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Extended Analysis

Various Artists: Wan Fambul / One Family

By Published: March 22, 2012
Various Artists

Wan Fambul / One Family

Fambul Tok


Music has the power to heal if not on the physical form, then surely in the spiritual and psychological levels of human nature. At the other end of human activity are wars, which are evil, horrific and leave deep scars on the survivors—principally the children, who suffer the most through no fault of their own. Wan Fambul / One Family has been released to raise awareness to the Catalyst for Peace and Fambul Tok initiatives which focus on reconciliation and assistance programs to the victims of Sierra Leone's brutal civil war.

The war, which all but destroyed this African country between the years of 1991 and 2002, began over control of the diamond mines and transgressed into mass murder, mutilation and mayhem. The Fambul Tok organization was founded by human rights activists Libby Hoffman and John Caulker in Sierra Leone in 2007, to fill the void in humanitarian necessities and priorities to the affected population.

Wan Fambul / One Family is the audio companion to the film Fambul Tok, a documentary showing former perpetrators and victims coming together in an innovative reconciliation setting. The record is available through a donation to Audio CD and DVD both convey the message that from zones of conflict can come music of peace.

The artists who donated their talents for the record cover a broad range of styles and a myriad of countries and ethnic backgrounds, but have the common bond of association with a conflict zone. The defining song and message, "Wi Wan Wan Fambul," the work of Bajah & Dry Eye Crew, also features singers Angie and Jocelia. They also contribute "Gun Thing," a real life depiction of gun violence in a war region. Hailing from Sierra Leone, their songs are squarely against political and social injustices and are a blend of funk, hip hop, hard hitting dancehall and reggae. Local band the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars offers up "Global Threat," as honest a performance as would be expected from a group formed in the refugee camps and weaned on the horrors of warfare.

"Naste Man" is sung by Abjeez, Iranian sisters Safoura and Melody Safavi, now living in extended exile in Sweden, dedicating their musical efforts in hope of a better world. Out of Israel comes the Idan Raichel Project, a melodic amalgamation which in the song "Say God," is joined by Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure for a tour de force in complex world music steeped in religious overtones. Another unique guitarist is Bombino; on "Ahoulaguine Akaline," he intertwines the desert blues with a wailing voice distinctive to his nomadic Tuareg heritage.

The vocalist on "Ba Kae," Vusi Mahlasela, is known in South Africa as "The Voice" for his resounding delivery and power to invoke sincere response in his audience. He remains rooted in social activism and committed to the promotion and preservation of African music.

Singer/songwriter Bhi Bhiman
Bhi Bhiman
Bhi Bhiman

might be the standout singer on the album with his soul blues delivery in "Guttersnipe." Though raised in the United States, he is of Sri Lankan descent and is outspoken against the atrocities against the Tamil people of his ancestral homeland. Singing with crystal clear diction, this song hits home with its train traveling metaphors and analogy.

Formed by students from the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, Mashrou Leila in "Shim El Yasmine" blends Middle Eastern traditional music with Western rock and becomes the heartfelt voice for young people raised in the shadows of war. Dengue Fever, though based out of Los Angeles, has a lead singer from Cambodia who sings "Seeing Hands" in her native Khmer, and the group leans heavily toward an Asian rock format.

Saba Saba, a rapper from Uganda, performs "Wansi Wagulu," and addresses topics from political corruption to struggles and triumphs of the common man against an oppressive government. Noble Society is a three man hip hop outfit which fuses a flamenco guitarist with in your face rapping and overlapping melodies. Its "New Day" is a call out for a time where human conditions have to improve.

With the current techno fever encompassing the globe and remixes enveloping all genres, Canadian DJ Eccodek steps up to do his dub version of "Wi Na Wan Fambul," kicking it up several tempo levels and dousing it with experimental electronica. King Britt is one of the major exponents of remixing and does a remarkable job on "Ahoulaguine Akaline," which is the proper vehicle for a lounge treatment.

In a recent interview, King Britt said "just the act of creating is a form of social change. Music has been my vehicle to travel and be a storyteller through djing and performing... We see conflict daily in our own lives, close to us. Everyone seems to either be at war with themselves or their environments. Music seems to bring the people together for a purpose and allows interaction and reaction."

How very true that is.

Tracks: Wi Na Wan Fambul; Naste Man; Say God; Ba Kae; Guttersnipe; Shim El Yasmine; Ahoulaguine Akaline; Global Threat; Seeing Hands; Wansi Wagulu; Gun Thing; New Day; Ahoulaguine Akaline (remix); Wi Na Wan Fambul (remix).

Personnel: Bajah & Dry Eye Crew featuring Angie and Jocelia (1); Abjeez (2); Idan Raichel Project featuring Vieuz Farka Toure (3); Vusi Mahlasela (4); Bhi Bhinman (5); Moshrou Leila (6); Bombino (7); Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars (8); Dengue Fever (9); Saba Saba (10); Bajah & Dry Eye Crew (11); Noble Society ( 12); King Britt (13); Eccodek (14).

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