28-02 Legendary Ghanian band Edikanfo announces return
In 1981, London-based E.G. Records released the debut album from a young Ghanaian group called Edikanfo. The eight-piece band was the last group to be managed by the late Faisal Helwani, a charismatic impresario who was based at the popular Napoleon Club in Osu, a suburb in Ghana’s teeming capital Accra. Edikanfo quickly rose to international notoriety following the release of “The Pace Setters” because of the infectious, forwardlooking highlife meets afro-funk synthesis the band committed to tape. But the album also caught an additional wind of publicity due to its producer, the already legendary British musician and sound conceptualist Brian Eno. During that time, Eno was researching and openly propagating West African musics. He often mentioned his love of Fela Kuti and called his own rhythm-driven experiments the search for a “vision of a psychedelic Africa.” Eno and Edikanfo’s work together at Studio One in Accra (Ghana) was yet another inspired morphing of soundworlds and processes and a significant touchstone for both artists. As Brian Eno recently noted: “the actual recording sessions were joyful – the band played with such verve that you couldn’t resist.”
But just when the sky seemed the limit for Edikanfo, the coup d’état in Ghana on the last day of 1981, tragically put the brakes on the band’s quickly developing fortunes. For years after that, the country endured enforced curfews at night, which of course ultimately gutted the live music scene in Accra and elsewhere. Because of this and other financial setbacks, the band ceased activity and its members spread out in exile, all over the world. It clearly seemed as though the story of Edikanfo, one of Ghana’s greatest bands of that era, had come to a premature end.
Now, almost four decades later, Edikanfo has returned. And with its surviving members gearing up to reissue and tour their classic 1981 album, “The Pace Setters,” the band is once again excitedly pointed towards the future. Bassist, songwriter and founding member Gilbert Amartey Amar, popularly known as Chi-Kin-Chee, talked to us from Accra, Ghana where he is currently rehearsing Edikanfo and preparing for an upcoming European tour – the group’s first ever.
The full album will be released on May 8th. The first single Nka Bom is out now!