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On Our Own Clock: On Our Own Clock

Chris May BY

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On Our Own Clock: On Our Own Clock
The fourteen-strong international ensemble which recorded On Our Own Clock includes, from London, keyboard player Danalogue the Conqueror from Shabaka Hutchings' The Comet Is Coming and tuba player Theon Cross from Hutchings' Sons of Kemet; from Dakar, percussionist Yahael Camara-Onono and kora player Tarang Cissoko; and, from Johannesburg, keyboardist Zoe Molelekwa, bassist Tebogo Sedumede, trombonist Siya Makuzeni and drummer Asher Gamedze.

The original plan for the album, back in 2019, was to get the musicians together in London and record groove-based jazz-adjacent music with West and South African accents. Then along came you know what. Rather than abandon the project, it was decided to record the musicians in breakout groups in London, Johannesburg and Dakar and weave their contributions together digitally. The musicians gathered in the three cities in July 2020 to record first ideas, each sending the files to their colleagues in the other two cities for their inputs. A month later, the three groups reassembled and added further content. The results were then edited and mixed in Johannesburg between December 2020 and March 2021. Open ended going on unfinished, the album is funky but lyrical modal-jazz, heavy on the vamps, with occasional wordless vocals contributing to the atmosphere. The elevating vibe is enhanced on two tracks ("Be The Light" and "We Still Building") by motivational raps from South Africa's Grandmaster Cap and Nigeria's Damola Olowade.

A minor criticism: It is overdoing things a bit to devote three of the eleven tracks ("How To Make Art In A Pandemic" Parts 1, 2 & 3) to collages of studio chatter about the recording process. Many other musicians have, after all, been employing precisely the same process over the past eighteen months and many more musicians have been doing it since the advent of digital technology. Indeed, the 84-year old trumpeter Jon Hassell has been doing so with sublime results for decades. In 2021 the process is hardly breaking new ground. Another concern is that On Our Own Clock is only available on vinyl and download. Given musicians' currently reduced income streams: why no CDs?

Track Listing

How To Make Art In A Pandemic (Part 1); Be The Light; Cuts and Pieces; Ngikhethile; Good Are Good; How To Make Art In A Pandemic (Part 2); 808 O’Clock; Dune Dance; How To Make Art In A Pandemic (Part 3); (Tell The Gods) We Still Building; Revelation.

Personnel

Alabaster de Plume: saxophone; Danalogue the Conqueror: synthesizer; Siya Makuzeni: trombone; Theon Cross: tuba; Zoe Molelekwa: keyboards; Tarang Cissokho: kora; Mpumelelo Mcata: guitar, electric; Tebogo Sedumede: bass, electric; Yahael Camara-Onono: percussion; Asher Gamedze: drums; Lex Blondin: drum programming; Damola Olowade: poet/spoken word; Grandmaster Cap: poet/spoken word; Nosisi Ngakane: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: On Our Own Clock | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Mushroom Hour Half Hour / Total Refreshment Centre

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