Album Review: Examining The Blueprints of Ga Electronic Music on Asokpor 1.0 by Jowaa

The charge flowing though most African electronic music is a highly polarized dance beat, engineered to get you to let loose and have fun. Along the coast of Accra, Ghana’s capital, this current zips through the narrow streets and rocky beaches, manifesting in different forms, based on the life and times of the people. On this debut EP, producer/DJ duo Jowaa have their circuits juiced up with Asokpor, ready to beam across the planet.

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Jowaa.

Asokpor 1.0, a 6-track 24-minute EP, was released via Akwaaba Music in April 27, 2018, and is one of the final forms of a sonic signature that the group has been developing for years. Since their performance debut at Sabolai Radio 2016, Jowaa, made up of producer and Fruit Loops head, Gafacci and Dj and Akwaaba Music founder, BBRAVE has steadily refined the electro dance atmospheres they create with naughty drum loops, metronomic clicks and beeps, funky bass lines and various distorted local language vocal samples. Asokpor 1.0 very much represent the basic elements of African electronic dance music from the Ga people of Accra as well as pays homage to the various styles and sounds like house, pop, funk, etc that influenced it.

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Asokpor 1.0 cover art

Although visually the music is portrayed by this other worldly cover art, the sound is very much organic and freshly ground. Asokpor is a musical beat shadowed by distinct dance moves that evolved from Kpanlogo music, a form af music by the Ga who inhabit Accra. This percussion centered sound is also the base elements for other Ga music sub genres like Azonto and Gbe Ohe and has been reinvented by various producer from the legendary DJ Katapila to Nshorna music. On track three of this tape Otale, the base melodic structure for Asokpor can be easily discerned by following the snare drum pattern.

The album opens with Another Round, a catchy cosmic deep house cut with this slimy and eerie synth line sitting on top of the medley of hollow drums loops. The song, like most on this tape also uses the vocal performance on this as just another instrument, layering it like any other pattern. This style is also consistent with DJ Katapila’s use of vocal samples and also other forms of electronic dance music like House. Another Round is probably the best songs on the tape but it’s hard to pick from such a consistently sounding and appealing prophecy. Other songs like sleeper hit Okwe which garnered the duo some notoriety and Banku Dade, both previously released in 2017 also make appearances on the project. The title track also has a distinct sound with this swinging melody of jingling clicks and tamed horns, all programmed to keep up with the  prancing bass line.

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Gafacci, 1/2 of Jowaa. Image via artist.

For Jowaa, this release promises to be the start of a boosted broadcast project where the pair aim to beam their sound as far as possible. It stands out in the current scope of Ghanaian alternative music as it pays homage to a long tradition of Accra based electronic music as well as engineering dance blueprints that are relevant to today’s times. Asorkpor 1.0 is beautiful for its sonic precision yet alive because of the narrative hardwired into the sound.

Written by Hakeem Adam

Images: via artist.

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