Album Review: Lokkhi Terra – Cubangla [Funkiwala Records; June 2020]

Mother Africa’s children do her proud once more in spreading her spirit across what is a rather large diaspora, considering she spent rather a long time beside humanity’s cradle. And just at the moment where it needs some cajoling to get up and stop feeling sorry for itself, in steps Lokhi Terra with Cubangla, another addition to a pantheon already including the likes of Afro-Celt Sound System. A pantheon which has mixed the traditions of an older world with those of the comparatively new, both given room to breathe & evolve to great effect.

If that sounds familiar, it can only be because this is but the latest chapter in a history stretching back at least a good few billion years, giving it decent enough time to brew and come to a rather delicious boil here. The melting pot is full to bubbling, a massive contributor to its scoring here…Bangla roots reggae, Bengali folk, Sufi samba. Nice enough on their own, but chuck them in together and now we’re truly cooking with gas, the first two guests at the table no less than Rada and Krishna (protagonists in ‘Kala Re’). Can she really trust him, or is it curtains for the god of love?

Rarely if ever could such a lovers quarrel have played out over such a backing. But something in the music tells us they can’t lose hope, and by ‘Bhromor’, Krishna might just have gotten away with it. If only all such dilemmas could be resolved by a simple chat to a bee. Maybe they can, and it’s all just a cleverly disguised hint we should all try getting back to nature once in a while and have a little faith- Sohini Alam, Aanon Siddiqua and Aneire Khan are the messengers.

But it’s not all such heavy chat. There’s a positively flowing conversation to be had on ‘Como’, the keynote speakers Javier Camilo‘s bongos, Oreste Noda‘s congas, Graeme Flowers on trumpet, and trombone from Justin Thurgur– moderated by bandleader Kishon Khan and his old faithful Rhodes. No passport required, handy in these times of no particular place to go, a tribute to fellow traveller Rob Fakir a fitting close of play to bookend this sonic journey.