Last Wednesday Pat Thomas and the Kwashibu Area Band brought some Ghanaian High-Life music to Norwich Arts Centre with supporting dj sets from Soul Stew and Tropical Shakedown. There was a great atmosphere in the hall with dancing in all corners from the good sized crowd, even the aisles to the side of the stage where the sound is now excellent two what with the new PA and an additional speaker either side for those preferring not to be right down at the front.
“The modern-day leaders of Ghanaian highlife music are back!
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band’s sophomore release ‘Obiaa!’, produced by Kwame Yeboah and Ben Abarbanel-Wolff at Lovelite Studio’s analogue HQ in Berlin, is a deep and soulful journey into the heart of Ghana’s indigenous highlife music celebrating the timeless and iconic voice of Pat Thomas, the 72 year-old “Golden Voice of Africa”.
After producing Ebo Taylor’s seminal albums ‘Love and Death’ and ‘Appia Kwa Bridge’ for Strut Records, in 2014 Ben Abarbanel-Wolff approached Kwame Yeboah, Ghana’s top contemporary instrumentalist and bandleader, to work on a new project: “We initially wanted to invite Pat back into the studio with Ebo Taylor and Tony Allen to recreate and expand on some of the vibes they had recorded together during a lost session in 1977,” Ben explains. Recorded in Accra, the result was the critically acclaimed self-titled debut album ‘Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band’ in 2015.
Pat and the Kwashibu Area Band (named after Kwame’s neighbourhood in Accra) hit the road in October 2015. After a memorable performance at WOMEX in Budapest, they never looked back. The next two years took them around the world to play at major venues and festivals including Glastonbury, Roskilde, WOMAD, Sakifo, WOMADelaide, Sines and many more. “We could see there was something for everyone in our music. People of all ages, colours and trends were dancing together!’ explains Kwame, the mastermind behind the band’s unbelievable precision and killer live show.
The new album is called ‘Obiaa!’ which means ‘Everybody!’. Tracks include the modern parables ‘Onfa Nkosi Hwee’ warning against arrogance and ‘Odo Ankasa’ about the value of real love and trust as well as a great new cover of Thomas’ Afro-disco favourite ‘Yamona’. “Playing highlife around the world taught us what we had to do to move our sound forward,” continues Ben. While simultaneously looking back towards the classic days of highlife and forward to a fresh revival of the guitar band sound, this album cements Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band’s position at the pinnacle of modern African music.
‘Obiaa!’ is released on all formats on 4th October The album features exclusive cover artwork by Lewis Heriz with photos by Marie Weikopf and Michelle Chiu and is mastered by E?douard Bonan at Ed-Room Studio in Paris.”
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