Chop Time Music Amartey Hedzoleh : Kukurantumi -LP/CD/digi- (GH,1983,re.2014)***’
Amartey is a veteran of the Afro-rock scene. He became singer of the Psychedelic Aliens in the 60s, (where he was known as Amartey ‘Lash’ Laryea at that time). (-see review of the PA reissue up-). In 1972 he became the singer of the Hedzoleh Soundz, performing with them at the Soul to Soul concert in Accra. He parted from the group before they recorded in the studio, while the band also recorded his songs. He started a solo career after that, adapting the name Hedzoleh* to mark this previous successes. One of his projects was the soundtrack of King Ampaw’s movie “Kukurantumi – road to Accra”, a comedy-drama about the difficulties of city life and immigration. Amartey himself made a small appearance in the movie, with his song “Tontro” (also included on this publication). He handed over a tape with an expanded movie soundtrack with many extra songs, but nothing was done with them until now. This is the first publication of these tapes, featuring a selection of these recordings.
The introduction also says Amartey has part Indian roots, but I don’t know if you notice that, except perhaps for a good pick out of rhythms and a practical use of them for small tracks. The music features a strong inspiration from Ghanian folklore elements, especially a rhythmic complexity. There’s a bit use of thumb piano, as a more dominant element or with small accents or small resonances. This is combined with drum and percussion like cowbell or occasionally handclap rhythmic elements. Here and there we hear an African violin. Another returning element is the light funky electric rhythm guitar. A few track are instrumentals showing the creative core of rhythms and colourful balance between rhythmical elements. But there are also many songs, led by the singer and responded to by a chorus of mixed sex. The songs show a message in rhythm, but it can be like a soulful or kind of leadership’s messages. Some parts are in English with references of Devil/God kind of warnings. The song from the movie is the lightest, most predictable one with highlife rhythms, while most tracks show a creative use of rhythmical ideas. The effect of the music is of a positive soulful lightness despite a certain complexity in its local references.
*(PS. Interesting to know also is that Hedzoleh means peace/freedom in Ga language).