13 March 2011: Last night Wanlov the Kubolor launched his new album, Brown Card, exploring his Ghanaian and Romanian roots. He was the first Ghanaian musician chosen for an artist in residency programme in Paris, where he worked on this project.

Working with two Ghanaian musicians and accordion player Jérôme Pierre Soulas and violinist Filippo Bonini Baraldi from Paris, he combined elements of his own quirky Ghanaian style with their ‘gypsy music’. Wanlov’s rather androgynous image and performance style complimented the formality of the Paris musicians.

But did this merging of styles work? I can’t say I felt passionate about what I heard. The music worked best for me when Wanlov’s singing and rapping created another layer of rhythmic complexity. The least successful moments for me were the vocal lines which I found rather straight rhythmically and melodically. I hate to use the terms good and bad when discussing music so I will conclude that it was an interesting, intriguing and worthwhile experiment.

The evening opened with Yaa Pono rapping against a brass band which I felt worked musically and did exite me.

As so few local musicians are willing to take these kind of risks and seem unaware of a world outside of Ghana and American hip-hop, it is a relief that artists such as Wanlov are widening the musical vocabulary of Ghanaian music.

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