Lamin Fofana – Shafts of Light (Black Studies) – There’s something very serene about these latest recordings, these two pieces of music, this new album, something graceful, simple, exciting, something peaceful. The crackle of what could be surface noise, something that is obviously far far more than just surface noise, far more than just crackling texture, far more than just static tension – not too much tension, just enough, perfectly balanced, gloriously mixed, a beautifully uplifting build, there’s a moment about sixteen minutes in to Ode to Impurity where you just have to stop whatever you’re doing and allow it to take you, you’re held there for a minute or two before you’re cleverly brought down again…
“Sierra Leonean artist and producer Lamin Fofana continues his new album triptych with Shafts of Sunlight. With gentle, glacial sound-design and field recording, this second album in the ongoing series questions impositions of western rationality in music”.
And it is very much, in terms of this Organ piece, about the album, there might be other things going on, gallery space, exhibitions, Turner and such, but this is about putting an album on in your own space in your own time and reacting to it, about the sounds encountered here in the peace and quiet of my Hackney studio on a Monday morning – the textures, the flow, the wash, the ease that’s there in the slight uneasiness of it all. The beauty, for it is a very beautiful album, two wonderful pieces of composition, two big pieces, serenely expensive expressive pieces – if they are paintings then they’re big ones, ambitious ones, daring ones.
Is he “channelling diasporic Black experience”? Not particularly, not obviously not if you’re just listening without any priot knowledge, but then if we’re told he is then we start trying (or wanting) to hear that, to imagine we can hear it, we try to find what may or may not be there, to find the suggestions planted. Musically it feels familiar, sculpted, carefully crafted, none of it feels accidental, this doesn’t feel like a accidental process, this feels tight, extremely crafted, carefully considered, it feels right, quietly powerful
And if we are to consider the link to Black writers, to Turner and the Tate and Turner’s slaveship then we do start looking for those seeds that have been planted. But then it surely becomes the soundtrack to something else? A companion to a visual exhibition? A sound installation and we’re back to the fact that right here right now I am just listening to an album, a piece of music, a couple of wonderful pieces of music and I’m armed with nothing else (I don’t even have a cover to pick up and examine like I might have done on the bus home from the record shop back in the day). I did eventually read the press release but this piece was mostly writen before I did and I’m not dealing with his visual art, with the Turner aspect (that I really really want to dig into) or anything else, I’m just dealing with his music here, his latest beautifully painted album and really, do I need to go firther in and deal with his “practice of transmuting text into the affective medium of sound”? I probably do, I really should, but you have the Bandcamp link and the sound right there, go listen, it comes highly recommended before you ever start to dig deeper and you even start to digest and consider what is being explored, what is being said, what is under the surface or out on the sea or beyond the waves, before you explore the words and images Lamin Fofana is exploring here. (sw)
“Lamin Fofana is an artist and musician. His music contrasts the reality of our world with what’s beyond, and explores questions of movement, migration, alienation and belonging. Fofana’s overlapping interests in history and the present, and his practice of transmuting text into the affective medium of sound, manifests in multisensory live performances and installations featuring original music compositions, field recordings, and archival material”.
Released today on Lamin Fofana’s own Black Studies label, Shafts of Sunlight will be followed by The Open Boat on 26th August, which reimagines geographies of African diasporic people. From 27th September 2022 to 4th June 2023 Tate Liverpool present an immersive sound installation/exhibition called JMW Turner With Lamin Fofana: Dark Waters. Although creating work centuries apart, both artists convey the power and politics of the ocean and explore its relationship to capitalism and colonialism”.
Previously on these pages – ORGAN THING: Lamin Fofana releases the first of a trilogy of albums, a beautifully slow piece of work that takes all the time needed…
Meanwhile Tate Liverpool invite is to “Take a fresh look at JMW Turner in new exhibition Dark Waters. For the first time, Turner’s work will be presented within an immersive sound environment created by artist and musician, Lamin Fofana.
Although creating work centuries apart, both artists convey the power and politics of the ocean and explore its relationship to capitalism and colonialism. Turner’s paintings focus on the dangers of the waters around the British coast and Fofana’s sound work looks across the Atlantic.
Tate Liverpool’s location on the waterfront, combined with Liverpool’s maritime history, provides the perfect context for us to consider Turner afresh. The exhibition features some of Turner’s most celebrated seascapes alongside his sketchbooks and works on paper.
Lamin Fofana translates the writing of pioneering black authors into sound. Fofana’s work explores questions of movement, migration, alienation and belonging”.
JMW Turner With Lamin Fofana: Dark Waters