Artist: Geofrey Oryema
On his Real World debut album EXILE, Ugandan musician Geoffery Oryema stayed fairly true to his musical roots, playing regional instrumentation against the subtle modern touches of producer Brian Eno. With his follow up BEAT THE BORDER, Oryema descends much deeper into the realm of cross-cultural fusion, this time incorporating much more studio wizardry in the form of large expanses of ambient synthesizer bliss. Although the mere mention of the word synthesizer may turn off some purists, in this case the music handles the inclusion of electronic elements very well. The arrangements are tasteful and always highlight the main attraction, which is the vocals and instrumentation of Oryema. As a result, BEAT THE BORDER ends up being on the mellow end of the continuum, however it is also moving, engaging and full of soul - exactly what you want in a contemporary African music album.