Avalanche Kaito


Urban griot Kaito Winse acts as conduit and hypeman for Belgian trio making a joyful noise, finds Jared Dix

Mixing up the West African folk traditions of urban griot Kaito Winse with the avant-punk of Belgian guitarist Nico Gitto and French drummer/producer Benjamin Chaval, Talitakum is the second album of joyful noise from transnational trio Avalanche Kaito. It is both more cohesive and wide-ranging than their debut, hardened on the road but still crammed with rough-edged vigour. Their sound is a striking, molten blend that sparks and shakes with life. Driven by an unstoppable uplifting energy, this is a record in touch with music’s ritual power.

Named for the traditional horn in the blaring sample that kicks things off, ‘Borgo’ is a wild call to action. It feels like something is coming, sounds like a gathering crowd beating a rhythm, a feedback loop of intensifying momentum. A wave of noise rolls through and the pattern changes to something more trance like. “Heeeyyy, listen. What’s that noise? What does this noise mean? Come and dance to the rhythm of the hunt.” At almost nine minutes it still feels brief, and is surprisingly light on chanting. Winse’s vocals are multilingual but mostly in Mooré. Handily there is a full lyric sheet which reveals the songs’ concerns to be quite folk in their simplicity and universality.

Winse’s central role is less about storytelling than conduit, a hype man/shaman pulling everyone into the vortex. If you’ve caught them live you’ll know, the man will not rest until you are drawn in, his wild energy embracing and channelling a universe teeming with possibility. Avalanche Kaito play for participants not spectators. Embodied in the vibrant exhilaration of their music the lyrics are often about living life to the fullest. Lurching back and forth with convulsive post punk guitar ‘Shoya’ offers, “This moment belongs to them, those who have life”.

The heart of the record is a three-song run willing you to live fully on ‘Tanvusse’ (relive) ‘Viima’ (life) and title track ‘Talitakum’ (death, come back to life!) Tough and Beefheartian to begin, ‘Talitakum’ slips into a simmering middle section which, rather than exploding, locks into a hypnotic groove they could certainly keep going for far longer. Polyglot musically as well as linguistically the group build on fundamental links rather than contrasting styles, rummaging in the musical junkyard for what they can piece together that works. Nothing comes from nowhere, novelty is an illusion. ]

The final track ‘Machine (The Mill)’ is a thrilling, polyrhythmic rush. It opens on a distorting mbira sample and ends in electronic bleeps and drones. This is a twenty-first century sound that contains and connects with the past. Afropunk futurism. The eternal ecstatic impulse.

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