N-Gage Productions-Soulfood Music
June 20, 2008
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
"Oreba" is the sixth album by Switzerlands's Thomas
Nikles a.k.a. Famara, dubbed 'the blackest man from Switzerland',
after a long creative break as his last album "Double Culture" was
released more than 3 years ago in 2005 on the heels of his in Germany and Switzerland
critically acclaimed 2003 "Toubab Man" and 2004 "Famasound" albums, N-Gage Productions release this
Afro-reggae album, distributed by Soulfood. Famara was born in Leimental (near Basel)
in Switzerland, and was first caught by African riddims after joining a percussion
workshop in 1984. After several solo-performances he was playing with many Afro and
Latin-bands before becoming during a guest appearance with Basel's female rapper Luana
a raggamuffin singer next to being a percussionist. In 1997 he released his first single
"Sunshine Bubbler" that made some waves, but not enough to warrant the enormous
recognition he got within musicians and press circles when he traveled to Gambia in 1998.
The Gambia Weekend Observer in February 1998 headlined after a performance during the
Gambia Independence Festival for 15.000 people Swiss Reggae Star In Town.|
His second visit to Gambia at the end of 1998 made him tour the country and record his first album "Natural Fact" there, released in 1999. In 2000 Famara did an Africa-Tour, playing in Gambia, Mali and Senegal. From then his releases have consistently shown his musical direction, eclectic, cosmopolitic in African music rooted world-reggae. The best comparison is probably Alpha Blondy for the riddims, percussion and instrumentation, Famara's voice is a bit deeper, and his delivery in some tunes like Alpha Blondy's sing-spoken delivery, in others more directly dancehall DJ influenced. And now Famara continues where he left off on this latest offering "Oreba" - which means magical - after the intro "Small Talk" with the great "Colors", a tune that not only incorporates the Afro-reggae influences so clearly audible on his earlier albums but also a touch of Augustus Pablo's 'Far-East'-sound, something even more prominent after the supersweet upful "Super Natural" and the rightfully as first single chosen "Acceptez-moi" a.k.a. I Am What I Am on "Planet Africa", a smashing song of which the backing is based on Augustus Pablo's "Chant To King Selassie I" (the first track of his "East Of The River Nile" album).
I have no doubts that the backings and assistance in recording by Famara's compatriots The Scrucialists has contributed in no small way to the overall strength of this album. Wonderful piano accents counter the rockish guitar on the beautiful Alpha Blondy-like "Vitamin P", a vibe that is maintained in the very strong "N'Kayere" a.k.a. "Changes" and a special mention should also go out to the excellent female backing vocals throughout the album, shining again on the tune about the African/Cuban/Brazilian deity "Nana Buruku". "Lumbalya" with its great syncopatic guitar backing is equally impressive, before the pace changes for the very entertaining more orthodox uptempo reggae of "Prince Rastami" and then switching back to (more familiar) African reggae territory for the great "Sango Fever". The last vocal tune on this album is the very nice "Travel Prayer" that reminds me a lot of Mikey Dread's more uptempo and upful tunes before this "Oreba" album by Famara is closed with the magnificent "Colors Dub". An album that truly deserves to be heard by everyone and especially those who like Alpha Blondy, Tiken Jah Foly and other African reggae singers.