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JuJu In Trance Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

A fiery musical crossroads, and an original fusion.

Jon Lusk 2011

In 2007, British guitarist Justin Adams and Gambian griot Juldeh Camara released their debut collaborative album Soul Science. Camara had approached Adams after being sent a copy of his debut solo album Desert Road (2000) and thought he heard a kindred spirit.

Adams’ work with the likes of Tinariwen and on Mali’s renowned Festival in the Desert had given him enough insights to start forging his own hybrid take on desert blues and those of the Mississippi delta, while Camara is steeped in Gambia’s griot tradition, having inherited the profession of music from his father (a marabout, or spiritual healer). They meet half way at a fiery musical crossroads, creating an original fusion.

In 2008 their efforts scooped them the Culture Crossing category in the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, and they followed that up with Tell No Lies the next year. In Trance is the third and most cohesive album of an enduring partnership that seems to have reached a new level of alchemy. Perhaps in recognition of this, they’ve amalgamated their first names and come up with the moniker JuJu for the group, which now includes new members Dave Smith (drums and percussion) and bass player Billy Fuller. While the first two albums seemed to jump about stylistically, with influences such as Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Ali Farka Touré all quite obvious, they now sound more like a band that has really found its own voice. Recording live in the studio in as few takes as possible also seems to have given them a new edge.

The pieces are significantly longer than previously, with three nudging the quarter-hour mark. Two of these – Mariama Trance and Deep Sahara – were released on the EP The Trance Sessions (2010) and feature former Shriekback ‘rhythmist’ Martyn Barker on clouting drums and cajón. Elsewhere, Smith and Fuller constitute a brilliantly tight, explosive rhythm section, with Adams’ effects-laden guitar and Camara’s howling ritti (one-stringed fiddle) and desert-dry vocals riding above them.

Setting the tone for this largely upbeat record, Nightwalk is a propulsive intro with more than a whiff of Led Zeppelin about it. There’s respite from the insistent grooves on the sparser Waide Nayde, and the slinky lope of Jombajo. But the epic Djanfa Moja is a sustained and brutal rhythmic assault, marrying Moroccan trance and dub effects to intensely kinetic effect.

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