Global Column – November 2019


The laser-gun-like, pitch-modulating burst of the electronic tom is a cartoonish staple of 1980s music, cropping up everywhere from Duran Duran’s chart-toppers to Prince’s melodramatic rock and even Herbie Hancock’s jazz fusion. Their punctuating fills serve as a constant reminder of the era’s kitsch futurism and one setting in which they find their ideal expression is in the work of Ivory Coast singer and percussionist Antoinette Konan.

Konan’s eponymous 1986 international debut is a kaleidoscopic jumble of drums – the electric, the acoustic and, crucially, the ahoko. A ribbed wooden stick with a hollowed-out shell to rub along it, the minimalist instrument is a staple of the indigenous Baoulé people of the Ivory Coast and its playing is an integral feature of Konan’s album, now reissued.

Read the column in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 01/11/19]