When you see the words genre-twisting in a Bongo Joe press release, you know you’re in for music that breaks traditional conventions and norms. The Geneva-based label is known for fostering and uncovering new sounds from the underground. It’s music that integrates different elements from different genres. However, it often means the music you’re about to hear has been entirely redesigned, distinct from anything that has come before.
A case in point is Yalla Miku‘s genre-jumping debut album. This sonic masterpiece draws inspiration from various cultures and genres, including Gnawa, Eritrean folklore, krautrock, and electro-trance but takes them to new places. Their self-titled album is a powerful statement against the imposition of geographical borders, promoting free movement without danger. The tracks are militant and robust, showcasing the collective’s ability to seamlessly blend different sounds and styles. Yalla Miku’s music dissolves boundaries and creates a world where diversity is celebrated and unity is encouraged.
Yallla Miku is a melting pot of international Geneva. The brainchild of Bongo Joe founder Beirut-born Cyril Yeterian and his Cyril Cyril bandmate Cyril Bondi, the band also comprises Swiss musicians Simone Aubert, and Vincent Bertholet, plus Moroccan guembri player Anouar Baouna, Eritrean krar player Samuel Ades and Algerian darbouka player Ali Bouchaki.
It’s clear from tracks like Asmazate that they have a unique sound. Initially, it is a rollicking Eritrean dance number that ends with Moroccan karkabou rhythms and chant-like, call-and-response vocals. On Hyper Tiger, Bouchaki recounts his journey in frantic detail, beginning with Ades’ quavering vocals over his soul-stirring, hypnotic krar riffs before post-punk, electro rhythms take over. In contrast, Yeterian’s spoken word poetry is accompanied by the melancholy touches of the guembri on Tortije.
At its core, their debut project imagines a world where movement is free and unencumbered by the dangers of borders and boundaries. With its free spirit and infectious energy, Yalla Miku’s music is a call to action for a more open and inclusive world.
The album is a must-listen for anyone interested in exploring the possibilities of music as a tool for social change and challenging the status quo.