Avalanche Kaito


A meeting between a Burkina Faso-raised urban griot and two Belgian noise rockers yields something greater than the sum of its parts, says Dustin Krcatovich

Recent years have seen a considerable uptick in communication between traditionally trained African musicians looking to expand their vocabulary and electronic or experimental players from Europe and the United States, with intriguing results. From Uganda, we hear the pounding industrial gut blast of Nihioixica and Metal Preyers; via Kenya, Dagoretti Records’ trippy, cross-continental collaborations with players like the recently departed obokano player Grandmaster Masese. Sahel Sounds has shone a light on Tuareg musicians in Niger like Mdou Moctar and Les Filles de Illighadad, helping to facilitate an expansion of their sound in the process.

Avalanche Kaito is the latest of these experiments, and paydirt has yet again been struck. The group is a meeting of minds between Burkina Faso-born musician and urban griot Kaito Winse and Brussels-based noisemongers Arnaud Paquotte (bass) and Benjamin Chaval (drums/electronics). The latter two musicians come to the table with a gurning propulsion lodged somewhere between Tragic Figures-era Savage Republic and Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale’s solo work as Black Pus, all heavily spiked with layers of digital burble.

No shame in that M.O. by itself. Winse’s contributions on vocals, tama, peul flutes, and mouth bow, though, elevate the proceedings considerably. I can’t speak to the lyrics, which are said to be based on well-established proverbs from Burkina Faso, but they are delivered with the gravitas that suggests, and with no shortage of frazzled-yet-confident energy.

Were it a simple matter of mashing together the obvious appeals of A and B, Avalanche Kaito would still be a cool collaboration, but it’s more remarkable for the way it pushes into unexpected territories. ‘Douaga’ is almost certainly the only piece of music I’ve ever heard that’s recalled John Klemmer, the Nonesuch Explorer Series, Fugazi, and Fantomas all within the space of five and a half minutes; meanwhile, the instrumental bed for ‘Goomde’ sounds like 1990s Midwestern post-rock as reinterpreted by Adrian Sherwood.

There are clear reference points for every track on Avalanche Kaito, both traditional and experimental in nature. Yet its particular blend is, at bare minimum, a road less traveled. The world may be getting smaller all the time, but as illustrated here, the sonic possibilities that come along with that are only growing.

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today