This year sees the return of one of our most beloved projects, a collaboration between Ghanain xylophonist Isaac Birituro and UK singer-songwriter and producer Sonny Johns AKA The Rail Abandon.


Having won hearts and minds with their 2019 album Kalba, where proceeds were put towards building a school in the Ghanain village of the same name, the project also received radio play and DJ support from Gilles Peterson, Huey Morgan, Cerys Matthews, Tom Ravenscroft and many more on BBC 6Music as well as a host of DJs and tastemakers worldwide.

Despite the hurdles of pandemics, war and excessive bureaucracy, Sonny and Isaac have continued to make music together throughout the past couple of turbulent years. The first offering from the pairs recent lockdown recordings is the Lapaz EP, as Sonny explains:

“In 2019 Isaac applied for a visa to the UK to launch his album and play his music from the small village of Saru in north Ghana, to the UK. The UK government however had different ideas, for a number of vague reasons. Apparently having a large extended family isn’t enough for them to think you’re going to return. We got the impression that being a self-employed musician also counted against him – something I know many UK musicians would understand. But we refused to let distance get in the way of us making music.

Tim, the projects executive producer, was in Ghana on a trip and so via the internet and WhatsApp voice notes (some of the vocals were recorded that way) we wrote an EP based on the the negative experiences and difficulties we’d faced, but also about how we can work around them, overcome them, and sometimes just plough on through them regardless – I wouldn’t recommend that method for passport control though!

In 2017, we set out to build a school in Kalba, North Ghana, with the album Kalba. Despite the UK governments disapproval, we did it. Lapaz is the area of Accra, Ghana where Isaac lives and builds his xylophones. It also means ‘peace’ in Spanish, the language that brought Tim and Sonny together in the first place. So it seemed a fitting title for an EP about being at peace with that which we cannot change..”

Wise words and some inspirational music to warm us up for more to come from Isaac Birituro & The Rail Abandon this summer when their second full album is released.

Reactions & Radio Play

Radio play from Deb Grant (BBC 6Music); John Warr, Afrobase (Totally Radio, Brighton); Jazzcat, On The Right Track (Ness Radio); Dobo Marzov (The 45rpm Show); Elodie Papin (Radio Activ’ 101.9 FM, France); DJ Bunel (National Yle Vega’s Radio, Luxemburg); featured on The Freedom Principle playlist.

“New and shiny.. beautiful music.” Deb Grant (BBC 6Music)

“Beautiful tracks, love the broken beats of Shine Up !” Llorca (France)

“Cool tracks!” DJ Angola (Space, Ibiza)

“A firm favourite (one of a few) from the first time I heard it – I love the bright angle of this new EP. I have already played Shine Up on air and look forward to playing more.” Debbie Golt (Resonance FM)

“Super nice!” Karsten John (Vinyl Vibes, Germany)

“Incredible – on air a must!” Olgierd (Sofa Surfing, Poland)

“Shine Up was featured last week on our show and Im really taken by This Gift with its uplifting rhythmic pulse vocal work and gentle psych arrangement.” John Warr (Afrobase, Totally Radio, Brighton)

“Yeah, wicked new EP from Isaac Birituro & The Rail Abandon. Love this project and will support their new tunes for sure. Big up!” Harper (Czworka Polskie Radio, Poland)

“Fresh – what a voice.” Dan Deep Tenor City (Soho Radio, UK)

“Each track is a gem! Going straight into my radio show playlist.” Mr Lob (Melbourne, Australia)

“Sounds exotic and cool!” Maken (Polish National Radio, Poland)

“Yes – so good to have them back making their unique sound together – will be supporting for sure.” Neil Bopperson (First Word Records / Various, France)

“Jazz afro, high life biggg” Jean Marc Baehler (Couleur 3, Switzerland)

“Super ep love all tracks I feel a kind of melancholic line. It will be in my show & Radio Krimi.” Veronique Preblim (Radio Krimi, France)

“What a brilliant follow up to Kalba. A wonderful collaboration here.” Bob Hill (Totally Wired Radio, UK)

“This is real fusion, beyond.” Mans Stromberg (Radio Helsinki, Finland)

“An interesting mix of seemingly different influences that merge here into a very unique style. – Definitely relevant for my radio shows.” Sven Thomschke (Radio Z, Germany)

“Lovely, reminds me in some ways of Toure Kunda – atmospheric and anchored. It will sound sweet on the radio.” Drummie Dave (Tropica! UK)

“They’ve created magic yet again! Beautiful.” Leo Jaheire (Ireland)

“Inspirational EP, a great one” Amar Kabouche (Fauve Radio, Hong Kong)

“Great EP!” Marcio Martinez (BBE Music, Brasil)

“Nice and chillled spiritual.” Nick The Greek (Totally Wired Radio, UK)

“This Gift & Shine up for me – supporting.” Andrew Haig (Shizzle FM, Sydney, Australia)

“Another great EP.” Robert Lochmann (Radio X, Germany)

“Sounding great, thanks!” Alex Ruder (KEXP 90.3FM, Seattle, USA)

“Great sounds!!!” Julien Abels (Radio Campas Tours, France)

“Nice, summer vibes.” Nicole Finnerty (Kane FM, UK)

“Beauty.” Amrisha Prashar (Radar Radio, UK)

“Top!” Tony Heynen (Global Riddims, Belgium)

“Lovely.” Jimster (1Station FM, UK)

“”Mhantaar” is the one for me!!!” Markus Milz (Radio Corax, Germany)

“Yes…their strongest yet!” Jamie Renton (Chilli Fried, UK)

“Great – will play.” DJ Lamp (Coalition, Brighton)

“Love this.” Jim Wood (8 Track Music, UK)

“Great to have Isaac and Sonny back, as expected this is such a rich EP in sound and emotion.” Matt Davids (1BTN, Brighton)

“The sound of afro is truly alive and blooming!” Aja Allsop (Ketch-A-Vibe, UK)

“Producer Sonny Johns and Ghanaian xylophonist Isaac Birituro, release a 4 track EP, Lapaz and it’s a gift to your musical pleasure as ‘This Gift’ is a stunning grower but all the tracks take this Anglo-Afro-jazz-psych-shuffle to new areas; if you let ‘Mhantaar’ take to to 60s out there you’ll dig this on rotation – even the could go a bit more ‘out there’ on the 12″ remix if that’s what you’re thinking? ‘Maal La Jie’ is for the flute gang in the rain forest and ‘Shine Up’ for the 6Music guys: here’s to a summer of Isaac Birituro & The Rail Abandon.” Gerry Hectic (Jazz Chronicles, UK)

“Great!” Chris Ex (Black Radio Berlin, Germany)


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