Dumama + Kechou, a big heart grigri

Day after day, the health crisis only highlights the healing powers of music. Healing bodies and souls is the purpose of this record which, to be adapted to this period of great anxiety, does not allow it to get out of it slowly. Listening to it in a loop opens sensory windows while delving deep into our unconscious, as its title suggests, Buffering Juju, “A spiritually charged content excavation process from within”, according to its authors. The juju, it is this grigri which recalls the magical powers of the animist religions before colonization, of which this soundtrack would represent in a way the buffer memory, that of an ancient world sublimated by the new technologies.

“The ancient healing systems of my people are filled with music, trance, movement and radical empathy, which I try to connect with my own healing process”, analyzes Dumama, originally from Cape Province and raised towards Pretoria in a family of singers, nurses, doctors, herbalists, “Where music and care have always been important points of connection”. That’s why she talks about transcendence and resilience, two keys to listening to an album built around a narrative thread: the story of a black woman who comes out of prison. “She has to deal with a multitude of oppressions, traumas, responsibilities, thoughts, dreams, gifts …” This female figure could well symbolize South Africa, the fragmented country where Dumama – Gugulethu Duma for civil status – was born at the very end of apartheid. “The terrifying injustices of this world that occurred long before I was born and will continue to last long after my death are certainly points of reflection in my meditations and my music. The imbalance seems urgent, and therefore love has a place in front of all the fears that emerge. “ From this deep trauma, a generation is now emerging which makes South Africa one of the attractive poles of current creativity.


This is how Dumama found in Kechou – Kerim Melik Becker, his real name – a partner capable of building a universe conducive to living each of the evils that the singer describes to better exorcise them at the microphone. Even more than her, this craftsman composer embodies the globalized world: an Algerian musician father, a feminist German mother, he was nourished within the multicultural scene of Berlin. The young man will lead early hip-hop and afro-jazz experiences (like Dumama, by the way) before leaving for Africa. In Cape Town, where he studied for three years at university, he found himself confronted with the collision between two worlds, Western values ​​and African roots, which are not without echo with his own quest for identity. This cultural shock will be synonymous with a creative click for those whose hypnotic rhythms and melodic threads intertwine handmade organic instruments, DIY guitar, twisted percussion, and electronic sounds, samples and synths. Like a soundtrack that is set in a healing perspective in the face of impending disaster. “Music is a source of hope. It alone will not save the damned from the earth but, in connection with social and global activism, it can create the spirituality and empathy necessary to reimagine new systems and, ultimately, a conscious humanity. ”

No doubt, to be both complementary and similar, these two prototypes of regenerative hybridization were made to meet. It was done in November 2017, when Dumama contacted Kechou, following the good advice of the double bass player Shakeel Sohail-Gibran Cullis, with whom she worked. “A week later, our first jam was effortless,” remembers the singer and guitarist who was learning uhadi, a musical bow related to the Brazilian berimbau. Feelings shared by Kechou, three years younger, in search of originality, a quality that he perceives after the fact in the vast aesthetic mix that qualifies the creation of southern Africa. “The traditional music of Xhosas, Zulus, Pedis coexists with jazz, pop and electronic music. The mix seems limitless. ” And stands resolutely outside the constraints of time and space as defined by an industry with planned artistic obsolescence. They will find in Mushroom Hour Half Hour the label ad hoc, arty and artisanal.


The day before yesterday as the day after tomorrow, this intense postmodern ubiquity nourishes their sonic inflections which they call “Nomadic future folk”, engraved in wax after two years of going back and forth beyond the blinders that enclose. Nomadism, future, folk, each word counts in this way of defining what cannot be reduced to a style of a world which is not theirs. We can perceive other echoes, post-jazz or proto-ambient, in this concept disc with manifest intuition. Object with multiple reflections, depending on the time and mood, it unfolds like a long mantra, following a weft that weaves and braids the narrative threads, to form a cocoon captivating the space to curl up in another reality, the ambiguity assumed. So far from the noise that has dissipated our understanding of the essential for too long. The relevance of this duo takes care of each sound, as it sparingly invites guests. The perfumer Odwa Bongo here, like the clarinettist Angel Bat Dawid there. A few notes, a presence, all in tune with this introspection at the heart of feelings, which ends with Mother Time, a superb lullaby where the pulse of a mother beats – Earth, nature, you never know … – “Who gave birth to so many superficial feelings who curse the world from birth. She sits facing the unknown, knowingly trusting the mysteries of the void. “

Jacques Denis

Dumama + Kechou Buffering Juju (Mushroom Hour Half Hour / BigWax).


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.