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A Magazine for Sheffield

At Kriol Junction

This year Rafiki Jazz bring us At Kriol Junction, released by the Sheffield based Koni Music. The collective have been producing music since 2010 and this latest release holds nine tracks of fascinatingly politicised music with a definite Middle-Eastern and African lilt. Their representation of some of the global diaspora of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers leads to a pervasive commentary on contemporary issues of refugees and human rights.

The vocals, which include singing, rapping and a beat poetry style, bring a mixture of messages in support of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (‘Articles of Freedom’ gives a fairly informative account of its contents), critiques of housing conditions and “elites pretending to care” (‘Declaration Dub’), and the ever-present point that refugees are victims not criminals, among a selection of other thought-provoking content. The delivery of the lyrics varies in style, from haunting Arabic chants and rapping in African languages to messages delivered in a soft Sheffield accent.

The music itself delivers a powerful message about the possibilities of cultural co-operation, featuring a variety of instruments too multifarious to mention, but including steel pans, guitar, tabla and the complex plucked sounds of the oud. Each track was conceived, arranged and recorded in one intensive session, lending the whole release an immediate experimentalism which contrasts with the use of traditional instruments.

The tracks provide a great mixture of emotions, from the mournful, pared-down sounds of ‘Declaration Kriol’ to the swung feeling of ‘Baba Superman’ and the rebellious pride of closing track ‘Samba Miniyamba’. This album is fascinating, both for its musical invention and contemporary political themes, and is a fitting release to come from Sheffield, a city that has a proud history of welcoming immigrants of all types.