Socialist Worker

Voices of the powerless, rhythms of the movement

by Anne Alexander
Issue No. 1832

NOMMO IS a great album by the band Slovo. It is influenced by music from around the world and has very political lyrics. Slovo is the new project of Dave Randall, former guitarist with the band Faithless.

The band recorded the album both in New York and Gaza City in Palestine. It threads together voices from Palestine, Kurdistan, Angola, Togo and Cameroon. The lyrics are like a libretto for the anti-capitalist movement. The track '21 Today' lists the 21 countries bombed by the US since 1945. 'Frank and Harry' dissects the shallowness of a 'Viagra generation' mesmerised by consumerism.

Nommo is also a dialogue between the voiceless and powerless, and also between words and music. The word 'nommo' means naming things to try to gain meaning and control in the confusion and violence of everyday life. 'Saaba' includes the voice of Elham, a 70 year old Palestinian woman from Gaza.

The song 'Di Wenge Sane' mixes beats of West African drums with sitar and speeches from Charlie Chaplin's film The Great Dictator. 'Hound Dog' samples Angolan guerrilla fighters for a dance track, which clearly owes as much to African music as it does to clubland.

Woody Guthrie's poem 'Voice' is read in English and the Kurdish language Kurmanji.

It provides an apt commentary on the album as a whole. Sitting in a Jewish deli, eating pastrami on rye, Afua Chebueze hears her voice tossed back and forward from the people around her, while the words spoken in Kurmanji echo underneath.

'I knew by the feeling I felt that here was my voice,' she says. Our movement has a million different tongues, but we can all speak with one voice.

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Sat 4 Jan 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1832
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