to entertain and get the audience to be right there with them from the start of an invigorating concert at Goethe Institute.


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