Various Artists – Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan (Ostinato Records, 2018)
Two Niles to Sing a Melody – The Violins & Synths of Sudan is a superb collection of music produced during the golden age of modern music Sudanese in the country’s capital Khartoum, in the 1970s and 1980s.
The anthology begins with the charming violin and accordion-fueled orchestral music of the 1970s that brought together Arabic influences and seductive African rhythms.
With the arrival of electronic instruments, the Sudanese musicians started using synthesizers and drum machines in the 1980s, mixing tradition with western influences.
In the mid-1980s, the increasing influence of Turabi Islamists led to crackdowns on alcohol consumption, burnings of records and the banning of songs about women. A brutal military coup in the late 1980s brought religious Turabi extremists to power and they increased the attacks on musicians. Some were tortured and many fled the country or were silenced.
Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan features essential artists such as Abdel El Aziz Al Mubar and Mohammed Wardi and many other outstanding musicians as well.
Finding the original recordings in Sudan was a difficult task. Thankfully, the influence of Sudanese music across the Sahara region was widespread in the 70s and 80s. Ostinato’s producers traveled to neighboring Ethiopia, Somalia, Jibuti, and Egypt in search of cassette tape and vinyl recordings.
With assistance from Sudanese associate and co-compiler Tamador Sheikh Eldin Gibreel, a once famous poet and actress in 1970s Khartoum, the Ostinato crew restored and remastered the music and has released it in various formats.
The CD version of the compilation contains two discs and is beautifully-packaged in a hard cover book that provides a historical overview of how the music thrived across Sudan and later died because of political and religious factors, as hardline Islamists targeted and persecuted musicians. The liner notes are written by Vik Sohonie and edited by Manish Melwan.
Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan is also available as a triple LP gatefold set.
The Ostinato team and their collaborators have done an outstanding job, giving life once more to some of the jewels of Sudanese music.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.