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Saramaccan Sound
Where The River Bends Is Only The Beginning
Glitter Beat
Review by Bruce Miller


cd cover For the 12th release in Glitter Beat’s Hidden Musics series, award winning producer, traveler and radical documenter of unknown music from around the globe Ian Brennan heads into Suriname to record the brother duo of Dwight Sampie and Robert Jabini, who go by the name Saramaccan Sound. The group name derives from the language they speak, something linguists have noted has the most “African elements”- whatever that may mean- of any language in the Americas.

Recorded in the field alongside a river in Suriname’s Amazon region, and on the duo’s front porch over bottles of rum, what’s heard here features nylon-stringed acoustic guitar strumming and vocals, sounds that seem instantly familiar to anyone who’s spent any time around unproduced singer-songwriters here in the US. If not for the language, one would assume this stuff to be from North America due to the similar chord changes, with the lead guitar commenting on the rhythm. Whatever the case, the songs, all original compositions, flow freely and mournfully, the brothers’ harmonies effortless and natural. “One Mother, Two Hearts,” a song about their brotherhood, is a particularly loose example of what they do.


Elsewhere, “We Lost Someone Close to Us,” features a simple finger-picked descending chord riff and a warmth certainly influenced by the humidity of the jungle where it was recorded.

For fans of Rwanda’s The Good Ones, this latest release shows Brennan continuing to remind us of all the sonic treasure to be found far and away from often disposable produced pop; instead, his discoveries allow us to realize how vast our world is.

Further reading and listening:
The Good Ones - Rwanda, Your Should be Loved
Ababeramuco Ensemble - Made in Gatagara
Sainkho Namtchylak - Where water meets water
V.A. - Les Bushinenge : Neg Mawon De Guyane

An Interview with Ian Brennan

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