“The world-renowned lineage of Kakraba Lobi’s virtuosity lives on in Isaac Birituro as his deft vibes of dancing melodies cross the xylophone and shake the palm wine for this highlife soul collaboration with The Rail Abandon. Get a sweat on!” – Pete On The Corner
“It’s like a whole story in three minutes and a half” – Cerys Matthews, BBC Radio 6Music
The Usual Done Unusually
Wah Wah 45s are very proud to announce the release of Kalba, the first album from Ghanaian xylophone master Isaac Birituro and Leeds-based producer and singer- songwriter Sonny Johns AKA The Rail Abandon.
The boundary crossing duo were introduced to the world via the first two singles released in early 2019, Yesu Yan Yan and Für Svenja, and the reactions to the project have been overwhelmingly warm.
There are many differences between Isaac and Sonny, but a powerful similarity–– which gives Kalba its element of relatability–– is that desire to hear the usual done unusually and play with the shared influence of the music from afar. Named after the town in North Ghana where Isaac resides, the album is a combination of differences; a magnifying glass over the Venn diagram of our lives, the unfathomable meeting of parallel lines.
The Importance Of Community
“It was clear to me that, though he played a traditional instrument in a traditional way, Isaac was influenced by the Western tinged music that filled the streets of Accra – in fact his father, Edmund, introduced him with “He plays the modern way!” Partly dismissive, mostly proud,” said Sonny. “And as this Viking sat before him played the guitar, it sounded too much like the stringed instruments of Mali for it to be just a coincidence.”
There are so many stories behind each track on this album, but the common denominators are clearly the importance of community, of preserving and presenting local cultures, the ardent desire to contribute to changing the world around us, and, of course, the love and power of music created from a genuine place.
Isaac and Sonny shared a feeling once the recording was done: “The moment we sat down to listen to the first days recordings, we both could hear far more than had been picked up by those microphones.” The album was recorded in St Mary’s Church, and the energy of the place seems to have been perfectly captured by the way it has been constructed: the sounds, the melody, the words and the emotions behind them all con- tribute to transpose the audience into the very heart of Kalba. Which is no small achievement.
Kalba also features a string of very special guests including Seb Rochford, Leafcutter John, Raph Clarkson, and Elliot Galvin, who have lent their musical brilliance to making this record a reality and giving it such a particular, warm sound.
The project came about thanks to the wonderful team at Rüt’n’Rock Festivals, especially Tim Becker and Svenja Albers, and part of the proceeds from this album will be directed to funding their mission of building a school in Kalba, in order to continue to use education as a way to impact on people’s lives in the most positive and sustainable way.
BBC 6Music – Gilles Peterson